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Staying in Hostels in Australia
This article is a continuation of my previous article on hostels in New Zealand. Once again I'll share my thoughts on the hostels that I've stayed in. By staying in hostels I get a bed and other basic needs but I'm not spending the big bucks to stay in a hotel. After staying in Auckland, New Zealand for a few days I flew back to Sydney and from there to Cairns, Darwin, Melbourne and back to Sydney again. Once again I've stayed in various hostels but mostly Nomads hostels this time.
I have travelled in the months November and December of 2010 and January of 2011. Quite a few people were wondering why I went to Darwin at this time of the year because it's wet season over there. Well, I booked most of the flights in October and a cheap flight is the primary reason really. I had a good time in Darwin with hot weather as well as heavy rain but those showers come and go easily.
Sydney - Maze Backpackers
I stayed here for only one night because I would fly the next day from Sydney to Cairns. I tried Nomads Westend Backpackers first but they were pretty much fully booked but Maze Backpackers across the street still had a dorm bed available. Now this hostel really has been given the right name: the hostel is indeed a maze. There are so many rooms and it takes a while to find your room and the facilities.
It's an old building and it shows. In my room the bar that supports the curtains was not fully attached to the wall anymore. It rained that night and the water was dripping into the room. All in all it could use a few repairs. They were installing more wall sockets during my stay so work is being done to improve the state of the building which is a good sign. From what I've seen the kitchen is very small for a hostel of this size.
Cairns - Nomads Esplanade
I picked this accommodation because it's conveniently located along the Esplanade. This area is really a highlight of Cairns with a public outdoor swimming pool that is heavily used each day. It's also close to the marina where boats depart to the Great Barrier Reef for snorkeling or scuba diving. The rooms itself are cooled but as soon as you step outside your room it's already very hot - welcome to Cairns. The kitchen and the meeting area with a TV are combined.
In the room that I stayed in, one of the beds was damaged and the bathroom door can't really be properly locked. It was not a traditional door but a sideways moving panel. There was a lock on it but you could simply push the door inwards to unlock it.
Something to do in Darwin?
Darwin - Melaleuca on Mitchell
Melaleuca on Mitchell is a nice hostel with a large sun deck including two swimming pools, a spa and a bar area. The kitchen is also located here. The hostel is pretty close to restaurants and bars that draw large crowds in weekends. There's not that much to do in Darwin City itself (other than the cinema and the Crocosaurus Cove) but at least your nightly entertainment is not far away! I think this was one of the better hostels that I stayed in.
Melaleuca on Mitchell is related to the Base chain of hostels - it's not a Base hostel but Melaleuca on Mitchell is a so-called Base mate hostel.
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Melbourne - All Nations Backpackers
I have to be fair on this hostel. If you read the online reviews of this hostel then most of them will tell you that the hostel is very very bad. They are very critical of the state of the building and even a short walk around is enough to come up with many reasons not to stay here. I have stayed here for several days and in its current state (December 2010) I would agree.
But there were many renovations being done during my stay. Maintenance was being done in the rooms and in various hallways. They also opened a new unisex bathroom that was very clean (with showers that actually have hot water!).
The building is old and it does look like it is falling apart. But I can see the potential. The hostel needs a bit more time. This hostel is part of the Nomads chain of hostels and at some point in the not-too-distant future it will be worthy of that stamp of approval. The floors make noise when you walk on them which gives a nice touch to being in such old building. I liked the TV room and the kitchen plus computer area and the rooms were alright too.
The hostel might not meet your standards at the moment but it is improving. The only thing that will be hard to fix is its location. The hostel is located at a busy intersection at the corner of the central business district where cars, trains and trams come together. You can hear hear the scraping wheels of a train and loud vehicles from time to time in the television area and anywhere else in the hostel.
I would also recommend the hostel to install in-room lockers: these are a must when I wish to explore a big city like Melbourne. They do have lockers in All Nations Backpackers but the number of people far outnumbers the number of lockers.
Melbourne - Nomads Melbourne
Sorry folks, I was going to stay here but I decided to stay with my friends for Christmas and New Year. I have lived in Melbourne for months and during this time of the year I'd rather be there than in some backpacker accommodation. I cancelled my reservation and from what I can see it looks nice. The lobby was clean and modern. That's all I can say really.
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Sydney - Nomads Westend Backpackers
Let's start with a fun fact: this hostel has a 28 bed dorm room. Something tells me they just turned a big area into a dorm room simply to be able to rent more beds; nobody would prefer to stay in a 28 bed dorm room unless it was to save money. Fortunately I stayed in a dorm room with 6 beds which was quite more enjoyable - although I can only imagine what a 28 bed dorm room experience is like!
The hostel is conveniently located in the middle of the city. There were in-room lockers which is a good thing. Some bad points: the shower could have been a little cleaner and the kitchen is also very small and crowded for a hostel of this size.
Also, don't believe the information they post on walls or in the elevator. It happened twice that it didn't fully turn out to be true and that was in their favor. They claimed the rooms were selling quickly (many beds were empty) and that it would be impossible to find beds in Melbourne during the Australian Open (not true, even Nomads there had dozens of beds available). And since Queensland was flooding you might as well stay here in Sydney, right! :)
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