The following packing list for Australia summer was submitted by Oksana Simakina. See all packing list posts here.
Many see backpacking in Australia as a rite of passage. They strap on their backpacks and set off on a month-long, or in some cases, a year-long adventure, to the Land Down Under. And I’m no exception. In 2010, bright eyed and hopeful, I packed my backpack full of short shorts, tops, and flip flops and flew across the world to explore Australia. I thought I was prepared for everything, I mean, it was the middle of summer, what more could I need?
But boy, was I wrong.
Today, 4 years later, I call Australia my home. After living here for the last 2 years and exploring the country on my own time, I have just about figured out the perfect packing list for Australia summer. So here it goes!
For the Beach:
1-2 pairs of shorts: Grab a pair of quick dry shorts if you have one, they’ll come in handy when you need something to throw over your bathing suit that can get wet and dry up quickly.
2-3 tank tops: Pack tops that have variety of uses, something you can wear to the beach, but also accessorize for a night out
2-3 x Bathing Suits (swimmers/togs, as they call them here) Bring more than 1-2 bathing suits. It sounds lavish and unnecessary, but if you plan checking out the gorgeous beaches, you’ll most likely end up wearing your bathing suits more often than your underwear. Having a few extras will definitely come in handy.
Out and About/ City Wear
1 x summer dress: Australians dress very casually, so don’t be afraid to wear the same pair of beach shorts and tank tops around the city. The locals do it. If you want to look a bit more stylish, pack a cute short summer dress to keep you cool when the temperature climbs above 30 degrees (Celsius).
1 x t-shirt: Sun here is much stronger than you think, so pack a light t-shirt to cover up your shoulders if you plan on spending a day out in the sun.
For Hiking/ Other Activities:
Unless you are planning to tackle some serious treks, you don’t need to pack anything specifically for hiking/trekking in Australia. Most walks/treks in National Parks here are very safe and easy, so you’ll be fine in just shorts and a t-shirt. There is no need to wear long pants or hiking boots.
1 x sports bra, 1 x gym shorts, and 1 x quick dry t-shirt: Do pack something comfortable, like a pair of gym shorts that won’t restrict your movements or bother you on long walks, a sports bra to keep the ladies in check, and a quick dry light t-shirt/tank top to keep you cool on the hike. Pack what you would wear if you were going for a run back home.
1 x medium length shorts: Pack a pair of shorts/spandex tights that go just above your knee. You’ll need these for more adventurous activities, like zip-lining and skydiving. Some companies actually mandate that you wear long shorts/capris and t-shirts and won’t let you on in a tank top and short shorts.
1x rash guard/board shorts: If you are a surfer or want to try surfing, there is a good chance that due to the prevalence of jelly fish you’ll be forced to wear a wet suit, but if you aren’t, you might want to bring along a rashie (rash guard) and board shorts for surfing. These could also be worn scuba diving and serve as layers on other occasions.
For Nights Out:
1-2 x short skirt/nice shorts/dress: Depending on where you go, dress code will vary dramatically. In beach towns like Byron Bay and Airlie Beach, the style will be more casual – flats with a tank top and shorts or a summer dress will do just fine. But if you are planning to go out in any of the cities, be prepared to doll up a bit more. Many night clubs, especially in Sydney and Melbourne, have strict dress codes and often refuse entry for those not dressed up to their standards. So pack a nice dress, or a skirt and a dressy top that you can pull out of your backpack for these occasions. Stay true to your style and what you feel great in, but do keep in mind that Australian night-time attire is typically pretty short and tight.
Other Clothing Tips:
1. Don’t bring jeans! It might be hard to not pack something that you can’t imagine living without back home, but trust me, you will not need them here in the summer. It’s way too hot and way too uncomfortable in jeans, even in the evening. Unless you have a pair of skins or jeggings, which you may want to wear on the plane ride to Australia.
2. Bring layers! The weather in Australia can be really mental sometimes, going from really hot and sunny, to windy and cold, just ask anyone that lives in Melbourne. So bring lots of layers, they are going to be your best friend!
3. Bring a cardigan/jumper/light hoodie: It will save you on windy nights, cold air conditioned buses and rainy days. Speaking of rainy days…
4. Bring a rain jacket! It rains a lot in the summer, so a light water resistant jacket is a great thing to add to your list. It will also be an ideal item of clothing to pull out when it gets chilly on an overnight bus, or when you need that extra layer on a cold windy day. (See #2)
5. Pack a sarong. This is not just an Australia packing tip, but a packing tip for anywhere in the world. The sarong is incredibly versatile and is an amazing item to pack in your backpack. I have used my sarong as a scarf (read: fashion accessory), skirt (long and short), bathing suit cover up, casual top, picnic throw, and a shawl.
Instead of a sarong or a travel towel, the Turkish towel can be a more effective item on your packing list. Absorbent, lightweight, and versatile.
1 x pair of flip-flops is an absolute must! Australians live in their thongs (Australian slang for flip-flops) and you will too! Bring a pair that’s well worn-in and comfortable; don’t invest in a new shiny style just to find out that they give you blisters after 2 hours.
1 x pair of hiking shoes: A pair of running shoes with a good grip will do the job. They will also be used any time you are asked to wear closed toe footwear (i.e. skydiving, zip-lining, etc)
1 x pair of sandals/flats: For when you need something a bit dressier to go out
1 x pair of heels (optional): You’ll only need these if you want to go out to nice big clubs in Melbourne/Sydney that enforce a strict dress code. But with that said, I have never seen a girl be denied entry into anywhere because of her shoes.
