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Are you planning a trip to the land of Roos, barbies in the arvo and thongs that you wear on your feet? Australia is one heck of a fantastic country and absolutely massive in size. It can be freezing in winter and sweat-your-eyebrows-off hot in summer which makes figuring out the essentials for travelling Australia a little tricker than you might think.
But fear not! I’ve put together this ultimate packing list of essentials things to take to Australia to help you get ready to go. Because guys, you’re gonna need more than just shorts, swimmers and sunnies!
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What’s the best backpack for travelling Australia?
If you’ve spent even a millisecond on a backpackers Facebook group you’ll have seen the old age question: What’s better, a wheelie suitcase or a backpack. Well, after arriving in Australia with a wheelie case and leaving with a backpack, I’m going to say backpacks are best.
After travelling with a couple of different backpacks, I recommend one that zips open at the front like this Osprey one. This makes it so much easier to find your stuff and repack, without unpacking everything each time. I also recommend going for a 50l backpack because you’ll only fill it with stuff you don’t need otherwise – trust me, I’m pro at doing this!
To go with your backpack, make sure you also get a waterproof cover as well if your backpack doesn’t come with it. To make packing everything inside super organised, get yourself some packing cubes like these or these as well. These babies are game-changers!
7 Essential things to take to Australia
No matter how long you’re visiting for, these are the things you’ll definitely need when packing for Australia.
Gone are the days of needing a different adapter for each socket! These nifty adapters are an all-in-one gadget that you can use all over the world. This one has USB plugs as well to make charging even easier.
To keep all your tech charged up on long journeys or if you’re camping, you’re going to need one of these. I use mine to charge everything from my phone, wireless headphones and even my camera. This one is even solar-powered and waterproof
I actually had 2 bags that I used as a day bag – one was a small handbag like this that doubled up as a nice evening bag and the other was a small rucksack that I could fit my camera and tripod in. It depends on how much tech you want to take with you though!
Handy to have to lock up the zips on your backpack or to use on lockers if you’re staying in a hostel. I prefer a combination lock because I don’t have to worry about losing the keys for it! Ones with long loops like these are better as they pretty much fit anything and everything.
Copies of your documents
Before you leave, make sure you take a scan of your passport and drivers licence and email it yourself so you can easily access it if you lose any of them.
Whether you’re visiting on a tourist visa or staying longer on a working holiday, you’re going to need a visa. A tourist visa is super easy to get online through the Australian Immigration website. If you’re planning on going on a working holiday visa to Australia, check out my guides to learn about everything you need to know about applying for one.
Make sure you only get your visas from the official Australian Immigration Website here.
Think you don’t need travel insurance, think again! Travel insurance is so important for Australia as medical expenses could soon add up (fingers crossed you won’t need it) and a good travel insurance policy will cover you for some awesome adventure activities as well. World Nomads offer seriously good travel insurance specifically for backpackers. They also allow you to buy the policy when you’ve left your home country which is rare AF but so important!
Your packing list for Australia
Australia travel essentials: Clothes
Wanna know my top 2 tips for packing your clothes for Australia? Take half of what you think you’ll need (which is easy because you’ve got this guide, right? *wink wink*) and being the master of mix-and-match outfits. Having a wardrobe where every top goes with every bottom will make things so much easier!
- 1 x Lightweight waterproof jacket – A pack-away jacket was something I picked up along the way but I definitely recommend getting one beforehand. It’s the perfect middle man between having a decent layer to hand without taking up loads of space. These ones from Trespass fold up nice and small and come in a selection of colours.
- 6 x T-shirts/vest tops– As making everything mix-match friendly is key, pack a selection of plain, patterned and a bit nicer tops. That way you’ve got tops that will cover you for city life, beach life, lazing around and going for drinks.
- 1 x Long-sleeved top/shirt – Ideal for cooler evenings or if you’ve got a bit sunburnt and need to cover up.
- 1 x Sports top – If there’s one thing you’ll be grateful for, it will be a nice comfy sports top. I wore mine on so many hikes and found it to be quick drying which is perfect for hot days or if I put it on over my bikini after swimming in waterfalls. A sports top like this for ladies or this for guys makes for another versatile piece as it doesn’t scream ‘I’m wearing gym clothes’.
- 1 x Jumper/cardigan/hoodie – For this, I honestly think just pack whichever one you prefer that isn’t going to take up too much space. I took a lightweight jumper like this one that was easy to layer, and Tom found his North Face fleece to be nice and warm but also compact.
- 2 x Dresses – As a super lazy person, I love a dress because it’s an entire outfit in one go. I recommend packing one nicer day dress (like this midi dress) that you would be happy to walk around a city in, and a more casual one for the beach like this cute strappy one.
