Most sites limit what you can say about the hostels so I’ve put together some reviews on the accommodation we stayed at along the East Coast (excluding our friend Mike’s place in Noosa but it’s definitely a 10/10).
The prices are what we paid as of May 2017 but if you’re looking at this in 6 months or 6 years, it may well have changed! All prices are in AUD and are what we paid per person.
Cairns accommodation: Calypso Inn Backpackers Resort
Room type: 6 bed dorm (we got upgraded to a four bed and then a twin without asking though!)
Room cost: $22 per night per person
About the hostel: There was loads of outdoor space to relax in, a lagoon type pool and the staff were happy to store our stuff when we did our trip to Daintree Rainforest (even though we didn’t book it through them). Wi-Fi was unlimited and there’s a free shuttle to/from the airport/town. Great place to meet locals and backpackers alike and get drunk, play jenga and jump in the pool at night (…or is that just me?) The downside is that the kitchen is way too small. Considering the amount of outside of space there is, it could be made bigger. The bar next to the kitchen meant you can’t buy your own beers to drink on site. Oh, and Thursday’s ‘Reptile Night’– enough said.
Mission Beach accommodation: Jackaroo’s Treehouse Mission Beach
Room type: Standard 6 bed mixed dorm (we got an upgrade to a private double here!)
Room cost: $25 per night per person
About the hostel: Located a 20/30 minute walk from the town, this place has the most beautiful surroundings. Nestled in the rainforest with a view that reaches the beach; it’s bungalow style reminds me of the rainforests of Thailand. They have a pool, free breakfast, Wi-Fi and onsite bar (again no BYO). As well as the regular free shuttle service, you can take advantage of the staffs’ knowledge of the area as they’ve all been around a while. It’s super chilled here and had a really nice vibe. My favourite hostel of the whole trip!
Townsville accommodation: Civic Guest House Backpackers Hostel
Room type: Deluxe 4 bed mixed dorm en-suite
Room cost: $23 per night per person
About the hostel: The kitchen is massive and has a shiny new oven! Apparently they were really busy the weekend before but it was super quiet and relaxed whilst we were there. The rooms were comfortable and there was Wi-Fi available in the common area near reception. The only downside was that their advert on Hostel World said they run a free regular shuttle to and from the coach terminal but when our bus got in and we called we were told we’d need to wait three hours for the next one. It was a boiling hot day and a long walk uphill with our bags to get there.
Airlie Beach accommodation: YHA Airlie Beach
Room type: 8 bed mixed dorm en-suite
Room cost: $33 per night per person
About the hostel: Our coach into Airlie was 30 minutes late but reception was not meant to close until 20:00. When we arrived at 19:30 the lady told us she’d charged our card and was closing early because it was quiet… Not cool. We hadn’t given any permission to charge our card (transaction fees abroad suck) and had the cash out already, we still had 30 minutes before reception officially closed and she’d made no attempt to call us and check our location. The rooms were a good size with lockers but the Wi-Fi only worked in the communal areas. The kitchen was huge but dirty. It had a pool which made up for the lagoon being out of use. They did provide free luggage storage if you had your own locks after check out.
Agnes Water accommodation: Backpackers @ 1770
Room type: Double bed private with a shared bathroom
Room cost: $60 per night for the room
About the hostel: This place definitely has a hippy vibe. A large outdoor communal dining table was where most people gathered for meals and every night a $5 meal was on offer. We got collected by the shuttle in the morning but it is literally a two minute walk- that’s what you call service! We did get a double room, but the wall didn’t meet the ceiling and so we could hear the other two couples in their own ‘private’ rooms too. It was a great location compared to other hostels here though.
Rainbow Beach accommodation: Dingos Resort
Room type: Basic 4 bed mixed dorm en-suite
Room cost: $33 per night per person
About the hostel: The hostel is used for most of the backpackers here as a base before they head off to Fraser Island. It has a Peter Pans attached to it with a bar and for $20 you can get 4 Coronas. You can have a few buckets of these and be rewarded with a hangover. Each night they have a food offer (we were there for burger night)- the prices vary each night depending on the food. The room was absolutely huge and was only missing lockers! The kitchen stoves were a bit basic but it did have a pool. The coach drop off is right opposite the hostel too.
Brisbane accommodation: Summer House Backpackers Brisbane
Room type: Standard 6 bed mixed dorm en-suite
Room cost: $30 per night per person
About the hostel: We arrived at dinner time and the kitchen was absolutely manic. The kitchen is tiny. Considering how busy this place is, the kitchen could really do with expanding. It was Italian night which meant free (a backpackers dream) pasta, sauce and vegetables and it seemed the entire hostel was taking advantage. There was a similar issue at breakfast time which was free. Our room was fine but the shower was cold (even though this was mentioned to them it was never sorted out whilst we were there). The highlight of the hostel for me is the rooftop; a great place to relax in the morning sun or watch the city lights appear as day turns to night. No free shuttle like everywhere else we’d stayed but it is the city after all! They made up for it with decent free Wi-Fi throughout the hostel.
