How to Travel Australia without a Car

by | Last updated Feb 24, 2024 | Discover Australia Now, Travel Options | 10 comments

How to Travel Australia without a Car – one options is to travel by bus

 

The best way to see Australia is by car. Why? Because it gives you the flexibility to go where you want, when you want. But what if you don’t have a car? No worries. There are other transport options to travel Australia.

The first time I travelled Australia doing my big lap of Oz, I didn’t have a car. Well, I did, but I didn’t want to drive a small Mazda 323 around Australia by myself. So I looked at all the transport options in Australia and I decided to combine them so I could explore Australia.

In this post, I am covering the transport options to travel Australia that aren’t a car. And I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised that you won’t miss out on seeing all the best bits of Australia during your Aussie travels by not having a car.

 

Fly around Australia

 

Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House from the air while flying around Australia - one way to travel Australia without a car.

flying is one way to travel Australia without a car – what a great view of the Sydney Harbour

 

The quickest way to get you places in Australia is to fly. It takes you from point-to-point fast but you do miss out on many things between A and B. So if you don’t want to spend hours in a vehicle or are limited for time on your Australian holiday, then flying is a great option if you don’t have a car to travel Australia with.

All the major cities in Australia have an airport plus, many regional towns do to. Flying to different destinations to base yourself for a while will help you to not miss out on seeing the things you want to see in Australia. You can fly to a place to make it your base, then use local transport to get around. Simple!

The airlines flying Australia are:

To get the best deal on an airfare check out the airlines’ websites directly. Keep an eye out for their special deals and sales to take advantage of cheap flights. Or visit a website / app where you can compare and book an airfare such as on Skyscanner. 

TIP: Fly during the week (Tuesday – Thursday) as it is often cheaper.

 

Bus (Coach) Travel

 

People sitting in their seat on a bus travelling around Australia because they don't have a car.

on a bus trip to somewhere!

 

Some people call them coaches while others call them buses, either way, they are a great way to travel around Australia when you don’t have a car. 

Traversing Australia by coach or bus is a popular way to travel, particularly for international backpackers and Australian’s who don’t own a car. The routes covered are extensive so you can count on being able to visit all the major places you want to see, and more. 

Different tickets can be purchased from a one way ticket to a flexible hop-on hop-off pass. The main downside of bus travel is they are slower than other forms of transport. This is because of the distances involved. I can vouch for this having spent 18 hours on a bus from Alice Springs to Darwin, while another time it was 10 hours spent on the bus from Melbourne to Sydney. There are stops at roadhouses but only really to stretch your legs, go to the toilet and grab a bite to eat. 

The biggest advantage with bus travel in Australia is it often the cheapest transport option to travel Australia. This makes it a popular choice of transport in Australia with backpackers and budget travellers. Even some couples and families with kids travel on the bus system in Australia. The major coach lines include:

 

 

There are also some backpacker buses that travel Australia. Since covid lockdowns a number of the backpacker bus tour operators in Australia have folded, but not all. If you are a younger backpacker or working holiday maker to Australia and are looking to have fun, party and hang out with other like-minded travellers, then you may be interested in to travel Australia with a specialist backpacker organisation. Check out the following for more details:

 

 

Organised Tours of Australia

Australia has many tour operators offering organised tours in and around Australia. They usually include your transport, accommodation, most meals and entrance fees. And take you to the places you want to see. Tour companies include (and are not limited to) 

 

 

Plus, there are many tour operators who specialise in tours for a specific area. For instance, you can book 1, 2 or 3 day tours into Kakadu from small tour operators in Darwin. Or perhaps a day to a tropical Queensland island like Green Island through a tour operator out of Cairns – and you won’t need a car for tours like this!

 

Travel by Train in Australia

 

Albury train station - the longest station in NSW.

Albury train station – the longest station in NSW

 

Travelling Australia by train is an option to consider. Train routes in Australia aren’t as extensive as the bus routes in Australia but there are still some wonderful trips to take. And they are mostly in the eastern states of Australia. You can purchase point to point travel i.e. Sydney to Melbourne, Sydney to Tamworth, Melbourne to Bendigo or you could purchase any one of a number of passes allowing you to hop on and hop off the trains. Queensland has some good passes available. Unfortunately Australia doesn’t have a national train system, they are state based. To find out more information about travelling by train in each state, check out their official websites.

 

 

Map Detailing Train Routes In Australia.

Rail map of Australia showing the limited rail routes

One advantage to using the trains is that on the longer trips you can get a ‘sleeper’ on overnight train journeys. This will offset having to pay for accommodation. Australia also has a number of famous train routes. The most well-known is The Indian Pacific which takes three days to travel between Sydney and Perth. There is also The Ghan that runs between Adelaide and Alice Springs to Darwin and is an alternative to driving the Stuart Highway road trip. These are great to sit in and watch Australia unfold.

 

How To Choose Which Transport Option to Travel Australia?

 

When you don’t have a car but still want to travel Australia there are transport options available. Following I’ve listed some of the pros and cons of each.

 

Pros and Cons of flying around Australia

 

Pros of flying: Gets you from A to B fast. Can get a good deal on an airfare.
Cons of flying: Restricted to certain days and times to fly. Not always cheap.

Pros and Cons of Bus Travel in Australia

 

Pros of bus travel: Usually the cheapest of the transport options to travel Australia without a car which is great for budget conscious travelers. Sit back and watch Australia pass you by.
Cons of bus travel: Slow – can day hours to reach your destination.

Pros and Cons of Train Travel in Australia

 

Pros of train travel: More comfortable type of travel usually with a bathroom and sleeper seats/rooms available for overnight trips.
Cons of train travel: don’t have an extensive service all around Australia – mostly centred in the eastern states of Victoria, NSW and Queensland.

TIP: But why choose one transport option? The best way to travel Australia without a car is to combine the other transport options available to suit you and your budget.

 

Are You Ready to Travel Australia without a Car?

 

Travel Australia without a car PIN - 3 ways - fly, bus or train.

10 Comments

  1. Melinda

    We plan to sail to Australia from NZ in a few months, so this is very useful information. We will probably do at least some flying between the bigger cities. It’s interesting to know about the trains and buses! Bookmarking!

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      It is a good idea to mix and match your travel in Australia particularly if you have time constraints. I hope you have a great time during your visit.

      Reply
  2. Amanda

    What a great resource! It’s always so hard to determine how accessible a place is without a car, thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      The best way to see Australia is to stay on the ground and a car offers a lot of flexibility with your itinerary as you can deviate as you like. But not everyone wants to drive, or has the time to drive, so I agree, it is good to know the options.

      Reply
  3. Bri

    As someone who would like to travel to Australia soon, this was very helpful! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Wonderful to hear that. Not everyone wants to spend money on a car and it is good to know the other options.

      Reply
  4. Elyse

    This is such a great breakdown of all the transport options in Australia. I can’t believe you got a bus from Alice Springs to Darwin, good effort haha. Thanks for sharing

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Yep, I did catch the bus from Alice Springs to Darwin – I wasn’t expecting it to be that long – I thought when I looked at the map it might be 6-8 hours, never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be 18 hours! But I survived.

      Reply
  5. Cosette

    Would love to travel Australia by train, the Ghan or the Indian Pacific sound so good.

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Yes, they are good but quite expensive as everything is included – food, type of seat or room.

      Reply

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About Me

Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Sign shaped like a big white wave with Sharyn McCullum On the Great Ocean Road.

G’Day! Sharyn here, an Aussie loving discovering Australia. Let me show you around so you can discover Australia too.  Read my story here.

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