Ah Sydney, where even the public transport is stylish – and efficient. Ah Sydney, where even the public transport is stylish – and efficient.
Life Travel How to see Australia by public transport Updated:

How to see Australia by public transport

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Australia has a reputation for being a vast, sunburnt land that is difficult to navigate without your own car.

Outside of our public transport-laden inner-cities, it’s not hard to see why. With thousands of kilometres separating Australia’s major capital cities, figuring out car-free ways to holiday can be more than annoying, it can be downright daunting.

But the reality is that while not everyone has a vehicle – or the ability or confidence to drive (especially on the left side of the road) – that shouldn’t be a deterrent to seeing much of what Australia has to offer.

If that’s you, then read on. Because we’ve put together locations that are must-sees and also easily (enough) accessible by public transport.

New South Wales

Sydney-siders enjoy a range of public transport options with connections to amazing places such as Paddy’s Market – accessible via Central station in the CBD; or the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and The Rocks, which are close to Circular Quay.

If you’re after something a little less urban, why not visit some national wonders? Trains depart Central station for many NSW regional destinations, including the NSW South Coast, Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands, Central Coast, North Coast and outback and country NSW.

holiday australia public transport
The Rocks and the Harbour Bridge are right near Sydney’s major transport hub of Circular Quay. Photo: Getty

Victoria

Inner-Melbourne is an oasis for public transport, but things get a little more complicated if you want to head outside the city.

The good news is, there are some great places that are only a train ride away, such as an adventure on Puffing Billy. The historic steam train, which takes you through the beautiful Dandenong Ranges, is accessible via the suburban Belgrave rail line and only a three-minute walk from Belgrave station.

If you want to see the Ranges on your own, get off a couple of stations before at Upper Ferntree Gully and catch a connecting bus into the hills, where you will find appealing Olinda village.

public transport holiday australia
Catch a much more modern train to the foot of the Dandenongs for a ride on the historic Puffing Billy steam train. Photo: Getty

South Australia

Adelaide only has one tram route, but the South Australian capital makes up for it by ensuring that pretty much every single thing you could want to see in the city is arrayed along it.

Start your day at Rundle Street, just east of the CBD, for some boutique shopping and a bite to eat – we recommend Hey Jupiter’s pork belly sandwich, and a single-origin filter from Exchange Speciality Coffee.

Then stroll west, down Rundle Mall – the city’s beating heart – and onto King William Street, where you can catch the tram. This will take you to Adelaide Central Market, where you can grab some cheese and wine. Get back on and keep going down to the beachside suburb of Glenelg.

The tram basically dumps you right on the sunny sand. Spread your beach towel and enjoy your market bounty right there. Or, if you didn’t bring anything, head along to Moseley Beach Club, grab a sun lounge on the beach, and enjoy a local Hills Cider.

public transport holiday australia
Adelaide’s Central Market offers a feast for the senses, and the stomach. Photo: Getty

Northern Territory

Perhaps one of the least explored regions in Australia, the NT is marked by tremendous distances that are perfect for … a four-wheel drive.

However, there are ways to visit parts of it that include transport other than your own automobile. According to Tourism Australia, the best bus to catch is the route 4, which takes you from Darwin Bus Interchange to Casuarina Bus Interchange via the waterfront.

On the way, you’ll stop by popular attractions such as Crocosaurus Cove, Mindil Beach Sunset Market, Museum and Art Gallery, and Fannie Bay Gaol.

If you’ve got some cash to splash and really want to take in the splendour that is the NT, why not shell out for a ride on The Ghan? Australia’s longest train ride travels an epic 2797 kilometres between Adelaide and Darwin, stopping en route at Alice Springs and Katherine.

The Ghan’s scheduled services run twice a week in both directions between June and September, and once a week for the remainder of the year. The journey takes three days and two nights, and the price varies based on season (usually about $1000 to $2000-plus).

public transport holiday australia
Mindil Beach, and its vibrant sunset market, are easily accessible by bus. Photo: Getty

Tasmania

A trip to this southern island wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Museum of Old and New Art – otherwise known as MONA.

Australia’s largest private museum, described by owner David Walsh as a “subversive adult Disneyland”, has a collection that includes everything from ancient Egyptian mummies to a chapel with windows made from X-ray images.

Mona is 11 kilometres north of Hobart, Tasmania – about 25 minutes by water, or 20 minutes by road. You can get a ferry or a bus to take you there from Hobart central, so no car necessary.

According to Tourism Tasmania, other great Tassie places accessible by public transport include Salamanca Market, which is open on Saturdays and offers more than 300 stalls showcasing local crafts and wares.

To get there without a car, simply jump on the free Salamanca shuttle bus that loops through the Hobart CBD.

If you want to visit the historic sites of Port Arthur – a small town and former convict settlement consisting of penal sites built by the British in the 18th and 19th centuries – or Richmond Village, a military staging post and convict station in the Coal River Valley, there is a bus for both.

public transport holiday australia
HIstoric Port Arthur can be reach by bus from Hobart. Photo: Getty