Getting Around Australia – Transportation Options for International Students
This article provides an overview of transportation options available to international students studying in Australia. From renting a car to taking the train or bus, this guide outlines the pros and cons of each option.
Over the years, Australia has emerged to be a top international destination for higher studies. For prospective international students, crossing the initial hurdles of arduous application process and securing admission at a desired university is a big accomplishment. Next step is the most exciting yet nerve-wracking experience of traveling to a foreign country. A major challenge that one faces as an international student traveling to Australia is the unknown terrain and the cluelessness that comes along with it. Getting around Australia could be confusing given that you are in a foreign land and you are yet to figure out what to expect and how to find your way.
Thanks to Google maps, you can find the location but how does one figure out the low-cost options to reach your destination? As a student, it is not uncommon to take public transportation. While there will always be an option to rent a car and ease out any travel plans, it is not practical as you would be on a student budget and cannot afford private transportation.
Now, let us take the example of a country as large as Australia. It isn’t surprising that given its customs and terrains, a large part of this country/continent still remains unchartered. While the roads are well developed, you still need to figure out how safe those roads are; otherwise running into a Kangaroo will become imminent!
For a student, who is looking at pursuing a Master’s degree in Australia or even studying in Australia, it is thus very important to find the best commuting options for getting around Australia. Hence, in this blog, we will try to answer the standard commuting options which any international student studying in Australia can consider.
So, here we go!
The Commuting Options in Australia
If you are an international student from Asia or Europe, you are most likely going to be disappointed in the commuting options available for getting around Australia. The country has no high-speed trains or a very well-developed public transport system as a commuting option. Neither are the airfares too cheap for an average international student to afford.
However, the Australian roads are very well maintained and hence you can take at least fifty per cent less time in getting around the country as against other places in the world. That being said, let us explore the commuting options you can consider while travelling in Australia.
The Two Points to Consider while Travelling in Australia
The first point is that you need to decide on the purpose behind your commute. For an average international student who is studying in Australia, the commute can be to and fro from college. This will hold true if you are either pursuing a Bachelor's degree or a Master’s degree from Australia.
If, however, you stay in the campus and are looking at getting around Australia only on the weekends or during your free time, the requirement and hence the choice of option will become different.
The other thing to consider will be the length of the stay in Australia. If you are pursuing a BS in Australia or an MS in Australia, then you will be staying for quite a long while. If an International student, however, wants to pursue their career after the education too, then their stay will be really prolonged and hence the choice of option will be altered.
With these two points considered, let us have a look at the commuting options available for getting around Australia.
Renting a Car for Getting Around Australia
Travelling by car to get around in Australia is one of the most common commuting options. Most Australians prefer going on long road trips and hence, needless to say, the car rental business is pretty affordable and common too.
Apparently, almost all of the world’s best international car rental brands are based out of Australia. As an international student, you may or may not require an international driver’s license to rent a car as long as the language of the license is in English. The industry usually offers longer duration hire options for people studying in Australia with special concessions being given to international students.
If you are looking for more pocket-friendly options, there are several local firms as well which offer rental services. A lot of such local rental firms have tie-ups with the universities where the students pursue their Master’s too. One such local operator is Bayswater Car Rental which has its depots in Sydney and Perth and is very common among the international students’ community.
Charges for Rental Car Option for Travelling in Australia
All the rental car drivers, irrespective of their student status, will have to incur a charge called an Excess in case they end up damaging the vehicle. This charge can be anything between hundreds to thousands of dollars. A smart way to work around such a thing is to take insurance instead. For international students, there are concessions on offer if you choose to take insurance service.
The charges for hiring a car usually start at $25 per day and can go up till $150 depending upon the car you choose and the number of hours.
A few Things to Consider while Travelling in Australia by Car
You must be 21 years or older to be able to drive in Australia. Drivers who are under the age of 24 would be required to pay underage surcharge.
You must procure a valid driver's license, either international license or Australian.
Australians drive on the left side of the road and use the right-hand lanes only on the freeways when they have to overtake.
The speed limit on all the roads will be roughly between 70 to 110kmph on freeways while it will be 40 to 60 kmph within the cities.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly prohibited under the law. The police keep doing random checks and if anyone is found guilty, it will warrant an arrest and probable action from the university that the student is enrolled in.
Most of the metropolitan motorways in the major cities such as Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne charge a toll which is to be paid electronically. As an international student, you are eligible for certain concessions there.
You can also purchase a 30-day toll pass through an online service called Linkt. There will be a small set-up fee which will be charged while making the purchase. However, the discounts that it will bring along on all the tolls will be quite significant.
