The first things to know about Australia is that it is massive. Travelling around Australia is a big travel adventure.
Merely glancing on it on a map will not give you the sheer scale of this gigantic country.
You really need to do some extensive research to get as many tips for travelling around Australia as possible before undertaking your adventure down under!
Travelling around Australia
Your options for travelling around Australia include buses, trains, planes, group tours, car shares and campervans.
Each mode of Australia transport has its own set of advantages and challenges, which is why you need to do your homework!
You really need to do some extensive research to get as many tips for travelling around Australia as possible, before undertaking your adventure down under! #Australia
Travelling Australia where to start
Your choice of travel will depend on how long you are in Australia and what parts of it you intend to see.
An Australia group tour might be better for covering a section of Australia if you are short on time?
Alternatively, bus and train passes might be better if you have a longer time to travel?
I would advise against trying to cram in too many Aussie destinations on your trip. The distances between towns, cities and points of interest in Australia can be huge.
In order to not spend all your time in transit try and stick to smaller areas to explore.
Australia travel route
The most popular Australia travel route is up/down the east coast. Many people travel from Sydney to Cairns, or Sydney to Melbourne.
There are lots of cool towns and stunning points of interest on the way of both of these routes.
It can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months to travel these routes depending on your time and budget constraints.
When deciding your travel routes make sure to spend some time reading travel blogs and articles to get inspiration.
You can also try speaking to travel agents and fellow travellers to get an idea of what to put on your Australia itinerary.
I have lived, worked and backpacked around Australia a few times, using varying modes of transport to get me around this vast country.
Do you need an Australia visa?
Before you start planning your Australia trip, you should first look into the visa requirements for your country.
Visitors to Australia will be subject to visa requirements. The most common Australia visa is the eVisitor visa.
This visa is for tourists and travellers and is valid for a maximum stay in Australia of 3 months. This is the perfect visa if you are looking to just travel in Australia for a few months.
If you want to work, study or do business in Australia, you will need to check the Australia visa requirements to find out if you meet them and then how to apply.
Make sure that you secure the correct visa before booking your travel to Australia so that you avoid any trouble during check-in.
Australia Bus Travel
If you are wondering how to get around Australia without a car, Greyhound ‘Hop On Hop Off’ bus passes can be the most convenient way to travel around Australia.
You can travel by coach between cities, take short trips or travel the whole country. It’s all dependent on your travel time and budget.
If you are travelling Australia on a budget Greyhound is the largest bus provider and offers many routes across Australia and is reasonably priced for what you get.
Many of Greyhound’s coaches offer reclining seats, air con, USB charge point, reading lights and also some sporadic wifi. Perfect for travel photography enthusiasts, gramming’ their way around #Australia
Popular Australia hop on hop off bus routes includes Sydney to Cairns, Melbourne to Cairns and Sydney to Brisbane.
The passes are valid for one-way travel only and vary in price, depending on your route.
The Australia bus passes can be bought online on the Greyhound website. Make sure to book your ticket in advance online to get your transport sorted!
Australia bus routes
A Sydney to Cairns pass will typically set you back around $445 and Sydney to Brisbane will cost around $149.
The Greyhouse Australia passes are valid for 90 days from the date the first sector is travelled.
The upside of bus travel is that it’s fairly reliable and safe and will get you around the most popular destinations.
The downside, of course, is that you can’t really choose who you travel with.
I once had a French man fall asleep on my shoulder and drool all over me. Luckily, he was very handsome, so I soon got over it.
Australia domestic flights
Flying in Australia can be beneficial if you are short of time and want to cover large distances in a short amount of time.
It can be a faster way of travelling around Australia if you don’t have long in Australia but have a large budget.
Australia flight prices can be quite high due to a lack of carriers, so make sure to use Skyscanner to get the best deals.
The main domestic airlines in Australia include Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Tigerair. There are also a few small, regional airlines, particularly in Queensland.
One of the most popular flight routes is between Sydney and Melbourne. This short, 1.5-hour flight is served by several carriers, so prices are a lot more competitive than other routes.
The Sydney to Perth route is around 5 hours long, so flying between these two cities can save you a lot of travel time.
Try and book as much in advance to save money as prices can get expensive, especially in the busy summer periods.
Australia group tours
Whilst experienced backpackers might be dismissive of organised group tours, they can be beneficial for travelling around Australia. Especially if you are limited on time.
You can actually cover a fair bit of ground on a group tour and make new friends as well.
Most Australia group tours are designed to cover the highlights in an area, in a limited timeframe.
Australia Tour groups on average are around 15 people and provide a great opportunity to make some travel buddies on the road.
G Adventures group tour Australia
I previously went on an Australian group tour with G Adventures. It was the most cost-effective way to travel through the ‘red centre’ of Australia.
Going on a group tour meant that my transport, accommodation, food and activities were all taken care of. There were also no surprise costs.
