Guide to Australia’s Great Southern Region

Experience the great southern on a budget

Our first week of travel has been filled with adventure, hiking, and, unfortunately, a lot of rain. It’s currently the height of summer in Australia but as I write this I’m hiding in the car from the rain and wind. We’ve been trying to make the best of our time in the Great Southern region because, despite the weather, this really is a beautiful part of Western Australia. With a stunning coastline, hikes of all assortment and dozens of four wheel drive tracks, this region truly caters towards the adventurous spirit. We’ve kept this article as a list of free attractions in the Great Southern-perfect for the budget backpacker- but some of the national parks do have entry fees. I thought I’d include them anyway because so many travelers buy national park passes.

 

Walpole

Our first stop on our big adventure was D’entrecastreux national park near the town of Walpole. The majority of this park is accessible by four wheel drive only, and the few two wheel drive roads are unsealed, which may be something to consider when driving a rental car! However, when you do get into the park you’ll be greeted by a seriously beautiful and almost untouched coastline. The park is actually quite big and has several entrances. We saw a small portion of it, but we loved it all.

Mandalay beach was a highlight of our time here. From the soft white sand to the visible remains of a shipwreck it definitely scores highly on our list of favourite beaches. There are some cool rock formations here and an island off the shore. We even found a small animal skull! The beach is two wheel drive accessible but it is a gravel road, and quite a corrugated one. We were surprised to find that our beer hadn’t shattered.

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Beautiful Mandalay Beach

We also took a four wheel track drive to long point. This was actually a much longer track than we had anticipated, but it did offer great views of the surrounding beaches. There also seemed to be some hiking trails, and there were some other driving tracks branching off from the main “road.”

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Enjoying the view

I think our favourite spot in the walpole area was the Conspicuous Cliffs. They might sound like something from a Lemony Snickett novel, but these cliffs are a spectacular coastal feature. There are multiple look out points as well as beach access. It was incredibly windy at the look out points! You can also hike part of the bibbulmun track here, so it’s a really good spot for a day trip.

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A blustery day at the cliffs!

Denmark

 

Denmark is only about an hour South of Walpole and it’s a really awesome town. There are tonnes of great attractions around here, including a meadery, “chocolate lounge”, and wineries. I have to admit, one of the highlights of Denmark for us was the bakery. It has a whole host of awards to its name and some very interesting options. Alex had a curried kangaroo pie- dubbed the “vindaroo”. It’s a great spot for a budget lunch!

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Fishing in Parry beach

The other great thing about Denmark is Parry’s beach campground. For $15 per site per night this place offers showers, flush toilets, huge sites, and you can have camp fires even in Summer! Best of all it’s right by the beach and it’s part of the bibulmun track. We spent a few days here and we really enjoyed it. One day we walked all the way to Elephant rocks from here. It was about an 18 kilometre round trip and took us a little under three hours each way, but it was such a cool hike. We had miles of beach entirely to ourselves, saw some wildlife, and we felt pretty accomplished when we reached the pristine beach of Green’s pool and Elephant rocks. We also accidentally fell asleep on the beach on the way home, but that’s not important 😉

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Elephant rocks-worth the walk!

Denmark itself is larger than I expected and is situated very prettily on the Denmark river. It seems to be quite geared towards tourists and has lots of interesting shops worth wandering around. My favourites were the Australian Alpaca Centre- a alpaca wool clothing store- and Third Stone Traders, a fair trade and local craft store. The town is definitely worth exploring even if you’re just window shopping.

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Street Art in Denmark

Albany

 

If you’re like me you probably had no idea that Albany was once destined to become the capital of Western Australia. It’s the oldest city is the state and has the rich history to prove it. There’s quite a few museums here but I’ll just focus on the free things for now.

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Albany was beautiful once the sun came out!

First of all there’s cosy corner campground- a totally free campground with drop toilets and beach access. It’s about fifteen minutes outside of Albany and, while basic, it’s pretty awesome for a free spot! We stayed there for a few nights and while the weather wasn’t good enough to really enjoy its proximity to the beach, it was still great to have somewhere free to spend some time.

