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If you’re interested in travelling Australia, you’ve probably heard that it’s quite an expensive country. If you’re a backpacker, it’s crucial you learn how to find free or cheap accommodation in Australia to keep to your budget.

Luckily, Australia is so popular with backpackers that there are lots of cheap accommodation choices for budget travellers. Although hostels are the obvious choice, there are SO many more options!

I’ve travelled Australia extensively and stayed in virtually every type of budget accommodation that exists here. While hostels are great for socialising, they don’t always exist in the smaller towns, and they’re not for everyone.

I’m sharing everything I’ve learnt about finding cheap accommodation in Australia, so that you can travel cheaply and make the most of your epic adventure! If you’d rather watch in video format, click the link to my YouTube channel below.

How to Find Free or Cheap Accommodation in Australia: Contents

If you want to know the cheapest form of accommodation in Australia, I’ve listed the options I’ve found in price order below. Click on any of the types to skip straight to that section.

1. House Sitting

Cost: Free or paid

House sitting in Australia is a booming industry and my favourite accommodation choice as it’s free (apart from an annual subscription fee for some sites). You get to stay in a local’s home for free while they’re on holiday to look after their pets.

I started house sitting when I was travelling Australia and continued doing it full time in Sydney when I moved there. I charge owners a fee and run a pet sitting business, which has saved me tens of thousands of dollars over the years and allowed me to live in luxury.

A beautiful swimming pool and garden in an Australian home that a traveller house sat at.
My luxury house sit in Vaucluse, one of Sydney’s most expensive suburbs

If you’re eager to start looking for house sitting jobs as soon as possible, here are some links to my recommended sites.

Aussie House Sitters: This is for house sitting in Australia only, and I found lots of house-sitting jobs through this site on my Australian road trips. Click here to learn more.

Trusted House Sitters: This popular site is for worldwide house sits. I have friends who have had lots of success with this site, and it has all sorts of perks, such as cancellation insurance. Click here to learn more.

To find out more about house sitting, read through my ultimate guide to house sitting. or sign up to my free house sitting email course.

2. Couchsurfing

Cost: Free

I’ve never tried couchsurfing myself, but some of my friends have. It’s when a local resident offers to host travellers in their home – this could literally be on a couch or in a spare room – at no cost to the visitor. connects travellers with both local hosts and each other via events all over the world.

A pillow and blanket on a sofa, ready for someone to go couchsurfing.

3. Bush Camping & National Park Camping

Cost: $0-$30 per tent or campervan

If you’re on an Australian road trip and visiting rural areas, bush camping will likely be your best option for low budget accommodation in Australia. The campsites are very basic, usually in national parks, and if so, are maintained by the government’s national park services for each state.

The prices range from free to around $30 per tent. During my Perth to Adelaide road trip sites were usually $15 maximum in Western Australia, but Victoria and New South Wales seem to charge more.

A tent and picnic table in a forest in Australia.
Bush camping at Martins Tank Campground, Yalgorup National Park, WA

You either pay via an honesty system (a donation box on the site) or by booking online. The campgrounds are not usually manned by staff, just visited for maintenance, and the typical facilities are compost toilets only, though some sites have showers and power sockets. You normally need your own drinking water and gas cooker.

You do have to pay for national park passes too, but if you’re on a road trip you will probably be visiting national parks anyway, regardless of whether you camp or not, and have a multi-visit pass.

Bush camps are great for an occasional cheap night during road trips, and they’re usually in beautiful locations. You can buy cars and campervans from other backpackers with all the camping equipment included.

Here are the links to find and book national park campsites in each Australian state and territory.

4. Camping & Caravan Parks

Cost: $25-$50 per tent or campervan

Holiday parks are really popular in Australia, and they’re honestly not full of chavs like the Caravan Club in The Inbetweeners! You’re more likely to be neighbouring with other backpackers and wealthy Australian pensioners (“silver nomads”) travelling in swanky renovated buses.

You’ll find caravan parks mostly on the outskirts of Australian cities, as well as along the coastline. You can usually either pitch a tent or stay in your campervan or caravan.

The price is nearly always per tent or van, not per person, so if you’re travelling solo they’re not actually that cheap. But if two of you are travelling together, holiday parks are much more affordable than hostels.

A holiday park in Australia with a tent and cabins.

A basic caravan park in Australia costs about $25 per tent or campervan. The fancier parks charge up to $50, particularly if they’re in a big town or city. The large chains like Big4 Holiday Parks and Discovery Holiday Parks (similar to Haven in the UK) usually charge the most, but have excellent facilities like swimming pools, games rooms and even outdoor cinemas! Great if you’re travelling with children.

Most caravan parks in Australia have power sockets, toilets, hot showers and fully equipped kitchens. They’re great to alternate with bush camping during your road trip so you can shower and recharge your electrical items.

