Primarily the Medicare system (similar to N.H.S in the U.K) is for Australian citizens, but if you're from a country which participates in the reciprocal health care agreement you may be eligible to join Medicare and gain 'immediate access' to the services they provide. If you're eligble, this is well worth the effort and can be of considerable value if you're backpacking in Australia for longer periods.
Read our helpful backpacking checklist and get lots of hints/tips about what to pack before you go to Australia. Learn about choosing the right backpack, what essentials you will need to take with you and how to travel light when you need to.
When you're backpacking around Australia anything can happen and you'll need travel insurance to protect yourself in case of an emergency. No matter how much time you spend in Australia (or anywhere else abroad), travel insurance is a major priority when you're planning your trip.
It's important to learn a little bit about travel safety in Australia for you and the people you are travelling with. In this article we discuss travel safety ideas for backpackers in Australia and outline some helpful hints & tips for staying safe on holiday.
There are some really good visas available for backpacking in Australia. They vary in price and each visa has a set of criteria to meet before a visa is granted. The working holiday visa is very popular because you can travel and work in Australia for 12 months. In this article we share which visas are available, how to apply and how to extend the working holiday visa for an extra year.
A little bit of research about Australia's geography can go a long way when planning your trip. The weather patterns in Australia can make all the difference to your plans! The monsoon (wet season) for example, can make travel dangerous in the summer months up in northern Australia. In this section you can learn about the weather patterns, states and major cities of Australia.
When you go backpacking around Australia, it's important to have somebody you can trust at home to help you out when you need to get things done. This will be your appointed person and they will be helping you manage your trip when you're in Australia. Learn how to keep everything in order while your backpacking around Australia.
When you're backpacking around Australia on a budget the hostels are an ideal place to stay. Hostels cater for backpackers who are looking for a temporary base whilst exploring the awesomeness of Australia.
They usually have dormitory style sleeping arrangements (split into male and female which suits most backpackers) but quite often they also have private single or double rooms (if required) at an extra cost.
To learn more about budgeting for your trip read our excellent The Backpacker's Budget for Australia - Cost Of living In Australia - PART 1 article.
You can find hostels all over Australia. Hostel standards are all different but you can get a fairly good idea by reading backpackers reviews on booking sites.
Depending on your usual living arrangements, hostel life may take a bit of getting used to in the beginning. Things like sharing the kitchen spaces and common rooms with larger numbers of people than you may be used to or sharing the facilities like the t.v, barbeque's, washer/dryers etc... but it won't take long before it feels like one big happy family.
The people you will be living with have come from all corners of the globe and will give you a very interesting, multi-cultural experience. They will range from the seasoned backpackers to the newly arrived and each person will have a different story to tell.
You will be meeting and making new friends with lots of people who have been drawn to the same place as you who want the same experiences and you will go off on your grand adventures together.
One very endearing thing about hostel life is that, people who have experienced time with others from around the world can understand and appreciate the ways of each culture and bring new light to some of the prejudice which exists. Because of the diversity of culture you can find in the hostels, remember to always be kind and respect peoples wishes.
The cleanliness of a hostel depends on the hostel staff to a degree but the responsibility also lies with the backpackers themselves. It's important to remember that if you make a mess it's only fair that you should clean it up afterwards, this applies to the kitchen areas, common areas, toilet areas and the dorms.
For example, the last thing you want to do is climb over bags or other things when you want to get to your bed, or keep moving dishes to get to the sink. This applies to everybody, a clean hostel is a happy hostel and everyone is in this together.
Finding a hostel with a place to safely store your luggage is always a bonus, both for security and saving space in the dorms (though sometimes they may charge extra). Other options for storing your backpack (and other gear) might include the end of the bed or underneath it (if possible), basically anywhere which is clear of walkways or emergency exits.
