When you are backpacking around Australia you will find lots of ferries dotted all over the country. There are river boats/ferries like the Sydney City Ferries which cross the Parramatta River or the Brisbane CityCat service which stops off at various wharfs along the brisbane river.
Unless you have booked your flights months in advance the dates you choose will make all the difference to your price, if you can afford to be flexible, make sure you check the prices a few days either side of your original date to have a chance of getting the best deals.
There are a number train services that operate in Australia, you have the trains/trams that travel in and around the cities/suburbs, those which traverse the coasts which are a collection of joining services and the interstate trains that travel vast distances from coast to coast through the centre of the country.
Backpacking around Australia is so much fun! Australia is a huge country and when you visit with the aim to explore, the way you get around becomes a part of the experience. The way you travel will depend on the usual factors like time, cost, availability, etc... but theres more to getting around then just travelling from A to B. Read our handy guides to getting around Australia.
Bus services in Australia include public transport buses, shuttle buses, backpacker buses, long distance Greyhound coaches and plenty of other private tours and day trips.
The cost depends on the service but is usually competitive with other modes of transport, some of them even being free like the Central Area Transit (C.A.T) in Perth.
Getting a vehicle on the road can seem a bit daunting for new backpackers in Australia but it's really not that difficult. If you have everything you need in place ready to go, you can be on the road in a matter of hours!
The best advise is to do your research well and have everything you need to hand when you begin. So let's take a look at what else you will need and how to get setup.
Registration or 'rego' is a type of road tax (mandatory nationwide) which is claimed on all vehicles by the Australian government.
Included with registration is a compulsory third party insurance (similar to public liability) which has been introduced to cover personal injury to any third person (i.e, in your vehicle, other motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, etc...) should an accident ever occur.
It should be noted that all people who wish to register a vehicle must be over 17 years of age. You will also require access to the V.I.N (vehicle identification number) and the engine number located in the vehicle itself.
If there are any problems with reading the V.I.N or engine number (i.e, damage to the area where this information is written), you will have difficulty registering the vehicle.
So when you buy a vehicle make sure ask the seller to show you the vehicle identification number and the engine number (before you buy). The V.I.N is usually just inside to driver side door on the floor and the engine number is on the engine (under the hood).
If you're buying a vehicle that is already registered, you will have to transfer the registration to your name. This is a matter of filling out some forms which both you and the original owner sign. Then you need to present this with a Roadworthy certificate (more in a moment) to the local driving authorities.
If you're buying an unregistered vehicle you will also have to get a Roadworthy certificate (R.W.C). The old plates (i.e, number plates on the front and back) for the vehicle should have already been returned to the authorities but if they haven't, they will need to be returned before the new ones can be issued (usually at the same time).
Your new plates will be provided to you once everything else has been approved (i.e, R.W.C, registration forms completed, old plates returned, necessary identification and any other details relative to specific state laws confirmed).
More information about getting your vehicle on the road for each state is available from the following links...
A roadworthy certificate (R.W.C) sometimes called the 'pink slip', is a document which confirms that your vehicle has been tested to the required standards for it to be driven on the road (similar to the M.O.T in the U.K).
The 'pink slip standards' (required condition of the vehicle) are can vary considerably depending which state the inspection takes place in. Tests in Tasmania for example are less stringent than New South Wales.
The R.W.C is usually required when a vehicle is sold or when a used vehicle is going to be re-registered. The inspection can be issued by a licensed vehicle tester, operating from a nominated garage/service station or a state inspection centre (often conveniently located within/near a registration facility) for them to assess the vehicle.
A R.W.C is usually valid for 30 days, which means that after the certificate has been issued you have 30 days to register the vehicle before you will have to apply for another one. It's advisable to transfer the registration as soon as possible to avoid any unnecessary costs.
Roadside assistance is a 24hr service provided by a number of companies in Australia. For a set fee, they will respond to emergency situations where either your vehicle breaks down, you run out of fuel, lock the keys in the car etc... They also offer technical advice and help when buying a car, like vehicle inspections (at additional cost) which is useful particularly when you're purchasing your own vehicle.
Depending how much you wish to pay (for the level of cover), you can get break down policies which provide 24hr roadside assistance including...
Free towing after breakdown (for a specified range of kilometres)
Taxi after breakdown
Alternative transport (if the vehicle is written off or otherwise inaccessible)
Vehicle recovery and assistance after loss or theft
A rental vehicle after towing and even accommodation provision
Each state of Australia has a different association (company) for roadside assistance. However all motoring associations have reciprocal rights in other states, i.e, if you have purchased cover in Queensland and are driving in the Northern Territory you will still be covered.
You can find some of the major associations in thefollowing list...
Because of the diversity of the country, driving in Australia offers a variety of experiences for backpackers. You have the multi-lane/quick moving traffic found in the cities, the long highways which span vast distances along the coastlines/countryside and for the adventurous, the 4WD off road experiences in the outback.
The driving culture in Australia is fairly easy going with a well established system of roads and highways linking most of the towns and cities in between.
The roads themselves are generally in good condition around the main hubs of civilisation and there are even sealed roads (i.e, bitumen/tarmac roads) now which can take you from one side of the country to the other.
In Australia the flow of traffic is on the left side of the road which may take a bit of getting used to depending where you're from. This means that when you pull out you always check your right hand side for oncoming vehicles as they will have the right of way. You also give way to the right at roundabouts and drive around them in a clockwise direction.
If you're in multi-laned traffic the slowest lane is supposed to be the furthest on the left. Be careful though because although this is how it's meant to be, a lot of drivers will still overtake you on the 'inside' lanes as well (undertaking). Always signal before you maneuver to give a clear indication to other drivers around you about where you're going.
The wearing of seatbelts is mandatory for both the driver and passengers, this law exists nationwide. As does the drink driving law, you're allowed a certain amount but it's hardly worth the risk. It's advisable to exercise a strictly no drinking policy when you know you will be driving.
When you're setting out for the first time, relax, take it easy but remain alert while you become accustomed to the way of the roads in Australia. Pay close attention to any road signs or markings and drive at a comfortable speed (remember that it's a speed limit and not a target).
If you're travelling in numbers get a companion to sit in the front with you, it's always useful to have another set of eyes and ears to help out in the initial stages.
For anybody who would like to share their journey and experiences with the people at home a 'blog' is the perfect medium. The savvy traveller will use the blog like their own personal newspaper.
If you're on a Working Holiday Visa or are travelling for extended periods the largest part of your holiday funds will be paid into your Australian bank account. Learn how to transfer money to Australia.
When you go to Australia you're bound to take your camera with you. With it you will be showing friends and family back home all the great things you have seen. Learn how to keep your travel snaps safe.
Driving in Australia will easily provide you with the most freedom to explore. Having your own vehicle you can go anywhere, at any time without the hassle of public transport.
There are lots of ferries dotted around Australia. There are river boats/ferries and CityCats. Some take vehicles across small river crossing points and others which cross from Melbourne to Tasmania.
When you're backpacking around Australia on a budget the hostels are an ideal place to stay. It's worth learning about life in the hostels so you know what to expect when you get there.
There is quite a lot of preparation you can do to maximise your chances of getting work when you need it. Work can be easy to find as long as you know where to look and take every opportunity you get.
Learn how to budget for backpacking around Australia including getting up to date prices for accommodation, transport, essential shopping items and day-to-day living expenses so you can budget your trip with confidence before you go.