For a quiet and comfortable stay in the middle of the CBD, consider Hobart Central YHA. Conveniently located close to supermarkets, pubs, and the popular Waterfront area, this YHA is a great place to base yourself as you explore what the city has to offer.
Hobart Central YHA is a three story hotel that can sleep 112 guests. It has a variety of accommodation available, from multi-share dorms to ensuite and family rooms. Our multi-share dorm was on the third floor, so our legs got a good workout on our way up.
The reception and tour desk is located on the ground floor, as well as the cosy kitchen and laundry room. If you can navigate the maze of corridors on the first floor you’ll find the TV and games room. Each floor has a few bathrooms with a shower, toilet and basin, instead of a mass bathroom on each level.
There’s no secure parking, only street parking, which is free between 6pm and 8am. This was easy to work around as once we had found a parking spot after 6pm, we didn’t have to move the Troopy until 8am the next morning, which was fine because we had to be on our way anyway.
Things Close By
The Fluke & Bruce Hotel – You can’t get any closer than next door, and you get a $5 schooners for staying at the YHA.
Lark Distillery – just a quick 160m stroll towards the Waterfront, Lark Distillery is one representation of Hobart and Tasmania’s love of whisky.
Supermarket – a major supermarket is located at 44 Argyle Street, only 230m up the road.
Fish and chips – if you want some fresh fish and chips, your options are plentiful on Constitution Dock only 350m away.
Daci & Daci Bakery –a delicious breakfast or some yummy cakes is only 450m away. If you walk there and back, you’ve nearly walked off half an apple danish.
Salamanca Markets – Hobart’s famous markets, full of great food, crafts and entertainment, is only 750m away.
The Cascade Brewery – only 3.7km away in South Hobart.
Frogmore Creek Winery – about 17km on the other side of the Derwent River, Frogmore Creek have a wonderful cellar door and fantastic selection of wines.
Bruny Island – the ferry to cross to the island is 33km south in Kettering.
Tahune Airwalk – just over an hour away by vehicle is the Tahune Airwalk, a beautiful treetop walk amongst an ancient forest of trees that are at the heart of Tasmania’s wilderness.
Hobart Central YHA is located at 9 Argyle Street in the Hobart CBD.
To make a booking or enquire about accommodation, you can call them on 03 6231 2660, or check out the website.
One of our favourite YHA hostels in Australia, the Blue Mountains YHA is within a restored National Trust building with a beautiful art deco interior. It was built in 1918 as a guesthouse called Homesdale, but during the 1920s and 1930s, it underwent a series of extensions, including a huge ballroom. The building then became home to the Wentworth Cabaret, a popular club for music and dancing.
In the 1960s, tourism slowed down in the Blue Mountains and the building was sold to Illawarra Bible College. Eight years later, it changed hands again to the Assemblies of God and the ballroom was used as a chapel. YHA purchased the building in 2000 and a year later, the Blue Mountains YHA was opened.
The Blue Mountains YHA is huge and is perfect for groups and families. It sleeps 200 people and has a variety of room options. We were in the Blue Mountains during winter so it was fairly quiet. We had a 6 share dorm all to ourselves. All the rooms have heaters that become your best friend in winter, and plenty of lockable cupboard space per guest.
The common areas are bright and spacious. The old ballroom has been decked out with gas fire heaters and lounges, and the side rooms include a quiet reading room, a games room and a checker floor kitchen with gas cooking. Outside is a giant chess board and a few sun chairs for when the weather is warmer. There is also free Wifi available in the common areas.
Café – less than 100 metres from the hostel is a cosy little café called the Yellow Deli.
Supermarket – there’s a discount supermarket just around the corner only two minutes away, but if you’re looking for a major supermarket, you’re going to have to walk an extra 400m up the road.
Street Art Walk – a collaboration with local graffiti artists, the Street Art Walk is 150m from the hostel and exhibits some fantastic works of art.
Bottle shop – less than 200m up the street is a bottle shop.
Katoomba Station – if you need to catch the train in or out of Katoomba, the railway station is only 800m up the road.
Echo Point and the Three Sisters – only 1.7km down the road, this is the most iconic landmark of the Blue Mountains.
Sublime Point Lookout – one of our favourite lookouts in the Blue Mountains is only 6.6km from the hostel.
Bakehouse on Wentworth – Enjoy pie? This bakery does some ripper savoury pies and they’re only 11km away in Blackheath.
Sydney – the largest city in Australia is only 130km away.
The Blue Mountains YHA is located at 270 Katoomba Street in Katoomba and is open all year. Reception is available from 7:30am to 8pm daily, but they stay open for an hour later on Friday and Saturday nights. Breakfast is available for $6.50 per person.
Sydney is big, beautiful, colourful, and exhausting. We spent several days in the city, walking around and trying to see as much as possible, but we still didn’t see everything. We’d always run out of steam and head back to base. But our time in Sydney wasn’t just about sightseeing, we met up with friends and family and got stuck in the thick of it.