This was particularly useful as travelling around remote and hard to get to places such as Alice Springs, Coober Pedy and Uluru.
These destinations are tricky to get to unless you have access to a car. In my case, I was towards the end of my first trip to Australia I was reluctant to invest in a car.
I also lacked the time to find a suitable carshare, so a short group tour was a perfect option for me.
I also ended up making lifelong friends on the tour, who I am still in touch with and spend time with today.
Australia Group Tour Benefits
Travellers often assume that group tours are more expensive than travelling independently.
This is because they haven’t broken down the cost of travelling solo, especially in difficult to travel areas such as the Australian outback.
Often you can get a much better deal with a group tour as by the time you have paid for car hire, petrol, camping equipment, food and excursions, the bills are already mounting up.
You also won’t have the benefit of an experienced guide and a group of fellow travel lovers to share the adventure with.
Do your research as many travel companies such as G Adventures, offer reasonably priced tours and also have several social enterprise elements to their tours.
Australia by Campervan
What better way to see the outback than to cruise the roads in your very own campervan?
You have the freedom to drive where you want, rock up to campsites and not have the hassle of setting up a tent.
Dependent on your budget and timeframe you can either hire a campervan from companies such as ‘Mighty Campers‘.
If you are planning on spending a long time in Australia, you can buy an Australian camper van privately from Gumtree.
Travelling around Australia in a van
This is an especially cost-effective option if you are on a working holiday visa as both your transport and your accommodation are covered.
It also gives you the flexibility to travel around the country in comfort with all your belongings.
When I worked in Australia my friend Maria and I spend many a happy weekend in her campervan ‘Stan the Van’, driving to remote beaches and spending the weekend camping and surfing.
I would really recommend this mode of transportation for travelling around Australia.
Australia train travel
Trains are the fast, scenic and comfortable way to travel around Australia.
You can buy Australia train tickets at train stations or online, or buy flexible Australia rail passes.
If you are visiting a specific area, such as Queensland, you can buy a rail pass such as the Queensland Explorer Pass.
This will give you unlimited travel for one or two months across the Queensland Rail Network.
You can explore from Cairns in the north, right the way to Brisbane in the south.
It can be a bit overwhelming trying to decide what train journeys are the most convenient and affordable in Australia.
I recommend doing your research on specialist train travel websites such as Rome2rio and The Man in Seat 61.
Australia train prices
There are a huge variety of trains in Australia including long-distance, commuter and trams but they are mostly concentrated on the East Coast.
It’s important to note that whilst they are one of the most scenic methods of transportation they aren’t necessarily the cheapest.
An economy seat ticket from Sydney to Melbourne will set you back approximately $130 and Melbourne to Adelaide approximately $99.
Across Australia by train
You can take trains between Australia cities as a functional mode of transportation or you can treat yourself to an epic train journey such as the famous ‘Indian Pacific’ train across Australia.
This train ride takes you right across Australia from Sydney or Adelaide to Perth.
It’s one of the most scenic train journeys in Australia. Travel in style and comfort with your own room, a lounge for relaxing in and a restaurant.
There’s no better way to appreciate the beauty and vastness of Australia than to travel across it by rail.
The romanticism of rail doesn’t come cheaply, unfortunately, with one-way fares for the Gold Service single sleeper costing $2419 person!
This is some travel bucket list goals here, so start saving your pennies now!
Australia by car
Travelling around Australia by car will give you the most travel freedom. of all the transportation options.
To drive in Australia you’ll need to have a valid driving licence that issued in English from your home country.
If your licence isn’t in English, then you’ll need to have an International Driving Permit with you.
Make sure you sort this out before you arrive in Australia as it will need to be issued by your home country.
Australia is a fantastic country to drive in, the roads are wide, the views are fantastic and drivers are generally courteous.
If you are attempting to drive in the outback and remote areas there are a few considerations to be mindful of. Make sure you have detailed maps and/or a sat-nav, as well as detailed journey instructions.
Planning a road trip around Australia
Be sure to also pack plenty of water and supplies as well as plenty of fuel for your journey.
Do check that the roads you will be driving on are open, some Australian road are impassable at certain times of the year.
You will also need to think about weather conditions and if there are any hazards on the way.
Believe me, you don’t want to get stuck in the middle of the outback with no water, food and not a single soul in a 500km radius.
There are a few driving options in Australia, what you end up choosing is normally determined by budget and time constraints. Below are some of your driving in Australia options.
Most hostels will have a notice board full of buy/sell notices and carshare notices.
Normally a group of backpackers group together for a car share to split the journey costs.
The upside is you won’t have to attempt long journeys alone but the obvious downside is that you have no idea who you might end up in a car with for several days/weeks.
I recommend earphones and your own personal playlist, as there will always be someone who insists on playing ‘underground German ska’ by a band that “you probably haven’t heard of”.
If there are no car share notices then check out websites such as ‘CoSeats’ or ‘Share Ur Ride’ for online lift shares.
