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Travel and Communication in Australia

Having access to the internet and calling is hugely important. Not only will it make doing things much easier it could be your lifeline – especially in the outback where the signal can be terrible or non-existent.

In this article, I am going to show you the best options and how to keep in contact at the lowest cost.

backpacker trying to make a call while in the Outback Australia with the text Travel and Communication in Australia
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1. What is Internet/Cell Phone Coverage Like in Australia?

Australia is a huge country and depending on where you are in Australia the internet coverage varies from being excellent if you’re in a city or non-existent if you’re in parts of the outback.

1.1 Internet/Cell Phone Coverage in Australian Cities & Towns

All of the major cities and towns here have excellent internet coverage. You will be provided with Wi-Fi at hostels, hotels, and even free wifi in city centers, Shopping malls, Pubs, Cafes, Restaurants, Banks etc. This is great for staying connected and calling family and friends.

If you are in a city you may be able to rely solely on Wi-fi once you first arrive, however having mobile data is a whole lot more convenient and very affordable in Australia. I cover off mobile data in section 4.

1.2 Internet Coverage in Rural/Outback Australia

As I have explored Australia, I’ve realized that Wifi is less available in remote areas. Cell phone and internet coverage can also be very limited when you hit remote areas. Therefore if you are traveling to remote Australia you will need to purchase a mobile plan that works best in these areas. I cover off the networks also in section 4.

But first lets explore a few apps you can use with Wifi (which is often free) and saves your data. 

2. Best Ways to Communicate with Friends and Family While in Australia

There are numerous ways to communicate with your friends and family within Australia and overseas. These days it is often a lot easier (and free) to call and message with an internet connection using various apps and websites.

You are probably already using Facebook and Instagram which you will easily be able to continue using to make calls and messages, however, you may find better quality calls and features using these apps:


A very popular application in Europe and the Americas where you can send photos and videos, and make calls and messages. It is currently gaining popularity in Australia.



Arguably one of the best and most popular applications

infographic of best ways to stay connected while in Australia


Google Meet

Another popular application that is similar to Zoom and provides high-quality video calls, audio calls, and messaging.


Now you have figured out the best ways to communicate while in Australia let’s explore the best ways to get keep you connected.

3. How Do I Purchase a Mobile Data Plan in Australia?

In Australia purchasing mobile data is relatively simple. We have two different options for mobile plans if you wish to purchase mobile data. They are Prepaid and Postpaid. You may not be familiar with these terms so let’s cover these in more detail below.

3.1 Prepaid Vs Postpaid

Prepaid is the most popular option amongst backpackers because of its simplicity and no fixed contracts. The way it works is you purchase (prepay) a mobile data plan for a certain time frame (most periods are one month) and there is no requirement to renew or make any further payments after the period expires.

Mobile data packages vary in price and what’s provided we cover this in great detail in section 4.

To use the prepaid network you will need a SIM card which you can purchase from the following locations:

  • Direct from the Network Provider in-store or online
  • Supermarkets
  • Convenience Stores
  • Newsagents
  • Airport Kiosks

Postpaid is a contract for a fixed period usually 6 months or longer which you can’t cancel and will need to pay each month until the contract term is finished. Postpaid plans are generally more expensive but offer more mobile data and benefits such as free Netflix, stan, etc.


Prepaid plans can be a quick and easy way to get started but postpaid plans are the way to go longer than a few months.

4. What is the Best Network/Package for Prepaid Mobile Plans in Australia?

In Australia, there are many different network providers. A quick Google search for mobile data in Australia will return 20 different companies offering a range of different packages. This can be very confusing to a first-time visitor so be with me and let’s explore this more together.

4.1 Largest Mobile Networks in Australia

In Australia, we have 3 major networks which are:

The above three companies hold the contracts for the phone lines and infrastructure all over Australia. They are the most reliable in terms of support, coverage, and connectivity within cities and towns.

There are a large number of smaller networks that leverage off the major network carriers. I cover these in more detail in Section 4.3

4.1.1 Best Network For Mobile Coverage in Rural Australia/Outback

Telstra without a doubt offers the best coverage throughout Australia including rural Australia and the outback. It has for many years been the market leader and should be considered if you are planning on spending a lot of time in the Outback.

