Cheap Places To Travel in Australia: Hidden Gems

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If you are looking for cheap places to travel in Australia, keep reading. You will discover the best cheap holiday destinations in Australia from each capital city, plus, secrets to uber-cheap travel around Australia; from transport to accommodation. Pack your sandwiches because we are going on a getaway!

cheap places to travel in Australia
In a country as large as Australia, there are more cheap places to visit than you can poke a kangaroo at. Photo by Ethan Brooke

Cheap Places To Travel in Australia

Growing up in a single-parent household, money was tight. Yet, Mum always found a way to take us on a few holidays around Australia every year. As I ate my homemade lunch while looking out the window of the moving train, my love of travel was born.

Australia is notoriously expensive, but with some planning and the right destination/s, you can have a cheap and cheerful holiday that doesn’t break the bank. Travelling around Australia might not be as expensive as you think!

In this post, you’ll discover the hidden local gems that “premium” tour guides omit; affordable and fun places where a week away won’t take drain your savings account. You’ll see free and low-cost ways to travel there, stay and entertain yourself (and your family). Cheapskates, start packing.

Cheap Holidays from Adelaide

Clare Valley (≈150km/2 hours drive north of Adelaide) is the Barossa Valley’s ‘younger cousin’ wine region; with the bonus nearby natural beauty of pink salt-coloured Lake Bumbunga, a favoured place for Instagrammers and photo shoots. Visit the mid-19th century courthouse or the numerous local wineries for a quick drop.

Nearby Burra and Mintaro are both jam-packed with historical locations, including Martindale Hall, a Georgian-style mansion featured in the movie “Picnic at Hanging Rock”.

Camping from ≈$10/night. Accommodation starts at $125 AUD/night. York Peninsula runs a bus service 3 times/week for ≈$50 AUD/each way/pp, or drive via the Explorer’s Way.

Free Things to Do in Clare Valley: Riesling Trail (Cycling), Richardson Park Playspace and Clare Valley Art Trail.

Claire SA by Amanda Slater (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Cheap Holidays from Brisbane

Hervey Bay (≈300km/3.5 hours drive north of Brisbane) is known for whale watching and proximity to the World Heritage-listed paradise of K’gari (Fraser Island). It is both a family-friendly and budget backpacker destination.

For a bargain, avoid High Season (December to February) – when prices increase to capitalise on families visiting for the summer holidays. Consider November or March, when temperatures are still perfect for the beach. Nearby Rainbow Beach and 1770 are well worth the visit for their white sands and cool blue water.

Camping from ≈$11 AUD/night. Dorm beds from $23 AUD/night. Private accommodation starts at $120 AUD/night. Coach via Premier Transport from Brisbane to Hervey Bay from ≈$85 AUD (Return/pp). By train you’ll need to transfer from Maryborough or Rockhampton to a local bus service via QLD Rail. Flights are available.

Free Things to Do in Hervey Bay: Visit Urangan Pier, Hervey Bay Botanical Garden or swim at Shelley Beach.

Hervey Bay… by Denisbin (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Cheap Holidays from Melbourne

Cobram (≈250km/3.5 hours drive north of Melbourne) straddles both the NSW border and the famous Murray River, along which there are a number of natural ‘beaches’ for swimming or kayaking. Visit Cactus Country, Australia’s largest cactus garden dubbed a “little piece of Mexico” or Barmah National Park to walk the Yamyabuc Trail. Nearby Echuca/Moama and Deniliquin are riverside towns well worth checking out while in the region.

Camping from ≈$6 AUD/night. Private accommodation from ≈$110 AUD/night. Train via V-Line to Shepparton and coach from Shepparton to Cobram (Timetable) for ≈$60 AUD (Return/pp).

Free Things to Do in Cobram: Visit Horseshoe Lagoon, Quinns Island and Federation Park.

The old Cobram-Barooga bridge over the Murray River at Cobram, Victoria by Mattinbgn (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Cheap Holidays from Perth

Albany (≈420km/4.5 hours drive southeast of Perth) is located on the stunning southern coastline of Western Australia. From sheer cliffs to some of the most ancient trees in the country, you’ll be blown away by the views. A number of local op shops should satisfy the thrifty bargain hunter.

