If money was no object, where would you like to travel? According to a survey carried out by luxury travel network Virtuoso, a trip to Australia is something that most luxury travellers dream about. If so, is Australia out of reach for budget and mid-range travellers? Definitely not, for Australia is one of the top global destinations for all types of budget.
That said, many travellers don’t realise that travelling from one destination to another within Australia costs lots of money because the country is huge, thus increases transportation costs. Australia is the sixth largest country in the world covering over 7.7 million square km in size which is almost the same size as USA. To give you another perspective on how massive the country is – it takes about 22 hours from Adelaide to Sydney by car or 66 hours from Sydney to Perth by train or 4 hours by flight. Being a huge country, more often than not, travellers realised too late that exploring Australia requires some planning in advance in order to stay on budget.
Where do I start?
Think about how much time you intend to travel in Australia and then make a list of places that you want to visit/explore and plan accordingly.
- One or two weeks: Focus on one or two regions.
- Up to three months or one year: You have more flexibility but research which transportation option is going to work best for you so that you can minimise costs and make your dream trip to Australia possible.
Note: If you’re travelling in Australia for an extended period of time, please remember to check their visa requirements particularly duration of your visit. For information on Visitor Visa, click here.
The most expensive transportation option to cover lots of places in Australia within a short time is flying. The main air carrier is Qantas which services every capital city and major rural hub in the country. Qantas competes with Virgin Australia which offers pricing that is comparative to the former, sometimes a little cheaper. Australia has budget airlines too – Jetstar and Tigerair – but they don’t offer crazy low prices like in South-East Asia or Europe. In fact, it’s actually cheaper for Aussies to fly to Bali than within their own country!
In addition, there are small regional airlines such as REX (Regional Express), SkyTrans and Qantaslink that service country towns and remote areas in the outback. Because there are less demands for such routes, the fares are costlier than routes to the bigger cities.
*Also Read: Six Days in Ubud
Travelling by bus or coach in Australia is convenient, comfortable and efficient, thus an excellent option for budget travellers.
Greyhound Bus is the national bus service with extensive network of coaches covering major cities and tourist hubs in New South Wales, ACT, Victoria, Queensland, Northern Territory and South Australia. I remembered travelling on the Greyhound from Adelaide to Melbourne during my university days in Australia many years ago – I loved it – that I recommended my parents to do the same when they travelled from Melbourne to Sydney. For Western Australia, TransWA operates a network of coaches, linking Perth and remote hubs in the state while Tassielink Transit runs services in Tasmania.
Rent a car/campervan/motorhome
If you’re travelling with family or a group of friends and don’t like being driven around in a bus, it might be cost effective to rent a car instead to drive around the country. Solo travellers need not worry for you can rideshare in Australia – every hostel has a bulletin board where travellers are looking for people to join their road trips.
Roads in Australia are excellent with major highways joining major cities and regional centres. However, should you plan to drive through the outback, make sure that you check the conditions of your vehicle first and get information about the road conditions in advance before driving off.
Depending on the size of the group, you can hire a car or 4×4 vehicle which includes a camping gear so that you can use at camping or caravan sites that provide bathroom facilities, BBQ areas and WI-FI. Alternatively, you can rent a campervan (motorhome) which becomes your accommodation, bathroom and kitchen, thus helping you to save money on accommodation and dining out.
Note: Remember to purchase insurance when you rent the vehicle. If you’re not insured and should an unfortunate incident occur such as an accident or a theft, you are not covered and might not be able to afford the necessary repairs or costs incurred.
Buy a vehicle
If you plan to do lots of road trips in Australia for an extended period of time, why not consider buying a used car, campervan or 4×4 vehicle of your own? Gumtree is a great website to purchase second-hand vehicles, some costing as little as A$2,500 – just ensure that the vehicle purchased is in tip-top condition, otherwise, you may end up spending more money on repairs. When you’re about to leave Australia for good, you can advertise to sell the vehicle on Gumtree as long as the vehicle is maintained fairly well.
Note: Apart from car insurance, it’s advisable to purchase road side assistance in the event your vehicle breaks down or needs to be towed.
From my observation, there isn’t much promotion on train journeys in Australia except the iconic Indian-Pacific and the Ghan.
The Indian-Pacific train runs between Sydney and Perth via Adelaide, a journey that takes four days while the Ghan runs from Adelaide through the vast red desert in central Australia to Darwin over three days. Both journeys highlight the spectacular views of Australia, noting the changes in landscapes as the train traverses from one state to another across the width and breadth of the country. However, these trips are quite costly.
I remembered experiencing the Indian-Pacific route from Adelaide to Sydney during semester break many years ago. The tickets weren’t too costly at that time as I had a student discount but golly, the journey was really long – 26 hours!
Ultimately, you can combine a few of the abovementioned transportation options to make them work best according to your needs and budget. Just a little research, planning and creativity, you can have your adventure of a lifetime in Oz Land!