Perhaps our favourite Sydney activity was going to the pub to watch the State of Origin Decider with our mates. A few records were broken by that third decider match – the most painful being the huge 52-6 victory for Queensland, which is the largest winning margin in Stage of Origin history. By half time, most the patrons of the pub had left and there were lots of unhappy faces. Juz was secretly siding with Queensland – her team choice was purely based on the average temperature of each state. And considering it was a chilly winter night in Sydney, Queensland was a clear winner on all fronts.
We saw heaps of stuff – beautiful days, fog so thick you couldn’t see 100 metres in front of you, rain and lightning, bikie busts, homeless people, and of course two of Australia’s most recognisable landmarks – the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. We also got to spend some time with friends and family, including Dave’s uncle and Juz’s old colleague, Gareth.
Sydney is located on the world’s largest natural harbour.
Residents of Sydney are called Sydneysiders.
The population of Sydney is over 4 million.
A town plan of Sydney was submitted in 1790 but was rejected by the colony leaders, and this is why the layout of Sydney is so disorganised.
The region where Sydney is located has had occupants for thousands of years, but the first Europeans came in 1770. All the kids learn at school how the heroic Captain James Cook sailed into Botany Bay on the Endeavour and liked what he saw. The First Fleet arrived 18 years later with over 1000 settlers and the British colony was established on 26 January – what we now call Australia Day.
Not all passengers were free – there were 778 convicts on board and they were put to work to build the colony and expand farming. Over the next few years, more boats full of convicts arrived, but due to sickness, many of them died. In the meantime, aboriginals were dying because their food sources were depleted and their immune system was no match for introduced diseases like measles and small pox.
Sydney officially became a city in 1842 and as always, the discovery of gold in Bathurst in 1851 caused a massive population boom from around 40,000 people to over 200,000 over 20 years. This rapid growth meant that infrastructure needed to be upgraded, like railways and ports, but the boom was stolen away by the Victorian gold rush. People started to flock south to Melbourne and this was the beginning of the rivalry between these two cities.
In 1901, when the colonies were united to become the Commonwealth of Australia, both Sydney and Melbourne applied to be the capital of the country. The dispute was settled with the creation of a new city – Canberra.
In 1942, Australia’s involvement in WWII stepped up a notch when Sydney Harbour was attacked by the Imperial Japanese Navy. Three midget submarines entered the harbour and two of them were detected and attacked before being scuttled by their crews – who all perished. The third sub fired a torpedo that killed 21 people aboard a converted ferry. It then disappeared until it was found in 2006 just north of Sydney by some amateur scuba divers. Though damaged, the two scuttled submarines were quickly recovered and one complete vessel was made and put on display at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
In September 1993, every Australian was glued to their TV, watching with anticipation for the announcement of the next host of the Olympic Games. The IOC President at the time, Juan Antonio Samaranch, then said those famous words:
“The, the winner is Syd-a-ney, Australia…”
Sydney went on to host the 2000 Summer Olympic Games. Australia came in 4th overall and won 58 medals – 16 gold, 25 silver, 17 bronze, with the majority of them coming from the swimming pool. Interestingly, all of the bronze medals handed out during the Games were made at the Royal Australian Mint from melted down 1c and 2c coins.
Points of Interest
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Affectionately known as the Coat Hanger, the Sydney Harbour Bridge was built over 9 years and completed in 1932. It’s a masterpiece of forethought, as back in the 1930s, there was only a handful of registered cars, but these days it’s the busiest road in Australia. While we were in Sydney, we drove across it, walked over it, caught a train across it, rode the ferry under it and Dave even climbed it.
Sydney Opera House
You can’t get more iconic than the Sydney Opera House. Located at Bennelong Point and sometimes called the Dish Rack, the performing arts centre was opened in 1973 and is one of the most popular attractions in Australia. The nearby Opera Bar is a popular place to hang out and have a beer.
Sydney’s Luna Park
Located on the opposite end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is Sydney’s Luna Park, a theme park that’s been operating since 1935. This retro, Coney Island inspired playground is free to enter and is seriously fun.
The place where the original convicts were sent to live, the Rocks has transformed into an area full of beautiful heritage buildings, cafes and shops, charming alleys and cobblestone laneways and tonnes of history. To learn more about the area, you can either go to the Discovery Centre, or visit the Sydney Harbour YHA to see the original foundations. On the weekends, there’s a cool market that runs from 10am to 5pm.
A pedestrian mall in the heart of the city, it’s home to several Australian banks, Martin Place Railway Station, the Seven Network news centre and the glorious GPO building. It was also the site of the Sydney Siege in late 2014, where 18 people were taken hostage in the Lindt Café. It was a shocking event and to pay our respects and get a bit of sticky beak action, we visited the café and bought some chocolate.
The oldest public parkland in Australia, Hyde Park is a splash of green in the grey of the city. Within the park is the Pool of Reflection and Anzac War Memorial, but the centrepiece is the Archibald Fountain, which was designed by a Frenchman as a ‘thank you gift’ for Australia’s contribution to the First World War.
We also found a giant outdoor chessboard, some enormous seven metre tall bullets that pay tribute to indigenous servicemen and women, and a man entertaining some kids with bubbles. Next to the park is St Mary’s Cathedral, the longest church in Australia – 107 metres.
