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How to travel in Australia without a Car

How to travel in Australia without a Car

For those who can not or do not want to buy their own vehicle: do not panic! Australia has a large network of public transport, which is also relatively cheap. Travelling by bus or train can be fun, but it will take you a bit more time. Constantly meeting other travellers and locals is a great way to discover the country too. Long bus and train travel offer a great opportunity to meet interesting people and maybe even find fellow travellers for your trip. In this article, we show you how to travel through Australia without your own car.

Travel by bus in Australia

If you don’t have your own car or any other vehicle, there are many offers to travel by bus through Australia. Long-distance buses are called “coaches”. They are well-organised, clean and comfortable. These trips are quite long (for example Sydney – Melbourne: 12 hours), but also inexpensive (from $65). Coaches usually have air conditioning, toilet, adjustable seats, play movies and have a Wi-Fi connection and USB charger available.

The two largest companies are Greyhound and Firefly. Both companies offer “Hop on Hop off” tickets. If you buy this ticket for example for the Sydney – Cairns route you can make as many stops as you want on the way – even for several days or weeks.

How much it costs to travel by bus?

Here are some fares applied by Greyhound on popular routes:

Sydney – Cairns: from $457
Melbourne – Cairns: from $569
Adelaide – Alice Springs: from $205
Darwin – Adelaide: from $439
Brisbane – Cairns: $365
Melbourne – Brisbane: $255
Sydney – Brisbane: $149

Prices are lower if you book in advance as you can enjoy the Early bird fare. You can also choose to buy packages or passes to enjoy lower fares. Check what is available before booking your ticket!

Advantages of bus driving in Australia

There are many good reasons to get on the bus:

  • Route network: The major, nationwide bus companies drive pretty much to all important destinations in Australia.
  • Convenience: The Australian buses are very comfortable, have air conditioning and toilets.
  • Safety: Low traffic and straight roads reduce accidents, compared to Europe or Asia.
  • Meeting people: Since many backpackers are travelling by bus, you will quickly get to know someone.
  • Cheap: You do not have to invest a lot of money in a vehicle, any repairs, maintenance or fuel etc.

Disadvantages of bus driving in Australia

Bus driving in Australia also has a few disadvantages:

  • Less flexibility: you have to stick to departure times and sometimes there are no seats available. Especially in the high season, it often happens that the buses are already full.
  • Less independence: The bus only takes you to stations. You can’t just get out if you feel like it.

Travel by train in Australia

You can also choose to travel Australia by train if you don’t have a car or a van. Various long-distance trains connect the most important places and cities in Australia. The trains have a 1st and a 2nd class. There are adjustable seats in 2nd class and even sometimes sleeping cabins on long hauls. Train rides are usually more expensive than bus rides. Some routes have special names, such as The Indian Pacific (Sydney – Perth), The Ghan (Adelaide – Darwin via Alice Springs), The Queenslander (Brisbane – Cairns).

Route Overview:

  • Indian Pacific: Sydney – Adelaide – Perth
  • The Ghan: Adelaide – Alice Springs – Darwin
  • Overlander: Melbourne – Adelaide
  • XPT: Sydney – Melbourne
  • XPT: Sydney – Brisbane
  • Xplorer: Sydney – Canberra
  • Queensland: Brisbane – Townsville – Cairns
  • Rockhampton – Longreach
  • Cairns Forsayth
  • Kalgoorlie – Perth
  • The Great Ocean Road, Melbourne

There are 5 different companies in Australia: CountryLink, Great Southern Railway, Queensland Rail, Transwa and V / Line.

How much does a train ticket cost?

Here are some fares to give you an idea of the cost of a trip by train.

Sydney – Perth: from $559
Melbourne – Adelaide: $79
Adelaide – Alice Springs: from $279
Alice Springs – Darwin: from $279
Adelaide – Darwin: from $549

More Information: Great Trains Australia

Domestic flights in Australia

Major cities like Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Darwin and Cairns are very well-supported in terms of flights. Given the great distances that separates the major cities – it is the most suitable way to get from one point to another.

Flights are generally quite affordable, but yet often remain outside the budget for a backpacker. The major airlines are Jetstar, Qantas, VirginIt is recommended to book a flight during week rather than the weekend to take advantage of cheaper rates.

For example:
Sydney – Alice Springs: 200 to $450
Sydney – Cairns: from $150
Perth – Sydney: 150 to $330
Sydney – Melbourne: from $75

More information: www.airlineandairportlinks.com


Widespread in Australia, carpooling is a very economical way to travel while sharing your experience with other travellers. This is a very good way to travel through Australia if you don’t have your own vehicle.

To search for a “lift” you can go to sites such as: www.coseats.com or check the Facebook pages of the city you are staying.

More Info: Ridesharing Australia


Hitchhiking works pretty well in Australia as people are generally friendly and you will get rides pretty easily.

Generally, it is not illegal to hitchhike in Australia. However regulations vary from state to state so make sure you always check where you are! For example, it is illegal in Queensland and Victoria. Hitch-hicking is legal in Tasmania, however Tasmania Police has advised against it. Generally in Australia it is illegal to hitchhike on motorways.

 It is also not recommended if you travel alone.

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