Anyone who plans to go to Australia will need to get around the country to maximise their stay.
In fact, those who will be living in the country for extended periods of time will definitely need to familiarise themselves to various transport systems and options available.
If you are planning to visit or live in Australia, check out this comprehensive guide to Australian transportation.
While the living expenses in Australia may be higher compared to other first world countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States, the higher income of Aussies tends to make up for it, leading them to have a relatively comfortable lifestyle.
Getting Around Using Public Transportation
If you are looking for low-cost yet dependable options, then public transportation is your best choice. Not familiar with public transport networks in Australia? Worry not because this guide will help you get around Australia using public options.
One of the most common modes of transportation in Australia is by bus.
This is one of the cheapest and most consistent forms of transport around the country.
In fact, some cities such as Canberra, Hobert and Darwin only have bus networks. These vehicles are usually complete with air conditioners, Wi-Fi and even USB chargers.
Here’s are some operators in different states and territories:
- Greyhound Australia – All states except Western and South Australia
- Integrity Coach Lines – Western Australia
- AAT Kings – Covers all states and territories
- Firefly Express – Caters to Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney
- V/Line – Victoria
- Murrays – Regional operator that runs in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Toowoomba and Chinchilla
- Premier Motor Service – East coast from Eden to Cairns
On average, the price of bus tickets can be AUD 3.3.
So, you spend around AUD 14 coming from Sydney airport and AUD 16 from Melbourne airport. For day-long travel by coach, the fare can fall around AUD 7.8.
Keep in mind that the cost can vary depending on the distance you are travelling. Discounts for students, children and seniors may apply. [Back to Top]
Tram & Train
Almost all of the state capitals in Australia have their own railway networks, except Darwin and Hobart.
These trains enable Australians to travel to and from their destinations in a cheap and reliable way, while also enjoying speed. These lines connect one state to another, allowing people to travel from one state to others in a convenient way.
- Great Southern Railways – connects Melbourne and Adelaide
- NSW Country Link – connects Sydney with north and south coasts
- Queensland Rail – goes to the eastern coast of Queensland
- Ghan Railway – covers the red centre of the country, linking Adelaide and Darwin
- V/Line – operates in Victoria and stops in stations with buses going to NSW, SA and ACT
You can also ride the light rail system in Adelaide, Gold Coast, Melbourne and Sydney. Meanwhile, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney have respective suburban rails that allow residents to travel to and from these suburbs.
The average cost of a train trip is AUD 1.8 while a tram trip is AUD 2.2.
Some consider taxis as private options, but these transportation services cater to the public and are regarded by many as a form of public transport. Most Australians hail taxis at the side of the ride. However, there are a lot of taxi stands or ranks in densely populated and hectic areas such as downtowns and business districts. These let people fall in line for the next available cab.
Should you choose to hail a taxi or fall in line for one, you need an extra dose of patience, especially if you are in a busy area. If you are in a hurry or you simply want to get home to rest sooner, you can simply call for a taxi. You can order a taxi by calling hotlines provided by taxi companies.
For the tech-savvy, using cab-hailing mobile applications such as Rydo and mTAXI is the best solution. You can simply download and sign up with these services and you can get going ASAP.
As for the cost, taxis in Australia always charge by the metre. The boarding cost for taxis is AUD 2 to 3. A 20-minute ride from the Sydney Airport to the city centre approximately AUD 35, while a 22-kilometre ride from the Melbourne Airport is around AUD 44.25.
However, there are drivers who will try to negotiate with you, but it is always smart to demand the use the metre. You should also remember that there will be a surge in prices during late hours (10 PM onwards). [Back to Top]
Some Things to Remember When Using Public Transportation
Most people are likely to use public transportation during their stay in Australia, especially as these are proven to be cheap, reliable and even fast.
If you are planning to use these options, make sure that you remember these important pointers.
Use Smart Cards
For your transportation, you will be glad to know that you can purchase smart cards to streamline your transport-related purchases. Each capital city has its own reusable card for various transport options. Check out the list below:
- Adelaide – Metrocard for trains, trams, buses
- Brisbane – Go Card for trains, trams, buses and ferries
- Canberra – MyWay for buses
- Darwin – Tap & Ride Card for buses
- Hobart – Greencard for buses
- Melbourne – myki Card for trains, trams and buses
- Perth – SmartRider for trains, buses and ferries
- Sydney – Opal Card for trains, trams, buses and ferries
Refer to Public Transportation Timetables
If you are having trouble memorising the timetables, you can make life easier by referring to the public transportation websites for different states and territories. These sites are valuable resources when it comes to public transport services. Usually, you will find journey planners, ticket prices, routes, maps and timetables.
