Getting Around Australia
Australia is huge and if you’re thinking about travelling in Australia and getting to where the work is it’s important to think about how you’re going to get around.
Here are some of the most common and best ways to get around Australia:
Australia has a great bus network with most places (within reason) being easily accessible by bus. Greyhound is the biggest bus company in Australia, but each state also has their own regional bus companies. Most regional bus companies cover routes that Greyhound don’t already cover.
Bus trips from one city to the next can be quite long; for example, a Greyhound bus from Sydney to Melbourne takes about 12 hours. Most buses will have air-conditioning and toilets. They will also stop for short breaks depending on how long the journey is.
- Generally, bus travel will give you better access to the more remote places than train or plane travel would.
- Bus travel is usually cheaper.
- Buses in Australia are generally very reliable.
- Bus travel can be quite slow, compared to plane travel or even driving to the destination yourself.
- It isn’t as comfortable as train travel.
Tour buses, (also known as backpacker buses) like Oz Experience, can sometimes work out cheaper than using regular bus companies, especially if you are planning on travelling the length of Australia’s east coast, so they are well worth checking out.
Most backpackers probably wouldn’t consider train travel as a way to get around Australia, but think again. Trains are a lot more comfortable than buses and in some cases it can be easier to get a train than a bus. For example, if you wanted to travel from Sydney to some parts of rural NSW, such as Moree, it would actually be more convenient to get a train.
Riding a train across parts of Australia, particularly in the outback, can be a great travel experience in itself and routes like The Ghan, The Overland and The Indian Pacific are popular tourist attractions.
- Riding the train is a lot more comfortable than riding a bus.
- Train travel is great way to see rural Australia.
- In some cases it can even work out cheaper than taking a bus, so it’s always worth checking out and comparing both.
- Railways do not cover as many routes as buses.
- Long distance rail travel is generally slower than bus travel, and definitely slower than travelling by plane.
If you’re travelling from one large city to another, it can be easier, and certainly faster, to travel by plane. There are also smaller airline operators, operating in more remote areas of Australia. The main domestic airlines in Australia include:
- Tiger Airways
- Virgin Blue
- Flying from one city to another is a lot faster and therefore more comfortable.
- Generally it can be more expensive, although you can occasionally find good deals online.
- Having to check in your luggage will add to your costs.
- Flying simply isn’t an option for many parts of rural Australia.
Car or Van Rental
Australia is huge and public transport can’t get you everywhere, so driving from one destination to the next is another option to consider. It’s also a great way to see parts of the country that you normally wouldn’t on public transport.
Related: Find out how to buy a car, wagon or campervan.
When renting a vehicle you also need to think about what type of vehicle you will need; for example you may need a 4WD vehicle if you’re planning on driving on unsealed roads.
- Driving will give you an opportunity to see more of Australia than you would by bus, plane or train.
- You get to choose what route you would like to take and where you would like to stop.
- There are some restrictions when it comes to renting a car or van which can limit your experience, for example, a lot of rental companies will have kilometre restrictions.
- It can become very costly, especially if you are traveling long distances.
All around Australia there are rental companies that need their car and campervans moved from one city to the next. Instead of hiring staff to drive these vehicles back, the companies let customers rent them for a fraction of the price, sometimes costing only $1 a day.
- Can work out to be very cheap.
- You will probably have to book a month in advance
- You will have to pay a bond, usually around $2,000, but you will get this back as long as you don’t damage the vehicle.
- Usually, you will have to get to your location within a certain number of days, which can limit your experience.
This option is perfect for long term travellers and people looking for rural work in Australia. Many backpackers have purchase a car (usually an estate or van) to travel around Australia.
This is a very common option but it does have challenges - Find out how to buy a car, wagon or campervan.
- Depending on the size, it can also double as your accommodation while on the road.
- You have the freedom to go wherever you choose.
- If you look after it, you may be able to sell it on afterwards.
- It may take time to sell the vehicle once you are finished with it.
- It may take time to find the right car for you within your budget.
- Will have to drive everywhere yourself, which can mean less relaxation.