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A Guide to Australia for the Budget Backpacker

Backpacking through Australia is becoming a rite of passage for many students that are putting down their study books and picking up a travel pack filled with supplies. A traveller's favourite because of the laid-back, friendly local attitude, the ease at getting work and the same language, Australia offers a warm welcome to anyone who finds themselves on it's doorstep.

If you don't want to be tied down to work whilst you're exploring the country and it's beautiful historical culture, then travelling on a tight budget is necessary - but this doesn't mean you end up skimping on the really fun stuff. Believe it or not, you can have a really authentic Australian experience with a budget that you might find incredulously small.

The first tip, is to avoid the tourist-triangle: Sydney Harbour, Uluru (Ayers Rock) and the Great Barrier Reef. Knowing that these three hotspots are bound to charge more than any other aspect of Australia, iconic or not, is the key to keeping your spending low.

Visit Chillagoe, and stay in the affordably modest Chillagoe Hotel Motel. The owner, Ray Neary is exceptionally friendly towards tourists and accepts that the town of Chillagoe (Population: 350) is a great deal for wandering tourists, "œEveryone thinks you have to go out in the middle of nowhere, fly all the way to Ayers Rock or something, to find the Outback," Neary says. "œBut this - is the real deal, and it's a heck of a lot closer to civilization." A traditional town in the Outback, Chillagoe boasts being the home to the impressive Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park, where there are 30,000 year-old Aboriginal rock-wall paintings sat just beyond a string of coffee and sugar-cane plantations, dotted with rustic Australian building, most of which are now homes, stores or guesthouses. Although it won't be able to compete with the awe-inspiring natural beauty of Ayers Rock, there's a lot more to do, it's cheaper and you get a real feel of what Australian outback culture is about.

Now, whilst we advised you that visiting Sydney Harbour would be a sure-fire way to lose more money than you bargained for, it is possible to pop through the city without splashing your cash. If you choose to participate in the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb, it will set you back a good £115 for the cheapest tour, but if you visit Mrs Macquarie's Chair (a 200-year old chair carved out of natural rock situated in the Royal Botanical Garden) you'll be able to admire the harbour, the spectacular city views and how the city frames it's landmarks with architectural genius, all for free.

Bondi, the ultimate pit-stop for traveller's wide-eyed but weary with the sights of Australia so far, this beach proves to be 'surfer heaven', with reams of surfers riding waves and others playing sports on the beach. However, for a budget traveller, amenities like food and drink for a beach day are a lot cheaper over near Coogee, after Bondi it's the most popular beach that faces the Pacific Ocean. Barzura - the local's favourite restaurant - is a cheap and great place to eat for peckish beach go-ers, or Melonhead, the local juice bar, provides really refreshing drinks at any time of the day. A two-hour drive north of Sydney is your chance to play meet-and-greet with some of Australia's best-known wildlife at Hunter Valley Zoo. It's only small, and admission price is £26, but it's worth it after you get to pet a koala and see kangaroos, dingoes, wombats and a huge collection of rainbow-hued birds.

You really don't have to spend loads of money to get a trip full of great authentic memories, it only takes a little know-how and careful money management to ensure you thoroughly enjoy every aspect of your time in Australia. You can even have extras for affordable prices, things like travel insurance from Alpha can provide great essential cover and still fit within your budget, keeping you protected from any excessive financial costs which could ruin your trip.

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