Backpacking in Australia: a Travel Guide

Read everything you need to know about backpacking in Australia. What’s the best way to navigate one of the largest countries in the world? What is the Tim Tam Slam, and why should you try it? What should you bring to survive a trip to the Outback? And where can you go to spot Australia’s unique wildlife? Learn all about Australia in our complete guide to backpacking ‘the land Down Under’.

Table of Contents

About Australia

Australia is one of the most diverse countries in the world. From the blistering ochre sands of the outback to the wealth of the Great Barrier Reef and the urban hubs of Sydney and Melbourne, the country has something to offer for every type of traveler. Australia consists of the Australian mainland, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. The country’s present-day culture is shaped by the nation’s colonial past, the Australian government’s encouragement of immigration from mainland Europe throughout the 20th century, and of course its Aboriginal citizens.

Many backpackers and other travelers visit Australia to explore the country’s extensive national parks and its unique wildlife. Together, the kangaroo and emu serve as the symbols of the nation on the Australian Coat of Arms. Equally famous are the adorable koalas and the otherworldly platypus. Still, locals jokingly state that “in Australia, everything can kill you”. Aside from the country’s more gentle, well-known animals, Australia is also home to many dangerous animals, such as saltwater crocodiles, box jellyfish, taipan snakes, brown snakes, tiger snakes, redback spiders, and more. Even a dive in the reef can kill you through coral poisoning, and an intimidated male kangaroo might pose a serious threat.

Despite the many deadly creatures living in Australia, it’s still one of the safest, most comfortable countries in the world to go backpacking in. “Aussie” – as the country is lovingly called by locals – is a great place for inexperienced backpackers to try their luck living on the open road.

Uluru, the Heart of Australia
Uluru, the Heart of Australia (Credit: The Bite-Sized Backpacker)

Quick Facts

Capital: The capital of Australia is Canberra.

Language: The official language in Australia is (Australian) English.

Currency: The official currency in Australia is the Australian dollar (AUD).

Power Plugs: Plug Type I , with the electricity supply running at 230 volts.

Drinking water: In Australia, the tap water is fine to drink pretty much everywhere. Do bring your own water when traveling long distances without rest stops along the way, and keep in mind that remote places in the Outback might not have running water.

Safety: While locals joke that everything in Australia can kill you, the large island nation is actually one of the safest countries in the world to travel. Australia is a safe and welcoming destination for inexperienced backpackers. Backpacking here will only be as difficult as you make it.

7 things to look forward to: kangaroos, the Tim Tam Slam, the Great Barrier Reef, red sand, graffiti art, Lightning Ridge, Uluru.

Video: On the Road: Australia

See what it’s like to travel Australia! (Credit: The Bite-Sized Backpacker)

Money saving tips: backpacking Australia on a budget

How much money do you need to travel Australia? Traveling on a budget will be a challenge in Australia. It’s no secret that many young adults come from abroad to work and travel in Australia for a bit of extra travel money. Wages are high, and by living in hostels they can keep their costs low enough to earn enough money to fund their further backpacking adventures. In order to make it through Australia without leaving empty-handed, you’ll have to carefully pick and choose your accommodation and transportation.

Australia is a land of many comforts, and these comforts you’ll have to pay for. Like in its neighboring country New Zealand, accommodation, transportation, and activities come at a relatively steep price. One of the best ways of saving money in Australia is by buying a used car or campervan or rent one from a local rental company.

Though there are many low-budget internal flights, the country is so expansive, adding up all the flights you’ll need to get around will take up most of your budget. Flying the triangle of Melbourne, Sydney, and Uluru, for example, will cost you about AUD$1.000,- (€615,- or US$725,-). Of course, navigating a country as large as Australia by wheeled transportation will take much, much longer than flying. Perhaps the best way to navigate Australia if time is not on your side is through a combination of cheap flights for long distances and taking busses or hitchhiking on the shorter stretches.

Hitchhiking in the Outback
Hitchhiking in the Outback (Credit: The Bite-Sized Backpacker)

To compensate for the high cost of travel, choose your accommodation based on what you need most. Make sure that each place you book has a kitchen where you can prepare your own meals and don’t worry too much about having to share a room with strangers. Hostels are plentiful in Australia, and making use of them will save you quite a bit of money.