Kurnell & La Perouse
These words might not mean much to you, but they are important locations in the history of Australia. Kurnell is on the southern headland of Botany Bay and it’s where the seamen of the Endeavour first stepped onto Aussie soil way back in 1770. There are monuments celebrating this event, and the best way to see them is on the Burrawang Walk, which starts at the Kurnell Visitor Centre. The walk passes Captain Cook’s landing place and acknowledges the other members of his team like Isaac Smith, who was actually the first Englishman to set foot on Australia, and Forby Sutherland, the first Brit to die in Australia. There’s also an obelisk that commemorates 100 years and 200 years of Cook’s Landing.
The northern headland of Botany Bay is named La Perouse after the French explorer Jean-Francois de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse (what a mouthful!), who landed there on the 26th of January 1788 with two ships, the Astrolabe and Boussole. According to history, La Perouse was coming to Australia to claim it for the French. Unfortunately for him, the First Fleet from Britain had arrived a week earlier on the 18th of January, so they were there to meet him and his crew. The French stayed in Botany Bay for six weeks before continuing their adventure to New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands, where the two ships disappeared, never to be seen again.
To the South
To the south of Sydney are a few notable landmarks. Bondi Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world and in true ONA fashion, as soon as we arrived, it started to rain. Further south along the coast is Coogee, the place of the infamous poo poo ice cream incident a few years back. It seemed appropriate to seek out a sundae for our visit but for some strange reason, the only eatery in the area still selling sundaes was McDonald’s.
Further south still is the Sutherland Shire, named after Forby Sutherland, the first British man to die in Australia. This is where Dave’s uncle lives so we got to spend a few days hanging out with family. Dave and his uncle even went and had a look at Royal National Park, the first national park in Australia.
To the North
The northern beaches start at Manly, a seaside suburb that was named after the ‘manly’ indigenous that lived there when the First Fleet arrived. The Manly Wharf is a popular spot for a feed, with a few fancy restaurants and cafes, or you can catch the ferry from Manly Cove to the Sydney CBD.
Further north is Pittwater, a valley estuary that separates Sydney from the Central Coast. At the entrance of the estuary is Palm Beach, a hilly area stuffed with big houses perched on cliffs with decadent views of the coast.
While you’re in the north, take a detour on the Mona Vale Road to the Bahá’í Temple, one of seven in the world. The temple was built in 1961 and welcomes all faiths. It’s almost 40m high and has nine sides with nine entrances, which represent unity. When you visit, please note that it is a quiet zone so turn your phone off and shush.
Eat & Drink
There are so many great places to eat and drink in Sydney. Just close your eyes, spin around 10 times and order something from the first place you bump into. Here is our post on the yummy places that we ate at.
We sniffed out a few breweries in Sydney, only missing out on one in the Rocks. They all had a great selection of beers but our favourites were Young Henry’s in Newtown and Batch Brewing Co in Marrickville. Check out our post about Sydney Breweries here.
Information & Accommodation
The public transport system in Sydney is pretty straight forward. There are double decker trains, insanely fast buses and relaxingly slow ferries, and you can either buy a single ticket, a multi ticket, or save yourself the confusion and get just an Opal Card. Opal cards can be picked up for free from certain outlets and you just put money on it and touch on and off to travel.
For accommodation, there are several YHA locations, including Bondi, Sydney Central, Sydney Harbour, Glebe and two up the northern beaches. We stayed at Glebe Point YHA so that we could have somewhere to park the Troopy and still be close to the city, but we also checked out the Sydney Harbour YHA too.
Sydney Harbour YHA is not your ordinary YHA. It’s a new purpose-built hostel with state of the art facilities that’s located within the historic Rocks precinct of Sydney. It boasts incredible views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge and has won more than 30 awards, but the real feature of this hostel is that it is built on top of the archaeological remains of colonial Sydney.
When Sydney was first established, most of the convicts were sent to the Rocks to live. Houses were built on actual rocks (hence the name), and the suburb earned itself the reputation of being a rough neighbourhood. The bubonic plague hit Sydney in the early 1900s, and because the Rocks was densely populated, it was assumed that it would suffer the most casualties. Despite the deaths of only three people, most of the buildings were demolished and those who survived the plague were moved to other suburbs.
The current YHA site was not used much between 1901 and 1994, it was mainly an empty lot for car parking. In 1994, excavations of the current YHA site began and the foundations of over 30 colonial homes were found, as well as thousands of artefacts. The insight that these discoveries have provided show that perhaps the Rocks wasn’t such a scummy place after all, with some of the artefacts quite fine and expensive, and evidence of a healthy diet.
The area was in limbo because of its archaeological significance so the public was invited to make suggestions on how to utilise the land. YHA submitted a tender which was approved, and in 2008, construction of the hostel began. The hostel was built around the archaeological dig, and officially opened in April 2010 with only 2% of the site being affected due to construction. Over a million dollars were spent to make the hostel environmentally friendly and sustainable, and many of the archaeological remnants are displayed in cases within the hostel.
The adjacent The Big Dig Archaeology Educational Centre also opened at this time and accommodates large educational groups from primary school students through to uni groups. About 30% of the guests at the hostel are educational groups and there’s a separate dining room for large groups. A great part of The Big Dig is the façades around the building that simulate a glimpse back to colonial times.
