As a backpacker in Australia you generally have only two options where to eat. Either you go to a restaurant which is normally out of most backpackers budgets, or you prepare your meal by yourself like almost all of the backpackers do it almost every time they are hungry. Small snack restaurants or street restaurants are very rare, so you can’t just order some fried rice for one dollar like you can do it in Southeast Asian countries, just walking along the street and pick up whatever you like. Since you are going to cook in hostels almost everyday, here some tips from my eight month backpacking experience in Australia:
- Don’t buy your food and drink in small convenient stores like 7/11. Go to Woolworths and Coles instead, Australia’s big supermarket chains. You can find them in every town, and normally always within walking distance from your hostel. They close at about 9-10pm, if you happen to shop later than that, you can still go to the convenience store, but prices there are generally 30-40% higher.
- Get yourself one or two of the hugely popular shopping bags, available both at Woolworths and Coles. $1 for the normal version and $2.50 for the premium bag. They are really useful, almost all backpackers put their food and drink in them to storage it in the hostel’s fridge and shelves. Most hostels (but not all) provide free labels for your bag. Still try to memorize where you put your bag as they generally only come in two colors - blue and green. So you won’t be confused and have a hard time finding your bag among hundreds of others in the big hostels.
- Now since you bought your pasta, cheese and salad, where to prepare your meal? The answer is simple: In your hostel’s kitchen. There are very few hostels in Australia that don’t have a kitchen for their guests. Generally the bigger the hostel the bigger the kitchen. If you are planing to cook a three course meal that involves using a lot of space and several stoves, try to involve the peak time which is generally 7 to 9 pm. During lunch time there are not so many backpackers cooking as they are usually out exploring.
- Cooking at the hostel’s kitchen is also a great opportunity to meet new people and make new friends, especially if you are traveling by yourself. It always starts with “Hey, do you use that stove?” or “Haha, what the hell is that mate?”. Be open and you might find yourself in a room party two hours later or have someone to explore the city the following day.
- Watch out of food thieves! It is rare but it happens that some fellow backpacker grabs some of your beloved cheese without asking for it.
There you have some tips for how to eat as a backpacker in Australia. If you have already been traveling there already you might find this post quite weird but if not and you are just about planing your trip , I hope you will find some of this stuff useful.