Being Australia a country of huge distances, vastness and diverse landscape it’s not easy to figure out the most suitable ways to travel around. While road-tripping is the most adventurous – but also challenging – way to explore the country, it does not often appeal to the first-time traveller who is likely not to be familiar with left-hand driving or four-wheel-driving.
That’s where train and bus travel comes in. In fact for many travellers it’s a convenient way of getting around that allows to explore the country at a slow pace and in a more relaxed way. Most bus services operates daily and overnight to cover long-distances. Furthermore by reducing the carbon footprint emissions per person, it’s also a sustainable and environmental friendly way of touring Australia.
Nonetheless bus travel in Australia has a few downsides too. Firstly you need extensive time to travel and get organised. Unless you buy a bus pass, it’s not the cheapest way to travel around. With the dense interstate and intrastate train & bus network a good research ahead is key to choosing cost-effective schedules and time-saving routes.
Bus travel in Oz is different than in other parts of the world. While metropolitan areas are well serviced on daily basis, long-distance trains and buses to remote regions are available only a few times a week, when not once a week. Moreover cancellation or changes to bus schedules and routes in Australia may occur without notice. So it may take time to find the right source of information and know how and when you can travel.
Bus travel websites in Australia
While you can check single train and bus companies, on the website GoTicketAu you can get a complete overview of all train and bus networks, throughout the country. By entering departure, destination and the desired time, this platform delivers a list of clickable bus routes and tier links to bus schedules and fares.
Next to the bus company Greyhound – the largest interstate bus network in Oz – there are many smaller regional bus companies. These operate their services intrastate to almost any places in the immediate surroundings of towns or major cities. If you have time and can consider travelling by bus for a long time, then getting a bus pass is the way to go to save money on transportation in Australia.
Why Bus Travel Australia? – 7 bus routes for the first-time traveller
As a main advocate of independent and solo travel I have written many articles about how to get around the country and given advice to first-time travellers in Australia. For short-term trips it’s wise to build an itinerary with a good combination of different transportation ways, including flying, car-rental, train and bus trips and/or day-tours. If you plan long-term travel focussing on one or two types of transportation like self-driving or train and bus trips is a good idea. There are many reasons for choosing bus travel.
Anyhow, it’s definitely possible to see much of the country by bus and train. Here are 7 great bus routes travelling by bus around Australia, that I can recommend:
1) Starting from Sydney there are many bus trips that you can add to your itinerary. The most convenient way to travel to the Blue-Mountains from Sydney is a 2-hour train connection, but there is a great bus service from the city too. Moreover you can travel by bus to the Northern Beaches, it’s 1.5 hours bus trip along the coast with stops to all main places, up to Palm Beach. You can go to the Royal National Park, in 30 minutes train ride and ferry connection. And in 2 hours bus or train you can get to Wollongong too.
2) Port Macquarie from Sydney. This beautiful coastal town lies half-way between Sydney and Brisbane and the best way to get there is the bus route. There is a train service too with a bus connection to Port Macquarie. It’s a nice journey and a great opportunity to see much of the countryside.
3) From Brisbane to Byron Bay. This destination is on the itinerary of many travellers backpacking around Australia. There is a bus service that takes you there in 2 hours. Or you can catch the train to the Gold Coast for a first stop and then travel further to Lismore to catch the bus connection to Byron Bay. From Brisbane you can also travel by bus to Hervey Bay and go to Fraser Island or stop there and visit the Sunshine Coast.
4) South East Coast of Australia by bus – On my firsts solo trip I travelled nearly 5000 km by bus and did all of South East Coast. Not all destinations are covered by bus though. Jervis Bay was not serviced at that time. However, however the coastal towns of Batesman Bay, Narooma, Merimbula, Lakes Entrance and more are on this bus route.
5) From Cairns to Sydney. This is probably one of the most popular bus routes in Australia. For this bus journey you need 2-3 weeks at least, there are many interesting places to see along the Eastern coast. I covered this distance by Greyhound buses from Cairns to Sydney in 2004 and loved it. You can do travel the other way round too of course, from Sydney to Cairns and then fly out to your next destination.
6) Darwin to Kununurra.This is a long trip of over 800 km and crossing the border between Northern Territory and Western Australia. I travelled this a couple of times in both directions. The bus service is cheaper than flying but also a great way to see the Outback landscape. If you have time you can keep travelling by bus from Kununurra across the Kimberley on the night bus service that takes you to Broome by covering in total nearly 2200 km.
7) Brisbane to Cunnamulla. If you want some of the real Outback in Australia then Cunnamulla is one of those places you must see. From the East Coast you can enjoy the beauty of the landscape. There are 3 bus services and a train service to this amazin Outback destination. I went by train onboard of the Westlander Train. it’s a long journey but really worth it.
These are only some of the best bus travel routes in Australia that you can add to your Itinerary. There are many more options to suit any type of travel; from backpacking to solo travel, from short trips to long-term travel.
Now over to you: have you travelled by bus or by train in Australia? Share your tips and story with us!
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