Firefly Express has services connecting Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.
Greyhound travels to over 1100 destinations in Australia daily every day of the year. It has a variety of ticketing options allow you to travel at your own pace, hopping on and off as many times as your ticket allows.
Murrays has services connecting Canberra with Sydney, the NSW South Coast and snowfields.
Australia Wide Coaches
Australia Wide Coaches run daily services connecting Sydney with, the NSW South Coast and beyond.
It is legal to hitchhike in some states in Australia, so long as certain guidelines are followed. However, it is less commonly done than in neighbouring New Zealand. In Australia hitchhiking is often frowned upon by locals and police, especially in metropolitan areas.
Hitch hiking is illegal in Victoria and Queensland. It is also illegal to stand on the verge or walk along freeways often called "motorways" in New South Wales in all states effectively making hitchhiking illegal in many practical places, in all states.
If forced to hitchhike due to an emergency you may find a motorist willing to take you to the nearest town to obtain help. Some major inter-city highways and freeways have telephones to request help.
It's most common to see a tourist hitching in rural areas. The best time to hitchhike is early morning. The best location is near, but not on, the main exit from the town you are in.
Australia is huge but sparsely populated, and you can sometimes travel many hours before finding the next trace of civilisation, especially once you leave the south-eastern coastal fringe.
Almost all modern Australian maps, including street directories, use the Geocentric Datum of Australia GDA as their grid reference, which is for all purposes identical to the WGS84 used by the GPS. You can locate most things on an Australian map or street directory if you just have the "GPS coordinates".
Some trains allow you to carry your car with you on special car carriages attached to the back of the train.
The Ghan and the Indian Pacific allow you to transport cars between Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Perth, and Darwin. You cannot remove your car at any of the intermediate stations.
Queensland Rail have motorail services on the Sunlander and the Spirit of the Outback, allow cars from Brisbane to Cairns and Longreach.
Cycling the long distances between towns is not particularly common, and most long distance highways in Australia have poorly developed facilities for cyclists. Nevertheless some intrepid travellers do manage to cover the longer distances by bicycle, and have a different experience of Australia. Trips and routes need careful planning to ensure the correct supplies are carried. To cycle between Sydney and Brisbane you would have to allow 2-3 weeks with around 80-100km per day.
Visitors from countries with well-developed long distance rail systems such as Europe and Japan may be surprised by the lack of high-speed, inter-city rail services in Australia. A historical lack of cooperation between the states, combined with sheer distances and a relatively small population to service, have left Australia with a national rail network that is relatively slow and used mainly for freight. As a result, travel between major cities will not only be faster by air, but often cheaper as well. Train travel between cities is, however, more scenic, and tourists are likely to see more of Australia travelling by train than they would otherwise see, as well as cutting down on their carbon footprint. It is also often a cost effective way of getting to regional towns and cities, which don't have the frequent and cheap flights found between the capital cities.
The long-distance rail services that do exist are mainly used to link regional townships with the state capital, such as Bendigo to Melbourne, or Cairns to Brisbane. In Queensland, a high speed train operates from Brisbane to Rockhampton and Brisbane to Cairns. Queensland also has passenger services to inland centres including Longreach The Spirit of the Outback, Mount Isa The Inlander, Charleville The Westlander and Forsayth The Savannahlander. There are also inter-city train services operated by Great Southern Railways on the routes Melbourne-Adelaide The Overland, Sydney-Adelaide-Perth Indian Pacific, Adelaide-Alice Springs-Darwin The Ghan however as noted above, these are not "high speed" services, so if you do not enjoy train travel as part of your holiday in its own right then this is probably not for you.
Tasmania has no passenger rail services. The Northern Territory has the rail line linking Darwin to Adelaide through Alice Springs only, and the Australian Capital Territory has only a single railway station close to the centre of Canberra.
Great Southern Railways (http://www.gsr.com.au/). A private train operator running tourist train services, The Ghan, The Indian Pacific and The Overland between Sydney, Broken Hill, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Darwin, Perth and Melbourne.
CountryLink (http://www.countrylink.info) - Links Sydney to Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra, and regional connections to most New South Wales towns, including Dubbo, Coffs Harbour, and Wagga Wagga.
V/Line Passenger (http://www.vlinepassenger...) - Train & coach services in Victoria, including combined Train and Coach services between Melbourne and Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra.
Queensland Rail - Traveltrain (http://www.traveltrain.com.au/) - Long distance passenger train services in Queensland
The Savannahlander (http://www.savannahlander...) - A Queenstrain service that links Cairns with the outback town of Forsayth, using old heritage trains, and providing overnight accommodation and tours on the way.
TransWA (http://www.transwa.wa.gov.au) - State government run, operating train services to Kalgoorlie and Bunbury. Also operates coach services to much of the state, especially the South West.
