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Are you a backpacker coming to Australia? There are many backpackers here, most on working holiday visa programs. Backpackers in Australia usually stay at backpacker hostels. There are a ton of youth hostels in Australia, but plenty of backpacker hostels are not affiliated with the YHA. Game for pickups in Australia? Stay at a backpackers! Dormitory beds in Australia are inexpensive and perfect for a pickups in Australia. Dorm beds in Australia don't offer much privacy but you already knew that.


Backpackers In Australia


"The Working Holiday visa program and the relatively expensive hotel and restaurant situation in Australia have worked together to create an alternate cheapish and sleazy backpacker scene where travelers can bed down for the night in barrack-style co-ed dormitories and quite possibly share that bed with someone of equally sleazy temperament."  Doug Knell, Doug's Republic
backpacking Australia

Any nation or region were poor people descend in ritualized splendor is ripe for a backpacker scene.  A backpacker scene consists of:

  Ample amenities within a stone's throw or on the premises.  Amenities consist of internet access, telephones, travel agencies, alcohol, drugs (if the nation is tolerant enough), and an out-of-tune guitar which people who can't sing or play can pretend to strum a recent Top 40 hit in order to seduce a fellow skint backpacker.

backpackers in Australia

All the classic backpacker ingredients: a hot tub, alcohol, drunken youth, and near-empty wallets

  Lots of fellow travelers, doing almost the identical trip you're doing, sitting around the table boasting of all the travel things they've done or about to do.  If you hear one of these conversations, then you've heard them all.

   People who haven't done that much off-the-beaten-track traveling or traveling period.  Most will be under 30 and closer to 20 than they are to 30.  Nearly all will be gripping a copy of Lonely Planet Australia.   In general, these people will already be grouped up either in couples or as packs of 2-4 same-sex travelers touring together.  Backpacker pickups usually occur when one group encounters another, and multiple members of each group pair off for a night of thrills.  Backpackers traveling solo are a rarer breed and will pickup less frequently.  There is power in numbers.

Wherever a backpacker scene has developed, there is always a prior lure bringing in the backpacker demographic, and thereafter the backpacker support structure springs up to support the influx.  In Australia's case, the working holiday visa programs bring in plenty of foreigners who otherwise couldn't afford to travel around Australia and stay in standard hotels.  These people need to stay in a backpacker hostel in order to cheaply cook their beans on toast.  Near broke, privacy is something they're forced to forego when sleeping at night.  Backpackers ingeniously turn this lack of privacy into a win-win, by sleeping on top of the nearest willing backpacker of the opposite sex.  As they say, when you have lemons, make lemonade; when you have to sleep in a dorm, stage an orgy.   

Backpacker hostels Australia
Australian Backpacker Hostels

One place to check for hostels in Australia is through the Youth Hostel Assocation's (YHA) website, but this is not reflective of all the backpacker hostels in the country.  Plenty of backpacker places/pickup joints in Australia are not affiliated with the YHA.  YHA hostels have membership and non-membership rates for the night.  Membership is so cheap that if you stay 4 nights in a YHA hostel, the cost of membership will have paid for itself.

Hostelbookers displays listing of hostels in a number of countries, including Australia.  Hostels Australia claims to offer the most comprehensive selection of hostels in Australia at the lowest prices.  World Nomads features hostel bookings mainly in the Australia-New Zealand region. 

The backpacker hostel market is not the like the hotel market.  You don't have 1-star, 3-star, and 5-star backpacker places with rack rates which can be discounted by various promotions.  Backpacker hostels cater to the lowest budget.  Therefore, I'd be less keen to book a backpacker hostel online in advance, sight unseen.  A number of these places should be condemned.

You do not have to be young or single to stay in a backpacker hostel, though as one would expect, older travelers are usually better off financially to be able to afford alternative accommodation.  It is not altogether uncommon to see families with children staying in these places.  The price of the 4-bed dorm still winds up cheaper than staying in an overpriced Australian hotel.

Doug Knell Doug's Personal Story Doug Knell
For me, backpacker hostels were a "been there, done that" experience.  I'd done the dormitory bed run when I traveled around Europe in my early 20's and in South Africa in my late 20's. In Australia, I had my own car, tent, and cooking gear, and as a Category Three male, did not view backpacker hostels as preferred or necessary places to stay.

