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I’m going travelling solo for a year soon and doing the classic Australia and Asia backpackers route. I’m starting with Australia then doing Asia later on cause I don’t have time before my visa deadline expires. My rough plan is travel around Australia, maybe head over to New Zealand for some time then go to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore areas. Then come back to Australia to do some work before the visa ends. I’m already 31 (seriously cutting it fine!) so I won’t be eligible to extend the visa for a second year but I’m an experienced graphic designer and hoping to get a job doing that for a while.

I’ve done a lot of research but it’s mainly articles and blogs and It would be good to get some personal opinions too, I have a few questions:

  1.  Do you have any advice on which route to take through Australia? – I’ll probably be starting at Sydney.
     
  2.  For long term accommodation is hostels the best option or getting a house share? I know in London it’s common for backpackers to stay in house shares for a few days or weeks, occupying someone else’s room while it’s vacant.
     
  3.  Round the world plane tickets vs booking your own flights – is it worth it?
     
  4. The backpack – I’m looking at 70-80L Osprey bags and something with a laptop pocket – Is this too big and a ball ache to carry around?

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So does that mean that even though you've got the right to live and work in Australia for one year,, you're planning to spend part of that year in other countries?  why not spend the whole year in Australia and then visit the other countries on the way home?

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Scot by birth, emigrated 1985 | Aussie husband applied UK spouse visa Jan 2015, granted March 2015, moved to UK May 2015 | Returned to Oz June 2016

"The stranger who comes home does not make himself at home but makes home itself strange." -- Rainer Maria Rilke

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I’d agree with Marisa, spend the year in Aus then move on. Moving off to Asia then back again seems like going backwards, make it a smooth forward movement.

Which direction to move in depends on when you start and whether you go clockwise or anti-clockwise. The Wet in the Far North is probably better avoided but you might not appreciate the cold winters in the south unless you’re into skiing. Don’t forget to put the National Capital on your route though, it’s interesting and often missed by backpackers.

Accommodation - take what you can get when and where you want it. Gumtree is a good source for backpackers in Australia. You might even decide to get a camper van, lots of backpackers do.

Making the assumption you are a bloke then 70-80 litres Osprey sounds fine. You don’t need to fill it to the brim and it probably won’t be much above the 20kg. I’m still a female backpacker at nearly 70 and my 65 does me just fine. Put everything you plan to take out on the bed then get rid of half of it before you pack. You won’t need nearly as much clothing as you expect and if you do need something you haven’t brought then there’s nothing a credit card won’t fix. If you find yourself accumulating over the year then post yourself parcels home with the spare stuff if you want to keep it. Couple of things with a backpack - get one that has a harness cover so that you don’t have straps dangling everywhere when you get on flights. Also invest in some good packing cubes, I’ve only recently discovered them at my son’s suggestion and I use them all the time now.

Have fun.

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Route wise, the usual thing seems to be to base yourself on the East coast, travelling between Sydney, Melb and Brisbane then heading North to Darwin from May when their Autumn kicks in before going to Perth around September for a month or two and repeat. Not that many go to SA, there ain't a lot of work there and from what I hear Perth is the same now the mining boom has gone. Personally, I went in April and went straight to the NT. Darwin was quiet-ish when I first got there, but got busier by the week until September when they all went East/West again. Backpackers are like migratory birds, they follow work and the sun! Some backpackers spend their entire time on the East coast and make the odd sightseeing trip to Ayers rock etc. 

Ditto on the packing cubes. If you're going soon you'll be hitting their spring, by November work aside, you probably won't need anything other than t-shirts and shorts and the odd light hoodie. Buy anything "formal" for jobs out there apart from a good pair of jeans and max two pairs of casual shoes. You'll practically live in flip-flops in your downtime. Pick up a pair of cheap sunglasses from TK Maxx before you go. Don't take anything you will mind losing aside from essential documents. While theft is not THAT common, it does happen, and more to the point, clothes get picked up a lot in drying rooms etc on accident or not. My point is, err on the light side. You can buy anything out there you need and clothes weren't that expensive from what I can recall as they come from China. 

