Where can I go and write for a week in Australia this September?
June 4, 2019 9:30 AM   Subscribe

I'll be in Australia for three weeks in the fall, and due to a change in circumstances I have a lot of unstructured time on my hands. I'd love to go somewhere for a week or so for a one-person writing retreat -- what places in Australia should I be looking at?

Some info!
• I'll be in Australia from mid-September through early October.
• I'm flying in and out of Sydney
• I'll be visiting friends in Perth at some point during the trip
• I DO NOT have a ton of cash and would like to keep things cheap if possible
• I'll be traveling by myself
• I'm a female-bodied queer person
• I'd prefer not to rent a car if I can avoid it
• I absolutely need to have decent internet access at least once a day

As for what I'm hoping for in terms of a good Retreat Spot...

Being near the ocean is a major plus. Any kind of nature would be great, though, and leafy public parks count.

I'd prefer not to need a car to get basic things like groceries. An ideal location would be a place I can get to via public transit or a not-too-expesive taxi, and would be able to navigate on pubtrans or on foot once I'm there. I live in NYC, so I'm used to walking medium-long distances -- I'd happily walk 15-20 minutes to get to a grocery store, but an hour is probably too much.

I'll need someplace where I can work for long periods without being interrupted. An inexpensive airbnb or motel or similar would be great. I could probably deal with a hostel as long as it had a safe place for me to put my laptop and had a library or coffee shop or something nearby where I could work during the day.

It would be nice to be somewhere gay-friendly but I can deal if it isn't.

I love cities, but it doesn't have to be a city.

I know very little about Australia and have never been there before, so no suggestion is too obvious! Seriously!!!
posted by Narrative Priorities to Travel & Transportation around Australia (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I was just in Sydney few months ago. It's a very walkable city with really decent public transport. I stayed at ValueSuites Green Square, which was literally feet from the train station, and blocks from downtown. I don't know what you call inexpensive, but I thought it was really nice for the money and the wifi was very good, and I loved the location.

The metro card is good for the ferry and the trains to other cities up and down the coast. You can get to the ocean very easily from the hotel. Riding the metro is not very expensive and neat places to hang out abound. I should have planned more time there to explore - I usually prefer more "natural" areas and I thought Sydney was just amazing and fun.

There is a contingent of Mefites in Sydney who are amazingly hospitable. They will almost certainly arrange a meetup if you reach out to them.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:57 AM on June 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Sydney and cheap don't normally go together. You'd probably have to look into the hostels, which there are heaps of near the biggest beaches, especially Bondi which attracts a lot of backpackers.

If you are willing to move away from the ocean though, the Blue Mountains are an hour or so out of Sydney by train. Much cheaper. AMAZING scenery (for example search "Three Sisters Katoomba" for the most famous lookout which is a short-ish walk from the centre of the biggest town Katoomba). Lots of bush walking options. A definite arts scene. Much cooler (temperature wise) than Sydney itself, but not a big issue at that time of year. All of the small towns have shopping options, Katoomba has multiple supermarkets.
posted by trialex at 3:37 PM on June 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Just to clarify: definitely do not need to stay in or near Sydney! I'm happy to fly or take the train basically anywhere!
posted by Narrative Priorities at 3:56 PM on June 4, 2019

Best answer: Yup, the Blue Mountains! You can even walk between Katoomba and Leura. I lived in Sydney for six years up until last year, PM me if you want specifics. Katoomba also has some great bakeries and a nice natural foods store, and a cute little hot chocolate cafe on the edge of town. Leura has an old fashioned candy shop straight out of Harry Potter.

Hostels often have private rooms, which is what we usually do.
Free WiFi in cafes isn't really a thing here; the library would have it but usually had a daily limit. The hostel/Airbnb will likely have it too.

You could also take the ferry or hike to Manly, which is on the beach just N. of Sydney (hike "the spit to Manly"). Cronulla to the south is on the subway line and stops near the beach as well. Both are commuting distance and very walkable with grocery stores and coffee shops and stuff.

If you're really keen I live in Tassie - pm me!
posted by jrobin276 at 4:48 PM on June 4, 2019

Best answer: The north and south coasts of sydney are easily accessible by train, and I'm guessing that beachside accommodation there would be much cheaper than in Sydney itself. Wollongong and Newcastle are both decent sized cities with train stations close to the beach.

Other smaller train stations near the beach include Kiama and stations between Helensburgh and North Wollongong. Bundeena and Cronulla might also be worth a look, Bundeena is in the national park across from Cronulla, accessible by ferry. From Gosford, there is a bus to Terrigal that is also right on the coast.

You may have to hunt around to find somewhere appropriate to stay, and make the decision based on what's available. The school holidays start on the 27th of September, so you should be able to find something before then fairly easily.

Most accommodation will have Wifi. I don't think coffee shops are as tolerant of people working in them here, and don't as often have wifi, though if you're outside school holidays, they will probably be quiet and may not mind. If there's a library, most have quiet desks you could use and some wifi, though it might be slow. If you've got an unlocked smart phone, you can get a SIM with a decent amount of data for not much money, and use it as a hotspot, though reception can get spotty in the country.
posted by kjs4 at 8:12 PM on June 4, 2019

Best answer: I live in Sydney but spent 5 weeks working in Wollongong last November, and I think it might provide the nexus of close to beach/much less costly than Sydney/quiet retreat. I'd try some Airbnb's around there. It's on the train from Sydney ($8) and it's a very walkable/accessible without a car. There's a shopping mall close to the train station, and a couple of main streets with lots of cafes and shopping, and good range of food options. The walk between North Beach and the Lighthouse is lovely. Also a bit further down the coast is Kiama, which is smaller than Wollongong, but also convenient.

Blue Mountains is also train-accessible and beautiful.
posted by amusebuche at 11:02 AM on June 5, 2019

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