The east coast of Oz is a right of passage for any backpacker, from Sydney to Cairns lays some of the most iconic, chaotic and amazing backpacking experiences you’ll find in the world.
Sure hundreds of thousands of people have done that route before you – but don’t be dubious about following the masses, it’s a well trodden path for a reason!
I’ve done the full route twice now and I’m stoked to say I’ve enjoyed it both times around!
The first – back in 2009 – was my first ever backpacking experience and will stay with me forever.
The second time around (last month in fact) was part of a collaboration with the VIP Backpacker Network and allowed me to sample a whole heap of amazing accommodation en route.
If you’re heading that way you’ll need a place to crash, so here’s my low down of the best hostels to use on the East Coast Trail from Sydney up (including links to all their sites incase you want to find out more!)
Backpackers Newcastle – The first stop on your East Coast adventure is Backpackers Newcastle, a small and traditional backpackers with a homely and welcoming feel. This charming hostel has all the character filled detail you’d expect from a family run business, with fantastic (covered) outdoor communal areas and swimming pool. Newcastle is NSW’s second largest city with great nightlife, surfing beaches and day tours to the wineries of the Hunter Valley.
Port Macquarie Backpackers – Port Macquarie Backpackers is another small, traditional hostel with a homely feel. The rooms are colourful and oversized, most with a large ornate fireplace and cheery bedding. The hostel offers an opportunity to visit the local Koala Hospital and operate the fantastic Kangaroo camping tours.
Aussitel Backpackers – Aussitel Backpackers in Coffs Harbour is the pick on the East Coast for freebies. Here, you’ll pay for your bed and then get every service and activity known to backpackers thrown in for free – from wifi and Internet, to kayaks and surfboards! There’s also loads of local work on offer and provide VIP members discounted rates for long-term stays.
Holiday Village Backpackers – based opposite the infamous Cheeky Monkeys backpacker bar HVB offers a variety of room and a comfortable stay a quick stroll from the centre of Byron Bay. Complete with pool, spa, free surfboard hire and even free bike hire it’s well equipped to help you get the most out of the Bay.
Backpackers Inn on The Beach – exactly what it says on the tin, an epic hostel a mere stones throw away from the famous sand and surf of Byron Bay. And if the 45 seconds to the beach is too much for you after a hard night out there’s always the on site pool! Their motto is simply “Chillax”, and if you can’t achieve that state of mind swinging in a hammock or their communal TV room then I dont know where you will!
Surfers Paradise Backpackers Resort – this is the original backpackers hostel in Surfers, opening in 1986! But don’t worry it’s modern and up to date with everything from a brand new waterfall swimming pool through to free wifi, a bar, cable TV and even a tennis court! With free bodyboard hire and only a 2 min walk to the beach it’s a great place to stay and play in Surfers Paradise.
Trekkers Backpackers – a true backpacker through and through with a great ambience and central location Trekkers Backpackers is right in the centre of the action. With a pool, free wifi and courtesy bus pickup you’ll be well looked after at this place and it’s even BYO so you can carry on drinking that lovely goon you will love so much during your time in Australia!
Brisbane Backpackers Resort – BBR (with it’s electric pink logo!) boasts a finalist place in the Golden Backpacks Awards so you know you’re in for a good stay. Although slightly out of the city centre they run a free hourly shuttle in/out and the on site bar and restaurant certainly means you won’t be short of a good party! They also have on site parking so it’s the perfect place for those campervanning/driving down the east coast. I had a great few nights partying hard here – big shout out to Loren and Troy for their hospitality!
Yellow Submarine Backpackers – this quirky little backpackers has more of a house share vibe than a full on backpackers which is a great change and perfect for those looking to relax a bit more or have a bit more privacy. It’s also situated only 5 mins walk from the central transit centre so you’re right in the middle of town.
Noosa Backpackers Resort – a great little hostel situated right by the beautiful estuary, somewhere I recommend taking a few beers for the sunset! This hostel has a great communal vibe and offers a free bus transfer into town along with surfboard, bodyboards and heaps of stuff to kick start your time in Noosa. With free parking, wifi and a spacious well equipped kitchen you’re all set!
Frasers on Rainbow Beach – bang opposite the Greyhound stop Frasers on Rainbow is the perfect option for people looking to hit up Fraser Island from Rainbow Beach. With an amazing pool and a bar you can find your balance of party of relaxation before and after bombing around the largest sand island in the world!
Pippies Beach House – another great option if you’re basing yourself on Rainbow Beach (in fact it’s only a few doors up from Frasers on Rainbow!) Pippies Beach House boasts free wifi (a rarity in Oz!) air con, a pool and even a free breakfast each morning, now that’s a backpacker bargain!
Beaches Backpackers – If you’re heading out to the Whitsundays (which should be on every backpackers bucket list) you’re heading to Airlie Beach. And if you fancy a good lashing of party pre and post sailing trip then the Beaches Backpackers has you covered. The huge al fresco bar area has nightly entertainment and is a hub of Airlie night life, yet you’ll still find yourself sleeping like a log. The rooms are spacious and comfy and the half price meal deal will break the 2 minute noodle routine in style! There’s also free car parking on site for those driving down and it’s a short walk to the towns outdoor pool and BBQ area. Cheers to Jane and Kim for looking after me!
Backpackers By The Bay – if you’re looking for a more relaxing and homely Airlie experience then look no further than Backpackers By The Bay. This smaller. family run hostel has all the comforts of home and a great vibe – especially if you’re basing yourself in town for a longer period of time. With it’s beautiful pool, free breakfast and courtesy bus you’re sure to chill out and relax in backpacker style here. The new Airlie transit centre is being located a stones throw from here so it’s poised to be an epic backpacker option for anyone arriving into the town.
Absolute Backpackers Resort – this is one of my personal favourite hostels in the world right now. Why? Well it’s set in some lovely grounds, is all open plan and spotlessly clean. The result? Heaps of amazing backpacker vibes, a great social scene, pool parties, BBQ nights and a good nights sleep! Plus the staff and owners (the lovely Peta and Des) will go out of their way to help you out – whether it’s recommending somewhere to stay down the coast or what tour to book…what more could you ask for?!
Global Central – Global Central is perfect if you want to be…ummm…central! Yup slap bang in the middle of the backpacker hotspot of Cairns it’s only a 2 min walk from the lagoon swimming pool (the perfect place to relax and cool down in the Queensland heat) and if you don’t want to walk that far it has it’s own private rooftop pool anyway! They offer backpacker meal discounts around town and can even organise your airport transfers for a mere $5!
Global on the Waterfront – like Central Global on the Waterfront keeps things simple, it’s right there on the waterfront of Cairns, opposite the Lagoon. It too offers up meal discounts and airport transfers but it also has an on site bar – so if you like to relax with an ice cold beer by the ocean this is the one for you!
Global Port Douglas – just north of Cairns lies the gorgeous little town of Port Douglas, the perfect stop off en route to Cape Tribulation. GPD sits in the centre of town, yet is still only 100m from the famous 4 mile beach (no prizes for guessing what that is!). Again there is an on site bar so you can relax away the evening with a cold one.
All of the above are part of the VIP Network – a select group of independent hostels who offer a unique and comfortable experience. The bonus for you guys is a VIP Backpacker Card will score you 10% off your nights accommodation and a whole heap of trips and tours along the way – so grab yourself one before you hit the road! Their new website is launching soon too – making it easy to save, book and enjoy your time in Australia!