There are 354 beds in the Sydney Harbour YHA, and a percentage of your accommodation fee goes to the archaeological upkeep and development of The Big Dig Centre. Accommodation options include air conditioned multishare dorms and double/twin accommodation, and all rooms have ensuites – some with separate toilet and bathroom. Many rooms also have views of the Sydney Harbour and Sydney Opera House.
The common areas are colourful, modern and spacious. There’s a large fully-equipped kitchen with plenty of storage space and a huge lounge and dining area. The rooftop has a BBQ area and sun chairs, as well as unobstructed views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House and CBD. The hostel has accessibility access, free Wi-Fi hotspots for guests and a coffee bar at reception.
BridgeClimb– one of the most unique Sydney experiences is only 300m down the street.
The Fine Food Store –located on the corner of Mill and Kendall Lane, this café makes great coffee and a tasty croque le grill.
Supermarket – there is a major supermarket in the Metcentre on George Street, about 700m south of the hostel.
Circular Quay – one of the major terminals of the Harbour City Ferries is only 750m away. Catch the ferry to Manly! It is also a busy bus terminal serviced by the free city bus.
Martin Place – 1.2km away in the heart of Sydney, Martin Place is a pedestrian mall with an entrance to the underground railway station.
Sydney Opera House – while you can see the Opera House from the rooftop of the hostel, there’s no harm walking 1.6km to see it up close. While you’re there, why not have a beer at the Opera Bar.
Sydney’s Luna Park– the 2.2km walk over the Sydney Harbour Bridge will warm you up for a day of fun.
Market City – south of the city, 2.5km away is Market City. While there are stalls that sell stuff, the best thing is the food court upstairs that dishes out great value Asian meals.
Sydney Harbour YHA is located at 110 Cumberland Street in The Rocks. Reception is open 24 hours. For more information about accommodation and availability, phone 02 8272 0900, email email@example.com, or visit the website.
Our first night in Sydney was spent at Glebe Point YHA, a relaxed hostel in Sydney’s inner city area. With public transport nearby, it’s just minutes from the city centre and there’s plenty to do within walking distance, like restaurants and cafes, pubs and shopping centres.
The hostel sleeps 151 guests and has a variety of accommodation options, such as multi-share dorms, double/twin rooms and ensuite rooms. There’s plenty of space around the hostel, so it’s great for families too.
On the ground floor, you’ll find the reception area and tours desk, with jobs and car sales noticeboards nearby. There’s also a funky games room with a few consoles for any gaming nerds.
Downstairs is another games area, with a ping pong table, pool table and fusball table. If you’re looking for a more quiet stay, there is a study area and free Wi-Fi. The kitchen is fully decked out with gas stoves, toasters and microwaves, and there’s heaps of storage space for food and fridge stuff.
One of our favourite parts of the hostel was the rooftop area. With BBQs, sun chairs, comfortable lounges and an awesome view of city, you could spend all day up there.
Bus Stop – 35m from the hostel. How good is that! The 431 bus will take you through the guts of the city, all the way to the Rocks.
Supermarket – The closest supermarket is Lucky 7, about 270m down the road. If you want a bigger supermarket, IGA is 800m from the hostel, while the major supermarkets are 1.6km away at Broadway Shopping Centre.
Pub – the Toxteth Hotel is only 400m away and does trivia, cheap meals and live music.
Light Rail – The Glebe Light Rail is a 750m walk away towards the Toxteth and takes you all the way into the city.
Market City – 2.7km. Markets and the best Asian food court in Sydney.
Martin Place – 4.2km. The heart of Sydney and the location of the Channel 7 studios and Lindt Café.
Young Henry’s – 4.2km. A great craft brewery in the backstreets of Newtown.
Bridgeclimb – 5.6km. For a unique Sydney experience, check out Bridgeclimb. If you have an Opal card, it’s a short bus trip away.
Sydney Opera House – 5.6km. Australia’s most famous icon.
The Newcastle Beach YHA is the perfect place to base yourself while you explore Australia’s second oldest city. This friendly hostel is located in the heart of the city CBD and offers comfortable accommodation in a historic building, which at one point used to be a gentlemen’s club.
We shared our dorm room with two other guys, one of which was staying in Newcastle for work. We liked Blake immediately, and ended up spending the night with him downstairs in the lounge room, sharing honey bourbon, wine and stories from our lives. We finally went to bed at around 1am, but when we woke in the morning, he had already left for work. We were sad that we didn’t get to say good bye properly, and he must have felt the same way because he had left a very heart warming note on the Troopy. We truly hope that we cross paths with Blake again…
The Newcastle Beach YHA sleeps 99 guests in a variety of multi-share dorms, double and twin rooms. It can cater to families and large groups as well. Some rooms even open out onto a communal balcony.
The main lounge room is huge, and is cosily furnished in rich wooden furniture, mahogany chesterfield lounges, traditional rugs and a grand fireplace. There are a few other little nooks and crannies where you can lodge yourself if you prefer a smaller space. There’s a billiard table in the main lounge room, but there’s also a games room with a ping pong table and internet access, as well as the outdoor courtyard. There is also a great selection of books under the majestic staircase.