Nearby Denmark and many smaller surrounding towns along the Rainbow Coast are perfect for stopping and enjoying while on a coastal road trip that rivals the Great Ocean Road in Victoria.

Camping from ≈$15 AUD/night. Dorm beds from ≈$35 AUD/night. Private accommodation from $72 AUD/night. Bus via TransWA costs from $87 AUD each way/pp. Flights are available.

Free things to do in Albany: Visit the Public Art Trail, Museum of the Great Southern and various National Parks.

Highest Point of Limestone Head Looking Back… by Brett and Sue Coulstock (CC BY 2.0)

Cheap Holidays from Sydney

Bundanoon (≈150km/2 hour drive southwest of Sydney) is a small Scottish-inspire Southern Highlands hamlet only a few hours from the city. A Buddhist Monastery and ex-working mine Erith Coal Mine are just some of the unusual local attractions. Nearby Bowral and Fitzroy Falls are worth adding to a trip around the area.

Camping from ≈$8 AUD/day. Private accommodation from $90 AUD/night. Economy tickets from Sydney on the Southern Xplorer Train via NSW TrainLink start from ≈$45 AUD (Return/pp).

Free things to do in Bundanoon: Visit Morton National Park, Fairy Bower Falls and Glow Worm Glen.

Mark Morton Lookout, Bundanoon by Andrew Harvey (CC BY 2.0)

Yet, maybe you don’t want to go out to the country, but instead, want an urban getaway.

Best Cheap Urban/City Holiday Destination in Australia

While Clare Valley, Hervey Bay, Cobram, Albany and Bundanoon are all great cheap holiday destinations, if you’re looking for a city getaway on a budget… you cannot miss Hobart in the winter.

A dorm bed in Hobart starts at ≈$30 AUD/night, a double room from ≈$85 AUD/night and ≈$110 AUD/night for a private queen room in a budget motel. Booking accommodation, flights and ferries in Low Season (May, June, July and August) will net you the biggest savings.

Return flights from Melbourne to Hobart can be found from ≈$150 AUD during the winter if booked in advance. Jetstar and Virgin both service this route. Look out for sales. Taking your car on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry (Geelong > Devonport > Geelong) from ≈$396 AUD (Return) could save you $$ on car hire during your stay, but passenger-only ferry travel can be booked for as little as ≈$199 AUD (Return/pp).

Free things to do in Hobart: Visit the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and Battery Point Sculpture Trail.

Tasmania in winter is cheap but spectacular. Mount Wellington, Hobart. Photo by Margaret Major on Unsplash

Cheap Holidays in Australia FAQ

What is the cheapest area in Australia?

Hobart (Tasmania) is the cheapest Australian capital city, but the cheapest area to travel to you may just be the closest. Travelling in Low Season and away from popular tourist areas will lower your overall costs.

Which state in Australia is the cheapest?

South Australia has the nation’s cheapest cost of food and rental accommodation but Tasmania is slightly more affordable overall. East Coast states with extensive regional rail networks (like NSW, Victoria and QLD) and frequent bus and coach routes offer budget-friendly transport but accommodation is generally more expensive.

What is the cheapest city to stay in Australia?

Hobart (Tasmania) is the cheapest capital city to stay in Australia. As we’ve seen, accommodation is affordable compared to the larger Australian cities and a number of low-cost and free attractions and world-famous National Parks like Mount Field National Park are close by. Flights during the winter months can be found at a big discount.

Cheap Travel Around Australia Tips

  • Travel during Low Season (June to August) or Shoulder Seasons (March-May/September to November);
  • Book as far in advance as possible;
  • Hiring and sleeping in a campervan/RV may be cheaper than paying for accommodation;
  • Look for train and bus passes that allow you multiple journeys within a certain time (30 days etc);
  • Consider house swapping or house sitting and find accommodation for free.

Hopefully, you’ve now found the perfect cheap place to travel in Australia for your next holiday. Remember, many of these local gems aren’t as ‘glamourous’ as their busy, higher-priced counterparts – but that’s part of their charm. As carloads of stressed-out holidaymakers fight for a campsite or overpriced resort, you’ll be part of the smaller group of in-the-know locals who visit the scenic locations away from the bustle.

Just remember to pack your sandwiches.

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