Let’s be honest, Australia isn’t really known for being a budget holiday destination. Not only is our country huge and all our major cities and attractions spread out, but things cost a lot too (trust me, we know!) While a trip to Australia will probably never be the low-cost holiday of your bank account’s dreams, there are some clever ways you can save money and still explore our fine country on a shoestring. Here are a few of my top tips on how to see Australia on a budget.
1. Take the bus
Kick it old school with a bus adventure! Rather than shelling out money for flights, get yourself on the bus and have a good old-fashioned overland adventure. Plan it right and you can catch the bus from Sydney to Tamworth and find yourself at the awesome Tamworth Country Music Festival for an awesome Aussie experience.
2. Relocation rental
Save money on accommodation and car hire by taking advantage of relocation rentals. Basically, hire cars and campervans need to be relocated, usually between major cities. It’s usually a last-minute gig, but if you’re a happy-go-lucky traveller you’ll be able to save money on car rental and accommodation while having an awesome road trip adventure at the same time.
3. Find the cheapest flights
The most expensive part of getting to Australia has to be the flights. While you can’t get around having to pay for flights, you can get more for your money. Qantas have a Walkabout Air Pass which includes your roundtrip airfare to Australia and a number of domestic flights so you can visit Uluru, Sydney, and Cairns easily.
4. Visit outside of peak season
Flight prices skyrocket between December and February, as does the temperature. If you’re looking to save money on flights, try visiting outside of the peak season. My favourite time of year in Brisbane is May when it’s nice and cool but not quite cold yet.
5. Enjoy Free Wildlife Experiences
Yes, you read right, there are plenty of free wildlife experiences to be had around Australia. We’re really proud of our native animals and we’re keen to show them off to visitors! Spot wallabies at the Alligator Creek campground, meet wombats at the Tidal River campground or say G’day to a kangaroo at the Euroka campground. Basically, if you’re anywhere near the bush, you’ll get the chance to see wildlife for free (not in a pricey park) just ask the locals for tips
6. Take the train into town
In Brisbane and Sydney, you’ll find a train service running from the airport to the center of town. It’s cheaper and can be much easier than catching a taxi, especially if you’re landing in Sydney at peak times (the cab line is huge!) Book tickets online, in advance, to save more on cost.
7. Plan to visit key spots
Australia is huge, so you need to come prepared. You wouldn’t visit Canada or the States and expect to see the whole lot in 2 weeks! Getting from one side of the country to the other is time-consuming and expensive, so try to tackle it in regions. For example, aim to visit the East Coast by starting in Cairns, working your way down to Brisbane then on to Sydney and Melbourne. Don’t expect to do it all at once.
8. Take advantage of places with free entry
There are plenty of free things to see and do in Australia’s major cities, so take advantage of them! In Brisbane visit the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art and the Queensland Museum. In Sydney check out the Art Gallery of NSW, Museum of Contemporary Art and Maritime Museum. In Melbourne head to the National Gallery of Victoria International and the Ian Potter Centre.
9. Enjoy luxe for less
You’ll want to see the famous tourist spots, but when you get there you’ll often find it costs a small fortune to enjoy it properly. Breakfast along the water with a view of the Opera House can easily bust your daily budget. Instead, find a local bakery and get your hands on a fresh pastry and a coffee, then stake out the very best views along the water, grab a piece of bench to sit on and enjoy those million dollar views for much, much less.
10. Find cheap accommodation
Rather than shelling out money for fancy hotels, look into house sitting and pet sitting stays or research vacation rentals, homestays, and farm stays for cheaper accommodation options. You’ll also find plenty of hostels dotted around the country, offering the chance to make friends and save money too.
11. Go camping
For real adventurers, consider camping. You can pick up some pretty cheap and basic camping gear from shops like KMart and Big W. Hire yourself a vehicle and take a road trip around Australia, stopping to set up camp in some of the most beautiful bushland imaginable.
12. Explore our National Parks and Coastal Walks
Another great way to see the true heart of Australia at absolutely no cost is to visit our National Parks and Coastal Walks. Australia isn’t about shopping malls and mega-structures, it’s about the incredible natural spots we have to offer. Rugged coastline, dense bushland, native animals coming up to say hello. You’ll find all this on offer totally free of charge!
13. Find the free transport around the big cities
In a few of the major cities, you’ll find cheeky ways of getting around free. In Melbourne, they offer a free tram to shuttle visitors around and in Brisbane, there’s a free bus loop to help you explore the area. Find them and use them!
14. Take advantage of free guided city tours
You’ll also find Brisbane offering free guided walking tours, thanks to the incredible Brisbane Greeters. You’ll learn a lot about the city (I did one and was shocked at how much I learned!) and you’ll get to meet some real Brisbane locals who love to show off our home. If you can’t find a free tour, look for budget ways to make your own, like catching a ferry around Sydney harbour.
Watch: our ‘Colour of Queensland, Australia’ video
Phoebe is a travel writer and photographer with a love for storytelling and making people laugh. Matt is a videographer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and big adventures. Together we inspire big adventures through our guides, videos, vlogs and photographs. Find out more about us here.