While backpacking the land Down Under, pick and choose which activities you’re willing to pay for and which ones you’ll probably be able to do in other countries for a better price. This goes for visiting clubs and bars as well: there’s no better way to burn a hole in your pocket in Aussie than spending an evening in a bar. Instead, have a drink in your hostel and get to know the many backpackers whose path lies parallel to yours.

Most other blogs might suggest a budget of AUD$3.500,- (€2.100,- or US$2.500,-) per month per person, flights included. You can get your spending down to a monthly budget of less than AUD$2.400,- per person (€1.450,- or US$1.750,-) though, if you don’t go overboard with your spending. Your costs for backpacking Australia will largely be determined by your need for comfort in terms of transportation, accommodation, and food and drinks.

Quick Tips

  • A few quick tips for saving money while backpacking Australia:
  • Buy or rent a car or a campervan.
  • Track ticket prices of budget flights through Skyscanner to get the best prices for national flights.
  • Hitchhike short distances.
  • Stay in hostels.
  • Do your own cooking.
  • Minimize drinking outside of your hostel.

Accommodation

Sleeping in Australia

Accommodation options are limitless in Australia. The town of Yulara hosts the perfect example of Australian accommodation standards. Situated in the Northern Territory near Uluru, the town was specially designed for tourists. Walking the town’s circular road, you’ll pass luxurious hotels, campgrounds, a backpackers lodge, a resort, and more. The government made sure every type of traveler could be accommodated when visiting the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park. The same goes for the rest of the country.

As a backpacker, you’ll most likely find yourself in a hostel. Unlike European hostels, however, Australian hostels are often more crowded and noisier, and dorms are larger: don’t be surprised to share your room with 20-30 people in major cities such as Melbourne and Sydney! Many young backpackers come to Australia on a work-and-travel program, and many of them choose to live in hostels. To enjoy your stay in Aussie’s hostels, be prepared for the presence of long-term residents. Bring earplugs and a sleep mask, and above all: dine early. Don’t hesitate too long to start your daily cooking, because you’ll risk having to wait several hours for the kitchen appliances and utensils to become available again once the long-term residents start cooking.

Here are some of our favorite hostels in Australia:

East and North Australia

Central and West Australia

Tasmania

Brisbane at dusk
Brisbane at dusk (Credit: The Bite-Sized Backpacker)

Work and travel

The Australian government offers backpackers willing to work during their travels a Working Holiday visa for up to 12 months. The visa allows people from 18 to 30 years old to come to Australia for an extended working holiday. Once finished, travelers can apply for a second Working Holiday visa, with the requirement that they have completed three months of specified regional work in the country during their first Working Holiday visa.

Working in Australia is perhaps one of the world’s only true “get rich quick”-schemes. Wages are high, and if you keep your expenses low, you’ll easily be able to travel around the country on a comfortable budget. Depending on how long you work and how much you save, you might be able to earn enough money to not just backpack Australia, but nearby regions such as New Zealand, the Polynesian islands, and Southeast Asia as well.

When to visit Australia

Renting a Campervan or Car

Car sharing is one of the most popular ways of navigation in Australia. By renting a car or a campervan at a local rental service and sharing the costs with your mates, you can easily navigate the vast country on a budget. If time is not on your side, this does mean you’ll have to decide whether you want to travel the east coast, the west coast, or the outback, as you’ll most likely won’t be able to visit all three.

It’s also possible to buy a used car or campervan from another traveler. You’ll find many backpackers trying to sell their vehicles on Gumtree, and there are several Facebook groups designed for backpackers seeking to buy or sell cars in Australia, such as Australia Backpackers or Backpacker Cars Australia.

Road conditions in Australia are excellent and traffic is well-regulated. Do keep in mind that Australians drive on the left side of the road and most vehicles will have the steering wheel on their right side. In the country’s vast Outback, you might find a few sand roads when visiting small towns. Additionally, beware of kangaroos crossing the road around dusk and dawn when driving in the desert. You’ll notice that most cars, busses, and “fieldies” navigating the Outback have a “roo bar” installed: a metal framework on the front of the vehicle to protect it during collisions with kangaroos, emus, or cattle.

