Travelling to Australia? Here’s your ultimate packing list

written by Tayla Gentle March 5, 2019
Hikers walking into a gorge

Editor’s note: Last updated in January 2024.

If you’re planning a trip to the land down under then you’re going to need a lot more than just your swimming costume (FYI we call ‘em bathers or swimmers or togs over here) and a pair of sandals. Trust us. 

After all, Australia is an incredibly huge and astoundingly diverse place. You’ve got the Red Centre in the middle, steamy rainforests to the north, the world-class East Coast, remote West Australian beach fronts and dreamy southern mountain ranges.

But how do you pack for a land of extremes – both in landscape and in weather patterns? Well, we’re here to help. Here’s our definitive list of packing essentials for every Aussie adventure:

1. Reusable water bottle

A man serves a beer in a pub
Drink responsibly! A glass of water after your VB is a good idea.

The water down under is 10/10 drinkable from almost every tap, so definitely BYO reusable bottle. There is nothing better than leaving your purification tablets at home, drinking from the shower head and brushing your teeth with tap water without fear of parasites. You’re also saving the world one plastic bottle at a time by choosing to go reusable, so win-win.

2. Appropriate luggage

Most of Intrepid’s Australia trips have luggage limits of 10 to 15 kilos and a strict no hard-case rule, so think twice about what bags you’re choosing to bring over with you. Freighting across country is also very, very expensive, so you’ll want to avoid that at all costs… literally. If you’ve only got a large suitcase with you, consider investing in a smaller duffel bag while you’re on the road.

3. Sunscreen

A smiling man at Uluru.
SPF50 is ESSENTIAL on an Aussie adventure!

This is no joke: consider yourself warned. The sun in Oz is super strong – you can thank the hole in the Ozone layer for that. Choosing to forgo a layer of suncream because you want a nice tan is not a good idea; in fact, you’re likely to be burnt to a crisp. Locals generally wear at least 50 SPF, and anything less than 30 SPF is basically just considered oil.

4. Layers  

Two women look at some ferns in Tasmania
A waterproof jacket will protect you from rain, and waterfall spray!

Expect all weather types, all the time. Sure, it might be hot as hell in the Red Centre during the day, but evenings in the desert get COLD. Same goes for beach days down the Great Ocean Road – one minute it’s all sunshine, the next you’re bracing your umbrella through strong winds. It’s important to layer up in Australia, so pack a wind/waterproof, hat, beanie and warm jacket alongside your bathers and sandals.

5. Sunglasses with UV protection

a group of travellers pose on top of a rock in Tasmania
Sunglasses will protect your peepers from the harsh Australian sun.

As we’ve already established, the UV levels in Australia are high. Which means you’re going to want to protect your pretty little eyeballs, and you’re also going to want to see all the epic views. Invest in a decent pair of sunnies and we promise you’ll enjoy life so much more.

Related: Australia for all seasons

6. Power bank

A group of people watch the sunset in regional Victoria
How’s the serenity??

If you’re in the middle of the Outback, the chances of charging your phone on the regular is slim pickings. The key here is to pack a hefty power bank so that your technologies stay juiced up. This way you’ll be able to keep instagramming that gorge/beach/kangaroo for your whole trip.

7. Insect repellent

Two women wade in a beautiful bay
Can we take a sec to forget about the mozzies and admire that water??

Potentially the number one most important thing to bring to Australia. Nothing ruins a camping holiday more than ten million sandflies, a swarm of mosquitoes and an ocean of flies. Oz is a land of creepy crawlies and while most of them won’t hurt you if you don’t hurt them, a little bit of insect repellent is an excellent safeguard. After all, feeling eternally itchy is not fun.

Related: What to expect on an Australian overland adventure

8. Sleeping bag

Two travellers at Uluru, smiling into the camera.
Bring your puffer AND a sleeping bag.

If you’re on an Australia trip that involves bush camping, firstly – good choice. Nothing is better than going to bed beneath the Southern Cross. Secondly, bring a decent sleeping bag with you. Nights can get chilly down here and you don’t want to shiver through your entire adventure. A sleeping bag liner is also a good idea for when the nights are warm.

9. Dry bag/waterproof housing

A man walks into a swimming hole in Australia
Pack a drybag to keep your things safe around water.

Whether you’re cruising the Pilbarra, swimming in waterholes, or on board a fishing charter, you’re going to want to protect your valuables from the wet. An easy way to do this is to BYO dry bag. Fill your dry bag with your phone, wallet, camera, etc and then chuck it in your regular backpack, just in case of a water emergency.

10. Torch

People sitting around a campfire under a starry sky
A torch won’t go astray (nor will you, with said torch).

Let there be light, guys. Especially when it’s 3am, you’re camping in the middle of the outback and you need to find the dunny (toilet). A torch is a handy travel tool in general, but it will get extra use down under.

11. Visa

Perhaps an obvious inclusion but Australian immigration is incredibly strict, so make sure that you’ve got your relevant visa lined up and squared off. You don’t want to be turned around at customs by a firm but friendly Aussie airport giant. Whether you’re staying for two weeks or two years, ensure all your passport stamps are legit.

12. Swimming costume

A group of swimmers in a rockpool in Litchfield.
Don’t forget your togs.

In Australia we’d never be heard saying ‘swimming costume’. We’d say ‘Oi, remember to pack ya bathers/swimmers/togs/cozzie!’. Whatever name you choose to use, your swimmers are a MUST PACK for any Australia trip. I mean, the whole place is one big island so an Aussie adventure is never complete unless you’ve been for a dip.

Related: 6 of the best swimming holes in Australia’s Top End

13. Water shoes

By this I mean a pair of shoes that you can comfortably walk in, but also wear into rock pools and swimming holes. Velcro sandals are a good bet. Okay, they may not be the coolest aesthetically but they’re better than shredding your feet on rough rocks or carrying a damp pair of sneakers in your backpack.

14. Towel

I’d recommend actually bringing two quick-drying towels with you. One for drying after a shower and the other for beach/waterhole/river/lake swims. You don’t want your only towel to be perennially wet, nor do you want to dry yourself with a towel full of bindii burrs. Two is better than one, friends.

Now you’ve got your packing list sorted, it’s time to book a trip! Explore our range of small group adventures in Australia now

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