- 2 x Shorts – Whilst a pair of denim shorts are a staple for any backpacker, I recommend also have a lighter (and therefore faster drying) pair of shorts as well. These shorts are a great 2-in-1 item that can be used for the beach and even as pyjamas if needed. Think cute but comfy like these ones.
- 1 x Leggings – Again, a pair of legging can be used for so many things. I took a pair of sports leggings with me and wore them for hiking, catching flights and even as pyjamas when I was camping in the outback in the cold.
- 1 x Skirt – More than anything I lived in my skirt whilst in Australia. They’re cool, comfy, can be dressed up or down and you can get changed under them without flashing the world. It’s a real-life risk when living the van life/beach life! I like a midi skirt like this but more than anything, go for something lightweight over a heavy denim skirt.
- 1 x Jeans – Weird as it might feel just packing one pair of jeans, learn to love it! Just pack your one favourite and live in them if it’s cold.
- 8 x Pairs of underwear – I’m not going to advise you what undies to wear, just make sure you have enough for at least a week.
- 5 x Pairs of socks – Take a mix of trainer and long socks so you’re covered for whatever shoes you wear. Personally, I found myself in flip flops or sandals most of the time anyway!
- 2 x Bras – If you can get away with just 2 comfy bras then do it. I had a black and a white one that could be worn strapless as well if needed.
- 1 x Sports bar – When is a sports bra not just for sports? When you’re backpacking! If everything else is in the wash, chuck this on and away you go.
- 1 x Set up pyjamas – I say just one pair but you’ll actually have a couple more make-shift sets in the form of thing shorts/ leggings and t-shirts. I know it sounds nice to bring more than one set but you honestly don’t need it.
- 2 x Bikinis/swimsuits – Whichever you prefer! Just don’t get tempted to take more than 2 because trust me, you don’t need them!
- 1 x Sarong or Kaftan – This is probably more important than usual. The sun is fierce AF in Australia so an easy way to protect yourself is to cover up. Sarongs are great as both beach towels and cover-ups but I personally like a beach kaftan as it covered my shoulders.
- 1 x Flip flops – You know I’m a budget kinda girl, but seriously, since buying my first pair of Havianas, I won’t go back. They’re the comfiest and most grippy flip flops and I pretty much lived in them. I love how many designs there are to choose from as well.
- 1 x Trainers/walking boots – Depending on how outdoorsy you are, you might want to just bring your walking boots instead of trainers. I, however, only had trainers and found that to be fine for 99% of the time.
- 1 x Sandals – Second only to flip flops, I wore my sandals a heck of a lot. Flip flops are fine for the beach but for cities, I just felt a little less backpackery (definitely a word) by having sandals on. I found this style of sandal to go with pretty much everything.
- 1 x Pair of flats – A basic little pair of flats are handy for nights out. Forget heels- they’re not for backpacks. I wish I had had a foldable pair of flats like these!
- Sunglasses – Don’t skrimp on cheap fashion sunglasses for Australia. The sun is no joke here so you want a pair that has high UVA and UVB protection so your eyes are protected. Amazon actually has a good selection or if you prefer to try before you buy, Sunglass Hut has a huge selection and there are shops at loads of airports.
- Hat – I’m not the best for this, I admit, but it is important. Whether you like a baseball cap or an IG worthy floaty hat, get one and take it.
- High SPF sunscreen with broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection – Specific, I know! But it’s important to have good sunscreen for the harsh Australian sun. Make sure whichever one you’re using it protects you against UVA and UVB rays.
- Lip balm with SPF – For a while, I keep wondering why my lips were dry and peeling, but then I realised they were probably getting a bit sunburnt. Pick up a lip balm with an SPF from any drug store and pile it on. You can also get some really nice tinted ones like these by Sun Bum.
- Hanging toiletry bag – sounds specific I know, but having a toiletry bag you can hang up saves the risk of you putting it on the soggy floor. I got this one from Amazon about 5 years ago and had seen me through a lot of travelling.
- Refillable bottles – Instead of full-sized toiletries, take your own minis of your favourites in refillable bottles like these.
- Shampoo and conditioner bars – I get mine from Lush because I love their range of products and that they don’t test on animals. Mine last ages, smell great and it’s perfect if you’re taking hand luggage only flights as it minimises your liquids. The only thing I recommend is making sure your bars dry off before you pack them in pots otherwise they go into w sticky mess.
- Soap – either put your favourite in a refillable bottle or pick up a bar of soap instead.
