Getting Around in Australia Help!

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific Getting Around in Australia Help!

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1. Posted by voncasl (Budding Member 2 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I'm going on a 3 week trip by myself in Australia in March. I'm a male just out of college and need travel advice. I'm flying into Sydney, working my way up the East Coast hitting towns like Surfer's Paradise, Brisbane, Townsville, up to Cairns. Then make my way (I assume flight) to Alice Springs and see Ayers Rock, then down to Cooper Pedy, maybe Adelaide, Melbourne, possibly Hobart in Tasmania, to Canberra and back to Sydney. I know that's kind of detailed but I'm trying to map out my trip geographically. I'm just wondering with a trip like this, what would be the best way to get around. I know I'll have to buy possibly a couple of flights which I don't mind, but I'm planning on doing this in 3 weeks and will be backpacking. Just wondering if car rental will be best (I'll be by myself) or using the bus or train system would be better?? I'd like to see a lot of the sights and do a lot of outdoor activities. If anyone knows of a good way to approach this or any ideas I'd appreciate it. Thanks!

2. Posted by bex76 (Moderator 5344 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I went to most of the places on your itinerary and used greyhound buses pretty much all the way. For the east coast I bought a hop-on hop-off pass in Sydney which took me all the way up to cairns with as many stops as I wanted, over a set time period (a year I think). I would fly to Alice Springs as you suggest, and from there you could join a tour group down to Adelaide (these looked good but I missed this part of the country) or get the greyhound . I did a 2 day greyhound tour of the great ocean road to Melbourne which I would recommend. From there, if you decide to visit Tasmania, fly to Hobart (cheaper and quicker than the ferry); have a look at Jetstar's fares- I got a Melbourne to Hobart return for $100 as I booked well in advance. From Melbourne I got the greyhound back to Sydney with a stop for day in Canberra to break up the journey. There's not much worth seeing there, apart from the parliament buildings which I found only semi-interesting.

Car rental would probably work out expensive on your own. Some backpackers buy cars so another alternative is joining up with other travellers who are looking to share fuel costs etc - check out hostel notice boards for people advertising this kind of thing.

[ Edit: Edited on 19-Jan-2009, at 23:49 by bex76 ]

3. Posted by Nath1970 (Budding Member 7 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

hello there!

first time I went to Australia I did basiclly all my travelling with a buspas. I travelled only up the East Coast
and Alice Spings. I bought a buspas Greyhound with a certain
amount of kilometers and every time I wanted to take the bus you needed to make a phonecall and
then kilmeteres would be taken off your pass etc etc. I found it a cheap and good way to travel.
I even did the Cairns - Alice Springs go and return by bus, but that took 42 hours one way, so I could
strongly advice to fly there since you only have 3 weeks.
Renting a car is expensive on your own, and when you stay in hostels please check the notice boards
sometimes there are notes from backpackers who bought a car and need an extra traveller to share the
petrol costs. If you do so please agree up front before getting in the car that you join a certain strech and
share the petrol only cause these cars sometimes see the inside of a garage too often and you are not
waiting for sharing the repair-bill !

On your list I do not see the West Coast, shame....okay time wise three weeks is very very short. But
been Down Under twice, the West Coast to me was the real Australia........only place where you can see the
sun go down and then Broome would be the place to go. . . . Perth rocks ! And Margaret River and the wineries
the whole area is wonderful! Stayed on the West Coast in 2004-2005 for 6 months.
Surfer's Paradise sounds awesome, but to me it was a place where people get drunk get laid and feel sorry
the next morning. . . . Byron Bay a bit same as in party but I really liked this laid back town, but then again
I have been there in 1999-2000 so. . . . things and people change. . . . .
If you have the time check Fraser's Island. . . .almost a must see when you are in Oz ;)

Feel free to ask if you need more info.
3 weeks is short so it is wise to plan in advance time wise where you want to go how
long you want to stay there etc. And please use flights where you can afford them!
Bus system is perfect and a good way for transportation!
Enjoy you will have a fantastic time ! ! ! !


4. Posted by stevieh (Respected Member 616 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Hi there,
It sounds like a great adventure, but with only 3 weeks you'll barely spend a day in any one place, and if you drive you'll spend at least half of it travelling - so that's about 10 days to actually do stuff!
If you can afford it, flying is the only way to do this much in a short time. Distances in Oz are so huge.
Might be better to narrow down what you really want to see and plan to come back to do the rest - we had to miss out Ayers Rock and just see the East Coast, which was still amazing.

5. Posted by mista2kool (Budding Member 40 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I recommend
Its perfect for getting from one place to another quickly.
Often driving lets you see a lot anyways, especially in the desert areas.
Consider a car relocation for some of the legs of your trip!

6. Posted by murray2701 (Budding Member 33 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

In short - too much for 3 weeks

Sydney - you'll want at least 3 days

Cairns - you'll need 2 days for the Great Barrier reef

Don't miss Fraser Island - 3 days plus maybe a day either side


Whitsundays - 2 - 3 days.

Alice Springs - not much in the town but it's still miles from Uluru. You'll need 3/4 days and you'll need to fly.

Well worth flying to Adelaide from there and renting a car to do the Great ocean Road to Melbourne if you have time - 2-3 days.

And if you have time visit the Blue Mountains outside Sydney

You'll be shattered if you manage all this but it will be worth it!

7. Posted by voncasl (Budding Member 2 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Can someone tell me the main differences b/w Fraser Island & Whitsundays? If I had to pick one, which do you think would be better/cooler? I've got a sailing liscense, so I'd like to do some sailing and maybe snorkeling...?

8. Posted by ejjasj (Budding Member 24 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

You cant swim in the sea at fraser island due to currents, sharks and whales.

but even so i think anyone here will tell you that withsundays is out of this world :) i havent gone yet but will be there early next year :)

9. Posted by timtravels (Respected Member 350 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Fraser Island is a large sand island accessed mostly by 4x4 and tour operaters, you catch a vehicle ferry over and then explore using your 4x4 or in your tour group the main attractions are the beautiful freshwater lakes, sand dunes and camping.

The Whitsundays are a group of islands in the ocean, usually you have to catch a shuttle boat or take a boat tour out. The islands mostly have resorts on them although a few are for camping, you can't take your car/4x4 over and the main attractions are ocean watersports such as sailing, snorkelling and diving.

Check out my pics for an idea of what you'll see. In my opinion 3 weeks isn't long enough for the trip you have planned although it could be done. You'll have a great time no matter where you go!

10. Posted by Carl_1970 (Budding Member 16 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

You need to seriously cut down the number of places you're visiting or seriously extend your stay in Australia.

Australia is BIG. Even if you flew between every city you mentioned, you would still only spend 1 or 2 nights in each place! If you take a bus or drive most of it, and fly into and out of Alice Springs, you would be spending AT LEAST half your time moving between places, rather than actually seeing places.

Driving from Adelaide to Sydney via Melbourne and Canberra is 2,000 km and driving from Sydney to Cairns via Brisbane is 2,600 km!! Driving these two routes would take five entire days out of your 21 day trip, and that's assuming you didn't stop except for sleep.