Australia is a pretty expensive place, especially in peak summer season (Nov-Feb). Expect to be paying AUS$30-40 per person per night in a dorm room.
TIP: If staying in Australia (or New Zealand) over Christmas or New Year, ensure you book your accommodation as early as possible – places especially in the main cities get booked up months in advance! The amount of people I met on the road in December that were panicking they had no-where to stay over Christmas was quite alarming. It’s really not that hard to book a place a few months beforehand, and if you decide not to go or use it, you can use the deposit you paid on a future booking if going through Hostelworld so you don’t lose out on that money. See, it’s really not so stressful is it? 🙂
Below is a list of where I stayed on my route down the East coast: from Cairns to Adelaide, and the price tag that went along with it.
I have given each place a rating out of 5 (5 being fab, 1 being terrible).
As a 26 year old solo female backpacker, I did ‘flashback’ more so than backpack. I stayed in dorms but researched on hostelworld the best places to stay and booked in advance, knowing it was coming into Australia’s peak summer tourist season. I highly recommend using Hostelworld to find your accommodation needs.
Travellers Oasis = 4/5
A really nice hostel. Comfortable beds and staff were very helpful in getting your stay organised! I was in a room with no aircon and there were no lockers, but a little safety box was provided for the essentials! Total for cost 4 nights in a 4 bed dorm room – AU$108 ($28pn)
Backpackers by the bay = 4/5
Only downside was the hostel is a good 10 minute walk into the town centre and not in the centre of the town itself. However the hostel offered pick-up and drop off’s to the main bus terminal where the Greyhound departs from, and to the port where the Whitsunday island trips depart from, so you don’t need to lug your heavy backpack around – winner! I spend 1 night here before and after the Whitsunday trip.
Total for in a 4 bed dorm for 2 nights AU$52 (26pn)
Powerplay Catamaran = 3/5
2 days/2 nights on Powerplay (currently priced at $474).
Hervey Bay Flashpackers = 3.5/5
The owner was fab. The rooms were small with noisy bunk beds, and there was no aircon, just a fan and the rooms were very hot. However people use this stop as the gateway to Frazer island so it’s not like you will be here long – nice for a night then move on. There was a huge kitchen with free breckfast, very clean and large lounge area to socialise. The hostel also offered pick up/drop off service to the main bus station and town centre.
Total cost for 2 nights in a 4 bed shared dorm AU$60 ($30pn)
with Cool Dingo = 4/5
3days/2 nights – ($440 when I purchased the tour, however now it is currently sold at $460)
Included 2 nights’ accommodation in a 4 bed shared lodge. It was so nice to stay here rather than camp, especially after a day of rain and cold and you wanted a nice hot shower! Just because it is summer doesn’t mean you aren’t going to get cold and wet and muddy.
Noosa Flashpackers 5/5
Run by the same owner as Hervey Bay Flashpackers – nothing to complain about here! The hostel was modern with a big social area, comfortable rooms and easy access to the pretty town. Again pick up and drop offs from the bus station to the hostel were offered if you let them know beforehand.
Total cost for 2 nights in a 4 bed shared dorm AU$80 ($40pn)
YHA – 4/5
As far as the YHA chain goes, this hostel was fab! About a 10-15 minute walk from where the greyhound bus drops you off. Within walking distance to the town and Southbank. Nice spacious lockers and modern, comfy beds. Highly recommend this place for your stay in what has affectionately becomes known as Brisvegas!
Total cost for 2 nights in a 6 bed shared female dorm AU$72 ($36pn)
Backpackers Inn on the Beach 3/5
Good hostel a few minutes walk to the town and beach. Had a nice swimming pool and social areas, however the beds were thin and bathrooms weren’t as clean as they could have been. I didn’t like the feel of the place as much as other hostels I’d stayed in. Also couldn’t find an area to dry your clothes. The staff were friendly though and for 2 nights was fine.
