The YHA Story

  • Our Mission

    To provide opportunity for all, but especially young people, for education by personal development, fostering friendship and bringing about a better understanding of others and the world around them.

    We've been accommodating backpackers since 1909!

    YHA is a membership-based, not for profit association, with all profits going back into the hostels and the experience they provide.

    2009 marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of the youth hostel movement. In Germany in 1909, schoolteacher Richard Schirrmann had the idea to create a network of budget accommodation options across the country to be used by school groups or older, independent travellers. The first permanent youth hostel, Altena Castle, was established in Germany in 1912 and still operates today. The International Youth Hostel Federation, known today as Hostelling International (HI), was established in 1939.

    Beginning as modest quarters in barns and schools during the holiday periods, hostels today are the mainstay of budget travelers. Offering much more than a bed, you're likely to find the 'noughties' traveller using the hostel's wifi connection on their laptop or iPhone to update their blog and share videos with friends back home. Movie theatres, pizza nights, free pancake breakfasts, wildlife sanctuaries and swimming pools are just some of the things you'll discover in YHA hostels in Australia today.

    Each year, 35 million overnights are spent in Hostelling International hostels around the world. There are now more than 80 participating countries, representing over 4,000 hostels worldwide. Over 100 of these hostels are in Australia, and there are more than 70,000 Australian members continuing the tradition at home and abroad.

    Our Story

    • 1909: Richard Schirrmann first has the idea to create a network of jugendherberge (youth hostels)
    • 1912: The first permanent youth hostel, Altena Castle, established in Germany
    • 1919: The German Youth Hostel Association is founded
    • 1939: International Youth Hostel Federation (Hostelling International) founded. The hostelling movement begins in Australia in Victoria and YHA VIC is established
    • 1943: YHA NSW is established
    • 1947: The first hostel owned and operated by YHA opens in Victoria. The Australian Youth Hostels Association is established 
    • 1948: YHA SA is established
    • 1950: YHA TAS is established
    • 1951: YHA WA is established. There are 1,618 members and 40 YHA hostels in Australia 
    • 1962: YHA QLD is established
    • 1968: YHA membership costs $3
    • 1970: The arrival of the Boeing 747 revolutionises air travel
    • 1976: YHA NT established
    • 1995: More than 3 million YHA/HI members worldwide. As usage of the internet becomes more widespread, YHA Australia launches 
    • 1997: Sydney Central YHA opens  
    • 2000: Grampians YHA Eco Hostel opens, designed and developed with sustainability in mind
    • 2004: Japanese language version of launched
    • 2005: Eco Beach YHA Apollo Bay Hostel opens, designed and developed with sustainability in mind
    • 2007: Mandarin language version of launched
    • 2008: The arrival of the Airbus A380
    • 2009: 100 Years of Hostelling, the opening of Sydney Harbour YHA, Melbourne Central YHA and Brisbane City YHA. Korean language version of to be launched 
    • 2012: New is launched