1. Try to see some of Western or Central Australia. While the East coast has the most developed backpacker infrastructure, it is far more common and many travelers never get the opportunity to see the rest of the country.
2. Make sure to stop in the small town of Nimbin. It’s like the Amsterdam of Australia, with the feel of New Hope, Pennsylvania. Locals are friendly, there are small locally owned and managed shops selling off beat and vintage clothes, CDs, and books. You can walk the whole “Main Street” easily in an hour or two depending on how long you peruse the city and you can stop in a smoke shop to blaze with a little old lady while it’s broadcasted on webcam. Stop in the Nimbin Museum which is really just a place to buy pot brownies, cookie, and weed.
3. Take a catamaran tour of the Whitsunday Islands. While most backpackers and budget travelers opt to book 3-4 night sailing tours through the Whitsundays, the catamaran is only for a day and it’s a lovely experience if you book a trip on a nice day. Some of them has unlimited soda and alcoholic beverages, lunch, and two or more stops to snorkel. Arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Whitehaven Beach, known for its white silica sand and aquamarine blue waters are one of the stops during the day. If you are traveling in the right time you may even see dolphins during the trip. Do not be afraid to do these alone, and bring a book just in case the others on the boat are not very social, although in close quarters like this it is fairly unlikely you won’t find someone else to chat up.
4. Take a tour of Fraser Island. Again, most backpackers tend to assemble or find a group in one of the nearby towns (like Rainbow Beach) where they rent a 4×4 are handed a map and spend the trip camping on the island. While this can be a fun adventure, a lot of stories arise where damage, whether significant or a fender bender, lead to the entire group owing hundreds of dollars and people flipping cars and being unable to drive them. Many North American and European backpackers, who are unaccustomed to driving on the right side of the car, are driving these vehicles. A more relaxed and informative way to see the Fraser Islands is to book a 4×4 trip through a travel agency. Not only do you get to sleep in cabins with running water and flush toilets, but you don’t have to buy your own food beforehand, and you have a knowledgeable guide to tell you about the island and take you to the local parties. The groups are very small and the 4x4s are much larger, safer, and more comfortable. As with the catamaran, there are both singles and couples who book these trips so do not be discouraged that there will be no other backpackers on the tour.
5. Avoid Surfers Paradise. Sure, Surfers Paradise, located in Queensland has a cool name, but that is about all it has going for it. Unless you are looking to enjoy a day of shopping and lounging on the beach or to hit up a theme park, this city does not have much to offer. The over-commercialized city, while it does have hostels, caters more the hotel and resort vacationers.