Re your request regarding hostels, my experience so far on my travels has been pretty good EXCEPT for one absolute dump in Melbourne. The elizabeth hostel, was dirty, smelly, totally unhelpful staff, it was frequented by undesirables and tramps and had absolutely nothing to say in its favour.
A fellow backpacker told me that on his brief stay there, he shared with a fellow who brought a prostitute back and did the business there. There are other MUCH better hostels in Melbourne as I have since found out.
Ken from U.K.