7 great Bus routes in Australia for the first-time traveller
Why travel by bus around Australia
Being Australia, a country of vast distances, vastness and diverse landscape, it’s not easy to figure out the most suitable ways to travel around. While going on road trips in Australia 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 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 exploring the country at a slow pace and in a more relaxed way.
Most bus services operate daily and overnight to cover long distances. Furthermore, by reducing the carbon footprint emissions per person, it’s also a sustainable and environmentally 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 move around. With the dense interstate and intrastate train & bus network, proper 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 daily, 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 find out how and when you can travel.
Bus travel websites in Australia
Next to the bus company Greyhound – the largest regional 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 save money on transportation in Australia. While you can check single train and bus companies, you can get an overview of all train and bus networks throughout the country on this site.
Why Bus Travel Australia? – 7 bus routes for the first-time traveller
As an advocate of independent and solo travel, I have written many articles about getting around the country and giving advice to first-time travellers in Australia.
It’s wise for short-term trips to build an itinerary with a good combination of different transportation ways, including flying, car-rental, train and bus trips and day-tours. If you plan long-term travel focusing on one or two transportation types like self-driving or train and bus trips is a good idea.
There are many reasons for choosing the bus travel in Australia.
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:
- 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 the 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.
- Port Macquarie from SydneyThis beautiful coastal town lies halfway 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.
- From Brisbane to Byron BayThis 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.
- The South East Coast of Australia by busOn my firsts solo trip, I travelled nearly 5000 km by bus and did all of the South East Coast. Not all destinations are covered by bus, though, did not serve Jervis Bay at that time. However, the coastal towns of Batesman Bay, Narooma, Merimbula, Lakes Entrance and more are on this bus route.
- From Cairns to SydneyThis is probably one of the most popular bus routes in Australia. For this bus journey, you need 2-3 weeks, and 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 travel the other way around, from Sydney to Cairns and then fly out to your next destination.
- Darwin to KununurraThis is a long trip of over 800 km and crossing the border between the Northern Territory and Western Australia. I travelled this route a couple of times in both directions. The bus service is cheaper than flying and a great way to see the Outback landscape south of Darwin.
If you have time, you can keep travelling by bus from Kununurra across the Kimberley region on the night bus service that takes you to Broome by covering in total nearly 2200 km.
- 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 train service to this amazing Outback destination. I went by train onboard the Westlander Train. It’s a long journey but really worth it.
These are only some of Australia’s best bus travel routes that you can add to your trip itinerary ideas. There are many more options to suit travel, from backpacking to solo travel, from short trips to long-term travel.
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First published in 2018, last updated in Jan 2021
Suze - Luxury Columnist
December 14, 2016 @ 6:27 pm
I didn’t realize that there was a good bus network in Australia, for some reason I imagined that everyone flew from one place to another ;-). We’re hoping to visit next year as I’ve never been
December 15, 2016 @ 6:40 pm
Flying is the fastest and preferred way of getting around by the majority of Aussies. For visitors flying is not really ideal, as you will not be able to see much of the country. If you travel with your partner then you may like self-driving and go on road trips. Australia is a country for road-tripping! Domestic flights help cover longer distances across Australia and public transportation is the way to go when touring Australian cities and their surroundings! I hope you will make to Australia soon! 😉
January 17, 2017 @ 11:58 am
Awesome places! Great tips for road trips! After reading this blog, I want to to visit Australia once by bus trip.
Cez of eTramping
February 18, 2017 @ 10:24 pm
Very good into to have about how public transportation works over there, thanks for sharing!