My girlfriend and I both came to Australia with the same idea, see as much of it as our budget allowed!!
The best way to see the real heartland of Australia, not just the cities, is to buy a car, van or SUV; construct a bed in the back of it or buy tents; and plan your route!
Whether it be a beach to beach journey up the east coast, the scenic Great Ocean Road, outback trip through the Northern Territory or a drive into the real wilderness on the west coast, everyone agrees road tripping is the most rewarding way to see Oz.
In our case we went for a 4x4 in a loop up the east coast and back down the red centre. But for buying a car in Oz you must be aware of registration (‘rego’), it’s different for every state but we had an NSW one as this includes some insurance if you are in a crash or anything (touch wood you’re not). It’s best to make sure that the car you buy has a few months of rego on it from the previous owner as it can be very expensive to completely register a car without it.
One of the most helpful additions we made to the car was roof storage as beforehand we would store a lot of things on our bed while we drove and then would have removed them all when we needed to sleep! And doing this in the dark, after 8 hours of driving this could be infuriating! Also bulldog clips on bed sheets make a really cheap solution for curtains as you can insert the handle between the roof cladding and the inner plastic door moulds!
If, like us, you see yourself as being way more of the adventurous type then driving up or down the red centre is definitely for you. This is a great way of seeing landscapes, people and weather that you would never find in the UK. Must see destinations along the way are: Katherine Gorge, Edith Falls, Uluru, Kings Canyon, Coober Pedy and many more places are absolutely breathtaking and worth the visit! Our personal favourite would be Kings Canyon for its mars like landscapes, and accessibility - you can walk all over the ridges, signs are only there to guide you.
A negative of some of these isolated attractions is that accommodation can be really expensive, a hotel room in uluru can start at around $500 a night! So camping is the only option unless you’re loaded. A tip for Uluru is that although there is a campsite at the Yulara resort, it is really expensive and crowded. Instead, rough it up and use the free camp about 3 kilometres before it, you can camp on the sand dunes and have an epic view of Uluru and the Olgas! Also making backpacker friends in these places can be challenging because most people are too busy trying to sort everything out before the night comes which makes cooking etc harder but also to avoid the swarms of moths!
To be perfectly honest, most of our trip was spent “slumming it” in the car or camping but sometimes we treated ourselves to hostels. We’d always think that this was our chance to get a good night of sleep in a nice bed and also a chance to make friends with like minded backpackers. However after having stayed in hostels around Aus, in Cairns, Townsville, Darwin, Sydney, Brisbane etc. We actually found that most of them are too expensive, not that comfortable and most of the time people are living there full time, so don’t care for making new friends….a bit of an anti-climax to be fair.
The places where we loved the hostels were in Melbourne and in Sunshine Coast, they were what we expected them all to be like. The one in Melbourne being “The Star Hostel” and the one in Sunshine Coast, “Surfers Paradise Backpackers Resort” which we would highly recommend both for atmosphere and facilities!
The most unique accommodation we stayed in was the Opal Cave Bunkhouse in Coober Pedy where all the dorms are underground in caves!
The forum can be a godsend if you are starting to get tired of your travel buddies as you can meet others in the same situation! As especially when using free camps, most of the time you only meet ‘grey nomads’, aussie retirees that buy the biggest caravan they can with their pension and go exploring! This can be extremely rewarding and fun as you connect with proud Australians that have been to and seen everything so can give you great locations to visit! But you need to also meet others in the same situation as you because compared to backpackers, they’re living in luxury! Being asked multiple times about tv signal or whether you can empty your onboard toilet at this campsite can be depressing when all you’ve got is a phone with a Netflix series you downloaded earlier at the library carpark and some TP and a shovel for toilet!
Finding work when you are travelling around can be really hard, especially when you do not know the area at all. There are loads of different ways to find jobs but using the different forum threads on pomsinoz is really helpful. Checking the vacancies threads is definitely worth it as there are loads of varied opportunities posted daily. But for people on working holiday visas there is also really helpful information about farms that people posting have worked at and can give reviews. This is vital as there are loads of horror stories of people getting underpaid, badly treated, terrible accommodation and even being scammed.
This actually happened to us, we found a contractor in Waikerie, SA for orange picking through gumtree (first mistake). Where we were promised 5 weeks of 5-6 working days, but after the third week - (our second mistake, we should have left earlier) we had only worked 8 days and made not even enough to cover our food and accommodation.
We managed to find a post on the vacancy forum advertising positions in another more official company! A tip for finding these in SA and VIC is to look for jobs that require a MADEC card as this means you have more protection as an employee as these farming companies are vetted by a government agency.