Long term accom, annoying generic answer incoming but it all depends. By and large, shared "normal" housing is going to be best especially if you're working but you may miss out on some of the social benefits that the hostels provide. You can find great small hostels with a relatively select group of lodgers who work and have the best of both worlds. At 31, you'll be a lot more self-sufficient than a lot of the other backpackers, which will be a plus in terms of adapting when you get there but can be a drawback when you're surrounded by backpackers in their early twenties who party till 2 am every day and sleep in the same dorm as you. Cost wise, it can vary widely. I was paying roughly the same to live in both but hostels are usually much more central so negate travel costs if you live further out in private accom. 

Plane tickets, book your own. If you can't get a second year visa, then use your whole year in Aus and have short de-campments to Asia if you feel the need. Trust me you'll miss it when you're home!  

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Hi sorry for the very late response! Thank you for the replies so far - extremely helpful. 

On 15/08/2018 at 06:32, Quoll said:

Which direction to move in depends on when you start and whether you go clockwise or anti-clockwise. The Wet in the Far North is probably better avoided but you might not appreciate the cold winters in the south unless you’re into skiing. Don’t forget to put the National Capital on your route though, it’s interesting and often missed by backpackers.

I'm thinking to do new south wales first so start in Melbourne and work my way up the coast to Cairnes then Darwin, or vice versa - I want the best warm weather and I'm happy with up to 40C but I can't stand the cold. 

I got my bad - Osprey Farpoint 70 which has a small detatchable backpack and looks a good size. Also ordered packing cubes - Thanks! never knew these existed.

On 18/08/2018 at 03:07, digitalis said:

Route wise, the usual thing seems to be to base yourself on the East coast, travelling between Sydney, Melb and Brisbane then heading North to Darwin from May when their Autumn kicks in before going to Perth around September for a month or two and repeat. Not that many go to SA, there ain't a lot of work there and from what I hear Perth is the same now the mining boom has gone. Personally, I went in April and went straight to the NT. Darwin was quiet-ish when I first got there, but got busier by the week until September when they all went East/West again. Backpackers are like migratory birds, they follow work and the sun! Some backpackers spend their entire time on the East coast and make the odd sightseeing trip to Ayers rock etc.

So Perth isn't essential to see? It looks very isolated on the map I imagine you can only get there from NSW with a flight.

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1 hour ago, daxilic said:

I'm thinking to do new south wales first so start in Melbourne and work my way up the coast to Cairnes then Darwin, or vice versa - I want the best warm weather and I'm happy with up to 40C but I can't stand the cold. 

So Perth isn't essential to see? It looks very isolated on the map I imagine you can only get there from NSW with a flight.

Nowhere is "essential" to see, it's all a matter of personal preference!   I would suggest making a list of the sights you really want to see and build your itinerary around that.  For instance, if you're a wine buff, you might want to visit all the wine regions (but if you're not, don't bother).  If you're a surfer, then you'll want to include all the best surf beaches.  A year sounds like a long time, but you'll be surprised how fast the time goes, so it's important to establish your priorities.

Regardless of personal interests, I'd say everyone should visit the Whitsundays and see the Great Barrier Reef.  I'd also include Darwin (but only in the dry season) so you can visit Kakadu National Park, Litchfield national park, and see the crocodiles on the Yellow River.  I say that because they are quintessentially Australian, very different from anything you'll find anywhere else in the world.   

There are other tourist attractions which aren't unique to Oz and while they're nice to see, they wouldn't be at the top of my list (or even on my list).  All of the major cities come into that category for me.  They all have skyscrapers and traffic and suburbs, and day-to-day life is pretty much the same as any city in the UK or Europe.  The only real difference is that the sun shines more often (except for Melbourne, of course!), and some of them have beaches nearby.  But all the fascinating and unique stuff about Australia is outside the cities.

You can travel overland or by train to Perth, but it will eat up three or four days and although some see it as an experience, others find it terminally boring.  There's lots of interesting places in WA - the Monkey Mia dolphins, Margaret River wineries, Broome, the Kimberley - but it's a big state and many of them are a long way from Perth, so think about which things you want to see and how to get to them and that will help you decide.


Scot by birth, emigrated 1985 | Aussie husband applied UK spouse visa Jan 2015, granted March 2015, moved to UK May 2015 | Returned to Oz June 2016

"The stranger who comes home does not make himself at home but makes home itself strange." -- Rainer Maria Rilke

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