Tax time is the greatest time. Money you didn’t even realise was getting sucked out of your pay is back, baby, and it’s ready to party.
As the curious, travel-obsessed person you undoubtedly are, we bet you’re not gonna bother squirreling away that cash for a rainy day. Sure, that kind of thinking will come in handy when you’re old and hate fun, but for now, you’re gonna see just how many experiences you can have for your buck – as you damn well should.
To help you figure out where to spend your dosh, we listed the best places to travel in our fine country within your tax return budget. As an added plus, all of these destinations come equipped with a local YHA hostel so you won’t have to waste any of that hard-earned tax money on accommodation that doesn’t cut it.
$100 to $300: Up or down the coast
It’s likely you have a place in mind when we say “up or down the coast”. It’s less a geographical location than a vague idea of a nice, easygoing town one to three hours away.
For Sydneysiders, it could be Newcastle or Batemans Bay. For Melbournians, Phillip Island or Apollo Bay. Brisbane-dwellers could hit up Noosa Heads or Coolangatta. Perth, Margaret River. You get the idea.
Get half a tank of petrol or a train ticket under your belt and make a two-to-three-night stay of it. As fun and cheap an adventure as they come.
$400 to $600: Adelaide, SA
If your entire understanding of the South Australian capital comes from Merrick and Rosso’s mid-2000s Radelaide sketch, we have something in common. Kidding! You’ve actually got a lot of catching up to do (in both pop culture references and travel knowledge).
Not only are the flights wildly affordable from pretty much everywhere (averaging up to $200 from Sydney and Melbourne, $300 from Brisbane, and $400 from Perth and Darwin), the culture and nightlife in Adelaide is regarded as some of the best in the country.
Sip cocktails at Hains and Co or NOLA, get a feed at Africola, or go browsing at Central Market. There’s beaches and hikes galore, too, if that’s more your thing, and a quirky nearby town called Hahndorf that’s been dubbed ‘Little Germany’.
Trust us, heading to Adelaide (and staying at the Adelaide Central YHA) for a trip will give you way more cool points than Merrick and Rosso would have you believe.
$700 to $1000: Magnetic Island, QLD
Just a 20-minute boat ride from Townsville, Magnetic Island, or “Maggie” as the locals call it, is the best of Queensland in a pint-sized package. With more than half the island categorised as a national park, you’ve got hikes, snorkeling, beaches, and horse riding to experience. Oh, and koalas! In their natural habitat! It’s almost too good to be true.
Boasting 320 days of sunshine a year, plus a firm spot within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage-listed area, you’d be mad not to set up shop on Maggie and escape the hustle for a few days.
$1100-1500: Alice Springs and Uluru, NT
If you’ve spent money to frolic anywhere outside of Australia and you haven’t seen Uluru with your own two eyes then, well, you know what you’ve done.
Rectify your past misgivings immediately by throwing down that tax return, hopping on a plane to Alice Springs and making the journey to the Red Centre. As well as getting to see what Alice Springs and Uluru are all about, you should also make time for surrounding beauties like Kings Canyon and Kata Tjuta.
It’s a trip that every Australian needs to do at least once. And with all the hikes, canyons, gorges and Insta photos to be wholeheartedly embraced, you may as well do it while you’re young.
$1600 upwards: Ningaloo Reef, WA
Up north in Western Australia lies one of the world’s most underrated and untouched reefs: Ningaloo.
The World Heritage Site, located off the shore in Exmouth, is teeming with things to do. It’s one of the only places in the world where you can swim with whale sharks, to start. It’s also got three different species of turtle, a whole lot of coral and tropical fish and the incredible Cape Range National Park.
In fact, it’s one of the last remaining reefs in the world that has remained relatively protected from reckless, swashbuckling humans.
If you’re feeling super adventurous (read: you have cash left over), why not keep the trip going and head further up north to Broome? When rich and in WA, right?
(Lead image: Alex King / Unsplash)
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