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Getting Around in Australia
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Getting Around in Australia

By Air

Australians rely on aviation to get from place to place as inhabitants of smaller countries rely on trains and buses. The network of scheduled services extends to more than 150,000 km (95,000 miles) and covers the whole continent. Major domestic routes operate between all capital cities. Aircraft can be chartered by pilots who pass a written examination on Australian air regulations and have their licenses validated for private operations within Australia.

The major domestic airlines are Jetstar Airways (, Qantas/Qantaslink (, Virgin Blue ( and budget airline Tiger Airways (, which serve the major resorts and cities throughout Australia.

In addition, Rex Regional Express ( operates throughout New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria; Air North ( operates throughout the Northern Territory and also flies to Broome in Western Australia; Skywest ( operates throughout Western Australia; Sharp Airlines (, covering several regional towns in Victoria and South Australia; and several small airlines operate to the islands off Tasmania. Nearly all domestic airlines operate special deals at greatly reduced prices.

By Water

There are 59,736 km (37,119 miles) of coastline, including islands, and many rivers, lakes, inland waterways and inlets, all of which can be used for touring by boat. From paddle steamers along the Murray River to deep-sea fishing cruisers along the vast Barrier Reef, all are available for charter or passenger booking. Most tour operators also handle shipping cruises. The Spirit of Tasmania ( is an overnight car-ferry service linking Melbourne with Tasmania daily.

By Rail

Over 40,000 km (24,850 miles) of track cover Australia. Rail travel can be slow and relatively expensive. For further information on rail transport within the different states, see the individual state entries or contact Rail Australia (

Two services span the continent from coast to coast. The twice-weekly Indian Pacific travels 4,350 km (2,704 miles) from Sydney on the east coast to Perth on the west coast, via Adelaide. The journey takes three days and three nights, crossing the famous Nullarbor Plain. The Ghan travels 2,979 km (1,891 miles) between Adelaide and Darwin, via Alice Springs. The service runs twice weekly in each direction and takes two nights. Both trains are fully air conditioned, with first- and second-class sleeping cars, a lounge car, bars and good restaurant facilities.

Other express service links (not always daily) from the state capitals are as follows:

• the CountryLink service links Canberra with Sydney (4 to 5 hours);
• the XPT Express runs from Melbourne to Brisbane via Sydney;
• the Sunlander and the Tilt Train link Brisbane with Cairns (32 and 25 hours respectively);
• the Prospector links Perth with Kalgoorlie (6.5 hours);
• the Spirit of the Outback runs Brisbane to Longreach via Rockhampton.

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