The kitchen is downstairs in the basement and has plenty of storage and seating. The long, narrow kitchen has gas cooking and all the utensils you need to cook a nice meal. There’s also a laundry and toilet downstairs too.
Information about tours, surrounding attractions, and weekly hostel activities like BBQs and pizza nights is available on the ground floor. The Hunter Valley Wine Region is so close – book yourself in for a tour so you don’t have to be a designated driver! If the beach is more your style, you can hire surfboards and body boards for free from reception.
Good Brother Espresso 200m – quite possibly the best coffee in Newcastle, conveniently located around the corner from the hostel.
Lock Up Cultural Centre 250m – the old jail has been converted into an art gallery, so you can appreciate creativity and Newcastle’s criminal history all in one go.
Supermarket – the closest supermarket is 300m away but it’s a little one, so if you need something in particular, the closest major supermarket is at Marketown Shopping Centre, 2.2km away.
The Grand Hotel 400m – the closest pub that offers awesome lunchtime specials. Get the New York sandwich – it’ll blow your mind.
Harry’s Café de Wheels 900m – great for lunch, a snack, or a seedy hangover cure, this historic food outlet is worth a look, if not a taste.
The Obelisk 1km – this landmark offers a little insight into the history of the area, as well as awesome views of town and the coast.
Foghorn Brewhouse 1km – set in a spacious warehouse with trendy fittings, the Foghorn Brewhouse offers a great selection of beers, but if you can’t decide, then go with a tasting paddle.
Newcastle Museum 1.5km – one of the best museums we have visited in Australia. The interactive science section is so much fun.
Darby Street Precinct 1.5km – cafes and restaurants set along a funky street with plenty of street art.
Bogie Hole 1.6km – carved out by convicts in the early 1800s, this is the oldest surviving ‘construction’ in the city.
Nobby’s Lighthouse and Breakwater Walk 2.5km one way – this is a very nice walk, or run if you’re into fitness, and there’s a giant pencil.
Hunter Valley YHA 60km – Base yourself here while you explore the Hunter Valley Wine Region.
The Newcastle Beach YHA is located at 30 Pacific Street. The reception is open from 7am to 10:30pm, with check out at 10am and check in from 2pm. To enquire about accommodation, contact them on 02 4925 3544, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website.
The Hunter Valley YHA is located in the heart of the wine country and is the perfect place to stay while you taste the region. The purpose built hostel is set in a quiet location and is surrounded by beautiful countryside. The onsite vineyard yields grapes that are sent to local winemakers for bottling. The resulting wine is available for purchase at the hostel.
We spent only one night at the Hunter Valley YHA. It was a great way to get settled in the area and with the winter chill settling in, having a warm meal and a warm bed was priceless.
The hostel sleeps 48 guests, and each room opens out onto a veranda that wraps around the whole building. During the winter, extra blankets are provided to keep you toasty and warm.
Recent renovations have brought new life to the kitchen, bathrooms and lounge area, with plush faux leather couches, new tables and a brand new conduction stove. Outside is a BBQ area that overlooks the vineyard, and if you’re lucky, you’ll see a cute bunny or two grazing on the grass.
The adjacent shed houses the laundry, which costs $3 per load for washing and another $3 to dry. There’s a clothes line as well if you have the time. There is also a swimming pool with hammocks for the warmer months. While you’re at the Hunter Valley YHA, book yourself in for a wine tour. Alternatively, get a big group together and rent out the entire hostel!
The Hunter Beer Co. – only 700m away, enjoy a night out drinking craft beer. Next door is the Potters Hotel and Brickworks Brasserie that pours Hunter Beer Co. brews and has a nice menu.
Cessnock – only 2.7km away, this is the closest town to the hostel and has supermarkets, cafes and various other services that you may require. Hotel Cessnock does a great cheap lunch deal if you’re hungry.
Wineries – the closest cluster of wineries is around 3.5km away to the west.
Kurri Kurri – 15km to the east is Kurri Kurri, a cute little town with one of Australia’s newest big things, the Big Kookaburra.
Newcastle – the closest city to the Hunter Valley, Newcastle is only 1 hour away.
The Hunter Valley YHA is located at 100 Wine Country Drive in Nulkaba. Reception is open from 8am to midday, then from 5pm to 8pm.
We arrived in the town of Port Macquarie after completing our tour of New England. It was just before sunset so we settled in at the Port Macquarie YHA for a quiet Saturday night that turned out to be quite a social event. We met a few people that night, including Brian, a bloke from Louisiana USA who looked very much like Anthony Kedis from The Red Hot Chili Peppers. We ended up hanging out with him the next day at the Black Duck Brewery.
Port Macquarie is 390km north of Sydney and is located at the mouth of the Hastings River. The area was first explored by John Oxley in 1818 and named after the Governor of New South Wales, Lachlan Macquarie. It began as a penal settlement in 1821, replacing Newcastle as the destination for convicts from the UK. There are two things needed to make a good penal colony – isolation and labour – and Newcastle had lost both of these elements, with farmers moving into the Hunter Valley reducing isolation and the cedar industry winding down and producing less work.
