Get tips on backpacking, traveling, trekking and camping in Australia from an experienced backpacker perspective. Travel Australia the right way, get off the beaten path and learn where to trek, what hostels to stay in, where to camp in the outback and where to see the Great Barrier Reef. Learn which YHA and Hostelling International are worth it and when to backpack off the beaten path. Backpacking Australia can be overwhelming but travel insight from my experiences helps on how to backpack Oz.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Road to Alice Springs

Travelling from Townsville on the East Coast to Alice Springs in the dead center of the country is quite a journey and an adventure. Travelling in a car and camping at random spots along the motorway will allow you to see a lot more than travelling by bus. Many people camp anywhere along the motorway, preferably away from the road on side dirt roads. No driving at night because you might hit a kangaroo and be careful of all the other spiders snakes and crocodiles out there because you are a far ways from any emergency care. Always bring an extra container of petrol because the distances between the towns are massive. For food, I recommend bringing a little stove and making rice with canned vegatables, pasta with vegetables or ramen noodles. During the day peanut butter and nutella sandwiches usually kill the hunger. As for alcohol, boxed red wine works because you dont have to keep it cold. Once you hit that crossroad at the three sisters you will be so happy to make a turn on a road you won't believe it!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Cairns

The largest city on the northern east coast, can sometimes be a little shocking if youve been in the Whitsunday islands for a week. An abundance of hostels, most recommended would be Caravellas 149 on the Esplanade. Although there can be up to 12 people in one room, this place is cheap, well-run, has an excellent location and an awesome pool. They also offer a cheap dinner coupon for a local bar within walking distance.

Trips from Cairns to the Great Barrier Reef are common. However, if you are looking to dive, I recommend making the trip up to Cape Tribulation because the reef is less disturbed. The rainforest is interesting and no one else is up there so check out your options.

Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is definetely a backpacker town. Another waiting point to set sail into the Whitsunday islands but a little more entertaining than Hervey Bay. The hostel of choice for travelers in this town is Beaches. With a central location directly across the street from the lagoon, amenities include a pool, bar, a bathroom with shower and a TV in each room, its worth it. The night life is great- the irish pub is highly recommended.

As for a sailing trip, Oz Sail is recommended. The performance sailboat, Mandrake, was just the right size and the staff are awesome. A free introductory dive was included in the price of the trip along with all the excursions to different islands and meals. Make sure you bring your own drinks though because that is not provided. The food on this boat was some of the best I found in Australia so no worries.

Whitehaven beach is still the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. Careful though, those uragangi jellyfish can be deadly. Stinger suits are required at certain times of the year but it isnt so bad when everyone is wearing one. The nights are amazing with all the stars in the world and the waves rocking the boat. This was my favorite trip along with Fraser Island so don't miss out!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Hervey Bay to Fraser Island

Hervey Bay is the gateway to Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world. Besides waiting for your expedition to Fraser Island, the town to Hervey Bay is pretty quiet. The hostel with the best tours is Koala Backpackers i.e. gear, price, availibility, trucks. This hostel is okay for a few nights and has a good location directly on the bay but not worth staying at for a long period of time because of the rooms, shared bathrooms and dishes that must be rented. It is best to book in advance your trip to Fraser Island so you don't end up hanging out in Hervery Bay. The trip seems kinda expensive for a backpacker but it is well worth it and will be one of your highlights travelling up the east coast of Australia.

The best route on the island is to stop at Lake Mackenzie on the first day and then head up the "highway" that is the beach up to Indian Heads. Timing is crucial since the tide comes up and the road will literally disapear leaving you stranded. Careful of the little streams that go from the trees to the ocean, these can cause massive bumps in the road and potentially harmful hits to the head in the Land Rover. At Indian Head climb the bluff to see the sharks on the other side of the sandbar. The next day head up the coast even further to the champagne pools. Now its time to head back towards the ferry.



I travelled through Australia from April 2003 to July 2003. I backpacked from Sydney to Cape Tribulation and then through the outback to Alice Springs and up to Darwin before flying back Sydney. I didn't go to any travel agencies, I relied only on information from other travellers and that is my purpose with this info: to help you backpack through oz cheaply while seeing everything you never knew was there. Sometimes staying in the Hostelling International and YHA hostels is fun but sometimes its a little mainstream. Camping in Australia definetley isn't like back home because you're dealing with some of the most dangerous animals in the world, not to mention the scorching heat.

Australian Zoo

The Australian Zoo is outside of Brisbane in Beerwah, Australia and home to Crocodile Hunter: Steve Irwin. What is unique about this zoo is that it focuses on animals native to Australia and Tasmania. Backpackers can store their backpacks in lockers for pretty cheap and buses depart at the closing hours of the zoo to the next destination, most often Mooloolabah. Although daily performance of the crocodiles take place, the Crocodile Hunter is not always performing at the zoo so its best to find this information out beforehand. The croc shows are awesome but the best feature by far at this zoo is Kangaroo Heaven. An enclosed area of the zoo allows guest and travellers to frollick with the roos and wallabies (small kangaroo-looking animals). However, the large roos are accompanied by a zookeeper for fear of the kangaroo kicking and injuring anyone. The force of a kangaroo kick while the back on its tail is very strong. For detailed information about about the zoo please visit http://www.crocodilehunter.com/australia_zoo/index.html

Brisbane, Australia

The best place to stay in Brisbane is the Backpacker Palace. It is a little expensive but there are five stories filled with backpackers, a restuarant, a kitchen with dishes, a bar and an awesome nightlife hanging out on the rooftop overlooking the city. The hostel is only a few blocks from the open air mall and within walking distance of the lagoon on the river. Backpackers and travellers come to Brisbane as a stop off to their next destination and end up staying weeks at a time. The lagoon on the river is a great place to hang out and just a walk over the bridge. Some take the ferry or a tour to the island off the coast where dolphins can be seen. The best place to go out in Brisbane is in The Valley if you want to get away from the backpacker scene. Another option in Brisbane is to take the train to the XXXX Brewery. This company dominates the beer market and the tour is quite interesting with free beer samples at the end of the tour. Brisbane is the middle point between Sydney and Cairns so big plans should be made here.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Nimbin, Australia

Nimbin is known for the Mardi Grass festival that takes place the first weekend of May. The event is a protestival known for protesting the cannabis prohibition laws for the last 10 years. The city is known as the "Alternative Capital of Australia" with the Hemp Embassy and many smoking cafes. The people of Nimbin are free-spirited, environmentally friendly and very creative. Although the town is small, it is bursting with personality and individuality. An abundance of artists and musicians amaze backpackers travelling through this off the beaten track area of Australia. Camping in Nimbin is almost essential unless you stay at a hostel, or retreat up in the mountains. A shuttle bus departs Byron Bay and returns from Nimbin daily with a trip time of about an hour and a half. For more information on this backpacker destination in Australia, visit http://nimbinaustralia.com/.