- Travel-sized wash loofa – Sorry but nothing beats one of these IMO. I picked up a really small one so it fits in my toiletry bag easily.
- Reusable make up remover pads– Switching to these from disposable wipes is another way to travel more eco-friendly.
- Face cleanser– Because I was having to wear a lot of sunscreen every day, I found a face cleanser to be essential. I‘ve tried a few such as micellar water or squalene face wash by The Ordinary to be the best for me.
- Deodorant – Goes without saying!
- Toothbrush and toothpaste- I prefer to use an electric toothbrush and wish I had invested in a USB charging one like this. It wasn’t always easy to find a charger when I was staying in AirBnB’s.
- Minimal make-up– you’re going to be short on space and weight so just think of the staples. I just took moisturiser, foundation, powder, bronzer, mascara, eyebrow pencil and a small eyeshadow pallet.
- Hair ties/headbands – Always handy and a having a few nicer clips or bands is an easy way to spruce up an outfit.
- Clippers – Get a set of nail clippers that has a nail file included then you’ve got another 2-in-1 item.
- Insect repellant – Mosquitos and bitey insects can be a real pest so make sure you’ve got some decent repellant with you. Bushmans is a popular brand in Australia and after trying a few, I did find it to be the best.
Australia Travel Essentials: Technology
- Camera and camera case – I took my Sony a6000 mirrorless camera around Australia with me and absolutely love it. It’s compact, easy to use and great value for money. My Sony a6000 came with the small 16-50mm kit lens and I picked up a 55-210mm lens for zooming in more. I can fit my camera and both lenses in this Manfrotto bag.
- Tripod – If you’re looking to get some great photos then a tripod is essential for shooting at night time or doing long exposure shots. I have this Manfrotto tripod which folds down nice and small and weighs less than 1kg. Alternatively, if you want something really small and versatile, get a Joby tripod like this with flexible legs.
- GoPro – An essential if you want to capture anything from your adventure activities. My best advice is to buy the newest one you can afford.
- Laptop – I found my laptop to be essential when I was in Australia on a working holiday, not just for photos and running this blog, but also for searching for jobs, updating CVs, sorting out insurance, visas, booking accommodation…the list goes on! I have a MacBook Air and love it as it’s super light and the battery lasts ages. It was so worth the investment!
- Portable hard drive – I went snap happy in Australia and it was so important to have an external hard drive to back things up to. I got a 1 terabyte hard drive from Amazon so there was no risk of running out of space.
- Kindle – One of the best gifts I got before I left home was a kindle. As much as I love holding a proper book, having loads of books on one device is too handy to ignore. What’s even better is you can join libraries whilst you’re in Australia and loan ebooks from them so you can actually read for free!
- Charging cables and case – Whatever electronics you’re taking, don’t forget the chargers! I recommend getting a cable organiser case like this one to avoid frustrating tangles in your backpack.
Other Australia travel essentials
- Laundry bag – A quick way to gross out everything in your bag is to mix you clean and dirty clothes. Avoid this by having a separate laundry bag that’s washable itself, like this one.
- Waterproof bag – Aussie life is all about the beach and Tom and I used our waterproof bag loads to keep our stuff dry. They’re lightweight and fold up small when not in use as well.
- Quick-drying travel towel – I don’t know anyone who travels without one of these nowadays. They’re so much smaller, lighter and faster drying than a normal towel, so it’s an essential when packing for Australia.
- Pack of cards – An ice breaker, boredom buster and all-round handy thing to have on you.
- pocket-sized cutlery set – A great way to cut costs in Australia is to embrace packed lunches and having a mini cutlery set in your day bag will make this easier and cut down on your single-use plastics as well.
- Refillable water bottle – the tap water in Australia is fine for drinking and many places have water fountains dotted around. I recently got a Chillys insulated bottle and these nifty flasks can keep liquids cold for 24 hours or hot for 12. Definitely an essential for travelling Australia!
Australia travel essentials for each season
The climate varies so much over Australia throughout the year and through the different states and regions as well. What you need to pack will, therefore, need to be based around this. Lemme break it down for you. Winter in Australia is not as clear cut as many places in the world.
South Australia and Melbourne in Victoria can have 4 seasons in one day no matter what time of year. The north Northern Territory region has a distinct dry and wet season, Queensland has a tropical climate and winter in sunny Sydney can, well, definitely be not so sunny. Winter runs from June- August in Australia and summer from December to February.
