Australia on a Budget
Whether you enjoy hiking, exploring museums or soaking up some sun at the beach, there are countless experiences that come with a low cost, but still provide a high level of enjoyment. For example, taking a stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens or catching a free concert at the Sydney Opera House are both great ways to experience the beauty and culture of Australia without spending a dime. So don't be put off by the country's price tag – with a bit of creativity and careful planning, Australia can be a budget-friendly destination that offers a wealth of unforgettable experiences.
All of the major cities have free beautiful public parks with amazing locations to go for a walk or have a picnic.
- Perth’s Kings Park overlooks the beautiful city of Perth, while also home to some of the state’s amazing wildflowers & fauna.
- In Sydney there is the Royal Botanic Gardens, a heritage-listed 30ha botanical garden, event venue and public recreation area.
- In Melbourne don’t miss their Botanical Gardens, which extends across 36 hectares that slope to the river with trees, garden beds, lakes and lawns.
- The Adelaide Botanic Garden is a 51-hectare public garden in the Adelaide Park Lands, the design influenced by the Royal Gardens at Kew, England and Versailles, France.
- Brisbane’s City Botanic Gardens include the Bamboo Grove, Weeping Fig Avenue, Riverstage, ornamental ponds and more.
- The George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens cover 42 hectares and are popular for relaxing under a canopy of rain trees and tall palms.
With a coastline stretching almost 50,000 kilometres, linking over 10,000 beaches, Australia has become famous for its beaches. Parking is free at many beaches, or easily accessible by public transport. Making it a very popular cheap activity that locals love best.
Most beaches have BBQ or picnic facilities, so pack a basket with food, water, sunscreen & a towel for a great day out. Most beaches also have a fish & chip shop nearby, providing a good feed for little cost. If you're interested in trying out the Australian surf and don't have a board, check out local board shops in the area. Some local shops will hire surfboards out, others run surfing lessons, or you can pick up a surfboard relatively cheap.
If parks & beach sand aren’t your thing, then get your walking shoes on to explore the many stunning coastal walks. You can enjoy short walks, or longer treks where you might want to take some snacks, plenty of water and your camera.
However, the ocean & beach is to be respected as being unpredictable. Rip currents can occur at any beach, and sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea. ALWAYS swim between the flags on a patrolled beach.
Australia has some of the world's most diverse natural environments, with spectacular landscapes inhabited by unique wildlife. Australia also has thousands of National Parks for hiking, day stays or camping holidays and visiting World Heritage Areas. Discover ancient rainforests on the fringe of modern cities, explore wide open spaces, climb snow-capped mountains, swim in pristine waters, or get up close & personal to our native plants and animals.
Some do charge a vehicle entry fee, so it may be worth getting a multi-park pass or an annual pass. Some have various areas that are free to visit.
To find some of these National Parks & Heritage Listed areas, check out their State department:
- NSW National Parks
- Queensland National Parks
- South Australia
- Western Australia
- Northern Territory
Australia has some great galleries and museums, and many of them are free.
- Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
- Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
- Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney
- NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) International, Melbourne
- The Ian Potter Centre (NGV Federation Square), Melbourne
- State Library of Victoria, Melbourne
- Queensland Museum, Brisbane
- Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
- Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart
- Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory, Darwin
- National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
- National Museum of Australia, Canberra
- Art Gallery of South Australia, North Terrace, Adelaide
- Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
There’s no shortage of budget airlines servicing Australia’s major cities. Virgin, Tiger and Jetstar have regular flights back & forward across Australia. Regional Express Airlines can take you to more out remote places like Coober Pedy, Broken Hill or King Island.
How to get a cheaper flight:
- compare your quotes before you book direct with airlines & check for last minute flight deals
- the best days to fly are Saturday afternoons, Sunday mornings, Tuesdays or Wednesdays
- fly with carry-on baggage only to save on excess baggage fees
Driving Cross Country
Driving across Australia can be costly, or it can be a budget adventure. Vehicles & caravans often need to be moved from State to State, or even across the country, back to home base or a predetermined location. These are one-way vehicles transfers. These vendors prefer to offer cheap rentals (often from as little as $1 per day), rather than put them on the back of a truck & have them transported to their location. This means huge savings for you, and you get to see more of the countryside and its people than you would flying.
Food & Drink
Food & drink can be one of the biggest expenses on a holiday. If you’re a bit of a foodie or like a nice Chardonnay, it can get quite expensive. Australia is well known for it’s fine food, award winning wines & breweries.
However, just because you are on a budget, it doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of some world class food.
- Visit local pubs & taverns for a good feed at a decent price.
- Australia has some of the World’s best fish’n’chip shops, kebab shops and award winning bakeries.
- Australia also has a great assortment of international eateries offering Indian, Chinese, Lebanese, Taiwanese, Greek, Mexican, Turkish, and many other cultural delights. Many of these have lunch time & dinner specials.
- If you want to go even more budget, Australia has a vast variety of fast-food outlets in most suburbs, towns, and many in the city areas. Fast-food outlets are always offering cheap specials on food.
- If you are more into fresh food more, there are fresh-food markets everywhere. Australians love their fresh food.
Whether you are driving around the countryside, camping, or staying in room accommodation, you should pack an esky. Pack an esky? An esky is a cooler and can be bought in many sizes & for various costs at most department & camping stores around Australia. Cartons of soft drink or alcohol cost less than buying the items individually. Throw some ice in an esky on top of your drinks, and have cold drinks whenever you want one, at a fraction of the cost of buying them retail. Make sure you also have a drink bottle to carry water with you. Tap water around most of Australia tastes as good as, if not better than commercial bottled water. It’s also better for our environment if you carry your own drink bottle for water.
There are several ways to get cheaper accommodation in Australia. There are accommodation booking websites, camping location websites, caravan hire websites, couch surfing websites, share accommodation websites, house swap booking websites, or hostels and backpackers websites. You’ll find self-contained accommodation, or serviced. Rural, nature-based, adventure or working accommodation. Or AirBNB will be able to find something in your price range. Look for last-minute deals that can save a fortune. If you’re using a booking website, it’s always worth checking the accommodations website because they throw up great last minute vacancy specials.
If you are looking at travelling during peak holiday times or school holidays, it’s always worth booking your accommodation before arriving, because they can book out months ahead.
06 May 2019