Train Journey for Getting Around Australia
Source : Travelonline.com
Indian-Pacific (IP) and the Ghan are two of the most iconic train journeys you can go for in Australia. They are not really cheap and not an option for day-to-day commuting. Yet, if you are in Australia for your higher studies and living there for an extended period, we would suggest you to take this train journey at least once for the experience.
The Indian Pacific Link as a Commuting Option
The Indian Pacific links the Indian and the Pacific Ocean which means that it connects the twin cities of Perth and Sydney and takes roughly four days and three nights on its course. Hence, if an international student is shifting their base, they can take this option for the travel.
Other On-the-Rails Commuting Options for Getting Around Australia
The Ghan line links Adelaide in South Australia with Darwin in North Australia and spans across four days and three nights. The Ghan Expedition, a stretch over the standard Ghan, is a bit less costly but takes a day more for the same distance.
The Journey Beyond line recently introduced the Great Southern Service connecting Adelaide and Brisbane and takes roughly four days to cover the distance.
The Queensland Rails offers a journey along the scenic coastal areas and the Outback routes at really affordable rates and hence is usually amongst the top choices for the cash-strapped international students.
In NSW, you can take trains in all the four directions from Sydney- the North, Northwest, West and South- to all the major cities including Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra, Blue Mountains and even the Outback towns of Moree and Broken Hill.
The Victoria trains cover the distance between Melbourne to the towns of Bendigo and Ballarat, the Murray River town of Swan Hill and Warrnambool. There are dedicated buses too on this route which can help ease the train station commute.
In Western Australia, the Transwa links the destinations of Perth, Kalgoorlie Boulder and Kalbarri.
You will always have the option to choose between economy and first-class cabins with sleepers available. The international students or anyone studying in Australia will always have the option to book amongst the seats available for concession or reserved seats meant for students.
The average charges for a train travel in Australia are given below :
Adult Opal card fare
Adult Opal single trip ticket fare
0 - 10 km
$3.61 ($2.52 off-peak
10 - 20 km
$4.48 ($3.13 off-peak)
20 - 35 km
$5.15 ( 3.60 off-peak )
35 - 65 km
$6.89 ( 4.82 off-peak )
$8.86 ( $620 off-peak )
Using Bus Service for Getting Around Australia
Finally, buses are a low-cost alternative for anyone looking at getting around Australia without burning a hole in their pocket. Here are a few important things about an average bus journey :
The Grey Hound Australia covers the entire country while there are smaller firms such as Premier and Murrays which are specific to certain regions.
The Grey Hound offers travel passes for hop-on/ho-off travel options as well.
An average bus in Australia has restrooms, USB charging points and Wi-Fi connectivity.
The average bus charges for Bus Travel in Australia are as under :
Adult Opal card fare
Adult Opal single trip ticket fare
0 - 3 km
3 -8 km
For a detailed understanding of the various options, the concessions and the fares, please visit:
The part which we wanted to make sure that every international student studying in Australia or pursuing a Master’s in Australia should be aware of – the concessions.
The ACT provides transport concessions upon showcasing the formal student identification card or upon approval of the application for an ACTION students’ concession card. Any student studying in Australia may please visit the website for the details.
This concession is specifically meant for school students. School students can get this concession by presenting a valid student card. The university and VET students can, however, take up this concession for a limited number of bus travel; no more than 3 hours at a time. Details for the same are available on the NT Department of Transport website.
A full-time international student studying in any of the courses approved by the Centrelink for Austudy, Abstudy or Youth Allowance is eligible for this concession. The details of the Queensland Concession fares are available on the Translink Website.
Note: Youth Allowance – a payment for full-time students and Australian Apprentices aged 16 to 24 years old. Austudy – a payment for full-time students and Australian Apprentices aged 25 years and older. ABSTUDY – a living allowance payment plus a range of extra benefits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
An average international student in South Australia can avail the SA transport concession upon showing their valid student identification card. Details on the same are available on the Adelaide Metro website.
The Tasmanian Government offer discounts and concessions for international students, especially the students pursuing Master’s in Australia can apply for and avail the same on the TAS website.
International students studying full time in Western Australia are eligible for transport concessions. The details about the same can be obtained from the Transperth website.
The Parting Words
A decision to pursue your higher studies in Australia is a wise career move. Studying abroad not only enhances your academic experience, but also gives you a culture-rich experience living in a foreign land. As an international student, travelling within the country you live in forms an integral part of your entire stay. You may have to travel to and from the university, do grocery and/or other shopping for essentials, or simply explore the city during your free time. This article aims at providing all the pertinent details and options on getting around Australia.
Learn more about studying in Australia by visiting this link below