How To Find Free Wi-Fi In Australian Capital Cities

How to Safely Share Your Home Wi-Fi with Friends

Free Wi-Fi isn't necessarily hard to find, but what if you don't want to rely on businesses to provide it for you?

Title photo made using Michael D Brown (Shutterstock) and rvika (Shutterstock).

You're certainly not prohibited from using, say, Telstra's public Wi-Fi, or Westfield's Optus-powered Wi-Fi, or for that matter the free Wi-Fi that emanates from Apple Stores or many coffee shops these days. But those solutions tend to tie you to a specific place within a capital city, and often a particular commercial imperative, which may not be convenient.

The alternative is to use any of a number of genuinely "free", often local government provided Wi-Fi networks. Here's where to find them in each capital cities' CBD.

Note: The Lifehacker travel budget, meagre as it is, wasn't enough to allow me to travel to each city to test them out in turn, so these aren't quality assesments, and are simply going off publicly available information. If you know of a free network in your capital city that I've missed, feel free to add it in the comments.

Perth

Perth has an extensive free Wi-Fi network with a 50MB/1 Hour connection limit, although it seems as though there's no penalty for exceeding time or capacity beyond having to log in again.

Darwin

Darwin offers free Wi-Fi in the Mall area with a one hour limitation, although there's no specified download limit within that time. You can only have a single one hour login every six hours, however.

Adelaide

Adelaide's free CBD Wi-Fi is in partnership with Internode, so it may be interesting to see whether that survives the TPG/iiNet takeover. That aside it covers areas in the CBD and North Adelaide, with no specified time or data limitations apparent from its web site.

Brisbane

Brisbane City Council offers free Wi-Fi in the CBD and a range of 22 city parks. It's limited to a 512kbps download speed and a maximum daily usage of five hours daily.

Sydney

There's no public facing free Wi-Fi in the Sydney CBD aside from the City Of Sydney's Library locations. Boo! Get on with it, Sydney!

Canberra

The Digital Canberra initiative provides Wi-Fi access. There's no time limit for access, just a 250MB/day download limit.

Melbourne

Federation Square offers free public Wi-Fi with no time limit, and no stated download limits either. Any Melbournites able to comment?

Hobart

Nothing obvious, although reports suggest that it's something that Hobart Council is looking into.

Know of a publicly provided free WiFi network that I've missed? Update the Lifehacker community in the comments below!


Comments

    The story is misleading

    But those solutions tend to tie you to a specific place within a capital city, and often a particular commercial imperative, which may not be convenient.

    Then it goes on to say that in Melbourne, Fed Square offers free WiFi.. well I am still tied to that location... I can't walk up to Bourke Street Mall and remain connected.

    Last edited 18/03/15 12:22 pm

      A reasonable point, but the focus was on non-commercial hotspots.

      Plus, all you'd need would be an antenna and a really long cord, and you could go wherever you liked...

      Was at Fed square over the Labour Day weekend and the wifi wasn't great - but you get what you pay for...

    For Adelaide I've built an incomplete map of open WiFi hotspots.
    http://lab.jcode.me/openWiFiMap/

    A few people using Android phones is all it took to make and it can be expanded to other cities if anyone is interested in helping.

    Is free wifi still available in Wynyard station, Sydney?

    How To Find Free WiFi In Australian Capital Cities
    Step 1: Turn on WiFi
    Step 2: Look for WiFi
    Step 3: Connect to WiFi.

    Last edited 19/03/15 12:35 pm

    Adelaide's data limit is 200mb per day. I know this from personal experience. This applies to "Internode" as well as "AdelaideFree" SSIDs. There is no time limit as far as I'm aware.

    The same 200mb limit applies to free wifi on public transport, as rare as that is around Adelaide. The hostpot SSID there is "Public WiFi"

    Last edited 19/03/15 2:36 pm

    In Melbourne there is free Wi-fi at the State Library and I think it extends slightly beyond the limits of the building. Many McDonalds in Melbourne suburbs offer free wi-fi so I'm guessing some of the city stores do as well.

    wouldn't todays mobile data caps be enough these days?

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