- Victoria – Public Transport Victoria
- ACT – Transport Canberra
- Queensland – TRANSLink
- NSW – NSW Transport Info
- Tasmania – Metro Tasmania
- NT – Northern Territory Department of Transport
- WA – Transperth
- SA – Adelaide Metro
Holidays Can Affect Operation Hours
While living in Australia, you will learn that there are various public holidays, depending on which state or territory you are in. During these days, there are changes in the operation of public transport options. Public transportation networks usually operate using Saturday or Sunday timetables, so make sure that you know the schedules for weekdays and weekends.
Travelling Using Private Transportation Options
While public transport may offer affordable yet efficient ways to get around the country, you may be looking for a more convenient albeit costlier modes of transportation. Here are some of the best private transport options you can consider
Driving a Car
One of the best ways to navigate the country is by driving a car. This is favourable for people who want the freedom of going to and from places they want to visit with minimal restrictions. By driving, you do not need to worry about timetables and schedules. Instead, you can simply start your engine and drive towards your destination any time of the day.
The first thing you should know is whether or not your license to drive from back home will be recognised in Australia. The short answer to this is yes, you can use your valid driver’s license from your home country.
The longer answer is that you will need to make sure that your permit is written in English. If not, an International Driving Permit is required. You can get this document from your home country. This is basically a legal translation of your driver’s license from your language to English.
Once you are sure that you can legally drive in Australia, the next thing you should do is to check out options on how to get your hands on a car you can drive. There are two ways you can acquire a vehicle: by purchasing or by renting.
Purchasing a Car
This option is ideal for those who will be staying in the country for a long time. Make sure to pick a vehicle that suits your needs from seating capacity, size and other similar factors.
A pre-used economy class car can cost around AUD 8,000 to AUD 11,000. Keep in mind that this amount can vary depending on the age and mileage of the car, as well as other offers including auto insurance and other similar services.
You also need to remember that the cost of buying a car does not only include paying for the vehicle itself but also the different documentation you need to acquire. According to Australian law, you need to transfer the registration of the vehicle to yourself within 14 days. The requirements will depend on the state or territory you are living in.
A roadworthiness certificate is also required in all states and if your vehicle does not have one, you can have it examined by professionals. Usually, these costs AUD 100.
Renting a Car
For short-term stays, rentals offer the best conditions. Every capital city has reliable car rental companies, with different eligibility requirements. Many firms allow individuals with ages 18 and up to rent a car. Meanwhile, some require customers to be 21 or 25 years old.
The cost of renting an automobile can vary depending on the type of vehicle you want to hire. The price can fall anywhere between AUD 25 to AUD per day.
One important thing that can greatly affect the cost of the rental is insurance. You can pay thousands of dollars if you get into an accident. So, make it a point to avail a refundable insurance bond.
You can rent a car by simply getting in touch with companies such as DriveMyCar, Thrifty Car Rental and Car Rental Australia. You can also use platforms such as Kayak to rent cars for a cheaper price, starting from AUD 11 per day.
Aside from driving a car, you can also get around the city through various private options including ride-sharing, water taxi and ferry, and cycling.
While you can use mobile applications to call cabs, you can also use your device to book shared rides using various ride-sharing apps. This includes DiDi, Ola, GoCatch and Taxify. These services let you get a ride with people going to the same area as yours. A perk of these services is that you can book solo rides.
Of course, these come at a price. Some offer fixed fares while some calculate fares by the meter. You can book a ride for as low as AUD 6.98.
Water Taxi and Ferry
There are a lot of Australian cities that have rivers or harbours. this includes Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. These cities have water taxis and ferries to easily navigate this type of geography. These can help you travel faster especially as major thoroughfares are prone to traffic. The best part is you can have a breathtaking view of the rivers and harbours by riding water taxis and ferries.
These options are ideal for those going to places such as the Sydney Opera House and those who choose to travel by boat instead of trains. Companies such as Yellow Water Taxis have their own zone pricing. Prices start at AUD 50.
If you want a healthier option, then you should definitely consider cycling. You can easily acquire bicycles in Australia. For those who are not willing to buy one, then you can hire a bicycle in cities where the pick-up and drop-off hire services are available. This includes Melbourne with Share and Brisbane with CityCycle.
Some Things to Remember When Using Private Transport Options
Should you choose to use private transport options, make sure to keep these things in mind.
Follow Traffic Rules
Another important thing you should keep in mind is that traffic rules are important anywhere. Because of the left-hand driving in the country, it might have rules that are different from those in your home country. Make sure to review these traffic rules before attempting to drive in Australia.
Australians Drive Left-Hand
One major difference between driving in Australia and countries that are not former British colonies is the placement of the steering wheel. Australian cars usually have the steering wheel on the right side, while driving on the left side of the road. So, if you are planning to drive, then make sure to acclimate yourself to this.
Whether you are living in Australia for a short time or for a long period, this guide will definitely help you get around the country. As always, research is the key when travelling and combined with this guide, you will definitely be able to navigate the cities like a pro.