The rugged terrain around Port Macquarie was overgrown, providing a great amount of isolation, and there were plenty of aborigines in the area who were more than happy to return runaway convicts for some tobacco or blankets. The first man to run the penal colony loved dishing out lashings as punishment, and the penal colony soon earned the reputation of a hellish place to be. By 1840, the penal colony was closed and Port Macquarie became a town for free settlers. These days, it’s a popular place for retirement.
Things to Do and See
Hello Koalas Public Art Sculpture Trail
This is the coolest and most colourful thing about Port Macquarie – it was like a treasure hunt to find all the koalas. Many of the koalas are within the city centre and along the foreshore, but there are some further out past Wauchope and there’s one at Bago Winery too. While you’re on the hunt, keep an eye out for the genuine Chinese Junk at the marina and the cool graffiti on the rocks of the breakwater.
Tacking Point Lighthouse
South of the city centre, on a headland by the coast is Tacking Point Lighthouse. It’s a great lookout over Lighthouse Beach and a perfect spot for whale watching. The reason it’s called Tacking Point is because when Matthew Flinders was exploring the area, the headland was a tacking point on his map. Unfortunately, it took scores of shipwrecks around the headland before the lighthouse was built in 1879.
Koala Hospital and Roto House
Established in 1973, the Koala Hospital treats sick or injured koalas and educates the community about how habitat destruction and disease can affect koalas. You can visit the koalas during the day or arrive at 3pm for feeding time.
Nearby is the Roto House, a late Victorian house that has recently been bought and restored by NSW National Parks. It used to be owned by the Flynn family and was built in 1890. It’s open for display and there’s a retro café onsite.
Black Duck Brewery
We visited the Black Duck Brewery with an American guy we met at the Port Macquarie YHA, and were greeted at the entrance by a huge Great Dane called Murphy. With the big black dog by our side, we met Al the brewer, and passed on a message from Ben at New England Brewery.
“So busy that his customers can’t find a park, aye?” Al said. “Tell him it’s standing room only here…”
We settled at the bar with a huge line of tasting paddles for the ten beers they had on offer. A paddle of four beers was $5 so it’s around $10 for the full range, including two special beers. Juz’s favourite was the Summer Swallow, an easy drinking session ale with apple and banana on yeasty bread and a refreshing finish. Dave’s favourite was the Heron’s Craic, an Irish red ale with a delicious apple pie smell and a creamy caramel flavour.
Black Duck Brewery has been operational for 5 years. It’s the perfect place to sit down for a Sunday session, have a beer and a delicious pizza, or take a tour of the brewery.
Bago Vinyard is located about 25 minutes south west of Port Macquarie, and is worth the visit, whether you’re interested in the wine or the maze. The wines are great, and include a few varieties we hadn’t heard of, like Chambourcin and Savagnin. Once you’ve done a wine tasting and swooned at how delicious the mulled wine is, go check out the biggest maze in NSW.
On our way to the Hunter Valley, we deviated from the highway to pass through Tuncurry and Forster. Regardless of which side of the bridge you are, the little parks on either end offer a great view of the bridge that spans the Coolongolook River.
Just as the sun was setting, we made it to Cape Hawke Lookout, a platform on top of a hill that offers great views of the coast and town below. Before we ran out of light, we drove past Lake Wallis and watched the sky change colour and reflect on the still water.
Information & Accommodation
The public transport system around Port Macquarie is operated by Busways and the network covers the city and outer suburbs. However, if you stay at the Port Macquarie YHA, you will be within walking distance of the city centre. If you need to travel further, there are buses that travel on nearby Park Street and Gordon Street.
Centrally located within walking distance to everything you need, Ozzie Pozzie Backpackers is the perfect place to spend a few nights while you relax in carefree Port Macquarie. The hostel has a very cool vibe with a surf shack feel, and there are a few feathered residents to get to know, like Cheeky the rainbow lorikeet.
We rolled in on a Saturday night and while we were hoping for a quiet night, we got swept up in the social vibrations of the other guests. We met a few internationals from Holland and Austria, as well as a friendly American named Brian who we ended up hanging out with the next day at Black Duck Brewery.
The hostel sleeps 68 guests, with various rooms available like multi-share dorm rooms and private rooms. Each room opens to a lovely courtyard and the surrounding common areas.
The kitchen is spacious with conduction stoves and plenty of bench space and storage room for food. Outside are a few picnic benches for socialising, and on cold nights a wood heater keeps everyone warm.
One of the most impressive things about the Port Macquarie YHA is the theatre room, which has couches arranged like a cinema and the best and biggest VHS collection we have seen at any hostel. There’s also a games room with a pool table and a quiet reading room as well. At the back is the swimming pool, with a poolside cabana.
Book your tours and activities at reception. While you’re there, hook yourself up with free boogie board hire (deposit required) and cheap bike hire (deposit required).
Supermarket – there is an IGA around 800 metres away on Gordon Street, along with a few pizza shops and a bakery, but if you’re looking for a major supermarket, you will have to walk just over 1km either way.
Town Centre – just over 1km away, the Town Centre features a shopping centre, the information centre, and the Town Green. Follow the Hello Koala Sculpture Trail or watch the boats cruise through the mouth of the Hastings River. Nearby is the Breakwall, which is colourfully graffitied with various pictures and messages.
