Australia is a massive country and the sheer size of it means that getting around takes some planning. Here are your options.
If you want to go to Tasmania, which is Australia’s most forgotten about state, then you can hop a ferry from Melbourne. There are lots of reasons to visit Tasmania, including great beaches and it’s not baking hot in the summer. Seriously you can fry an egg on the sidewalk on hot summer days in Australia.
Another popular ferry trip is the short hop from Perth to the spectacular Rottnest Island, off the West Coast of Australia.
2. Cruise Ship.
Another way to incorporate Tasmania is via a cruise that takes you down the East Coast of Australia. Not many people think of cruising when they think of Australia.
3. Sailing boat, jetboat, or helicopter.
The Whitsundays, which are an absolute must-see when visiting Australia, are accessed by some type of boat. Or, if you’ve got more money to spend, a helicopter trip!
You’ll also need to take boat trip if you want to snorkel or dive the Great Barrier Reef. It’s incredible and I only snorkeled.
Australia is famous for the “Indian Pacific” train trip which runs Sydney – Adelaide – Perth i.e., from the East Coast of AU to the West Coast. This is a luxury, however, there are also some intercity train options that connect Sydney with Melbourne, Brisbane, and Canberra. Tickets cost $100-200, around the same as an equivalent flight. I would definitely consider this as an alternative to flying next time I’m in Australia even though I’m not a huge train nerd.
5. Hire car or campervan.
Car rentals in Australia are usually quoted with the insurance included. Typically there is a high excess (US equivalent of deductible). This might be around $3000, meaning if you have an accident you pay up to that amount. A car rental is probably a great option for part of your trip but you won’t need it while you’re in inner city Sydney, Brisbane, or Melbourne.
Vans that have a converted sleeping space are a popular option in Australia and New Zealand. These setups have been featured in some consumer protection type TV shows and the results of their testing have suggested that the maintenance is often not the best. May still be a great option, if you don’t get car sick like I do…. see below.
6. Domestic flights.
Qantas, Jetstar, and Virgin are the main domestic carriers. Curiously, the cheapest way to book is often through Expedia Japan (they don’t charge Australian sales tax). Domestic flights are priced as one ways so you won’t pay more if you want to use a flight in one direction only. Feeling spontaneous? Aussies and Kiwis having a liking for Mystery Trips where you show up at the airport and don’t know where you’re going. These include the flights and the hotel.
I’m mentioning this last because I’m not a bus fan. Even on city busses, I feel sick. On longer trips I load up on anti-nausea medications. They are comfortable however and typically on time.