They’re also a bit more manicured and in less rural areas so they have less insects! Free Wi-Fi is unfortunately not standard so you may need to visit a local café or library if you have a lot of stuff to do online.

There’s also a great Australian website I’ve just discovered called, which works like Airbnb but for land on people’s private properties. There’s everything from basic camping to luxury glamping. Wish I’d known about that on my road trip!

5. Hostels

Cost: $20-$45 per person

Hostels are the most popular type of accommodation in Australia for backpackers. They’re usually clean, safe, warm and well equipped with facilities like kitchens, free Wi-Fi, TV rooms and proper bathrooms. They’re also great for socialising.

Hostels in Australia tend to cost around $30 for a bunk bed in a dorm room, but can vary depending on the season, size of the dorm and how nice the hostel is.

To learn more about hostels and find out my recommendations, read through my list of 26 best hostels in Australia.

Bunk beds in an Australian hostel.

6. Homestay

Cost: $30-$60 per room

I had no idea what a homestay was until I arrived in Melbourne in the middle of summer without booking anywhere in advance and ended up sitting in McDonalds at 11pm desperately scouring the web for accommodation (not my best memory).

Traditionally homestays are for overseas students studying English, who want to stay somewhere more homely and practise speaking English with a family. However, there are websites such as where tourists can book this sort of accommodation too.

A homestay in Melbourne, Australia.
Homestay in Melbourne

I paid $50 per night in peak season in Melbourne, and that was to sleep on a very short sofa! Melbourne was so booked up that weekend that the home owner kept receiving desperate calls from the airport trying to accommodate all the people stranded there with nowhere to stay!

Looking at the website now, in the middle of autumn, you can actually get double rooms for as little as $30 – half the price of an Airbnb or hostel dorm if there are two of you! You might even get a free laundry service and breakfast too!

7. Airbnb

Cost: From $40 per room

If you’re travelling as a couple or don’t mind sharing a double with a friend, Airbnb can actually work out the same price or less than a dorm bed in a hostel. Prices for a spare room in a house or apartment where the owner is living there start at around $50 in Australia.

They’re not ideal if you want to meet lots of people, but you get more privacy than in a hostel, there are less people using the kitchen and bathroom and they’re usually a better standard. A great choice for couples.

A living room at a cheap Airbnb in Australia.

8. Cabins in Caravan Parks

Cost: $60-$150 per Cabin

Most caravan parks in Australia have cabins or villas for hire; they’re a bit like the static park homes you get in the UK. I stayed in one during my Melbourne to Sydney road trip since not everywhere had hostels and it was way too cold to camp during the winter (2 degrees some nights).

Off-peak prices start at around $60 per cabin at cheaper parks, but they go up a lot in the summer.

You can get larger cabins too so this could be a really cheap option for a group of 3-5. The cheaper ones can be pretty basic but you get a kitchenette, bathroom, heating and tv. Better than a tent anyway!

Just Google “caravan park” and whichever town you’ll be staying in. Websites for local tourist boards or visitors’ centres tend to list them, and sometimes they come up on hotel comparison sites too.

A holiday cabin at Koonwarra Holiday Park, Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia.

9. Motels

Cost: from $80 per Room

Motels always excite me, as they don’t have them in the UK, and they remind me of American films where people are on the run! They’re pretty common in Australia.

Motels rooms start at around $80 per night in Australia. They don’t usually have a kitchen, but some of them have swimming pools. You can usually park your car right by your door, which is a big advantage if you have a lot of luggage.

To find a cheap motel, I’d recommend looking on HotelsCombined. They compare prices across all the major booking sites for each accommodation, to ensure you find the best deal.

Eden Nimo Motel, a very cheap motel in Eden, NSW.

10. Hotels

Cost: From $80 per Room

Hotels are one of the more expensive accommodation options in Australia, but you can sometimes get basic rooms starting as low as $80.

To look for budget hotels in Australia, browse using the search box for HotelsCombined below.

A guide to cheap accommodation in Australia beyond backpacker hostels, including free luxury accommodation from house sitting, to help you save money and travel Australia cheaply.
Park Hyatt, Sydney – not exactly budget, but the pool looks nice!

Whatever your budget, you should find some type of cheap accommodation in Australia to suit your needs. Hopefully this blog post will open up some options you’ve never thought of before!

Do book accommodation in advance, particularly in peak season. The last thing you want on your trip is to be trawling the streets for hours carrying your backpack or sleeping in the car. I’ve done both of those things; it wasn’t pleasant!

If you’re visiting Australia on a working holiday, make sure you read through my guide on planning your working holiday in Australia. Enjoy your trip!

A guide to cheap accommodation in Australia beyond backpacker hostels, including free luxury accommodation from house sitting, to help you save money and travel Australia cheaply.