The Best Ways to Get Around Australia.
As a visitor, if you’re going to travel Australia, all of Australia, it’s going to take you a very long time.
Australia is an enormous country and the Australian attractions most visitors want to see can be several hundreds or even thousands of kilometres apart.
For our friends who travel Australia from America or England that’s several hundreds or thousands of miles….
I would assume that if you are a tourist to Australia you’ll want to see the Great Barrier reef, at least some of outback Australia as well as some of the major city attractions and Australian beaches.
No doubt you’ll also want to see some of our unique Australian animals, experience a tropical rainforest, visit the Sydney Opera House and the harbour bridge and we mustn’t forget Uluru and Kakadu, both “must see” destinations.
As I said, you’ll be here for a long time…..
Seeing it all is an impossibility for any tourist but you can make the most of your Australian travels by planning in advance of your trip.
Travel Australia by Air:
Australians rely on cheap flights to get from place to place in the same way that those who live in smaller countries rely on trains and buses.
The network of scheduled flights extends to more than 150,000km (95,000 miles) and covers the whole continent.
Major domestic routes operate between all capital cities and if you happen to have a pilots licence, aircraft can be chartered if you pass a written examination on Australian air regulations and have your licence validated for private operations within Australia.
The major domestic airlines which travel Australia are Qantas, Jetstar Airways, Virgin Blue and budget airline Tiger Airways, which serve the major resorts and cities throughout Australia.
In addition, Rex Regional Express operates throughout New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria; Air North operates throughout the Northern Territory and also flies to Broome in Western Australia; Macair Airlines operates throughout Queensland and Skywest (now Virgin)operates throughout Western Australia.
Several small airlines operate to the islands off Tasmania and nearly all domestic airlines offer special travel Australia deals at greatly reduced prices.
Travel Australia by Road:
Traffic in Australia drives on the left unlike most of the rest of the world.
Road signs are international and road quality in the populated areas of the country is excellent however there are few multilane highways, mostly in the major cities, and major arterials are generally sealed two-lane roads.
Driving off major highways in the outback becomes more difficult between November and February because of summer rain, as many roads are little more than dirt tracks.
Distances between towns can be considerable; it is advisable to carry spare water, petrol and equipment in the outback and always tell someone where you’re going and what time you expect to arrive if you’re going “off the beaten track”.
Major international and some local car hire companies are available at all major airports and big hotels to those over 21 years old who hold a current drivers licence.
Travel Australia by Bus or Coach:
Major towns and cities are linked by an excellent national bus (coach) system, run by Greyhound (tel: 1 300 473 946), Tasmania also has its own coach service, Tasmanian Redline Coaches (tel: 1 300 360 000) and there are numerous other companies operating state and interstate services.
Coach passes such as the All Australian, the Aussie Reef & Rock, the Best of the Outback etc. are available for travel on a variety of routes for between seven days and one year and the Aussie Kilometre Pass allows you to purchase your travel in kilometres and then travel in any direction on the national network.
Minimum driving age is 17 years.
The speed limit is 60kph (31mph) in built up areas of cities and towns, unless otherwise signed and 80-110kph (50-68mph) on country roads and highways.
Seat belts must be worn at all times and driving licences must be in the driver’s possession when driving.
An International Driving Permit is required by nationals of countries whose official language is not English.
International, foreign or national driving permits are generally valid for three months and an International Driving Permit is only valid in conjunction with a valid national licence.
Permits must be carried at all times while driving.
Getting Around Towns and Cities:
Comprehensive public transport systems are provided in all the main towns, the state capitals have suburban rail networks, those in Sydney and Melbourne being particularly extensive and trams run in Melbourne and, to a lesser degree, in Adelaide.
Meter-operated taxis (cabs) can be found in all major cities and towns.
There is a minimum ‘flagfall charge’ and then a charge for the distance travelled.
An extra airport charge is sometimes levied and while taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped a small additional payment may be required for luggage and telephone bookings.
Some taxis accept payment by credit card but it’s best to check this in advance.
Travel Australia by Rail:
With over 40,000 kilometres of rail track, rail travel in Australia is the way to go for a lot of people.
Rail travel can be slow however, and relatively expensive, but if you want to take your time and see some of the countryside without the hassle of driving then rail travel may be the way for you to go.
For further information on rail transport within the different states, see the individual state entries or contact Rail Australia (tel: 8213 4592.)
Two services span the continent from coast to coast.
The twice-weekly, Indian Pacific travels 4,350km (2,704 miles) from Sydney on the east coast to Perth on the west coast, via Adelaide.
The journey takes three days and three nights, crossing the famous Nullarbor Plain.
The Ghan travels 2,979km (1,891 miles) between Adelaide and Darwin, via Alice Springs and this service runs twice weekly in each direction and takes two nights.
Both trains are fully air conditioned, with first and second class sleeping cars, a lounge car, bars and good restaurant facilities.
As I said, if you want to see it all you’ll be here a very long time but however long you’re here for, as always……………………enjoy,