Rent a “fieldie” to explore the Outback
Rent a “fieldie” to explore the Outback (Credit: The Bite-Sized Backpacker)

Hitchhiking

Hitchhiking is a nice way to get around Australia for free. As flights are expensive, hitchhiking offers a welcoming alternative. Australians are often quite friendly and will be happy to share their car with you. It’s a great way to get in touch with locals, and you get to explore places you’d otherwise miss out on. Keep in mind though that hitchhiking will not be as easy in Australia as it is in other countries. The country has a history of violent incidents involving hitchhikers, and not everyone will be keen to take you along. Follow your instincts, and always try to take a picture of the license plate of the vehicle you get in to send to family members and friends.

Hitchhiking will get you from city to city and might even help you find your way in the Outback. Outside of the major cities, it might take longer to hitch a ride, as many people are simply commuting between work and home, and will count on others to pick you up. Also keep in mind that cities often lie hundreds of kilometers apart, meaning you’ll have to hitch several rides to get to your destination.

Hitchhiking is considered illegal in Queensland and Victoria, so giving it a try on the Great Ocean Road is a no-go.

Busses

Bus transportation is an affordable option to get around Australia. Bus fares are lower on the east coast than on the west coast, as the routes in the east are more popular and well-traveled. There are several bus companies operating in Australia, among which Greyhound Australia and Premier. Busses will easily get you from city to city, and when booked in advance, can be relatively cheap. If you plan to go into the Outback or visit another less popular destination, schedule your trip in advance as there might only be one or two busses going there per week.

Trains

Australia’s long-distance and trans-continental trains are quite expensive. Though the Australian railways offer special backpacker prices, this might still be far beyond your budget. Traveling by train has its advantages, as you’ll get to see a lot of the country, but you’ll have limited access to certain off-beat destinations.

Domestic Flights

No form of transportation in Australia will make you forget the extensiveness of the continent. It can take a long time to get around the country through ground travel. Choosing air travel for long stretches might prove to be worth the cost of a flight ticket. One of the country’s most reliable budget airlines is Jetstar.

Boats

Taking a domestic flight is also your fastest option for getting to Tasmania. As an alternative, you can travel to the island by ferry. The Spirit of Tasmania sails from Melbourne to Tasmania and back six days a week. A one-way trip takes between 9-11 hours.

The Tasmanian devil, the iconic symbol of Tasmania
The Tasmanian devil, the iconic symbol of Tasmania (Credit: The Bite-Sized Backpacker)

When to visit Australia

Located in the Southern Hemisphere, summer runs from December through February in Australia, while winter runs from June through August. Given that Australia is quite a large country, weather conditions and temperatures can vary greatly throughout the nation.

The east coast, running from Melbourne up to Cairns, is the most-traveled section of Australia. The best time to travel there would be at the tail end of spring, when temperatures begin to drop. While beach life can still be comfortable around April and May, hiking and other outdoor activities will also become more pleasant to undertake during these months, as the scorching heat fades away. During late Spring and Summer, temperatures can be uncomfortably high, especially in the Outback. Traveling north in the late spring will allow you to stay ahead of the rains and bring you right into the arms of the nation’s eternal paradise: around Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef it tends to be pleasantly warm year-round. Backpacking the east coast southwards, it’s wise to leave a bit earlier. The cold weather tends to crawl upwards from Melbourne, and you’ll be traveling towards it.

In any case, try to avoid stinger season in Queensland between November and May, as the beaches become unsafe due to the yearly presence of the deadly box jellyfish.

What to pack for Australia

The essentials

I’m going to Australia, and I’m bringing…

  • A bottle of sunscreen.
  • A hat or sarong.
  • A light-weight scarf.
  • A light-weight umbrella.

Australia is generally known for its warm temperatures, especially during the high seasons. During summer, weather conditions can get beyond uncomfortable, and you’ll need a way to protect yourself from the scorching heat if you want to be able to get around. Therefore, one of the most essential things to bring on your trip is a bottle of sunscreen, and a hat or sarong to cover your head on hot days. Though you can purchase most backpacking essentials you need in the country itself, prices are quite high compared to most other nations.

