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Last updated : Nov 2009
Australia Getting Around - Internal Travel
Australia Internal Travel - Getting Around Australia - TravelPuppy.com

Australians rely on aviation to get from place to place, like citizens of smaller countries rely on trains and buses.

The network of scheduled services extends to more than 150,000 kilometres (95,000 miles) and covers the whole continent. Both 1st class and 2nd class service is available, with meals and hostess service on many routes.

Recent deregulation of Australia’s domestic airlines means that flights are more competitively priced. Aircraft can be chartered by pilots who pass a written examination on Australian air policies and have their licence's validated for private operations within Australia.

The major domestic airlines are Jetstar Airways, Qantas and Virgin Blue 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 operate throughout the Northern Territory, Macair Airlines operates throughout Queensland, Skywest operates throughout Western Australia and several small airlines operate to the islands off Tasmania.

Nearly all the domestic airlines have special deals on or air passes at greatly reduced prices.

There are many domestic airports and landing strips throughout Australia, including airports in all capital cities and regional centres such as Alice Springs, Launceston and Uluru (Ayers Rock). For further information contact the Tourism Australia (see contacts section).

Sea & Lake

There is 36,738 kilometres (22,600 miles) of coastline and many lakes, inland waterways and inlets, all of which can be used for touring by boat.

There are paddle steamers along the Murray River to deep sea fishing cruisers along the vast Barrier Reef, and all are available for charter or passenger booking. Most tour operators also handle shipping cruises. The Spirit of Tasmania is an overnight car ferry service linking Melbourne with Tasmania daily.


There is over 40,000 kilometres (24,850 miles) of track which covers Australia. Due to the vastness of the country internal flights are a preferred option for traveling long distances, particularly as rail travel can be slow and quite expensive. For further information on rail transport within the different States, see the individual State information, or contact Rail Australia.

2 services span the continent from coast to coast. The twice weekly Indian Pacific travels 4350 kilometres (2704 miles) on standard 1435 milimetre (56.5 inch) gauge from Sydney on the east coast to Perth on the west coast, via Adelaide.

The journey takes 3 days and 3 nights, crossing the Nullarbar Plain on the famous 478 kilometre (297 mile) stretch of straight track, the longest in the world. The Ghan travels 2979 kilometres (1891 miles) between Adelaide and Darwin, via Alice Springs. The service runs weekly in each direction and takes 2 nights. Both trains are fully air conditioned and soundproofed, with 1st and 2nd class sleeping cars, bars, a lounge car and good restaurant facilities.

Other express service links (not always daily) from the state capitals are stated below:
    The Canberra Monaro Express links Canberra with Sydney in 4 or 5 hours.
  The XPT Express runs from Melbourne to Brisbane via Sydney and Canberra.
  The Sunlander and the Queenslander link Brisbane with Cairns (takes 31 hours).
  The Prospector links Perth with Kalgoorlie and this is 1 of Australia’s fastest trains (takes 6 to 7 hours).
  The Spirit of the Outback runs Brisbane to Longreach via Rockhampton.
There is also several scenic rail journeys available including the Kuranda Scenic Railway that links Cairns with Kuranda via a 34 kilometre (14 mile) climb through tropical rainforest, the Great South Pacific Express service along the East Coast from Sydney to Cairns via Brisbane has been temporarily suspended.

Several routes have motor rail facilities. Long distance trains are air conditioned and have brilliant catering facilities and showers. Reservations for seats and sleeping berths are essential on all long distance trains and are accepted up to 6 months in advance.

Luggage allowance: All interstate rail passengers are allowed 50 kilograms (111 pounds). Medium sized suitcases and hand luggage can be placed in the passengers’ compartments, but large suitcases must be carried in the guard’s van and checked in 30 minutes prior to departure.

Sleeping berths: Single and twin apartments are accessible for a surcharge on most inter capital overnight services. All ‘Twinettes’ have 2 sleeping berths and wash basin. Twinettes are available either 1st class or holiday class, the 1st also offer individual showers. ‘Roomette’ (single compartment) cars have showers at every end of each car. These are 1st class only.

Cheap fares: Unlimited travel, valid for 14, 21 and 30 days, with 7 day extensions possible, is available with an Austrailpass, which must be purchased outside Australia, and can only be used by non Australian passport holders. Only economy class passes are available. Each State operator offers its own Austrailpass scheme.