Tasmania offered superb campgrounds at prices of around AUD 6 per night, so I spent 75% of my time there camping.  Pub rooms in selected towns were also reasonably priced at the time, between AUD 25-35 per night, sometimes no more expensive than a local backpacker joint, but at the pub I got my own private room without an attached bathroom.   

Throughout the rest of my stay in Australia, I camped if I were in a remote area with stunningDoug camping in Adventure Bay, Tasmania scenery.   I tried to avoid municipal camping whenever possible.  Municipal campgrounds aren't particularly beautiful, and the nature part of the camping experience is lacking. Whenever I stayed in a capital city, I tried to find a pub room or inexpensive hotel.  It defeated the purpose of being there to stay in a campground 10-20 km from the city center.   Sometimes an inexpensive room wasn't possible, and I had to resort to a backpackers, but I was finicky about finding backpacker places that offered inexpensive single rooms. Sometimes the difference between a dorm bed and my own room was just AUD 7-10.  In Esperance (Western Australia) at the near-empty hostel, I secured my own private room for AUD 30, while the other four guys I socialized with were shoved together in one 4-bed dorm, paying AUD 23 apiece.  In Coral Bay (Western Australia) I paid AUD 35 for my own room.  Across the hall, four British backpackers shared the same-sized room as a 4-bed dorm, paying collectively AUD 100.  

The point I'm trying to make is that that dorming it doesn't always pay.  In Albany (Western Australia), I secured a pub room for AUD 22.  Down the street, a German stayed in a backpacker inn, sharing his bedroom with three others, and paid AUD 25.  I visited his backpacker joint.  It was a dump, with a lot less character than the pub where I was staying.   In Perth, I was five minutes walk from the business center and paid just AUD 19 per night for my own room in what amounted to an Asian/Middle-Eastern student residence.  The other backpackers I encountered on surfing trips and on the lame Perth nightlife scene were staying in 6-bed dorms for AUD 25 per night.  My Perth residence offered decent cooking facilities and was a lot less congested than the backpacker hostels I visited when meeting up with other travel contacts.

Doug in pub room in Deloraine, TasmaniaOnly five nights in my year in Australia did I have to swallow my pride and stay in cramped vile dorms.  There were two nights in Lorne (Victoria), where camping in an ugly campground in the pouring rain was more expensive than a warm but lame dorm bed.  Then, there was one night in Denham (Western Australia).  The man above me snored so loud that Australians in neighboring states were likely awakened by the noise. I got up at the crack of dawn, packed up my car, and was out of there before the sun rose.  The last painful experience was two nights in Noosa (Queensland), staying at some backpacker "resort."  In backpacker-lingo, "resort" is a euphemism for a pig sty.  With night rains, camping was out.  I slept in my car one night before admitting defeat and checking into this hole, only because it was the sole place I found which had a bed available.  In Surfer's Paradise days later I was shown a crowded dormitory with beds in the kitchen.  By then, the sight of a dormitory made me puke.  I got into my car, drove away to Coolangatta, and checked into a quaint hotel for AUD 15 more.  

If I had to do it all over, I wouldn't have even subjected myself to those 5 nights in the backpacker dorms.  I would've slept in my car. 

Am I knocking backpacker accommodation?  You bet!  But then again, I am not twenty-five years of age and able or willing to seduce 22-yr old female backpackers in a grotty hostel hot tub.  If you're the right age and income bracket, good luck at the backpackers.  Post us your sleaziest Australian backpacker stories for reprint at Doug's Republic, so we can keep the backpacker dream alive for future party revelers on their way to Australia.


 

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Insights From A Travel Mastermind

 The backpacker market in Australia is huge. Backpackers flood the country on working holiday visa programs. Backpackers in Australia love to stay at backpacker hostels. Youth hostels abound in Australia, but not all backpacker hostels are affiliated with the YHA. Pickups in Australia is a great reason to come. Stay at a backpackers! The Dormitory beds in Australia are not a lot of dough and perfect for pickups in Australia. Dorm beds in Australia don't offer much privacy but you already knew that, mate.