Telstra also provides phone boxes (Booths) that have free wifi and free national calling within Australia all free of charge you don’t need to be a Telstra customer.

Local Tip

No matter which operator you choose if you have an emergency you can use the Telstra network - Dial 000

4.2 Costs of Mobile Data for the Major Networks

Here is an example of the costs for a standard mobile data package for these networks as of 2024:
Telstra Optus Vodafone
Cheapest Monthly Plan
15GB Data + up to 300 Mins International Calls
20 GB Data + 400 mins international Calls
20 GB Data + 500 minutes of international calls
Mid-Range Monthly Plan
35 GB + up to 1,000 Minutes of International Calls
30 GB + 800 minutes of international Calls
30 GB + 1,000 minutes international calls
Largest Monthly Plan
70 GB + up to 1,500 Minutes International Calls
40 GB + 1,200 Minutes International Calls
45 GB + 1,500 Minutes international calls

Note: Many “resellers” of these three networks offer less expensive access to the same networks! These resellers however can be a little hit and miss in terms of customer service and other benefits so choose wisely. See 4.3 for more information.

You can find more detailed information about the various network offerings here:

4.2.1 Sign-Up Bonuses

As you will most likely be a new customer to these networks there are great signup bonuses constantly being offered to attract new customers. They typically offer double the amount of data for the first three to six months and often a discounted price (sometimes less than half price) for the first month to six months. Again, check out the latest promotions on their website before purchasing a prepaid SIM card.

Pro Tip

You can simply change networks once the promotional period finishes (3-6 months later) to another network and enjoy the promotions from the new network. You can bring your number to the new network easily online, and it takes less than 5 minutes.

4.3 Smaller Networks That Leverage off Major Networks Infrastructure

There are a large number of companies that leverage off the major network providers’ infrastructure and often offer more competitive deals. There is a new network popping up every couple of months, at the time of writing here are the most popular smaller networks:

4.3.1 Smaller Networks that use Telstra Network

As mentioned above Telstra has the best coverage for the whole of Australia, here is a list of the most popular smaller “resellers” that leverage off the Telstra network:

4.3.2 Smaller Networks that use Optus & Vodafone Network

Optus and Vodafone although smaller than Telstra still have good network coverage across Australia, here’s a list of the most popular smaller networks that leverage off Optus & Vodafone:

4.3 Costs of Mobile Data for the Smaller Networks

The Smaller Networks offer more competitive deals and use the same network as the major 3 Mobile providers. Here is a breakdown of the costs of some of the more popular smaller network providers that I have personally used and found to work well currently as of March 2024:

Belong (Telstra) 4 & 5G Boost (Telstra) 4 & 5G Lebara (Vodafone) 4G Amaysim (Optus) 4 & 5G
Cheapest Monthly Plan
25GB Data + Unlimited calls and texts within Australia
45 GB Data + Unlimited international calls to 20 countries
4 GB Data + Unlimited calls and texts within Australia. Up to 300 minutes International call to 5 countries
10 GB Data + Unlimited calls and texts within Australia
Mid-Range Monthly Plan
100 GB Data + Unlimited calls and texts within Australia
60 GB + Unlimited international calls to 20 countries
35 GB Data + Unlimited international calls to 35 countries
80 GB Data + Unlimited international calls to 42 countries
Largest Monthly Plan
160 GB Data + Unlimited calls and texts within Australia
80 GB + Unlimited international calls to 20 countries
80 GB + Unlimited international calls to 60 countries
120 GB Data + Unlimited calls to 60 countries

As you can see from the table above the smaller network providers offer more competitive packages and smaller options if you don’t need much mobile data. However, their support network is often not as good as the major providers. If you are heading to rural Australia make sure you choose a smaller provider that has Telstra Network Coverage.

You can see more details about the above packages and their ongoing promotions here:

Final Thoughts

Within Australia, you will find great Wifi when in the cities. But when traveling to more remote areas you need to be careful about which network provider you choose as some have inferior coverage. Personally, I recommend using the Telstra Network (or a leveraging network) when traveling to remote areas as it offers the best coverage here in Australia. Having read this guide I hope you have all the necessary information to choose the best network provider for your situation.

Safe Travels!

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