When travelling between key locations in Australia with limited time, you want to keep this easy and convenient. Distances are vast in Australia, so flying is the key connector between regions. But on the other hand, you still want to get and feel the heart and soul of Australia. So you might want to add other forms of transport as well. This blog explains the best strategies to get your dream holiday for Australia
Domestic flight in Australia
The distance from Sydney to Perth is around 4000 kms (or 2500 miles). From Melbourne to Dawin, you’re looking at 3500 kms (or 2200 miles). So, the best way to cover these long distances, is undoubtedly with a domestic flight. Qantas and Virgin Australia are the main players here. Their network is extensive and generally competitively priced. Some locations, such as Ayers Rock, are a ‘monopoly’ for Qantas, so the fares are much higher.
You’ll get the best fares between key locations such as Sydney to Melbourne or Brisbane to Cairns. To get the best fares, booking flights ahead is pretty much essential. But do bear in mind, that the lowest cost fares are generally non-refundable. If you want more flexibility, the fares will be higher. As to the subject of luggage, one piece of luggage at 23 kg, plus your hand luggage at 7 kg is included in the ticket. But, for super-special deals this might not apply. So, double check. Also, for pre-booked seats.
Rental Car travelling Australia
Once you are at a key location, a rental car is a good transport option for getting around. You don’t want to travel for day – like I did between Brisbane and Port Douglas – a total waste of valuable, limited holiday time. Instead, the best strategy is to pick up a rental car from the airport terminal and head to your next destination. Sample: from Cairns to Port Douglas, an hour’s drive. The beauty of this arrangement, is that you can stop along the way and visit places like Hartley’s Croc Centre or the Aboriginal Art Centre.
There is one key issue with rental car pick-ups at airports in Australia you need to be aware of – these are airport location pick-up charges! As most airports in Australia are privately owned, they do charge rental car firms up to 20% surcharge of the total rental amount. On top of that, there are stamp duties, one-way charges and insurance costs to consider. So, when booking your rental car, watch out for these. Sometime you can get an ‘all-inclusive’ rental car option. I would recommend those ones. They look a little higher at first, but they will save you the hassle and cost of blow-outs later on.
Motorhome and 4WD travel
For travellers with more time. a really cool way to travel is with a motor home. We did this once in the Outback between Alice Springs and Ayers Rock. Because we had a large 6-berth, we needed to stay on the main road (sealed). The beauty with such a large vehicle is the aircon in the vehicle and the fridge – very handy for cool drinks! – essential for travel in the Outback. Believe me, during the day time, temperatures can reach 50 degrees celsius (110 Fahrenheit). Read about climate conditions.
There are 4WD camper options available, which come at a higher cost, but you can go off-road with those ‘beauties’. Always keep in mind that there are some very remote areas in Australia. Plus there is a thriving local wildlife, such as snakes and kangaroos. So travelling during the night is not recommended (sometimes insurance companies will not cover an accident at these times).
During our travels we meet people circumnavigating Australia – a very cool 26,000+ kms (16,000+ mile) trip. But if you really want to do this, you’ll need to give yourself plenty of time – like 6+ months. Taking this approach will let you experience Australia in tremendous depth, but you have to be well prepared. Having a satellite phone is a must-have for emergencies!
Taxi, Coach and Shuttle Transfers
Many travellers use shuttle or coach transfers between key locations – either between the airport and the city. Another classic sample is between Cairns and Port Douglas. As I have already pointed out, a rental car is a good option – this allows you to be independent and flexible. However, a shuttle may turn out to be more convenient.
Sample: you arrive in Cairns and have 2-3 nights booked in Port Douglas. With a coach/ shuttle service you get picked up at the airport terminal and transferred straight to your hotel in Port Douglas. No signing documents, no driving on the ‘wrong side of the road’ and often less cost. See a sample travel itinerary with this options.
Once at location, travellers are be collected by the tour operators from the hotel. Then they either go out to the Great Barrier Reef or join a jungle tour into the Daintree Forest. For all of these, you don’t need a rental car. Even better if you have an early morning flight out of Cairns – you’ll enjoy a convenient and reliable transfer option back.
Train Journeys in Australia
Trains Journeys in Australia are one of the most iconic ways to explore the continent. The most famous trips go between Perth and Melbourne (called ‘The Indian Pacific’) and between Adelaide and Darwin (via Alice Springs), called ‘The Ghan‘.
Due to the large distances these trains travel, they are overnight journeys. You have different seating or cabin options available. Personally I would always go for the most luxurious way to experience this ‘journey back in time. There is something ‘grand’ about being on a train with first-class service.
There are stops in between to experience ‘nothing’. Again, it’s somehow a wonderful experience stepping out of the train into the red desert of Australia. Smelling the earth and feeling the heat, before jumping back into the luxury of your train carriage.
Happy travelling Australia with whatever travel mode you choose!