As Australia features some of the most unique and exciting forms of wildlife, as well as exceptional art scenes based on the Aboriginal culture, make sure to keep a little room in your backpack for when you find one of those one-of-a-kind souvenirs you won’t encounter anywhere else. There’s a very big chance you’ll fly home with at least one or two tiny koala plushies to hand out at home.

Given the country’s size and the changeable weather, it’s important to pack for good weather, but also to be prepared for rain. Bring a scarf and a small foldable umbrella to keep yourself warm and dry when encountering bad weather. Light-weight umbrellas also perfectly lend themselves for protection during the country’s many hot days.

Australian souvenirs
Australian souvenirs (Credit: The Bite-Sized Backpacker)

Visa Information

The most-used type of visa for Australia is the eVisitor visa. This visa is valid for tourism or business purposes for up to three months at a time, within a 12-month period. Most backpackers opt for this visa, as it is freely available online for a large number of countries. As an alternative, there’s the Electronic Travel Authority visa (ETA), which you can apply for through your local travel agent. The ETA visa also allows you to visit Australia for up to three months.

Australia additionally offers work-and-travel visas for travelers between 18 and 30 years old (or 35 in some cases). To be eligible for this visa, your country must participate in Australia’s Working Holiday Maker program. Instead of the regular three months, you’ll be allowed to stay in Australia for 12 months and you’ll be enabled to work while you are there.

Enjoy the local culture

The Old and the New

Up until its independence in 1901, Australia was a part of the United Kingdom. From the states of Queensland and Victoria to Mount Victoria in Tasmania, many of the nation’s cities’ and regions’ names still reflect its colonial past. As such, Australian culture shares a lot of common ground with the United Kingdom and the neighboring country New Zealand.

Australia has a predominantly Western culture, with some Indigenous influences. Though human habitation in Australia began over 65,000 years ago, very little is left of the country’s indigenous culture. Still, many spiritual beliefs and art forms of the Aboriginals have survived, and are being kept alive by those advocating the rights of the country’s original inhabitants.

Australians are generally very friendly and welcoming. They have a good sense of humor, love a good conversation, and won’t mind teaching you a thing or two about Australian slang – even if you’re a pommy (Englishman), a sheepshagger (New Zealander), a reffo (refugee), or even a shark biscuit (surfer) coming to explore the famous Australian beaches!

Australian slang

Australian English contains hundreds of hilarious words and sayings. Down Under (in Australia), Aussies (Australians) put on their trackies (tracksuit pants), or bathers (bathing suits) and thongs (flip-flops), to slap their snags (sausages) on the barbie (barbecue) when visiting the beach with their oldies (parents) for Chrissie (Christmas). Or they might just do so when they take a sickie (sick day from work)! The smoke of the barbie will also help to keep the mozzies (mosquitos) away. If the weather is down, a mob (a group of people) might go to Maccas (McDonald’s) for a bite, or stay in and watch some footie (football) with their mates (friends; used for men and women).

Though Aussie slang sounds like a dog’s breakfast (pretty messy), and the Aussies themselves seem to have a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock (to be crazy), it’s all actually pretty dardy (cool) once you get the hang of it. Be careful though: though it might seem as if ending any word in -ie, -y, or -o is the perfect way to get a hold of Aussie slang, you’ll be singled out as an imposter immediately. Not even a fair dinkum (true) Aussie could tell you why Brizzie (Brisbane) sounds perfectly alright, but using ‘Mellie’ to refer to Melbourne sounds ridiculous.

A relaxing kangaroo
A “roo” relaxing (Credit: The Bite-Sized Backpacker)

Aboriginal culture

Recent cultural respect strategies have started to focus Australia’s attention on the preservation of the country’s indigenous culture. In many cities, you’ll find cultural markets, aboriginal-style artworks, cultural tours, and shops selling authentic Aboriginal craftworks, such as art pieces, boomerangs and digeridoos.

To really experience Aboriginal culture, a visit to Uluru is a must. Uluru – also known as Ayer’s Rock – is one of the aboriginals’ most important sacred sites. The world-famous rock formation plays an important role in many of the Aboriginal Dreamtime stories of the area, and visitors can join free walking tours to explore the rock with an Aboriginal guide. The area is also home to the Maruku Arts & Crafts art gallery, which features Aboriginal paintings and woodcarvings. The Aboriginal community of Mutitjulu still live inside the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park itself.

