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Backpack & Budget

Aussie Hostels Now Rated in New Guide

August 18, 1996|LUCY IZON

You don't have to guess the quality of independent hostels in Australia anymore.

The Australian Automobile Assn., supported by funding from the Commonwealth Department of Tourism, has established a Backpacker Accommodation Classification Scheme, much like the star systems used by many hotels and motels.

The hostels were inspected by an AAA representative, then they were rated--not with stars but with backpacks. A single backpack indicates a facility offering clean, simple and basic facilities, five backpacks indicates a superior standard of facilities.

The inspection was voluntary, and only hostels that were clean, well maintained and satisfied building, health, fire, safety and local council regulations qualified for inclusion.

A small, blue 50-page booklet, called the Backpacker Accommodation Ratings Guide, has been published with a listing of the results. It's available for free at hostels and tourist information offices.

Only about 30 of the 300 hostels rated earned a five-backpack listing.

If Sydney is your gateway, here are the five-backpack facilities in the city and surrounding area:

* Surfside Backpackers at 186 Arden St., Coogee NSW 2034, telephone 011-61-2-315-7888.

* Sydney Hereford YHA Lodge at 51 Hereford St., Glebe NSW 2037, tel. 011-61-2-660-5577.

* Sydney Central Backpackers at 16 Orwell St., Kings Cross NSW 2001, tel. 011-61-2-358-6600.

* Eva's Backpackers at 6-8 Orwell St., Kings Cross NSW 2011, tel. 011-61-2-358-2185.

* Billabong Gardens Hostel at 5-11 Egan St., Newtown NSW 2042, tel. 011-61-2-550-3236.

* The Jolly Swagman Backpackers, 27 Orwell St., Potts Point NSW 2011, tel. 011-61-2-358 6400.

* Forbes Terrace Accommodation at 155 Forbes St., Woolloomooloo NSW 2011, tel. 011-61-2-358-4327.

If Brisbane is your gateway, you'll find five-backpack facilities at:

* New Brisbane City YHA at 392 Upper Roma St., Brisbane Qld 4000, tel. 011-61-7-3236-1004.

* Balmoral House at 33 Amelia St., Fortitude Valley Qld 4006, tel. 011-61-7-3252-1397.

Backpackers Resorts Australia, a network of independent hostels, has indicated which of their hostels were inspected and what their ratings are in their free, pocket-size, 160-page directory.

For example, one of the affiliated facilities is Terrigal Beach Backpackers Lodge, a 40-bed lodge that has only been open two years but has already won the Central Coast Tourism Award for Budget Accommodation.

The owners promote it as a good spot to stay before flying out of Sydney because it's only about 1 1/2 hours from Sydney, and the Central Coast Airporter bus stops only about a block from the hostel. The trip costs $13.

Lodge guests stay in rooms shared by two to 10 people. There are also two common rooms with televisions, and kitchen and dining facilities, a barbecue and a big veranda; and it's only a block from the beach.

The staff has made special arrangements with local tour operators. Central Kayak Tours will give hostel guests a 50% reduction on coastal, river and lagoon tours. That lowers the price of a tour, with a picnic lunch included, to $19.25. Packages including two nights accommodation with breakfast, plus one day para-sailing are $46.20. You can contact Terrigal Beach Backpacker Lodge at 12 Campbell Crescent, Terrigal, NSW 2260, Australia, tel. or fax: 011-61-43-853-330.

The average cost of a bed in a shared room at a hostel affiliated with Backpackers Resorts of Australia is $11.55 per night. The network now has a site on the Internet, http://www.backpacker.com.au/bpaus.html, that includes a listing of their hostels.

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