Dreaming of a trip to Australia but scared of the gaping hole it might leave in your wallet? Fair enough, it’s no secret that a trip down under can cost a mint…and then some. But, fear not, here’s a list of 30 tips and tricks to help you discover the ‘great southern land’ on a budget.
Cheap Things To See and Do
1. Sydney is on everyone’s bucket list, but ranks up there with one of the most expensive destinations. Rather than spend truckloads on the normal tourist activities, do the coastal walk from Bondi to Tamarama for the best of the beaches, check out Hyde Park, Centennial Park and the Sydney Botanical Gardens or visit during a festival, such as Vivid Sydney for free entertainment around Sydney Harbour.
2. If you’re heading into the cultural hive of Melbourne, trek around the Queen Victoria Markets for a bustling atmosphere and cheap shopping, take the free city tram to explore the entire city and gallery hop through museums and art-lined city laneways.
3. The Gold Coast is theme park central, but you don’t need the rollercoasters to enjoy the city. Walk along the stretch of white-sand beach to the trendy hamlets of Nobby’s Beach, Miami and Burleigh Heads. Take a drive to Springbrook for rainforests walks in the hinterland or catch a bus to Byron Bay to spot dolphins and watch the local buskers and fire twirlers.
4. The Great Barrier Reef is a must see and you can do so without breaking the budget by staying in Cairns and taking a budget reef tour. It won’t be a luxury boat but you’ll forget about that when you see the underwater paradise.
5. For an outback adventure without having to fly to Ayres Rock, check out Lawn Hill Gorge in North West Queensland, where you can camp and take spectacular nature walks.
The Best Value Accommodation
6. Camping is a national pastime and no matter where you go, there’ll likely be free, or cheap grounds, so it’s worth it to bring your gear. Camp on Cockatoo Island for views of Sydney Harbour.
7. Caravan parks, especially on the coast, provide budget cabins and permanent vans. Try Cairns Holiday Park to launch on the Great Barrier Reef.
8. Hostels are in every major city, in country tourist areas and most have great facilities. Get a YHA membership and you’ll be set in nearly every town.
9. Apartment rentals are a great family option and you can check out websites such as Home Away and Stayz for deals.
10. The most budget friendly hotels tend to be big chains such as Travelodge, Ibis and Best Western.
11. Roadside motels are a dime a dozen and if you’re travelling up and down the coast, these are your best, and most budget friendly homes for the night.
Getting Around Without Breaking the Budget
12. Jetstar is a cheap option for air travel around Australia, so sign up before you go to get deals on flash sales. Tiger Airways and Virgin are also worth checking out.
13. Driving around Australia is generally easy and a great way to get off the beaten track. Juicy car and campervan rentals are one of the cheapest and most popular options.
14. Travelling by bus is easy in Australia, with local bus systems in every city and national services, such as Greyhound, to take you far and wide.
15. An Ausrail pass from Rail Australia, covering long distance travel, is your best bet for value for money train travel.
16. If you’re going to visit for a few months, it’s worth considering buying a car and selling it before you go. You can find deals on Gumtree and Carsales.
Eating and Drinking
17. The water in Australia is completely safe to drink from the tap (unless signed otherwise in rural areas) so you can forget about buying bottled water. You’ll find water bubblers in most parks and public areas across the country.
18. Shopping Centre food courts, though not the most atmospheric venues, are filled with cheap takeaway food options.
19. Another benefit of staying in hostels in Australia, is that they generally offer dirt-cheap breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks deals.
20. RSLs (Returned Services League) are scattered through pretty much every suburb in Australia and you’ll always find cheap meals and drinks on the menu.
21. Bowling Clubs are another fixture across the country with cheap meals.
22. Surf Clubs are smack bang on the beach in most coastal towns, with 5 star views and good value meals.
23. Chinatown in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney is always a fantastic option for cheap and delicious lunch and dinner specials.
24. As most of Australia is a picnicker’s paradise, supermarkets are the cheapest option to stock up with food you can make yourself and eat in the great outdoors.
25. Alcohol can be a killer on the wallet in pubs and clubs, but many restaurants allow BYO. Try bottle shops (or bottlo’s), Dan Murphy’s and BWS.
Cheap Events and Entertainment
26. Surf competitions are free, exciting and always on in Australia. Time your trip with the Quicksilver Gold Coast Pro from February to March, the Ripcurl Pro in Victoria from March to April or the Noosa (Queensland) Longboard Festival in November.
27. From March to October you can go crazy over Rugby League or AFL, like the locals do and buy cheap tickets to go to a game. One of the biggest is the State of Origin, between Queensland and New South Wales.
28. On the weekends, country fairs, farmers markets and arts and crafts stalls dot the inland roads and coastal parks, with free entertainment, fresh local food and chilled out public spaces in the sun. Head to the Nimbin Markets in northern NSW or the Fremantle markets in Perth.
29. Australia is full of iconic outback and city pubs, with no entry fees, cheap drinks, pub meals and local bands.
30. With over 50,000 kilometers of coastline and more than 10,000 beaches, swimming, surfing and lazing on the sand is the most Aussie of all Aussie entertainment. Many beaches have free BBQ’s and facilities, so all you need is some snags, a beer and the ability to say, “G’day mate”.