The Black Duck Brewery – only 3.5km away, the Black Duck Brewery has an awesome selection of beers so there is something for everyone.
Ozzie Pozzie is located at 36 Waugh Street near the town centre. Reception is open from 8am to 2pm, and 5pm to 10pm. To contact the hostel, phone 02 6583 8133 or email email@example.com. More information can be found on the website.
Bellingen YHA is one of our favourite hostels in Australia. It’s so laidback and homely, occupied by friendly guests, and set amongst the beautiful lush country of the Waterfall Way. The nearby village is just as carefree, featuring a few cafes, eateries and pubs. The atmosphere is alternative, artistic and environmentally passionate, and it’s also home to a few music festivals, like the Bello Winter Music Festival, Jazz Festival, and Folk and Bluegrass Festival.
With the capacity to accommodate up to 32 guests, the Bellingen YHA is one of the smaller hostels in the country. There are twin, double and multi-share rooms available, and if you have a big group, you can even book out the entire hostel.
The common areas include unisex toilets, a cosy kitchen with gas cooking, and a balcony overlooking the Bellinger River. There are plenty of places to relax and enjoy the beautiful serenity of the surrounding landscape. There’s even a lurking kitty that loves to laze around on the balcony.
To book a tour of the Dorrigo National Park or organise some canoeing along the river, just see the friendly tour desk at reception. Also, Bellingen village is just a stone’s throw away.
The Federal Hotel is barely 80 metres from the entrance to the hostel. Grab a beer or cheap meal with one of their weekly food specials.
5 Church Street – 140 metres around the corner, next to a wholefoods store is a funky little eatery that hosts live music gigs and pours the local beer made by the Bellingen Brewing Company.
The Supermarket – there is no main supermarket in town, which adds to the charming appeal of the little village. The local IGA is located on the main street, a few doors down from the Federal Hotel.
The Honey Place – only 18 minutes away in Urunga, the Honey Place stocks honey of varying flavours, has a great display of honey bees and native bees, and you can watch a riveting documentary about bees in the back room. Definitely worth the visit, even just to see the Big Bee Hive.
Dorrigo – a 28 minute drive to Dorrigo is worth the trip. There’s the nearby Dangar Falls, which are a beautiful sight, and in town is the Red Dirt Distillery – apparently the only distillery in Australia to make potato vodka. Tastings are available, so make sure you try their Nocino liqueur.
Coffs Harbour – just over 30 minutes up the coast is Coffs Harbour, featuring the Big Banana, the Clog Barn and Sealy Lookout.
Bellingen YHA is located behind the Federal Hotel at 2 Short Street. There is plenty of parking available in the adjacent car park. The reception desk is open from 8am to 7pm, check in is after 2pm and check out is at 10am. For more information, contact 02 6655 1116, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website.
We rocked up to Coffs Harbour at sunset and were overjoyed to be spending the night in a warm bed. The Coffs Harbour YHA is clean, comfortable and spacious, and located in a convenient and quiet area that is close to the beach and Muttonbird Island. If you’re not busy checking out the local attractions or lazing by the swimming pool, there’s plenty of awesome Australiana hanging from the walls of the common areas, and if you’re lucky, you might even get to meet Mr Kitty.
The Coffs Harbour YHA has 92 beds in multi-share dorms, twin or double rooms and even ensuite rooms. It can accommodate families and groups and the rooms have keyless entry.
Downstairs are all the common areas. There is a big lounge room with internet access and board games, and just outside the window is the outdoor area with picnic tables, a swimming pool and sun chairs. Hostel surfboards, body boards and bikes are available for hire.
The large kitchen has gas cooking, plenty of preparation space and a large walk in fridge. The adjacent dining room has plenty of seating and a large wall covered in blackboard paint so you can leave some words of wisdom.
Parking is available at the rear of the building and there is even a courtesy bus that can shuttle you to the city centre. The tour desk at reception is the best place to book all your tours. Activities include 4WD tours, whale watching expeditions and even wine tasting tours, with great discounts available.
Supermarket – the closest supermarket is across the road, but if you’re looking for a bigger one, you’ll have to go to the city centre.
The Beach – a short 500m walk towards the marina will bring you to Jetty Beach.
Dolphin Marine Magic – previously known as the Pet Porpoise Pool, this attraction is 600m north of the hostel and is a great opportunity to meet marine animals like dolphins and seals.
Muttonbird Island – a quick 1.3km walk past the marina will bring you to Muttonbird Island, a nesting area for muttonbirds, or wedgetailed shearwaters. When they’re not around, the whales arrive and there’s a viewing platform on the far side of the island.
The Big Banana – 4km north of the hostel on the Pacific Highway is the Big Banana, one of Australia’s first big things. Apart from eating a chocolate coated banana from the cafe, you can enjoy tobogganing and ice skating.
Sealy Lookout – check out the view of Coffs Harbour from the Forest Sky Pier. It’s amazing – and worth the 11km drive.
The Coffs Harbour YHA is located at 51 Collingwood Street. The reception desk is open from 9am to 9pm, check in is from 2pm and check out is at 10am. For more information, contact the hostel on 02 6652 6462, email email@example.com or visit the website.