There is no pass that includes all train travel throughout Australia. However, if you are a train buff that intends travelling extensively by rail, there are some passes that may save you money. Plan your trip carefully before investing in a rail pass. Country train services are infrequent and can arrive at regional destinations at unsociable hours.
East Coast Discovery Pass(http://www.countrylink.in...). Get on and off as many times as you like on the east coast trains between Melbourne and Cairns using the Queensland Rail and NSW Countrylink services. Different prices apply depending on which section of the line you want to traverse. One way travel only is permitted. Discounts apply on other train journeys, and often bus connections to local towns are included. This ticket is available to everyone, but international visitors can get a 10% discount. You'll want to be breaking your journey between capital cities several times to get value from this pass.
There are four passes that all include Great Southern Railways GSR services and optionally NSW Countrylink and Queensland Rail that are available to overseas travellers only. Remember that NSW Countrylink operate the XPT services from Sydney to Melbourne, so passes that include NSW Countrylink can also be used on that service.
Rail Explorer PassGSR only $450/3 months
Trans AusGSR + NSW Countrylink. $598/3 months
Aus Reef and OutbackGSR + Queensland Rail. $672/3 months
Ausrail PassGSR + NSW Countrylink + Queensland Rail
Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Wollongong and Newcastle have train and bus services integrated into the city public transport, with trams also running in Melbourne and Adelaide, and ferries in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. The remaining capital cities have bus services only. See those city guides articles for public transport details.
Some regional cities and towns have local bus services, but see the destination guides for service information, as frequency can be poor and weekend and evening services non-existent.
Larger towns and cities have taxi services.
Many major Australian cities have ferries as part of their public transport system. Some smaller roads in the regional areas still have punts to carry cars across rivers and canals. The islands of the Barrier Reef have some scheduled services, and there are a few cruises that cross the top of Australia as well.
However, large inter city transportation ferry services are not common.
The Spirit of Tasmania. The only long distance ferry route connects Tasmania to the mainland and runs between Melbourne and Devonport. The Spirit of Tasmania carries cars and passengers on the route across Bass Strait daily.
Sealink connects Kangaroo Island, Australia's second largest southern island with regular car and passenger ferries.
Sea SAoffers a short cut across the Spencer Gulf between Adelaide and the Eyre Peninsula, running daily car ferry services.
There are restrictions on carrying fruit and vegetables including honey between states and even between regions of states that are involved in fruit growing. If you are driving long distances or interstate, or flying between states, don't stock up on fruits and vegetables. These restrictions are enforced very strictly at airports and sea ports and it is not very uncommon to see sniffer dogs trained to find these goods.
Due to the large distances involved, flying is well-patronised in Australia. Services along the main business travel corridor Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane are run almost like a bus service, with flights leaving every 15min during the day.
The only way to get the best airfare is to visit each of the airlines pages directly, and compare fares. Never assume that the Qantas fare will be more expensive, as their online deals are often the cheapest available on a route. The best fares are always available on the most competitive routes. Consolidator websites and travel agents almost invariably add a surcharge to the direct booking price. Use them to compare, but always check the airline website before booking.
There are four domestic airlines in Australia that operate jet aircraft linking capital cities and major destinations:
Qantas, a nation-wide full service airline, flys to major cities and some larger regional towns;
Virgin Australia, recently upgraded to a full service airline, flys to all capital cities and many larger regional destinations. Virgin have recently offered a complimentary snack on all domestic flights and checked baggage included in even the minimum fare class;
Jetstar, Qantas's discount arm with limited service and limited pre-assigned seating. Serves all capital cities and many major regional and tourist destinations.
Tiger Airways Australia, one of Asia's largest low cost carrier LCC has a hub in Melbourne and flies to all other capital cities and select destinations with very competitive prices. On 2 July 2011 Tiger Airways Australia was suspended from flying by Australian civil aviation authorities due to safety concerns. Tiger recommenced operations on 12 August 2011 but with a much reduced schedule and a smaller operational aircraft fleet.
Several airlines service regional destinations. Expect discounts on these airlines to be harder to come by, and for standard airfares to be above what you would pay for the same distance between major centres.
Qantaslink(http://www.qantas.com.au/...), the regional arm of Qantas, covering the smaller cities in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia;
Regional Express(http://www.rex.com.au/), covering larger towns & cities on the eastern seaboard as well as country South Australia;
Skywest(http://www.skywest.com.au), covering regional Western Australia, Bali and Darwin;
Airnorth(http://www.airnorth.com.au), covering the Northern Territory;
Skytrans Airlines(http://www.skytrans.com.au), covering regional Queensland.
Sharp Airlines(http://www.sharpairlines....), covering several regional towns in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.
Northern Territory Air Services(http://www.ntas.com.au/), covering the remote communities of central Australia.