Another great way to explore Aboriginal culture is at the Aboriginal Heritage Office in Freshwater, which hosts a museum of Aboriginal artifacts.

Uluṟu and Kata Tjuṯa are sacred Aboriginal sites
Uluṟu and Kata Tjuṯa are sacred Aboriginal sites (Credit: The Bite-Sized Backpacker)

The Outback

Actor Johnny Depp once stated that since his character Jack Sparrow had spent the majority of his life on the high seas underneath the scorching sun, there was no way the heat wouldn’t have affected him mentally. This gave Depp the right hook to create the quirky pirate for Disney’s popular pirate franchise. The same effect can be observed throughout the Australian Outback.

Locals living in the Outback – often hundreds of kilometers removed from civilization, without running water, sewer systems, or paved roads – personally claim that anyone who chooses to live in the Outback must be a little nuts. The playful self-mockery of the residents of Australia’s Red Waste translates into some of the most amazing forms of art you’ll find on the continent, as is evident in places such as the old miners’ town Lightning Ridge in New South-Wales.

Things to eat and drink

Heavily inspired by British culture, but unique in its own right, Australian cuisine has a few excellent local specialties for you to try. Native meats such as kangaroo, crocodile, and emu will give you a taste of what indigenous cultures have been eating for thousands of years, while more modern culinary inventions come in the form of the Tim Tim Slam and the chip sanger.

Despite the country’s massive coastline, Australians haven’t developed a large sea food-culture outside of the traditional British fish and chips. Australia’s vast lands lend themselves well for farming livestock, which becomes evident through the popularity of chicken and beef.

In addition to developing their own local cuisine, Australians also developed their own culinary jargon: they have breakie (breakfast) in the morning, prepare a quick spagbol (spaghetti bolognese) when there’s no time for a barbie (Australian barbecue) and in addition, they offer plenty of dining opportunities for veggos (vegetarians).

Australian Barbecue

Barbecuing is an inherent part of Australian food culture. The country’s indigenous people have always cooked their food outside, and modern-day Australians happily continue to do so. From prawns and sausages to lamb chops and kangaroo steaks, pretty much anything can be ‘slapped onto the barbie’. Having a good time with your mates is central to the Australian barbecue experience, so more often than not, beer and wine flow richly during an Aussie BBQ party.

The Tim Tam Slam

The Tim Tam Slam is a wildly popular Australian ritual in which a chocolate-covered biscuit is used as a drinking straw for a hot liquid – most often a hot coffee. The Tim Tam is a delicious chocolate biscuit native to Australia.

To perform the Tim Tam Slam, unwrap a Tim Tam cookie, and nibble off the two diagonally opposite corners of the cookie, exposing the biscuit that lies within. Dunk one end of the Tim Tam into your beverage and begin to suck up your drink through the opposite side of the cookie. You should be able to draw the liquid through the biscuit until it becomes saturated with coffee. Time your slam (the eating of the saturated cookie) well, as it will fall apart if you wait too long!

The infamous Tim Tam Slam
The infamous Tim Tam Slam (Credit: The Bite-Sized Backpacker)

Kangaroo meat

Yes, kangaroos are unique, wonderful, and cute critters – especially for those who don’t live in Australia. In the country itself, however, they’re simply part of everyday life. There are two kangaroos for every person in Australia. In the Outback the ‘roos are even described as pests, as they often destroy crops and cause car accidents. Kangaroo meat has been eaten by Australians for thousands of years. The meat is eaten in the form of steaks, burgers, and sausages, but is also used to prepare pasta dishes, pizzas, and meat pies. Kangaroo meat is extremely lean and low in fat.

Crocodile and emu meat

Other native Australian species that could make it onto your plate are the saltwater crocodile and the emu. Crocodile meat tastes a bit like chicken. Since it’s quite chewy, it’s best diced and mixed into a salad. Emu meat on the other hand is very lean and has a beef-like taste.

Barramundi

Also known as the Asian sea bass, the barramundi is an exotic fish widely distributed in Northern Australia. The word ‘ barramundi’ comes from the Aboriginal language, meaning “large-scaled river fish”. The barramundi is the most popular fish in the country. Since Australian fishing regulations are quite strict and demand is high, large quantities of barramundi are actually imported from South and Southeast Asia.

