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Is Sydney definately the best place to start backpacking?

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific Is Sydney definately the best place to start backpacking?

1. Posted by Marcus1 (Full Member 129 posts) 8y

Sydney & head North seems to be the classic route, is Sydney def the best place to start if you want to get to meet people? Is it the main backpacker centre? How about Melbourne?

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4817 posts) 8y

There are no definites in backpacking; that's somewhat the point, even.
Sydney is where most people fly into the country, because that's where most flights go. Ergo, that's where most backpackers start (and end) their trip. (But Melbourne has a lot of backpackers, too; as does Cairns. Hell, the entire country has a lot of backpackers!)
Sydney as starting point has good and bad points. Seen from one angle, everyone is always leaving, and you're just one face in a crowd of many. There's so much to see and do in Sydney that most people spend next to no time socializing in hostels. But on the other hand, there's limitless opportunities for making friends. It all really depends on yourself. Obviously it's easier to actually get to know your fellow backpackers while sitting in the lounge of the only hostel in a tiny town in the middle of the outback - there won't be much to do there but to get to know those other people - but it's just as obvious that you're much more likely to meet up with someone who has similar plans to your own when there's a larger pool of people to meet up with.
But maybe you should take a step back, even. Why do you want to go where it's best to meet people? Why do you want to meet people? Maybe you should instead think of what kind of experiences you want to have on this trip. You, yourself. What do you want to see and do and experience. Then based on that, figure out your route, figure out where to go first after having arrived in the country. Then go there. You might be surprised to find that others who have the same priorities and want to do the same things end up going there, too. And that's cool, and so you get to hang out and maybe travel together.
But yeah... I'd recommend to let meeting up with people be a result of your experiences, rather than having your experiences be a result of which people you ended up meeting.

3. Posted by aharrold45 (Travel Guru 1281 posts) 8y

Like Sander said Sydney is where most people begin their trip mainly beause most international flights land in Sydney and half the time even ones to Melbourne or other cities in Australia go via Sydney. In my opinion Sydney is extremely over rated and the only reason people should bother even going there is to see the major tourist attractions that are known world wide and then get out of the region. This is my view having travelled to almost every population centre in Australia at some stage in my life, but plenty of other people will disagree with me.

Melbourne is a much nicer city to stay in for any prelonged period of time. Over New Year I was in Sydney for only 4 days and I was glad to be leaving by the end of that because the fact that people are just absolutely everywhere and their is no escaping it is terrible. I was in Melbourne a few weeks after for a few days and I felt much more at ease and less crowded all the time (that's not to say in some places like the Victoria Market that you aren't crowded). I guess it is all dependent on the person and your reasons for doing such a trip. If you want to jump right in the deep end straight up or feel like you are in New York rather than Australia, then Sydney may be for you but if you want to ease in to it a bit then Sydney is definitely not the place to visit stright up. If you spend much time at all there you will need to watch your money especially over a peak travel time such as New Year or July where the World Youth Day and Hillsong Conference are on, where accommodation prices can rise to rediculous prices if they aren't already booked out for this year (one hostel in Sydney over New Year was $99AUD a night in a dorm room with a minimum stay of 7 nights!).

You can meet people in pretty much every major city (and some that aren't major cities) in Australia so don't let that determine where you start your trip. If that is important stay in hostels that have large mixed dorms.

[ Edit: Edited on Feb 8, 2008, at 6:07 PM by aharrold45 ]

4. Posted by hey_monkee (Respected Member 430 posts) 8y

Purely on personal opinion, I'd recommend Melbourne. There's lots of fellow backpackers to meet, Melbourne people are pretty friendly, there's some cool suburbs to explore (my fave is St Kilda), and there's work going for backpackers in all sorts of sectors. I spent several months in Melbourne last year, so if you have any questions on the city feel free to PM me. I'm not even a big-city kinda person, but I loved the atmosphere of Melbourne, and theres some pretty awesome natural attraction within a daytrip from the city :)