 

Albany itself has a free museum which offers a pretty comprehensive overview of Albany’s history. I have to admit I had no idea there was so much learn about the city’s past. We really only visited the museum because we both wanted to use the public toilets there, but it has great colourful exhibits and the friendly staff gave us great ideas for how to spend the rest of our time.

 

One of the coolest attractions in Albany is The Gap. This is area of rugged coastline where a viewing platform has been built over a gap in the cliffs. From here you can watch the waves wooshing beneath you. It’s pretty wild and might be one to avoid if you’re afraid of heights! The view is great though and the water is a gorgeous colour as it splashes against the rocks. It’s also right by the natural bridge and the blowholes- we brought a picnic and made an afternoon of seeing the sights!

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The Wild Waters of The Gap

About an hour outside Albany you’ll find the Stirling Ranges which contain the biggest mountain in the Southern half of WA- Bluff Knoll. We climbed the mountain one blustery day and it was a great experience. It was definitely tough, especially with the wild weather near the summit, but we got some great views, got some good fresh air and exercise, and enjoyed our first real physical challenge of the trip!

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Bluff Knoll-doesn’t it look like something from a fantasy film?

As a result of the crazy rain we’ve had over the past week some sections of the trail were pretty water logged. It was cool to be able to fill our water bottles at the waterfalls though!

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The freshest water imaginable!

So that’s our guide to the free attractions of the Great Southern! Our plan was to move on to Esperance after a few days in Albany, but due to some crazy flooding and road closures we’re not sure when we’ll make it there. For now we’re hanging out at Shelley’s beach campground, just down the road from Cosy Corner. This site isn’t free-it’s 7.50 per person per night- but we love the crystal clear water here and it’s quite sheltered from the wind. We’re not quite sure what we’ll do next, so be sure to follow us on facebook, instagram and twitter to keep up to date. You can also sign up to our newsletter in the sidebar. Happy travelling!

our migration patterns

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Europe on a budget


Europe is a traveler’s paradise. The continent is well connected by rail, the cities are historical and beautiful, and you can experience many different cultures in a short space of time. For most of us there’s only one set back: cost. Travelling in Europe is undeniably more expensive than travelling in Asia or South America. Particularly in cities like Vienna or Paris the costs can be pretty daunting. But I can tell you from experience that it’s very possible to see Europe on a budget. We managed to do it on minimum wage fast food jobs, and so can you! So let’s break down the costs….

Budapest is a great budget city

Getting There

Now, the cost of getting to Europe is obviously going to depend on where you’re coming from and where you’re flying into. We got return flights from Perth go Dublin for $1600 AUD each. This route is one of the more expensive routes to take. I have seen American travel bloggers claim to fly to Europe with WOWair via Iceland for less than $500 return. And if you already live in Europe you get a head start-the initial flight to Europe is the biggest cost for most people.

Sleeping in the airport is good for your budget-not so good for your back!


Getting Around

Getting around in Europe on a budget is easy! You’re spoilt for choice, with a great rail system, intercity buses, and cheap budget flights. If you’re willing to book your travel far in advance with no check in luggage then you might find flying with a budget airline like Ryanair to be the cheapest option. However, if you like flexibilty, comfort and great window views then you’re probably going to want to travel by train! Eurail passes (or interail if you’re an EU citizen) are a great way to save money while travelling in Europe. We got global one month eurail passes for €604 each. This gave us unlimited rail travel in most of Europe for 30 days. It also covered some buses and metro travel. This works out at just over €20 a day for almost all your travel while you’re in Europe. There’s lots of different passes available and there’s often special deals so be sure to have a look at the website and see what suits you.

The first train ticket from our trip!


Staying There

Here’s the big one-accomodation. Europe has some of the best hostel facilities out there. There are lots of options available ranging from budget to boutique. Hostels can seem scary to the inexperienced- the lack of privacy, the snoring, the wobbly top bunk. But honestly, I would almost always pick a hostel over a hotel! The atmosphere is social, the staff are helpful, and the money you save means you get to travel for longer! Below is a break down of all the places we stayed and how much we spent in each place. I’ve listed the price we paid for both of us for the sake of accuracy as occasionally we stayed in private double rooms.