The Surfers Paradise YHA is a great place to base yourself as you explore the Gold Coast. There are many attractions nearby and a tours desk at reception to fill your calendar, but if you prefer to have a quiet night in or socialise, the hostel hosts nightly activities like movie nights, pub crawls and guest BBQs.
The hostel is one of the smaller YHAs around Australia with around 100 beds. Rooms vary from private en suite rooms to multi-share dorm rooms with bunk beds. The common area includes a balcony looking east towards Main Beach, an indoor eating area and lounge with a television. The kitchen is clean and spacious, with plenty of natural light.
Tours can be booked downstairs at the reception desk, such as sailing, surfing, skydiving and kayaking. There’s a free courtesy bus that shuttles to and from Surfers Paradise, and there’s also free parking and free Wi-Fi available.
Fishermans Wharf Tavern – a great pub overlooking the Gold Coast Broadwater.
Main Beach – 300 metres east is Main Beach, practically on the doorstep of the YHA.
Sea World – 2km north of the hostel is Sea World, a marine animal park with various rides and water activities.
Australia Fair Shopping Centre – on the other side of the Broadwater marina is a major shopping centre with plenty of shopping opportunities and supermarkets.
Surfers Paradise CBD – 4km south is the centre of Surfers Paradise, a commercial hub of the Gold Coast and a great place to go shopping, laze on the beach or have a few drinks at the pub.
Warner Bros. Movie World and Wet‘n’Wild Water World – Movie World is obviously a movie themed park with various rides and shows, while Wet’n’Wild has some of the biggest water slides in Australia. These theme parks are less than 20km from the hostel.
The Surfers Paradise is currently (June 2015) located at 70 Seaworld Drive, Main Beach, but it may be relocated closer to Surfers Paradise soon.
When it comes to budget accommodation that’s close to the Brisbane CBD, you can’t go past the Brisbane City YHA. This award winning hostel has a laid back atmosphere with friendly staff, themed floors so you always know where you are, and plenty of space to do your own thing.
After enjoying our $100 Day in Brisbane, it was great to have somewhere close to come back to and enjoy a weekly activity. That night, it was trivia with a BBQ, and we had so much fun, the trivia master invited Dave up to read out a few questions.
With enough beds to sleep 373 guests, there are a variety of rooms, from multi-bed dorms to private rooms with an ensuite. All the rooms have air conditioning, keyless entry and powered personal lockers for each bed.
The common areas on the upper level are spacious and clean, so you’ll never feel cramped. There is a large stainless steel kitchen with plenty of bench space and storage for food, and there is both an indoor and outdoor eating area.
The rooftop deck features a pool and awesome views of the city. There are regular events like movie nights, guided walking tours, Sunday morning pancakes and Friday BBQs, and there’s also a tours desk at reception for extra-hostel activities. For those who prefer some quiet time, there is also a reading room, games room, lounge room with a TV and sun chairs by the pool.
The Brisbane City YHA has a free wifi hotspot, but also offers extra WiFi via Global Gossip. While there is limited street parking in the area (especially on game days), there is secure parking available onsite for $12 a day, and the hostel has disabled access.
Bus Stop – About 150 metres from the hostel, on the other side of Upper Roma Street.
Supermarket – there’s a Coles about 300 metres north, near the Caxton Street Precinct.
Caxton Street Precinct – a quick 400 metre walk will bring you to a variety of bars, nightclubs, food outlets.
The Train Station at the Brisbane Transit Centre – a 700 metre walk towards the city along Roma Street.
XXXX Brewery – for a great tour of the brewery or a delicious lunch, head west along Milton Road for 950 metres.
South Bank Precinct – walk across the William Jolly Bridge and within a kilometre, you’ll be at GOMA and Queensland Museum. A little further along is Streets Beach, the CityHopper ferry, Collective Markets, Arch of Flowers
Davies Street Markets
Brisbane CBD – a 1.2km walk towards the city will bring you to King George Square and the Brisbane City Hall. From here, you can catch a free city bus to look around the city or explore on your feet.
West End Markets – these markets are located in West End, 2.3 kilometres away. Cross the William Jolly Bridge and head west along Montague Road.
Mount Coot-tha Lookout and Brisbane Botanic Gardens – this is the highest mountain in Brisbane and gives great views of the city. It’s a quick 16 minute drive from the hostel.
Fortitude Valley – you can either walk the 2.6 kilometres to this nightlife hotspot, or catch the train from the Transit Centre.
Eat Street Markets – this is a great market for foodies, with stalls dishing out various international cuisines and yummy desserts. If you have a sweet tooth, try a cruffin or cronut – a croissant dessert like no other.
Ipswich – 35km west of Brisbane is Ipswich, a nice spot for a day trip. While there isn’t really that much going on, there are two great places to visit. The wonderful 1950s décor at Deann’s Coffee House is a real treat while the beer at the Pumpyard is awesome.
The Brisbane City YHA is located at 392 Upper Roma Street, west of the CBD. Check in is from 2pm every day and checkout is at 10am. To make an enquiry, call 07 3236 1004 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.