With most of us having to watch our dollars but still hankering for a getaway, we asked Dermott Brereton, Jason Dundas and Jules Lund to check out a few affordable places. They came up with some suitable for families, groups of friends or couples that won't break the budget.
Phillip Island (Dermott)
Ninety minutes from Melbourne
, Phillip Island
is a surfing haven and family retreat. It can be a day-trip, but there's enough to see and do to merit staying over. The nightly penguin parade is a must-see.
The Island Accommodation is a three storey architecturally and ecologically designed building with multi-share backpacker dormitories, family rooms and private suites, double and twins. It's known locally as a hotel and "flashpackers" accommodation.
It all grew from Islantis Surf Shop, which has been there for more than 20 years. Owner Harold Jackson had a long-time dream of creating a one-stop place and has spent millions of dollars to realise that dream. The surf culture, environment and nature have been cleverly blended to offer general appeal.
Each level has a combined kitchen and dining area, lounge, television room and deck. Walls are soundproofed and there are 360-degree views from the rooftop. It is all very accessible for disabled guests with wide corridors, lifts to each floor and appropriate showers and toilets.
The Big Wave is the island's contribution to Australia's fascination with things big. It has been restored and is a popular photo opportunity stop. Three other sculptures have been commissioned.
The Island Accommodation has an internet cafe, barbecue facilities, laundry and is air-conditioned in summer and has a cosy fireplace for cooler times.
Port Lincoln (Jason)
is a substantial fishing township on Boston Bay in South Australia's Eyre Peninsula. The important grain and fishing port is the peninsula's informal capital and is an easy half-day drive from Adelaide.
The Mediterranean climate enjoyed around the Great Australian Bight lends itself to lobster, abalone, kingfish, oysters, tuna, squid and other ocean delights so it's quite the destination for anglers and foodies.
Port Lincoln Tourist Park on Boston Bay has million-dollar views for all budgets. The four-star park has 150 powered sites, holiday units, basic cabins and self-contained ensuite cabins that come with bedding and linen.
There are three secured amenities blocks suitable for disabled visitors, camp kitchen, barbecue, laundry, kiosk, internet kiosk and playgrounds. There is a boat ramp and jetty and fish cleaning facilities if you get lucky!
The town centre is 2km away and has an excellent range of hotels, cafes and galleries.
Byron Bay (Jules)
Jules revisited Byron Bay
's Arts Factory Backpackers. He stayed there several times as a young traveller and was pleased to see the town's original backpacker hostel is still a special place.
Byron is still a haven for hippies and those pursuing an alternative lifestyle and at the Arts Factory you can stay in a tepee, island bungalow or camp in the jungle, just 10 minutes from the beach. There are six share dormitories that sleep up to six and The Nunnery is an all-female dorm with bathroom and kitchen. The Pentagon, made from canvas, is female-only and sleeps eight. Lakeside Cottage has a wrap-around deck and is also for women only.
Cubes are perfect for couples and have refrigerator, table and chairs. Love Shack is ensuite with shower and toilet. Island Retreats are surrounded by a small tea tree lake.
There are lots of activities including drum classes, fire-twirling lessons, didgeridoo making, yoga and recording your own songs. One not to miss is a bush tucker tour with Cockatoo Paul. His survival skills are remarkable. Water trees provide drinkable liquid and edible seeds, and Cockatoo's skills include spear throwing and fire starting. He'll show you how to make soap, sunscreen, rope and toilet paper.
Back at the lodge you can be served food at the Historic Buddha Bar Restaurant and enjoy the cinema and Buddha Gardens day spa. There's a heated pool, sauna and hammocks scattered around the property.
DJs and bands entertain in the evening and on Monday nights there's a Zany Talent Show.
Victoria's Phillip Island, Port Lincoln in South Australia and Byron Bay in the north of New South Wales.
The Island Accommodation rooms are $30 per person a night. Four-bed ensuite rooms are $36 per person, private studio ensuite suites are $155 per room and family rooms are $170. All linen is provided and access to self-catering kitchen, cafe, large dining areas and lounge rooms are included.
Port Lincoln Tourist Park powered and unpowered sites cost between $23 and $33 a night for up to two people. Extra adults cost $9 a night. Children cost $6 a night between for children aged between two and 15 years. Cabins range between $60 and $140 a night for two, $12 for each extra adult and $9 for children aged between two and 15 years. Some cabins have bedding, some don't.
Arts Factory Backpackers Lodge dormitories start at $30 a night and double or twin share accommodation starts at $80. Workshops and activities are free.
Prices correct at February 17, 2011.
For further information
The Island Accommodation
The Big Wave Complex
10-12 Phillip Island Tourist Road
Newhaven, Victoria 3925
Ph: (03) 5956 6123
Port Lincoln Tourist Park
11 Hindmarsh Street
Port Lincoln, SA 5606
Ph: (08) 8621 4444
Fax: (08) 8621 4499
Arts Factory Backpackers Lodge
Arts Factory Village
Skinners Shoot Road
Byron Bay, NSW 2481
Ph: (02) 6685 7709