For food storage there is usually a pigeon hole type arrangement (in or near the kitchen) where you can bag up and store all the bits you have bought. Using an identifiable shopping bag (read our Backpackers Packing Guide/Checklist for backpacking around Australia - PART 1 article) to save any food going missing by mistake. Fridges can be a bit cluttered sometimes so only buy what you will need for a few days, labeling your items as you go.
Australia can be very hot in the heights of summer and at this time it's worth trying to find hostels with air conditioning. During the day it's not really much of a problem as most of the time you will be out exploring and having fun (remember your sun screen), but at night time it can be too hot and difficult to sleep.
The same also goes for the cold in the winter, in places like Tasmania the temperature can drop considerably and if there is no heating it can sometimes make things a bit miserable. Try to find a place that has taken care of these requirements, if you can't get the information online give them a call and find out before you book.
Sometimes you can find hostels which provide breakfast in the morning (usually cerial or toast with a cup of tea or coffee). If you're a fairly active backpacker, this is an ideal bonus to grab on your way out the door and saves you the cost of making your own.
Choosing the location of your hostel will depend on the places you want to visit and the things you want to do. Wherever you decide to stay, make sure that it's located next to all the services and facilities you're going to need for that part of the trip.
This would include, public transport, the banks, super markets anything you know you will need when you get there (this is especially important when you first get to Austrlia).
Most of the time the hostel staff will provide you with a small map of the surrounding area and show you where different things are, but it always a good idea to spend a little bit of time on the web making sure it has everything you need before you book.
The size of the hostel can also change the experience for better or worse. For example, if you're a city fan and love the pace of activity usually found there, a small hostel in the middle of the city will be ideal. There will be a party on the go every other night, people will invite you to go out in the evenings, everyone will be buzzing around doing their thing and for some of you that will be great!
If however, you like a bit more quiet time and space to get away from it all, a large hostel with plenty of room which is further out of the city is going to be the ideal choice. Some of the best hostels of this kind are the YHA buildings (http://www.yha.com.au) which are usually fairly well kept and offer some good facilities.
Either way, you will soon know what kind of environment you like to be in, just be sure to consider which kind of hostel you want to stay in carefully because it will affect the type of experience you have.
When you book a hostel, always be sure to find out when the staff members are going to be available because you will need to meet with them in order to check-in.
Check-in is just a matter of confirming and paying for your reservation after which they will give you your key (or card, or code) and tell you a bit about the lay of the land. Usually some ID (i.e passport) is necessary and a small deposit is required for your room key which is returned to you when you check-out.
When you're booking a hostel make sure you arrive within the 'opening hours'. When you're arranging transport (flights, busses, trains, etc...) to your new destination make sure it all coincides with the check-in times.
For example, if you're leaving home on a flight to Australia and arrive at 8:00pm it will reduce your chances of check-in (which can cause obvious problems).
It's the same for the 'wing it' type of backpacker, who just aimlessly travels about from place to place, counting on finding a hostel when they get there. Not very sensible at all! There have been many rough nights spent unnecessarily because of not taking these few simple steps when arranging accommodation.
Check-out is a little less dramatic, all it really means is returning your key and getting your deposit back. When you're planning your route to go somewhere else, try to keep your leaving time within the staffing hours and if you can't, make sure you speak to them in good time about returning the key and getting your deposit back before you leave.
For better chances of getting work in Australia you may wish to create and store some employment documents. A Resume (C.V) with a covering letter would make a good impression on a new employer.
Unless you have booked your flights months in advance the dates you choose will make all the difference to the cost of your flight. Pack weight is also something to consider for your journey.
There is quite a lot of preparation you can do to maximise your chances of getting work when you need it. Work can be easy to find as long as you know where to look and take every opportunity you get.
When you go to Australia it's important to have somebody you can trust at home to help you out when you need to get things done. Read our guide about choosing an appointed person before you go.
The Medicare system is for Australian citizens but if you're from a country which participates in the health care agreement you may well be eligible to join Medicare.
Driving in Australia will easily provide you with the most freedom to explore. Having your own vehicle you can go anywhere, at any time without the hassle of public transport.