Bush tucker

Bush tucker, also known as bush food, includes any native Australian foods eaten by the Aboriginal in the country’s vast desert. Animal native foods include the previously mentioned kangaroos, crocodiles, and emus, but also the witchetty grub. The witchetty grub is a large, white, wood-eating moth larvae. The larvae feed on the witchetty bush found in the Northern Territory and have been part of the bush diet themselves ever since the first natives moved out into the Outback.

Other types of bush tucker include fruits, such as the green bush plum, kutjera (the ‘Australian desert raisin’), quandong (the ‘wild peach’), and vegetables, such as various native figs and yams.

Chip sanger

This working-class calorie bomb will help you hike up and down any mountain. A chip sanger, also known as the “chip butty”, is a white bread sandwich made with French fries and condiments, such as ketchup, mayonnaise, or brown sauce. Like fish and chips, the “butty” finds its true origin in the United Kingdom: “butty” is Welsh for “friend”. The chip sanger is considered a cheap late-night snack.

Chip sanger being prepared
Preparing a chip sanger (Credit: The Bite-Sized Backpacker)

The Lot Burger

The Australian Burger “with the Lot” is a jam-packed burger with more ingredients than anyone can handle without creating a dog’s breakfast. Australians try very hard to make their hamburgers healthy, so you’ll find most Lot Burgers contain pickled or cooked beetroot, shredded iceberg lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, pineapple rings, and more next to the regular meat patty.

Meat Pies

Through meat pies, Australians, New Zealanders, Britons, and the Irish still find a common language. A particular good Australian meat pie combination consists of chunky pieces of meat with beans and onion. Of course, there are many other varieties of meat pies, and there’s no “classic” Australian meat pie recipe to be found. You can buy meat pies almost anywhere: they are most often consumed as late-night snacks, or as bakery treats.

Vegemite

Foreigners find little love for Australia’s favorite food spread. Vegemite is a thick, dark brown liquid made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract. The spread is spiced up with various vegetables and other condiments. Though considered very healthy, the spread’s strong, bitter flavor has kept it from becoming an overseas hit. Still, when in Rome…!

Get off the Beaten track

Australia’s big cities offer comfort, a wealth of restaurants, plenty of shopping opportunities, and many exciting activities. Still, if you’ve just flown in from a similar Western country and came to Australia to gather new experiences, you might want to consider skipping Aussie’s cities altogether. If you really wish to explore Australia and find out what makes this country so unique, don’t spend any more time than necessary in places such as Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Though the cities have their charms, they are similar metropolises to the ones you’ll find in any other Western nation.

To bring your Australian experience back to its core, head straight into the cinematic wonderland of the vast Outback. Visit the farms and the miner towns, stand face to face with a mob of kangaroos, drive around in a fieldie (a truck used to drive in the outback), and feel the warm red sand of the desert slip through your fingers. Hike through the country’s infamous Red Waste, threading carefully to avoid stepping on a snake or a thorny devil. Pay your respects to Uluru, the sacred rock, and pass between the heads of Kata Tju?a.

A ‘bus stop’ in Lightning Ridge
A ‘bus stop’ in Lightning Ridge (Credit: The Bite-Sized Backpacker)

Most people living in the Outback have a pleasantly unique outlook on life, one you won’t find in the big cities. The locals are very much aware of the strenuous conditions they’ve chosen to live in, but they embrace their choice with open arms. Though – according to themselves – this makes every Aussie living in the Red Waste a little bit crazy, their supposed madness translates in endless creative expressional art forms, which you’ll find throughout the Outback’s tiny desert towns.

Check out our full list of things to do in Australia!

Pre-view: the best films from Australia

To get you excited for you trip, we’ve selected some of the best films from Australia. Check!

Evil Angels

Evil Angels (a.k.a. A Cry in the Dark)
Directed by: Fred Schepisi, 1988.
A mother whose child was killed in a dingo attack in the Australian Outback fights to prove her innocence when she is accused of murder.

