Having done the East Coast of Australia two times now, once by car and once by bus, I feel that I am in a suitable position to offer my thoughts on the best (and worst) attractions and hostels to visit on the way.
Coach or Car?
Now this is a question that I’m sure many people will have this dilemma. Should you rent a car/camper and have the freedom of driving yourself or should you save the money and get a series of buses up the coast. I have no definitive answer for you but I can offer my opinions of both.
One word. Freedom. When you have a car you have complete control over where you go. No planning your trips around bus times or only visiting places that tours go to. If there is a road then you can go there. When I was travelling up the east coast in a car we had 4 people so it was pretty cost effective and it allowed us to visit so much more than if we had taken the bus. It also allows you to visit more unique and hard to reach attractions.
It does offer up a few negatives. It can get expensive if you drive a lot with fuel charges etc. Also if you get into an accident or it breaks down some companies can charge you ridiculous amounts unless you have the right insurance. When I was in New Zealand our car’s break pads failed and fell off, lucky for us we weren’t charged but if we had been it could have set us back over three grand.
Also if you want to drive you need drivers. This can prevent people from drinking/partying late into the night when they know they have to drive the next day.
Cheap, reliable and relies on very little effort from you. Other than making sure you book the right trips and turn up on time you really don’t have to worry much when using the coaches. If you’re willing to have a few bad nights sleep then you can also take overnight buses to save on a few hostel night saving even more money.
The worse bit about the coach is definitely them lack of freedom. If there isn’t a bus then there isn’t a bus. You also cant really visit anywhere that doesn’t have a bus stop.
Now you’ve decided how to travel we can talk about where you are going to sleep. As mentioned above you can sleep on coaches if that’s how you’re travelling but you really can’t survive doing that every night. So when it comes down to it you have two main choices. Hostels or camping/camper.
Hostels are one of the best ways to travel. Nothings better than being thrown in with hundreds of other travellers but this obviously comes with downsides. It does largely depend on which hostels you choose. As a rule I prefer to never stay in chain hostels such as X-base or Nomads as independently owned hostels often have a better vibe and tend to be more chilled out. If you like the party atmosphere then pick a hostel that’s good for it. If you like more relaxed places then there’s a hostel for you to. That’s the beauty of it.
There’s a couple of great apps but my personal favourite is WikiCamps. You can use it offline to find any free camp-sites in the area and a the small investment is definitely worth it. It drops the price of camping through the roof and the number of free camp-sites around is surprising. For those wanting to live a little more luxuriously camp-sites can range from $6 per person all the way up to $30 or even more depending on the facilities. But who says you need a camp-site at all? In New Zealand I spent more than one night roughing it just pitching our tent in the best available spot and one night we even approached a farmer who let us stay on their land for free. I’m not saying you can rely on it but camping is a sure fire way to save money and can often force you into new situations you would never have found yourselves in before
It does make it harder to meet other people. As a lot of travellers do stay in hostels you can’t rely on camping to meet people. Having said that free camp-sites are a haven for travellers and interesting people alike so you’re guaranteed to get a few stories out of it.
There’s plenty more to be said on this subject but these are the few thoughts I have. I also forgot about this post and left it for 2 months so I can’t remember what else I had to put.