Australia Car Rental
If you are considering car hire in Australia, most cities and town will have car rental companies that you can hire a car from.
Remember that rental companies require a valid driving licence in English and many require drivers to be over 21 and to own a credit card in their name.
Car hire isn’t the cheapest option in Australia but if you are looking for a car for a few days, it might be the most convenient option.
You can also check out deals online with the big players in car rental including Budget, Europcar and Hertz.
When renting a car in Australia, it’s important to read the contract thoroughly. Also, find out what the insurance coverage includes and what the excess is.
Remember guys, this is Australia. It is not beyond the realms of possibility to hit a kangaroo or get stuck on a dirt track road in the outback.
There’s also the possibility of breaking the window wipers driving through a swarm of gigantic bugs, or accidentally drive into a crocodile creek. You’re not in Kansas no more kids.
Buying a car in Australia
Having the freedom to cruise at your own pace on scenic routes and the coolest road trips, such as the Great Ocean Road, is incredibly beneficial.
When you purchase your own car or campervan, you are in charge of your driving destiny.
The downside of buying a car in Australia there is a fair amount of paperwork and preparation involved when buying privately.
There are things like registration, stamp duties, maintenance and transfer fees to consider.
You will also be responsible for selling your car on before you leave Australia.
Car Registration Australia
When you buy a car in Australia you are responsible for transferring the registration into your own name.
The confusing part is that each Australian state has its own set of requirements, regulations and organisations for this.
So it’s really important to pay attention to the details rather than assuming that ‘it’ll probably be fine’ and ordering another Jägerbomb at the beach bar.
Car Insurance Australia
In certain Australian states, both the buyer and seller need to complete and sign ‘Transfer of Registration’ paperwork.
Some states also require a ‘roadworthy certificate’ for a car provided by the seller. You will also have to make sure you are properly insured and have a valid driving licence.
Do your research online, speak to other travellers who have owned cars in Australia and read travel blogs on the subject.
This will help you get a good understanding of what is involved in buying a car in Australia as a traveller.
Australia budget car insurance
Make sure you not only have the minimum car insurance required, [in some states it’s included in the vehicle registration cost] but also personal travel insurance as well.
You want to be sure that you are covered adequately for all eventualities.
Australia road trip
If you aren’t completely overwhelmed at the thought of the paperwork and admin involved, the upside of having your own vehicle is that you can get off the beaten track a lot more.
Australia is full of secluded beaches, quirky and remote towns and bizarre outback landscapes formations, many of which can’t be reached by public transport.
There’s nothing like driving out to the middle of the outback and basking in the beautiful emptiness.
Australia by Motorcycle
Australia lends itself perfectly for motorcycle travel. The roads are wide and scenic and the weather is favourable.
The obvious setback is that there is no real way of carrying your luggage, so a good option is to pay to store it at a hostel for a few days whilst you go off on a biking adventure.
Much like driving a car, you will need to have the correct licence, as well as insurance, before taking to the road.
Much like buying a used car privately, you should check that you have all the correct paperwork and insurance.
The bike should have the original sales receipts and a fully stamped service book.
Make sure you check both the service records and ensure that the bike does not have any finance left on it as well. An HPI check should confirm this.
Motorcycle tours Australia
If you don’t have a motorcycle licence but want to experience the thrill of riding a motorbike in Australia, check out Scooteroo bike tours in Cairns.
Take a tour through the tiny town of 1770, on a mini ‘Harley’ style chopper. No bike licence is required for these ridiculously fun tours, you just need a provisional car licence.
If you are in the Sydney area, you can do a 1 Hour Sightseeing Motorcycle Tour of Sydney and the Harbour bridge.
Australia Car Relocations
Car and campervan relocations in Australia are a great idea for backpackers who are looking to do a one-way trip.
You can drive the car for free to help the rental company to relocate their vehicles.
Car relocation in Australia is really popular with backpackers and people travelling around Australia on a budget.
If you use a company such as Transfercar, you can register your details, search what cars and campervans they available and then submit a request for your chosen vehicle.
If your request is accepted, you can organise the collection and drop off details with the rental company. It’s a great option for the budget-conscious traveller!
Australia is one huge adventure, there are beautiful beaches, surfing spots, coral reefs, remote townships and an expansive outback.
Make sure you give yourself enough time and budget to explore it properly and get around it at your pace.
If you are looking for accommodation in Australia make sure to check out Australia hotel options on HotelsCombined.
What do you think of my tips for travelling around Australia? How would you travel around Australia? Let me know in the comments below!
Planning your trip to Australia
Ready to book your trip to Australia? Use these awesome travel resources to get you started:
- Search for the best flight deals with Skyscanner
- Search for the best hotel deals on Booking.com
- Get the best travel tips with a travel guidebook
- Book an Airbnb and have £25 towards your first booking
- Get the best destination recommendations from TripAdvisor
Check out all the best travel resources on my bumper travel resources page!
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