If you’re off on an Australian adventure, then be prepared that backpacking out here isn’t the intrepid voyage of discovery it once was!
Sometimes it can feel like every man and his campervan are shuttling between the same attractions.
While this has some undeniable social advantages, you’re probably more likely to remember the times you ventured off the beaten track on an alternative adventure!
Always on the trail of discovering new, cheap fun, here are my top 5 tips for budget-friendly alternative Queensland adventures – sure to have you sampling some of the sunshine state’s lesser-known and bargain-priced delights in no time.
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#1 Snorkel from Port Douglas
Stay: Port Douglas Backpackers
All Queensland tourists want to enjoy the world-class marine life of the Great Barrier Reef, and who could blame them; it is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, a World Heritage Site and the only living thing on earth visible from space!
However, don’t settle with heading out to see this oceanic wonder from Cairns like everyone else.
Instead, why not make the short journey north to the quaint beach town of Port Douglas.
From here, not only are boats less crowded, so you are likely to see more when snorkelling, but you are also able to reach what is known as the Outer Reef.
These are the stretches of coral furthest away from the shoreline, meaning they are better preserved and therefore home to a greater range of aquatic life.
5 ESSENTIAL PACKING ITEMS FOR AUSTRALIA
#1 Good Camera – You will be pretty much snapping non-stop in Australia and will need a good camera to do this gorgeous country justice. I highly recommend the Sony A6000, which I use for all my travels and love, not least because it’s light, compact and robust!
#2 Good Walking Shoes – There will be a lot of walking in Australia – from cities to national parks! Make sure your feet are comfortable therefore with a pair of New Balance Trainers. Perfect for stylish strolling, I love mine.
#3 Good Guidebook – I’m still a massive fan of the Lonely Planet Guidebooks and do think their Australia edition is well put together.
#4 Good Water Bottle – Travelling in hot old Australia can be thirsty work, so make sure you have a metal water bottle that you can refill as you go, because tap water is drinkable… and free!
#5 Good Sun Hat – And there’s no denying you’ll need a good sun hat for protection in Australia too. In my opinion you can’t go past this Hello Sunshine one, which is both gorgeous and ideal for keeping the rays off your face.
#2 Wildlife Spot on Magnetic Island
Stay: Bungalow Bay YHA
Want to see some of the unique wildlife of Australia in its natural setting? Magnetic Island, just off the coast of Townsville, offers you just that … and you don’t even need to fork out for an organised tour!
Just taking some of the easily accessible and free walking tracks on Maggie can bring you face to face with some curious critters including the wonderfully elusive koala.
Best is the Forts walk, which will also provide you with stunning 360 degree views of the island and surrounding coast.
You can also enjoy close encounters with kookaburras, possums, wallabies and goannas, therefore crossing a few native species off the to-see list (and I’m not talking about those on the nearby nudist beach either!)
You also have the chance to spot whales and dolphins off the coast of Maggie Island for free between the months of June and November.
Keen to see some about other great Australian animals in the wild? Check out my top spot recommendations here.
#3 Camp in the Whitsundays
Have you heard of Whitehaven, recently voted number 3 in the world’s top beaches?
True, this prizewinning strip of sand, situated in the Whitsundays archipelago, is no longer a secret, but there are ways to enjoy it away from the crowds and more cheaply.
Boatloads of backpackers opt for one of the many touring cruise packages, but why not grab your mates and head out for a couple of nights remote camping the Whitsundays on the islands instead?
You can even go and stay on the famous Whitehaven Beach itself and enjoy the fabulous sunsets, with a glass or 2 after all the day trip crowds have long departed.
Who knows, you might even be lucky enough to have the whole place to yourself!
Boat transfer to Whitehaven, as well as rental camping gear, can be arranged cheaply through companies in Airlie Beach, who normally chuck in a snorkel and mask into the deal for free.
This is definitely a great way to experience more of the lesser-seen elements of one of the world’s most famous beaches.
#4 Hit the Beach at Carnarvon Gorge National Park
And it’s not just beaches on the coast that are worth stopping at in QLD.
No, this incredible part of Australia even has inland beaches too! So instead of basking in those rays at the Gold Coast, why not hit the sand at Carnarvon Gorge National Park!
You’ll need your own transport to see this incredible wilderness, but you’ll be rewarded with fantastic landscape snaps and a truly different Aussie picture as you journey inland to the heart of QLD.
Entrance to the park is free and there are some great hiking opportunities to enjoy as you visit gorges, forests, aboriginal rock art sites, swimming holes and yes, beaches miles from the sea!
Fast becoming known by backpackers, make sure you get to this wonderful nature reserve before the masses!
#5 SUP in Noosa
Stay: Halse Lodge YHA
Why not sample a different sport while you’re up in QLD too?
Most people head to Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, to try their hand at surfing, but you can always be a bit different and have a go at Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) instead.
Noosa’s river ways make it a super place to sample this hip new sport and there’s several companies who can help you with lessons.
Or, if you’re a bit more experienced, you can always rent a board from as little as $20 AUD per hour and head out onto the ocean to really test your balance skills!
I really enjoyed SUP in Noosa, as the river there provides great calm, flat conditions in which to hone your skills!
I recommend Noosa Stand Up Paddle who offer lessons as well as boards for hire.
Staying in Noosa? Check out my complete guide to finding cheap accommodation in this notoriously expensive area.
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It’s a big place old Queensland, but hopefully, with these top tips, you’ll get to experience some budget-friendly alternative Queensland adventures and see something a little different during your time here.
Let me know your fav in the comments box below…