Tips for Australia

While I was traveling in Australia for three months, I gathered some useful information which I want to share in this post. This information is about how to travel cheap, good places to surf and about mobile phones and internet in Australia.

Travel cheap:

1) Ride share:

There are quite a few backpackers in Australia who hire a van for traveling around. In order to share fuel costs and fun many of them are looking for travel companions to cross the huge distances between major towns. On the other hand there are many backpackers who are looking for a ride. Depending on the travel direction and the time of the year there are either more people who are offering a ride or more people who are searching for a ride. When I was in Darwin in May, looking for a ride to Cairns, many people where offering and it was easy to find a nice Van with nice owner and a free spot.

I found my ride on

http://www.gumtree.com.au

in the section Community -> Rideshare. This site is very popular amongst backpackers in Australia and it has the biggest ride sharing community. You can also find many other useful stuff for backpackers (e.g. job offers) on this site!

long way to go

There are also a few other ridesharing sites, but they are not as big as gumtree, for example:

http://www.needaride.com.au/

2) Rental car relocation:

Another great way to travel is relocating cars for car rentals. This pretty much means that you can hire a car for free, and sometimes even get money for gas. The only disadvantage is that you have a limited time for relocating the car, so not much time for sightseeing on the way. Here is one major site where you can find cars for relocation:

http://www.standbyrelocs.com/

3) Hitchhiking:

Hitchhiking is quite easy in Australia. A friend of mine made it from Cairns to Melbourne this way. Only once he had to wait more than an hour (this one time it was actually a couple of hours), but it was in a small town in the middle of nowhere.

4) Bus:

Once I was in Cairns, I decided to take the greyhound bus for my further journey to Melbourne. I bought a special Cairns-Melbourne bus ticket for 382 AUD. This ticket was valid for 6 months and I was able to hop on and off the bus whenever and wherever I liked (but you can’t change travel direction). You can buy the bus ticket online here:

http://www.greyhound.com.au

I found at least one other bus company which was slightly cheaper than Greyhound. However these other bus companies are not as big as Greyhound, which means buses don’t go as often and don’t stop in all places. With greyhound everything was very easy and uncomplicated.

Good places to surf:

If you come to Australia for some good surfing, then Northern Territory is the wrong state to visit. Although in Northern Territory you have perfect beach weather all year round, the beaches are deserted. The sea along the northern coast of Australia is full of sharks, crocodiles and deadly jellyfish. Even Queensland is still dangerous, although further south there are already some less lethal beaches. In New South Wales all the surfing fun begins!

Surfing at Maroubra beach, Sydney

An Australian surfer told me about some good places for surfing on the east coast:

QUEENSLAND
Currumbin
Burleigh heads

NEW SOUTH WALES
Seal rocks
Forster
Kempsey-crescenthead
Scotts Head
Arrawarra
Yamba
Lennox
Byron Bay

Phone and internet:

The only places where you can find free internet in Australia are public libraries and McDonalds. But it is very slow and you have a limited data volume. Everywhere else, like in hostels, internet cafes or sometimes bars, you have to pay quite a lot of money in order to use the internet for a limited time.
Therefore, I think the cheapest and most convenient option is to get an mobile internet stick for your laptop.
For mobile internet as well as for mobile phones there are three main providers in Australia: Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. In the same order from left to right they have a better and larger network and therefore better reception, but they are also more expensive.
I was traveling on the east coast, mainly in cities, and with the following choice of providers I hardly had problems with bad reception. Only rarely on more remote places I had a slow internet connection.

Internet:
Vodafone Prepaid Mobile Broadband

Phone:
Optus Prepaid Mobile

In the Outback of the Northern Territory I had no reception at all, but I don’t know if it would be any different with other providers.

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