The Austrail Flexi-Pass is valid for 8, 15, 22 and 29 days within a 6 month period, although it cannot be used on the Ghan or the Indian Pacific. The pass only offers economy class accommodation.

Both the Austrailpass and the Austrail Flexi-Pass must be purchased outside of Australia. The East Coast Discovery Pass offers 6 months travel on the eastern coast. An Austrailpass does not include meal or sleeping berth charges. The passes must be used within 12 months of purchase.

Representative in the UK

Address: Rail Australia, c/o International Rail Limited, Chase House, Gilbert Street, Ropley, Hampshire SO24 0BY

Telephone: (0870) 751 5000

Facsimile: (0870) 751 5005

Email address: info@international-rail.com

Website address: www.international-rail.com

Most major tourist attractions can be reached by train, tickets for multiple destinations can be bought from travel agents outside Australia.


The traffic drives on the left and road signs are international in Australia.

The speed limit is 60 kilometres per hour (35 miles per hour) in cities and towns in most states but 50 kilometres per hour (31 miles per hour) in Victoria and Western Australia, 50 kilometres per hour (31 miles per hour) in all suburban areas and 80 to 110 kilometres per hour (50 to 68 miles per hour) on country roads and highways unless signs indicate otherwise.

Seat belts have to be worn at all times and driving licence's must be in the driver’s possession when driving. Driving off major highways in the outback becomes more difficult between November and February because of summer rain, as many roads are like dirt tracks. Road travel is easiest between April and October.

Distances between towns can be significant, and apart from ensuring that all vehicles are in peak condition, it is advisable to carry spare water, petrol and equipment.

Travellers are advised to check with local Automobile Associations before departure in order to acquire up to date information on road and weather conditions. All cyclists must wear bicycle helmets.


The major cities are linked by an brilliant national coach system which is run by Greyhound Pioneer.

Tasmania also has its own coach service called Tasmanian Redline Coaches.

There are several other companies operating State and Interstate services.

The main coach express routes are from :
    Sydney to Adelaide, Melbourne (inland)
    Sydney to Brisbane
    Sydney to Canberra
    Canberra to Melbourne
    Melbourne to Adelaide
    Adelaide to Alice Springs
    Adelaide to Perth
    Adelaide to Brisbane
    Darwin to Alice Springs
    Darwin to Cairns
    Darwin to Perth
    Darwin to Kakadu
    Alice Springs to Ayers Rock
    Cairns to Brisbane
    Brisbane to Sydney (coastal and inland)
    Brisbane to Melbourne
Coach passes are accessible for travel on a variety of routes for between 7 days and 1 year, such as the All Australian, the Sunseeker, the Aussie Reef & Rock, the Coast to Coast etc.

The Aussie Kilometres Pass allows you to buy your travel in kilometres and then travel in any direction on the national network to the distance purchased. It is advised for travellers to purchase these passes before departure from country of origin.

Coaches are 1 of the cheapest ways to travel around Australia, as well as 1 of the most comfortable, with big adjustable seats, air conditioning and on board bathrooms, some also have television and the latest videos showing.


Meter operated taxis can be found in all major towns and cities. There is a minimum flagfall charge and then a charge for the distance traveled.

Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped, however a small additional payment may be required for luggage and telephone bookings. Some taxis accept payment by credit card, for further details please see the individual State entries.

Car hire

Car hire is available at all major airports and major hotels to those over 21 years old.


It is essential for all nationals of countries whose official language is not English to hold an International Driving Permit.

International, foreign or national driving permits are generally valid for 3 months. An International Driving Permit is only valid in combination with a valid national licence. Permits must be held at all times while driving.


Inclusive public transport systems are provided in all the major towns. The State capitals have suburban rail networks, those in Melbourne and Sydney being mainly extensive, and trams run in Melbourne and Adelaide.

Travel times

The following chart gives approximate travel times (in hours and minutes) from Sydney to other main cities in Australia.
  Air Coach Rail
45 minutes 5 hours 4 hours
1 hour 40 minutes 22 hours 25 hours
1 hour 20 minutes 15 hours 15 hours
5 hour minutes 92 hours 50 minutes -
1 hour 10 minutes 14 hours 10 hours
4 hours 56 hours 65 hours
2 hours 5 minutes    
Useful travel links
Greyhound Pionneer Information Australia's coach service and rail service.
Tasmanian Redline Coaches Information on Tasmania's coach service.