Getting Around Australia

Australia is enormous—about the same size as the USA (minus Alaska), but with a fraction of the population. Its 23 million inhabitants mainly live around the east and south coasts, as well as on the island of Tasmania. The west and north coasts are very sparsely populated, and the desert interior even more so. 

Given Australia’s huge size, many travelers focus on one part of the country, or a couple of regions, rather than try to see the whole thing, which wouldn’t be possible in a single trip. Flying is the quickest and most convenient way of getting around, and most points of interest to travelers can be visited this way.

Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane are the largest cities in Australia, and most travelers will fly into an airport in one of these cities. Canberra is the capital, but it’s actually quite a small city and many travelers give it a miss. Most major cities and towns are well connected to other parts of Australia by air.

Driving is also a popular way of getting around, despite—or perhaps because of—the large distances. To do any road trip itinerary justice, you’d need at least two weeks in the country, preferably more. Highways and other roads in the east and south are generally in good condition. 

While some of the more popular outback routes, such as to Uluru, are in pretty good shape, other outback roads are very remote, with long distances between settlements. It’s important to have emergency supplies if traveling long distances through the interior of Australia. 

Trains are also an option for certain parts of the country. Standard (ie, non-luxurious) trains run between Melbourne and Sydney, and Sydney and Brisbane. More luxurious services specifically for travelers run some of the longer routes, such as between Adelaide and Darwin (via Alice Springs), and Brisbane to Cairns. Long-distance trains aren’t cheap, but they are the most comfortable way of traveling overland in Australia.
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Uluru
How to Get to Uluru

Uluru is right in the center of Australia, in the south-western corner of the Northern Territory, and is a long way from pretty much everywhere. The nearest town is Alice... read more

Whitsundays
How to Get to the Whitsundays

The 74 Whitsunday Islands (only eight of which are inhabited) lie just off the north-eastern coast of Australia's Queensland state, in the Coral Sea between the mainland and the... read more

Uluru
Map of How to Get from Brisbane to Uluru
How to Get from Brisbane to Uluru

Uluru, the big red rock right in the middle of Australia, is 1,364 miles (2,195 km) from Brisbane. But, because it's one of Australia's most popular travel destinations, it's... read more

Uluru
Map of How to Get from Sydney to Uluru
How to Get from Sydney to Uluru

Smack dab in the middle of Australia, Uluru is far from almost everywhere else. The closest town is Alice Springs, which is still more than 200 miles (330 km) away, to the... read more

Tasmania
Map of How to Get from Sydney to Tasmania
How to Get from Sydney to Tasmania

Australia's island state, Tasmania, lies about 300 miles (500 km) south of the mainland, across the Bass Strait. The closest mainland city to Tasmania is Melbourne, while Sydney... read more

Cairns
Map of How to Get from Uluru to Cairns
How to Get from Uluru to Cairns

Uluru, in the south-west of the Northern Territory, and Cairns, in the far north of Queensland, are an enormous 1600 miles (2600 km) apart. Considering the distance, the easiest... read more

Uluru
Map of How to Get from Adelaide to Uluru
How to Get from Adelaide to Uluru

Adelaide is the nearest major Australian city to Uluru, but that doesn't mean that it's close—it's 1000 miles (1600 km) away to the south-east. There are several ways of getting... read more

Tasmania
How to Get to Tasmania

Tasmania is Australia's only island state, sitting about 300 miles (500 km) south of the mainland's south-eastern corner. Melbourne is the nearest mainland city to Tasmania,... read more

Blue Mountains
How to Get to the Blue Mountains

Out of all the major Australian cities, the Blue Mountains are closest to Sydney, with the main town of Katoomba being about 60 miles (100 kms) away. Travelers coming from other... read more

Cairns
Map of How to Get from Sydney to Cairns
How to Get from Sydney to Cairns

Sydney and Cairns are both on Australia's east coast, but Sydney is about 1,500 miles (2,400 km) south of the tropical northern Queensland city. Here's how to get from Sydney to... read more

Perth
Map of How to Get from Sydney to Perth
How to Get from Sydney to Perth

Sydney and Perth are on opposite sides of Australia: Sydney is on the south-east coast of the enormous continent, while Perth is on the south-west coast, 2500 miles (4000 km)... read more

Uluru
Map of How to Get from Melbourne to Uluru
How to Get from Melbourne to Uluru

Uluru sits right in the center of Australia, while Melbourne is 1430 miles (2310 km) away in the south-east of the country. But, because Uluru is one of Australia's most iconic... read more

Surfers Paradise Gold Coast
How to Get to the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast, in southern Queensland, is just 48 miles (78 km) from Brisbane and very easy to reach from there with an hourlong drive. But, it's also accessible from further... read more

Cairns
Map of How to Get from Brisbane to Cairns
How to Get from Brisbane to Cairns

Brisbane and Cairns may be in the same state, but they're about as far apart as it's possible to be within Queensland: Cairns is 1000 miles (1700 km) north of Brisbane. But, as... read more

Parth
Map of How to Get from Melbourne to Perth
How to Get from Melbourne to Perth

Perth is one of the most isolated cities in the world; it's even a really long way from other Australian cities. Melbourne, in the south-east of Australia, is 2100 miles (3400... read more

Barossa
How to Get to the Barossa Valley

The Barossa Valley wine country is about 40 miles (70 km) northeast of Adelaide, in South Australia. Adelaide is the capital of South Australia and is well connected by air to... read more

Philip Island
How to Get to Phillip Island

Phillip Island is a popular quick-trip destination from Melbourne. It's about 45 miles (75 km) directly south-east of Melbourne, which is itself easily accessible from other... read more

Great Ocean Road
How to Get to the Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is a 150 mile (240 km) road along the south coast of Victoria, southwest of Melbourne. It spreads between Torquay in the east, and Allansford/Warrnambool in... read more