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Transportation in Australia


Getting around by air, land, and water

You have three choices of transportation in Australia:

    Air
    Land
    Water

More information on travel to and in specific parts of Australia is given on these pages:
    Cape York, Queensland
    The Kimberley, Western Australia
    Perth area, Western Australia – choose the link for “Transport”

We will be adding more details to this page as we find them.

Getting around by air

Your choices for transportation by air are:

    Airlines on regular services
    Local flights
    Air tours
    Private planes

Airlines on regular services

The airline situation in Australia has changed frequently since mid-2001. Anything you hear about routes, fares, and availability may change quickly. When making travel plans, be sure to check the relevant websites or talk with your travel agent often. You should be fine once you’ve booked your tickets, although (as always) exact flight times can change on short notice.

You can buy most tickets over the Internet, if you know exactly what you want, but to get a good idea of the choices available, you may need to talk to a travel agent or to airline reservations staff.

In some cases overseas visitors will get a lower price by including within-Australia travel on their overseas tickets (for one thing, you won’t pay GST – Goods and Services Tax – on air travel purchased abroad). If you’re an overseas visitor buying a ticket after you arrive in Australia, check with a travel agent about possible discounts not available to Australian residents (note that you will pay GST on those tickets).

Qantas operates full (economy and business class) services in Australia as well as international flights. However, they no longer fly to many regional cities. They have a wide variety of tickets and prices, including multi-stop passes and limited-offer (often Internet-only) cut-price one-way fares.

Virgin Blue operates budget flights between major centres and many smaller cities, as well as flights to New Zealand and other international destinations. They provide baggage handling on connecting flights only when the flights are booked on the same ticket. If you prefer to buy each sector separately (often at a considerable cost saving), then you have to allow plenty of time (at least 2 hours) to exit the arrivals hall, collect your bags, and check in for your next flight if you are making a connection.

Jetstar is Qantas’ low-cost subsidiary airline. It flies no-frills flights to make regional cities that Qantas no longer services. They do not provide baggage handling on connecting flights under any circumstances, so you have to allow plenty of time (at least 2 hours) to exit the arrivals hall, collect your bags, and check in for your next flight if you are making connections. We do not recommend using Jetstar except for point-to-point travel; the risk of missing a connection due to late arrival of your first flight is too great.

Tiger Airways is the latest entrant into the low-cost air travel market in Australia. They fly between a limited number of cities in Australia, as well as between Perth and Darwin and several international destinations in Asia, and between Melbourne and Singapore.

Local flights

Many parts of the country are well served by local carriers (both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters) taking people to tourist locations or simply flying around scenic areas and returning to the same airport.

Check websites or other travel information for places of interest to see which ones have scenic flights available.

Air tours

Air tours may last anywhere from half an hour to several days. We’ll list some (as we find them) on the relevant pages, and put some here that cover a wider area.

Air tour the outback of Australia on a 10 seat twin engine aircraft from Melbourne with Kirkhope Aviation. Travel to the Kimberley, the Red Centre, Arnhem Land, and the Gulf or to any destination of your choice. Maybe a fishing trip or one that concentrates on Aboriginal rock art, or walking and swimming, or just a mixture of it all. Specialises in air tours to Pungalina Station in the Northern Territory.

Dreamtime by Air has been operating for over 20 years, offering varying itineraries of typically 14 days in length around outback Australia. These tours will appeal particularly to fit, active over-50s. We participated in trips in August 2003 and August 2005 to historic sites and Aboriginal communities in South Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland. Our trip reports start here: 2003 trip and 2005 trip.

Geraldton Air Charter Pty Ltd does a scenic tour from Geraldton to the Abrolhos Islands off Western Australia. The tour includes a scenic flight over the Islands, landing at East Wallabi Island, snorkelling over beautiful coral in Turtle Bay, and a guided nature tour. Morning tea and lunch are provided. They also specialise in tours to Monkey Mia and Coral Bay and in designing custom tours for clients.

Private planes

If you have your own plane, you can fly to many hard-to-reach parts of the country as well as more populous areas. Pilots may also be able to make arrangements with a local flying club to rent a small plane.

Page last updated 23 October 2007.