Australia has international airports in
Perth and Darwin. Sydney has most international
connections followed by Melbourne.
Australia is a big country with vast distances and few people. Consequently
transport is relatively expensive, especially internal flights. Road trips
can be very long. Consider trying to get a package deal on your international
airfare so that you get some free domestic flights included. Qantas is
the major domestic airline. It is a members of the One World alliance.
Member airlines may be more likely to offer deals that include free or
discounted domestic flights. Buying domestic air tickets upon arrival in
Australia is usually more expensive and is expected to become more expensive
following the economic collapse and closure of Australia's only other major
domestic airline, Ansett.
Qantas is Australia's main
domestic airline operating between major cities. It has a number of smaller
affilaite airlines that operate from cities to regional towns. Virgin
Blue also has a significant number of domestic flights. No domestic
flights operate between 11pm and 6am. There are about 50 flights a day
between Sydney and Melbourne, the busiest route. Flights on less popular
routes, such as from state capitals to country towns, will usually be at
least once daily. Airline contact details are:
For timetabling and pricing either phone them or refer to their website.
The cost of domestic airfares varies
greatly depending on whether you buy a fully flexible ticket that allows
you to change the day and time of travel or a cheaper restricted ticket.
The cheapest tickets are restrcited tickets bought from the airline's website,
however the retsricted tickets tend to sell out closer to the day of the
flight, particularly for flights at busy times of the day. Restricted
airline tickets can be about the price of buying a bus ticket.
BUSES AND COACHES
Buses costs about $10 per 100 kilometres, though long trips will be a little cheaper. Buses are generally half the price of trains, have a more extensive network and run more regularly.
Major interstate bus operators are:
Discount travel passes for either bus company can be obtained from overseas before arriving in Australia. Their websites provide some details.
Bus operators with fewer routes are:
New South Wales has a bus network radiating from Sydney.
The country bus network radiates from Melbourne to regional Victoria and southern New South Wales towns. There are only few cross country services. Buses are run by the state government rail authority VLine and the bus routes compliment the rail services. Check their website for routes and timetables. www.vline.vic.gov.au
Victrip is a website run by the state government which contains most country and city bus and train timetables. www.victrip.com.au
Buses routes run along the Queensland east coast and inland from the major coastal towns. Long distance coaches are run by the national operators McCafferty's and Greyhound Pioneer. See Australian Interstate Buses for details.
Buses routes radiate from Adelaide to regional towns in South Australia. Buses are operated by the state run Premier Stateliner. Visit their website for routes and timetables. www.premierstateliner.com.au
Buses operate along the Stuart Highway and to Ayres Rock (Uluru)
by the major national bus operators McCafferty's and Greyhound
Pioneer. See Australian Interstate Buses for
route and timetable details.
Trains are slower than buses except across the Nullabor Plain where
they are faster. Trains are quite often twice as expensive and run less
often though more comfortable than buses.
Train lines radiate from Sydney ro regional towns. They are operated by Countrylink, a state government authority. See their website for routes and timetables. www.countrylink.nsw.gov.au
Train lines radiate from Melbourne to country Victorian towns. Trains are operated by VLine, a state government authority which also runs the state's long distance buses. See Vline's website for routes and timetables. www.vline.vic.gov.au
Queensland Rail runs train services along the coast to as far
north as Cairns and inland from major coastal
towns. The economy fare for a seat Brisbane
to Cairns is $193 and takes 36 hours. This
is recommended over the bus in terms of comfort. See Queensland Rail's
website for routes, timetables and fares. www.qr.com.au
TT-Line runs an overnight ferry between Melbourne and Devonport in Tasmania carrying passenger and vehicles. It runs twice a week each way. In summer TT-Line also runs a fast and more expensive catamaran on the route. It is the world's largest catamaran and the world's fastest passenger vessel and hold the cross Atlantic record.
A ferry runs from Sorrento to Queenscliff across the narrow entrance to Port Phillip Bay, at the head of which Melbourne is built. The ferry carries passengers and vehicles. See Mornington Peninsula page for details.
Passenger ferries also run to the various tropical islands. Some ferries to Fraser Island and the ferry to Magnetic Island also takes vehicles. Refer to the entry for each individual island for details. A list of islands covered by this guide is on the Queensland page.
A vehicular ferry that also takes passengers runs from Kangaroo
Island to the nearby coast. A fast passenger ferry also runs from Kangaroo
Island to the Adelaide beachside suburb
of Glenelg. See Kangaroo Island page for details.
Refer to individual town and city page entries on this website. Select
a city or town from the Australia homepage
or click one of the direct links below to a major city:
The large car hire companies have offices at major airports and many larger towns nationwide allowing pick up and drop off to be in different places, though they will likely charge a fee if you do so. Smaller car hire companies are often cheaper but have a limited number of offices, rarely ahve an airport office and often you will have to return there car to the same place as the pickup.
Expect to pay $65 a day for a small car, up to $80 for medium size car, $100 for a baby four wheel drive and $150 for a full size four wheel drive. Some travellers hire Brits-Australia campavans to cut accommodation costs while touring the outback. The daily rate falls the longer you hire the same car for. All prices include insurance. Rental companies are reluctant to hire to young drivers, especially larger vehicles. There is an insurance surcharge of about $10 a day if a driver is under 25 years of age. You will be lucky to find someone who is prepared to rent you a car if you are 22 or younger.
Websites for the major car companies are:
Territory Rent-a Car operates throughout the Northern Territory.
Always read the fine print before signing a car hire contract. Not only compare the daily car hire costs, but also look for comprehensive insurance, any excess in case of an accident, airport drop off and pickup fees, whether the young driver surcharge applies to each driver or only needs to be paid once.
Petrol prices are about $1 a litre in cities and $1.20 in country and
up to $1.40 in remote outback locations, such as the entire Northern Territory.
Petrol is 20% cheaper in Queensland where taxes are lower. This prices
are high by American standards but low compared to Europe. Americans note
there are about 4 lites to a gallon.
Organised Bus Tours
Major bus tour companies with nationwide tours are:
These are also small tour operators that offer adventure camping tours
and bus tours catering specifically to backpackers, where obviously you
are more likely to meet other backpackers with similar interests to you.
Buying a Car
Some travellers get together and buy a cheap second hand car then resell
it at the end of their holiday. This can cut costs if you have a group
of three or four and will be travelling long distances on your holiday.
Buying a car does however bring hassles, such as if it breaks down you
will have to pay for towing and repairs which will also delay you. Take
care when buying a car. Know the market, do not get overcharged, do not
get pushed in buying anything, take time to think about it and get the
car mechanically checked before signing anything. The state motoring bodies
such as NRMA in New South Wales, RACV in Victoria and RACQ in Queensland
will provide a mechanical check for a fee before you buy. This is highly