The Rescuers Down Under

The Rescuers Down Under
Directed by: Hendel Butoy & Mike Gabriel, 1990.
Up until recently, very few of Disney’s animated films focused on subcultures. Yet in 1990, Disney kicked off the Disney Renaissance with the return of R.A.S. agents Bianca and Bernard, as they raced to Australia to save a little boy and a rare golden eagle from a murderous poacher.

The Hunter

The Hunter
Directed by: Daniel Nettheim, 2011.
Martin, a mercenary, is sent from Europe by a mysterious biotech company to the Tasmanian wilderness on a hunt for the last Tasmanian tiger.

The Year My Voice Broke

The Year My Voice Broke
Directed by: John Duigan¸1987.
In rural 1960s Australia, a boy watches helplessly as his best friend falls in love with a small-time criminal, setting off a violent chain of events.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Directed by: Stephan Elliott, 1994.
Two drag performers and a transgender woman travel across the Australian desert to perform their unique style of cabaret.

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock
Directed by: Peter Weir, 1975.
During a rural summer picnic, a few students and a teacher from an Australian girls’ school vanish without a trace. Their absence frustrates and haunts the people left behind.

Opal dream

Opal Dream
Directed by: Peter Cattaneo, 2006.
A young girl’s relationship with her imaginary friends resonates throughout her town in the Australian Outback.

Crocodile Dundee

Crocodile Dundee
Directed by: Peter Faiman, 1986.
An American reporter goes to the Australian outback to meet an eccentric crocodile poacher and invites him to New York City.

Rabbit-Proof Fence

Rabbit-Proof Fence
Directed by: Phillip Noyce, 2002.
In 1931, three half-white, half-Aboriginal girls escape after being plucked from their houses to be trained as domestic staff, and set off on a journey across the Outback.

Mad Max

Mad Max
Directed by: George Miller, 1979.
In a self-destructing world, a vengeful Australian policeman sets out to stop a violent motorcycle gang.

Gallipoli

Gallipoli
Directed by: Peter Weir, 1981.
Two Australian sprinters face the brutal realities of war when they are sent to fight in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey during World War I.

Chopper

Chopper
Directed by: Andrew Dominik, 2000.
Chopper tells the intense story of Mark “Chopper” Read, a legendary Australian criminal who wrote his autobiography while serving a jail sentence in prison.

Pre-read: the best books from Australia

To get you even more excited about your trip, we’ve selected some of the best books about Australia as well. Pick up one of these gems to get into the spirit of the land Down Under!

Tracks - A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback

Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback
Author: Robyn Davidson, 1980.
Robyn Davidson opens the memoir of her perilous journey across 1,700 miles of hostile Australian desert to the sea with only four camels and a dog for company with the following words: “I experienced that sinking feeling you get when you know you have conned yourself into doing something difficult and there’s no going back.”

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock
Author: Joan Lindsay, 1967.
On a cloudless summer day in the year nineteen hundred, everyone at Appleyard College for Young Ladies agreed it was just right for a picnic at Hanging Rock. After lunch, a group of three of the girls climbed into the blaze of the afternoon sun, till at last, they disappeared.

Rabbit-Proof Fence - The True Story of One of the Greatest Escapes of All Time

Rabbit-Proof Fence: The True Story of One of the Greatest Escapes of All Time
Author: Doris Pilkington & Nugi Garimara, 1996.
The remarkable true story of three young Aboriginal girls who cross the harsh Australian desert on foot to return to their home, after being gathered up by whites and taken to settlements to be assimilated.

The Thorn Birds

The Thorn Birds
Author: Colleen McCullough, 1977.
The Thorn Birds is a robust, romantic saga of a singular family, telling the story of several generations of the Clearys. The saga begins in the early part of the 1900s, when Paddy Cleary moves his wife, Fiona, and their seven children to Drogheda, the vast Australian sheep station owned by his autocratic and childless older sister.

Down Under - Travels in a Sunburned Country

Down Under: Travels in a Sunburned Country
Author: Bill Bryson, 2000.
Australia has more things that can kill you in a very nasty way than anywhere else. Ignoring such dangers – and yet curiously obsessed by them – Bill Bryson journeys to Australia to explore the driest, flattest, hottest, most desiccated, infertile, and climatically aggressive of all the inhabited continents.

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