Byron Bay accommodation: Byron Beach Resort
Room type: Basic 6 bed mixed dorm en-suite
Room cost: $29 per night per person
About the hostel: 20 minutes’ walk from the town, these guys also offer a shuttle bus. The room was fine but the people in our dorm were a little…. strange. I woke up to the girl below me stood staring at me at 2am. The guy below Lewis spent most of the night brushing away imaginary beings from the mattress. One girl never spoke but made herself a top bunk fortress of damp clothes. The room does have a bathroom coming off of it but this is also shared with the dorm next to you so there’s 12 rather than 2 people using it. The Wi-Fi wasn’t free- only 1 hour ‘complimentary’ each. The kitchen was the standout as it was huge, had loads of utensils and stoves but was never busy!
Sydney accommodation: Summer House Backpackers Sydney
Room type: Standard 4 bed mixed dorm
Room cost: $33.33 per night per person
About the hostel: Again, no shuttle and it’s a good 30 minute walk uphill to the hostel. The kitchen was slightly bigger than the one in Brisbane and it had the most comfortable TV room. The room came with lockers and breakfast was provided here too. The only places to eat were outside and when it was raining, this caused a problem as everyone was crammed under a space for 12 people. Again, free breakfast & unlimited Wi-Fi.
Coffs Harbour accommodation: Aussitel Backpackers
Room type: 6 bed mixed dorm
Room cost: $27.00 per night per person
About the hostel: Our bus was late in but the owner still hung around to collect us and ship us back to the hostel. This was probably my second favourite hostel (I just wish we had longer than one night). The people here are so friendly and one of the owners sits around each night talking to everyone staying there. We missed out on a trip to Kangaroo Point that morning (where they saw a mob of over 200 kangaroos!) – a steal at $5 for a day tour! They kitchen was a decent size and they had a large outdoor area with pool. They also offer kayaks and SUP’s free of charge to take over the road to the river! They had so many tips of things to do locally and despite the owners being around throughout the day and night, it had a really relaxed family feel to it.
Canberra accommodation: YHA Canberra
Room type: 8 bed mixed dorm
Room cost: $37.50 per night per person
About the hostel: The place was clean, the room was a decent size. Downstairs there was a sauna and pool to use for free. We faced a problem in the form of one man’s rotten smelling feet. I cannot explain the smell. It wouldn’t be fair to you to have to imagine it. At 12am, when he came in drunk and insulted Lewis, he took off his shoes and our nostrils were assaulted. We informed reception, who told us to go to a 10 bed dorm (where we had to make our beds in the dark whilst trying not to wake everyone else). Not only this, but our room had a balcony that everyone else in the hostel seemed to use to go in and out for a cigarette. As with Airlie Beach, the staff lacked any empathy and said that there was nothing they could do. We have since been assured by higher management that this has been addressed. It’s a shame that the staff are letting down a decent hostel.
Melbourne accommodation: Flinders Backpackers
Room type: Standard 4 bed mixed dorm
Room cost: $25.00 per night per person
About the hostel: As with all the big cities, no shuttle bus here. We stayed here at both the start and the end of our trip purely because it has such a good location! Directly off of Elizabeth Street and next to Flinders Station, it has everything you need within walking distance. There isn’t Wi-Fi unless you pay or go down to the bar attached and use theirs. Breakfast has the standard toast/cereals but also pancakes (with sauces!). There is a pool table, TV room and large kitchen. This place is busy though and seems to have a lot of long term backpackers there so best not to use the kitchen at peak times. The rooms have lockers but after check out you’ll have to pay to store your luggage.
- Get yourself a Hostels Australia Membership Card and save $3 per night at the hostels on their site. Note: do not try to book through the website as it doesn’t always work. Call the hostel, make the booking over the phone and tell them you’re a member. If you book through another booking agent then show up expecting $3 you’re out of luck (I learnt that the hard way!)
- Make the most of the free breakfast and you might be too full for lunch (saving the money for elsewhere!). Or, if you’re not a big brekkie person, use the free bread to make some sandwiches for later.
- Check out on time- AVOID THOSE LATE CHECK OUT FEES! Double check what time you need to have handed back the keys as it differs at each hostel.
- Carry extra cash for key deposits. Sometimes each person will need their own one, sometimes you might get one per booking… either way, most places keep a key deposit or $20-$30 so make sure you have this on arrival.
- See if there’s a ‘Free Food’ section in the kitchen. Usually you’ll find pasta, rice, salt, pepper etc here. Save some money by stocking up on these as you go. We scored big and got an unopened packet of Tetley Tea (goodbye, cheap Aussie crap!).
- Don’t be a dorm douche. If everyone’s asleep and it’s midnight, don’t turn on the lights/ unpack your whole bag/ start talking loudly. Pay for a private room if you want to get jiggy. Tidy up after yourself and for the love of god, keep yourself & your clothes smelling fresh.
Do you have any tips to add? Let me know below!