Amsterdam-2 nights in the city-Hostel Meeting Point-€96 (large dorm)

-2 nights at the beach-Flying Pig beach hostel-€119 (large dorm)

Berlin-3 nights in the city-Sandino World improvement hostel-€84 (small dorm)

Freiburg-4 nights in the city-Black Forest Hostel-€84 (large dorm)

Venice-4 nights a short bus ride from the city-Camping Rialto-€84 (two person tent with beds)

Vienna– 2 nights a metro ride from the city-Hostel Hutteldorf-€70 (large dorm)

Budapest-5 nights in the city-Full Moon Hostel-€176 (private double room with ensuite)

Rome-3 nights outside the city-Seven Hills Villiage-€44 (small private wood cabin with shared bathrooms) note-we would not recommend staying here unless you have your own vehicle. It’s far from central Rome with bad public transport. They also appear to have raised their prices since we stayed.
-Total cost for two people-€875

Approximate cost for one person-€437.50-average €17 a night
As you can see we sometimes chose to stay in slightly higher end accommodation. For example, our accommodation in Budapest could have been much cheaper. You can stay in a dorm here for just €9 a night! We did things pretty cheaply, but it’s definitely possible to do it on a smaller budget.

Full Moon Hostel Budapest


Eating There

It’s easy to eat cheaply in Europe. A baguette and some nice cheese is only a couple of euros and one of these A+ chocolate puddings is 19 cents!!

 

These puddings were a staple of our Europe diet

But if you’re like us you’re going to want to treat yourself to a few nice restaurant meals. After all, the easiest way to experience a local culture is by eating their food! Eating out varies greatly in different European countries. We ate out in Budapest one night for €10-this was two starters,two mains and two drinks. In a more expensive city like Vienna it’s hard to get one main course for €10. On average we spent less than €40 a day on food-that’s €20 per person, and we ate out at least once every day. If you’re happy to cook your own food all the time then you easily eat on less than €40 a week in most places.
But let’s say you spend €40 a day. That’s €1200 a month, which is €600 a month per person.

Budget eats in Freiburg

So so far we’re at €57 per day including food, accommodation and transport. From here your costs really depend on you! There are tonnes of free activities around Europe. You can stroll through the unique cities and admire the clash of historical and modern architecture. You can visit beautiful churches and marvel at the intricate detailing. You can hike through the alps or the Black Forest. You can picnic in one of the great urban parks present in almost every city. But of course, you could also visit expensive art museums, got to Disneyland multiple times, or spend all day shopping in designer boutiques. Your activities in Europe can be as cheap as you make them! Here’s some extra tips for saving money when sight seeing!

Most churches in Europe are free to explore!


City passes

City passes are a great way to save money especially if you plan on seeing multiple museums. Lots of cities have some form of pass, but I’ll just talk about the two that we bought.

IAmsterdam pass

This pass covers all public transport within the city and offers free admission to many of Amsterdam’s top museum including the Van Gogh museum. You also get discounts for many other attractions, a free city map, and free admission to the zoo! They offer 24 hour, 48 hour and 72 hour passes. Visit their website https://www.iamsterdam.com/en/i-am/i-amsterdam-city-card to find out if it can save you money!

Berlin Museum Pass

There are multiple city passes in Berlin, but we chose to get the Berlin museum pass. This is a three day pass which costs €24- €12 for a student. It covers all of the museums on museum island and many more in Berlin. It’s worth looking into, especially if you want to explore Berlin’s unique history. Find out more here http://www.visitberlin.de/en/museum-pass-berlin

The IAmsterdam pass includes a canal cruise!

It’s also worth looking at looking at public transport passes as opposed to paying for each trip individually. Free museum days can be a great way to save money. All the museums in the Vatican are free on the last Sunday of every month!

A sneaky sistine chapel photo!

I hope these tips will help you to plan your trip to Europe! If you play your cards right it’s easy to travel on a small budget!