What to pack for Queensland
Queensland is a safe bet if you want to guarantee some sun and decent temperatures. In fact, winter in Queensland is far more bearable as it’s less humid. Tropical North Queensland (like Cairns) has an average temperature between 18-26 degrees Celcius but as it’s tropical, can still be rainy sometimes. Central and South Queensland (Brisbane, Byron Bay, Noosa etc) is a bit cooler with an average of 12-22 degrees Celcius. Summers can be sweltering, humid and also stormy.
Queensland in Summer
- Breathable clothes
- Mosquito repellent
Queensland in Winter
- A jacket for the evenings
- Warm sleeping bags if you’re planning on camping
What to pack for Victoria
As I just mentioned, Victora’s weather is one fickle mofo and you kind of need to be prepared for all elements. Summer can be glorious in Victoria with drinks down by the river in Melbourne or driving the Great Ocean Road but it can also be pretty damn cold, especially in winter. They say Melbourne has similar weather to the UK and I think that’s pretty accurate. Saying that though, in 2019, Melbourne was one of the hottest places on earth at one point – yikes!
Victoria in Summer
- Summer clothes
- A jumper
- Lightweight waterproof jacket
Victoria in Winter
- Extra jumpers
- Warm coat
- Waterproof shoes
What to pack for South Australia
The weather in South Australia is pretty similar to Victoria. Winters can be seriously chilly and summers can be scorching. Generally though, South Australia is relatively dry compared to other parts of Australia, with Adelaide being the driest capital city in Australia. I did some farm work in South Australia in winter close to the coast and it was freezing!
South Australia in Summer
- Summer clothes
- A lightweight waterproof jacket, just in case!
South Australia in Winter
- Warm coat
- Extra jumper
- Warm shoes
What to pack for the Northern Territory (Darwin and the top end)
The Northern part of the Northern Territory really only has two seasons – wet and dry. Both seasons are hot but you’ll find the humidity is the main variable. The wet season runs from November to April where monsoons and cyclones can hit and temperatures sit between 25-35 degrees Celcius. The dry season is from May to October where it will rarely rain but temperatures are still around the same, but it’s much less humid. I would recommend travelling to the top end in the dry season as flooding can happen which can quickly scupper your plans if you’re road-tripping. If you’re looking for a Northern Territory road trip route, check out my guide here.
Northern Territory in the wet season
- Breathable, lightweight waterproof jacket
- Cotton clothes that are breathable and fast drying (maybe even sweat-wicking) as it’s super sweaty and humid
Northern Territory in the dry season
- Cotton clothes
- Swimsuit so you can make the most of the waterfalls and lagoons!
What to pack for the Red Centre
I think it’s easy to think it’s always scorching hot in the outback, but this is not the case. I visited Uluru in May (you can read about it here) and it was cold, windy and there were a lot of flies. On the other hand, if you visit in the summer, it’s boiling hot with temperatures up to 35 degrees Celcius and a chance of rain, especially in January.
The Red Centre in Summer
- Lots of sunscreen
- Light clothes to cover up with
- Flynet hat – trust me, you’ll want this!
- Decent walking shoes as it’s super out-doorsy
The Red Centre in Winter
- Warm coat
- Extra Jumper
- Flynet hat
- Decent walking shoes
What to pack for Western Australia
WA is hands down one of the most underrated states in Australia. Everyone who has been there will try their best to prise people away from the East Coast because it’s just that spectacular! However, it is a little tricky to pack for as it’s such a huge state and therefore has quite a diverse climate. The northern part around Broome and the Kimberly’s has a wet and dry season like Darwin, Perth can get cool and rainy in the winter and the middle section is hot in summer and warm in winter still. As with Darwin, I recommend visiting northern WA in the dry season in case of flooding.
Western Australia in the Summer/Wet Season
- breathable clothes
- Good walking shoes
- Mosquito repellant
Western Australia in the Winter/Dry Season
- Everything above plus waterproof shoes if you want to go waterfall hunting!
What to pack for Tasmania
Tasmania is a lot cooler all year round than mainland Australia. It has 4 distinct seasons and the climate seems to be very similar to the UK – rainy, sometimes hot but mostly very mild in the summer and chilly in the winter. I recommend packing for every eventuality for Tasmania, but don’t let the weather put you off going!
Tasmania in Summer
- Layers are key – it might be lovely and warm but also rainy, cold and maybe even snowing
- Waterproof jacket
- Good hiking shoes – Tassie is made for walks!
Tasmania in Winter
- Really warm clothes
- Warm sleeping bag if you’re camping
- Waterproof jacket
Phew! That brings this massive guide to an end! I hope this packing list for Australia has given you everything you need to know and all the essentials for travelling to Australia! Don’t forget to check out my other Australia guides to help you plan the ultimate trip!
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