Australia has a generally well-maintained system of roads and highways, and cars are a commonly used method of transport. Most of the state capitals are linked to each other by good quality highways. Some parts are dual carriageway but many sections are one lane each way. Major regional areas have sealed paved dual-lane roads, but isolated areas may have poorly maintained dirt roads or even tracks. Distances and speeds are specified in kilometres and fuel is sold by the litre. There are no tolls on roads or bridges outside of the urban areas of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Australia drives on the left. Overseas visitors who are used to driving on the right should take care when they first drive, and again when they are driving on country roads with little traffic. One major frustration for visitors is that many Australian vehicles reverse all controls when they are redesigned to mount the driver's controls on the right front seat, including the levers on the steering column. This causes newly arrived visitors to inadvertently operate the windscreen wipers when they are trying to signal a lane change or turn on headlights, and vice versa.
Generally, overseas licenses are valid for driving in Australia for three months after arrival. If the licence is not in English an International Driving Permit IDP is required in addition to your licence. Licensing regulations and road rules vary slightly from state to state.
Australia's low population density and large size makes for long driving times between major centres. Some indicative travel times, not including any rest periods, are:
Melbourne to Sydney: 9-10 hours 900km / 560 mi
Brisbane to Sydney: 12-13 hours 1,000km / 621 mi
Perth to Sydney: 45 hours 4,000km / 2500 mi
Sydney to Canberra: 3.5 hours 300km / 185 mi
Adelaide to Melbourne: 8-10 hours 750km / 465 mi
Brisbane to Melbourne: 19-20 hours 1,700km / 1056 mi
Melbourne to Perth: 40 hours 3,500km / 2175 mi
Perth to Adelaide: 32 hours 2,700km / 1677 mi
Brisbane to Cairns: 22-24 hours 1,700km / 1,056 mi
It is almost impossible to predict your travel time just by knowing the distance. Seek local advice for the best route, and how much time to allow. Averaging 100km/h or more is possible on some relatively minor highways when they are straight and there are few towns. On other national highways that traverse mountain ranges and travel through small towns, even averaging 60km/h can be a challenge.
While major highways are well serviced, anyone leaving sealed paved roads in inland Australia is advised to take advice from local authorities, check weather and road conditions, carry sufficient spare fuel, spare parts, spare tyres, matches, food and water. Some remote roads might see one car per month or less. Cellular coverage is non-existent outside of major highways and towns and you should take some precautions in case of emergency. It is a good idea to advise a person you know and trust of your route and advise them to alert authorities if you do not contact them within a reasonable amount of time after your scheduled arrival at your destination. Carrying a Personal Locator Beacon PLB or satellite phone should be considered when travelling in remote areas, especially where you may not be able to make contact for several days. Police will not automatically start looking for you if you don't report in. Make sure you get one with a GPS built in. These can be borrowed from some local police stations, such as those in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. If you want to hire one, sort it out before you leave a major city, as you won't find hire places in small towns. Expect to pay around $100 to hire for a week, or $700 to buy one. Don't expect an immediate rescue even if you trigger a PLB. Heat and dehydration at any time of year can kill you. If stranded, stay with your vehicle and do what you can to improve your visibility from the air. Do not take this advice lightly; even local people die out there when their car breaks down and they are not reported missing. If you do have to abandon your car say you break down and then get a lift, call in quickly to the local police station, to avoid the embarrassment and cost of a search being started for you.
Major cities around Australia have multiple outlets providing a wide range of rental vehicles from major international rental companies. In smaller towns car rental can be difficult to find. One way fees often apply from smaller regional outlets.
Contractual restrictionsConditions upon the use of rental vehicles usually exist on travelling into or out of Western Australia and the Northern Territory or on the car ferries to Tasmania, Kangaroo Island and Fraser Island. Rental cars in capital cities usually have unlimited mileage. In small towns they usually only include 100km a day before a surcharge is applied. Some companies allow travel on any gazetted road, while others forbid travel on a gravel/dirt road unless you hire a four wheel drive. Always ensure you thoroughly check the vehicle for any damage, including all window glass and the roof panels, and document any found in detail with the renter before leaving the depot.
You will need to have a licence written in English or an International Driving Permit IDP from your home country to drive anywhere in Australia. Check the contract conditions carefully if you are under 25 and also check that your licence class matches the vehicle you wish to rent before you book it.
Catering to the vast number of young European and American backpackers traversing the country are several low-budget car rental companies which rent cars and campers of varying quality. Prices range from as low as $30 per day. Check the extra charges very carefully and make sure that you don't end up paying the same or more for a lesser quality vehicle.
Cut Price Car Rentals
East Coast Car Rentals
The very cheapest cars you can hire can be manual stick-shift. Anything larger will usually be automatic.
There is a substantial second hand market in cars and campers for backpackers wishing to do extended road trips around Australia. Take common sense precautions if purchasing a car. Free state government services are available to ensure it is unencumbered by a finance arrangement and that it has not been previously written off as a result of an accident.
See: Driving in Australia