As the world’s largest island (by some distance, as it is about 3.5x larger than second placed Greenland), transport in Australia is something that needs to be thought about long and hard. If you plan on visiting everything the country has to offer, such as Melbourne, Perth, Uluru and Darwin, you’ll rack up thousands and thousands of miles, so you’ll spend a long time using some of the forms of transport listed below. And that’s why we’ve listed the different forms of transport, as we want you to pick the right options in order to make the most of your gap year in Australia!
Travelling by Car
Fancy getting a car and travelling Australia? Well, you aren’t the only one! Loads of backpackers pick up a cheap car and run it into the ground as they pootle around Australia in it, taking in the unexpected sights seen from the road along the way. Some people even drive across the whole country in their trusty automobile, although this isn’t something for those in a hurry. It can cost as little as a couple of hundred dollars to buy an old car – although make sure it works properly before handing over any cash – and petrol/diesel isn’t overly expensive either. If you can find a few friends to share the expense, it is the cheapest, and most convenient, way to see Australia on your gap year! Just don’t try to drive after drinking.
Taxis are another form of transport in Australia that you might use on occasion, especially when you first arrive and are getting your bearings. Of course, they will only be used for short journeys though. You’ll be able to find taxis all over larger towns and cities – and they are especially prevalent in tourist hotspots – and they are generally really safe to use. All taxi fares are set by local authorities, therefore you should pay the same amount regardless of the taxi company you choose. To get an idea of how much a fare will be, take a look at this taxi fare calculator. Also, please note that in many places, you’ll be required to pay for your taxi journey upfront.
Do you know how far it is from Sydney to Perth? 2,045 miles as the crow flies. That means that any journey from one to the other without a plane is going to be a long one. Of course, we aren’t knocking a road trip across Australia – it’s actually a great way to see the country – but it isn’t the best choice for those with limited time Down Under. Backpackers in Oz will be able to find domestic flights from loads of airlines, all at different prices. Therefore, do some homework and make sure the cheapest one is picked.
Do think carefully about choosing plane travel on your Australian trip though, as it is the most expensive way to travel and can make a big dent to your budget. Also, you really won’t see the country from a plane seat. What’s waiting at the other end of the plane journey is worth rushing for though…
Travelling by Bus
If you don’t fancy shelling out for a taxi, a bus is a much more affordable option. Buses in the major towns and cities are really good and generally run on time, plus you’ll get the chance to see the weird and wonderful if you are really lucky! Let’s face it – a trip on a bus will immerse you in a city like no other form of transport will.
Where buses really come into their own though is for the longer journeys, often spanning hundreds of miles from one city to another. The coaches are cheap in comparison to planes, come with air-con and entertainment – as well as toilets – and tickets can be purchased online. The most popular company to use is Greyhound Australia and buying tickets at their site, as opposed to at the counter, will yield discounts. If you want to travel by coach to more remote areas, you’ll need to do some planning and be prepared to swap a few times en-route. There are some strange licensing laws as well in some states, which mean you can only use a Greyhound bus if crossing a state border – internal journeys in the state have to be completed on a different bus.
Travelling by Train
Train travel in Australia is surprisingly expensive ($600 for a journey from Sydney to Perth), although when you consider the distances, it is just about understandable. While expensive, it does provide a great way to see the country in a relaxing atmosphere, although don’t expect the journey to be quick. In fact, a coach journey can often be a quicker option. Does a coach journey really replicate the romance of the railway though?
If you want to book a train ticket, the people to contact are Great Southern Rail. They operate the three major rail routes in Australia (Sydney-Perth, Melbourne-Adelaide, and Adelaide-Darwin via Alice Springs). Tickets can be booked online and you’ll also be able to find out how to get from place to place there. Keep an eye out for special offers, just in case you can save a little money.
You’ll also find Metro systems in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Sydney, which combine underground and overground trains to create a fast and cheap way to get from one part of the city to the other. Take a taxi for the first few journeys, but when you are acclimatised, start using the Metro systems instead.
Finally, Australia has trams! Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney all have running trams and a line is also being built on the Gold Coast. There’s not much to say about them, aside from the fact that they are convenient, unique and you should definitely try them out!