Skip Navigation

Cairns to Alice Springs - fly or train?

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific Cairns to Alice Springs - fly or train?

1. Posted by Suz2424 (Budding Member 10 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Hi Everyone

I have been watching these forums from a distance lately as I am planning my trip for September this year and plan on spending about a year in Oz, NZ, Tasmania and Fiji!! I'm travelling alone so got loads of great advice from these forums so far so thanks!!

I was trying to find out the best way to get from Cairns to Alice Springs? I have been looking for flights on all the normal airlines ... Quantas, Virgin Blue and Jetstar but no-one seems to have any flights! I've heard about a train but again, can't find any threads on that either! Not doing too well
Also, what is the best way to get from Alice Springs back to Sydney?

So many questions but thats my biggest so far

Thanks in advance guys!!

2. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5635 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

There is no train between Cairns and Alice Springs. Alice Springs has connections to Darwin in the north and Adelaide in the south. Here you can find the routemap of trains in Oz.
If you like trains, getting back from Alice to Sydney is possible like you will notice, it involves a change in Adelaide.
Don't know about flights I am afraid.
If you have the time, I still would recommend renting a car, except for the Cairns to Alice part, as it might be less interesting and it will take 3-4 days of driving.

3. Posted by ourgen (Budding Member 12 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Hi there

If you have lots of time and like train travel you can go Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide to Alice Springs all by rail. Rail means you get to see lots, you could of course do rail sections and fly to Alice from any of the major cities. The train from Adelaide to Alice is called the Ghan and is an experience in itself - not cheap though. Flying is definitely your cheapest option and both virgin and jetstar have flights/connecting flights out of the major cities into the Alice.

Car hire is another option but this really depends on your timeframe as, to do this and actually enjoy yourself you would need to take a couple of weeks to get from Cairns to the Alice - Australia is a very big place and most people don't realise how long it takes you to get to places driving.

4. Posted by mia88 (Inactive 10 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I think you have to connect your flight, like go from Cairns to Sydney to Alice Springs. Because I had to do that when I left from Brisbane. I would say fly, because training will take forever, but I guess it is personal preference.

5. Posted by soliqa (Respected Member 284 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!


I've flown between Alice Springs and Cairns before, without having to connect through another city like Sydney. I just looked up a couple of random dates on the Qantas website and flights between Alice Springs and Cairns came up, so it's definitely possible.



6. Posted by sunshine24 (Budding Member 9 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I made my way from Cairns to Alice Springs using the company 'Desert Venturer'. Admittedly it is more pricey than flying but then you get three days (unless bad weather means you are stuck out there in the wilderness for longer which apparently can happen!) for your money rather than the however many hours flight it would take.

Using Desert Venturer you will find that there is an awful lot of time spent sat on the bus but you also get to stop off at random places for lunch (all thrown in) and at night although be prepared for some really early mornings and some pretty amazing sunrises. There are also some activities included just to break up your day such as seeing some aboriginal art, the smallest bar and town in Australia (5 people - but they still have there own football stadium!). I have to say that getting to take a stroll down a road (i.e. dirt track) to stretch our legs where you cant see anything but desert all around you was a pretty wierd experience and these are all things that you wouldn't ordinarily get to see which is what made the journey worth it I think!

They also run a route from Cairns to Darwin which takes four days if you fancy that instead and then make your way down to Alice Springs via Adventure Tours (I did it the other way round and worked my way up) as Kakadu NP is definately worth a visit if you have the time.

You should definately look into this as an option.

7. Posted by aharrold45 (Travel Guru 1281 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Quoting Suz2424

I am planning my trip for September this year and plan on spending about a year in Oz, NZ, Tasmania and Fiji!!

Incase you aren't already aware, Tasmania is actually a state of Australia so therefore should be considered in the Oz part of your trip and not allocated a seperate category as if it was a seperate country.

To get to Alice Springs from cairns you can get a Qantaslink flight which departs almost every day at 11.35am - 1.20 pm. I just checked the price for a random date in September and it was around $344.00 so it isn't particularly cheap to fly that route.

I personally think that it would be worth the money though to avoid being board senseless for a rather long and unenjoyable time.

8. Posted by JessieG (Full Member 67 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Yeah im going to agree with the above.
I flew there years ago, from alice you get on a small plane which takes you to ayers rock. Or just go straight there.
There are flights available. I just checked also $377 with Qantas I reckon thats the cheapest you're going to find. And if you wanna book. i'd do it soon.. really soon, prices are only going to go up.
That's the only company that flies there by the looks of it.

9. Posted by Suz2424 (Budding Member 10 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Thanks for all the replies, most helpful!!