Total cost for 2 nights in a 6 bed shared basic dorm AU$74 ($37pn)
Bounce Hostel 4.5/5
My only issue with this hostel was there was no fresh air – you couldn’t open a window. The whole building was air-con only. However it was a fab hostel to stay in for the 2 weeks over Christmas and New Year! Great Staff, great people, plenty of daily tours and activities to join, clean rooms and good sized beds with big lockers to keep your valuables safe and secure. A nice TV lounge area and the rooftop terrace were a huge bonus for pre-drinking and socialising. Amazing café next door for breakfast 1 minute walk to the train station which takes you all over Sydney. Highly recommend!
Total cost for 13 nights (Tuesday 22nd Dec – Sun 3rd Jan) in a 6 bed mixed dorm AU$963 ($72pn)
United Backpackers – 3/5
The hostel was in the perfect location, right next to degraves street (a popular spot for foodies and dinner choice) and just along the road from the trams and opposite the main train station! The hostel was big and had a nice big kitchen, however the room was crowded and no aircon and only a little fan made the room too hot. It also smelt quite bad due to the smelly boys that were staying in the room. You definitely can’t expect to get a good night’s sleep here, however for the price it was fine and I was out every day. I do not recommend if you are looking to spend time in the hostel to relax.
Total cost for 8 nights in a 12 bed mixed dorm AU$288 ($36pn)
I was staying with friends in Adelaide; however I would recommend staying at the YHA based on a friend’s review of the place. Accommodation here for a 4/6 bed shared dorm is likely to set you back around AU$30pn.
Great Ocean Road (all accommodation booked using www.booking.com)
3 nights total between 2 persons: $202 per person.
Apollo bay backpackers 4/5
There were not many places left to stay as we booked this trip last minute; however this place was a gem and very convenient for 1 night. Easy roadside parking and a 10 minute walk to the town where there are a few nice shops and restaurants.
Total cost for 1nt in a double room AU$70 ($35pppn)
Port Campbell Motor Inn 5/5
Lovely double room with en-suite bathroom which included a spa bath. Check in and out was a breeze with easy parking outside our room.
Total cost for 1nt in a double room AU$169 ($84.50pppn)
Southern Grampians Cottages 5/5
Lovely place to stay for a night while exploring the Grampians! The land where the cottages occupied was quiet, peaceful and a short 5 minute drive from the nearest town for food. Owners were very friendly and helpful, and let us borrow a DVD to watch that evening. Again the room included a spa bath; would love to return someday.
Total cost for 1nt in a double room AU$165 ($82.50pppn)
Total price of accommodation from Cairns to Melbourne over 6 weeks:
EXC Frazer island and Whitsunday trips = $1,623
INC Frazer island and Whitsunday trips = $2,557
Total price of accommodation from Cairns to Adelaide INC the Great Ocean Road: $2,759
It is very easy to rent a car or camper van in Australia, or travel by bus. Below is a quick breakdown of how I travelled from Cairns to Adelaide.
Cairns – Sydney (East coast): by Greyhound bus. The ticket cost AU$433.50 and is valid for 3 months from the time you start your ticket.
Sydney – Melbourne: I booked a cheap flight which took just an hour compared to a 20+ hour bus ride with greyhound. If you book this early enough in advance you can get this internal flight really cheap and is so much easier! I thoroughly recommend you keep an eye on skyscanner if you know the rough date you’d like to travel.
I picked up a flight with Tigerair at a decent time in the afternoon with 20kg of checked baggage for AUD $119. Bargain.
Melbourne – Adelaide: I hired a car with my boyfriend and drove the Great Ocean road, up to the Grampians and across to Adelaide. Car hire (a Toyota Corolla) with Flight Centre worked out at $320 for 4 days, with pick up in Melbourne and drop off in Adelaide. Much cheaper than booking direct with a car hire company.
Total travel expense from Cairns to Melbourne = $552
Total travel expense from Cairns to Adelaide = $873
I hope this guide was helpful! Please feel free to drop me an email if you have any questions 🙂