Toiletries: Being a first world country, Australia has everything you have at home, so there is no need to pack oodles of shampoo/conditioner/moisturizer/etc to last you the entire trip. Bring travel containers, you’ll save on space in your luggage and be able to stock up on most personal care items here. Just note, the prices here are about 1.5 x more than in North America.
Electronics: laptops, cameras, phones, etc. are safe to travel with in Australia. Most hostels will have lockers to keep your valuables safe.
A note on mobile phones: If you can, unlock your phone before coming to Australia. You will save hundreds of dollars in roaming fees by purchasing a cheap Australian sim card with text/data plan that will allow you to stay connected to friends and family back home while you are on the road. Be careful not to drown your phone in the ocean/pool/soak it in one of the torrential downpours.
A note on cameras: Waterproof is the way to go. Otherwise watch out for sand on the beach, as one windy day can damage your camera beyond repair. I recommend keeping your camera in a plastic bag whenever it’s not in use.
Deck of cards: Great entertainment on buses, campsites, hostels, etc.
Flashlight (torch in Aussie speak): you’ll need it for all those camping sessions, hikes, and other adventures.
Pack light. You’ll undoubtedly want to do some shopping while you are here. If you forget anything, don’t worry, there is literally nothing you can’t find in the shops in Australia, so pack light, and don’t lose sleep over it leading up to your trip.
P.S. Check out how to pack for an outback camping trip in The Kimberley region of Australia.
About the Author: Oksana Simakina is the author behind Drink Tea and Travel, a cultural travel blog about Australia and beyond, inspired by her love for tea and her passion for travel. In 2011, Oksana packed up her life and left her home in Canada to explore the world. Over the last 3 years she has lived in 3 different countries and traveled to dozens more, exploring each beyond major sights and tourist attractions. For the last 1.5 years she’s been living and traveling in Australia, sharing her adventures on her blog. You can find here on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
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I’ve been home for 2.5 months after spending a year in Australia. I miss it terribly.
Some of this advice depends on where you are going. I am from Tasmania and I know the first time I went home from Christmas from Melbourne I only took very summery clothes as it was so hot in Melbourne. It didn’t get above 16 degrees the whole time I was there and it was even snowing on Mt Wellington on Christmas Day! I would definitely recommend jeans and a warm jacket for there any time of year 🙂
Actually not just for Tassie. I am still wearing jeans some of the time here in the middle of summer in Melbourne
I am an Aussie and have been questioned entry into the most casual of places about footwear.
Some places have strict health & safty rules. Just take an extra pair of fancy flats to be safe. Layers are the best for Australia.
I have read so many Aussie pack lists and this is by far the most accurate for a female! Thanks for the insight. xx
Thanks! I’m off to Perth next week, can’t wait! Helpful list! 🙂
DEFINATLEY bring a pair of jeans if you are travelling to Melbourne as the weather is incredibly unpredictable and often cold.
I find this article either missing something, or contradictory in its advice about layers. Don’t bring jeans, but be aware you’ll need layers? I see that a hoodie or such is mentioned, but what should girls do for their legs? Summer in Australia isn’t all beach, beach, beach, and even when it is, it isn’t always unbareably hot. Being near the water, especially on the east coast in the afternoon, can bring very cool winds. I would say some leggings at the VERY least, and perhaps a pair of thin jeans would provide the layering that the author refers to. I would say this goes double if you’re low on body fat and feel the cold easily.
Could you do a packing list for Australia in the winter? Awesome if it could be geared towards one bag travel but a general list would be great!
Unlike Europe you can wear gym clothes (including athletic running shoes) pretty much everywhere is Australia without looking out of place. Exceptions to this would be nice restaurants for dinner and bars/clubs. If you’re struggling with space / bringing jeans or not – just pack gym leggings. That said if you are travelling in Australia during winter, jeans are a good idea. It will be cold enough to wear them everywhere except possibly the coastal far north (Cairns, Darwin, Broome)
Excellent advice, Jane. I agree 🙂
Thank you all for the comments, have read each one, made notes etc! As i am off to Australia for a month in December. I am shocked at how little I need to pack!! Need to think like a man for this trip!😂 So excited though! X
Awesome tips! I learned a lot from your post. Summer is not my favorite weather. To add to your packing list, lotion with very very high on SPF to protect your skin. As a backpackers, adjusting to the weather is a must or else it can ruin your whole journey. This is based from my experience, when traveling to North to South or Australia, expect weather changes from time to time.
A pretty good list! I am from Melbourne and go back in Summer every year. Definitely take jeans or long pants, only one pair though. You need them for the weather or as protection on your legs when hiking sometimes. 2 pairs of bathers are more than enough, and as my boyfriend says, you can buy anything you forgot to back when you get there 🙂
Heidi G. in TC Michigan USA says
I’m leaving Saturday, March 3, 2018 for only 2 boohoo weeks as I’m going to attend my niece’s wedding. I think I’m ready to go and want to thank everyone here for packing tips. We’ll be in Gold Coast then Sydney with a short trip up to the Sunshine Coast. My dream is to get to the Great Barrier Reef for even just one day of snorkeling but it seems I’m too far south of there to inexpensively get there and I don’t have much time. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Don’t forget your sunnies (sunglasses), sunscreen/bug repellent (although you could probably buy it here) and sun hat/cap!!!
Have fun in Aus!