Road Trippin’ with Greyhound Australia

One month, one pass. And a great way to road trip Australia.

Our original intention was to road trip Australia via campervan. But then we realized we didn’t want to drive long distance for an entire month, nor did we really want to be living out of a van for that long. And we didn’t want to fly. Not the best way to experience Australia by plane. So our third option is by bus.

I have to admit, I had my reservations. Greyhound doesn’t exactly have the best reputation in the States. But after talking to friends who’ve been, one of the first thing they make a point to say is that it’s nothing like the Greyhound from the States. Well, that was enough to convince me to give it a go.

Our Journey

A big misconception for tourists visiting Australia is underestimating the sheer size of the country. Australia is big. Hell, Australia is massive! And to cover it by ground requires that you have a flexible schedule and time. Our journey including time is as follow:

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Melbourne – Sydney: 12hr 30m

Sydney – Byron Bay: 12h 50m

Byron – Surfer’s Paradise: 1h 30m (time change)

Surfer’s – Brisbane: 1h 40m

Brisbane – Hervey Bay: 4h 20m

Hervey Bay – Airlie Beach: 13h 10m

Airlie Beach – Cairns: 10h 50m

I know what you’re thinking, 12 hour bus rides seem a bit long. And it is. But it only felt long for us during the day time which we tried once. The overnight trips are much better. After dinner, we’d watch the in-bus movie and then doze off. Wake up the next morning and.. BAM! A new city. It’s quieter and a lot cooler.

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How It Works..

Once you’ve selected your pass, you will need to make reservations for your seats preferably 24 hours in advance. You can either reserve online, call, or if convenient, visit a Greyhound office and one of the friendly staff members will help you book and print your confirmation. Have your booking number ready and available.

A print out confirmation along with ID is recommended for every ride. Drivers will typically have a roll sheet to go off of but if you booked a trip last minute (less than 12 hours prior to departure time), your name may not be on the list. At the very least, if you are unable to print your confirmation, write down your section number.

If your stop is somewhere along the line (i.e. not the last stop), make sure you know the scheduled time you are slated to arrive at your destinations. Drivers will not call out each stop they make with the exception of a few major ones so you snooze, you loose. Literally.

Survival Kit

That said, here are a few essentials we found useful in our day-packs to get through the long journey:

  • Dinner: For you overnight riders, you’re not allowed to bring hot food items on board, but you can get creative. One thing we love most about Australia is SUSHI ROLLS! Or, pick up a Subway sandwich before you go. There will be pit-stops but trust us, you’ll grow old of the typical petrol station burgers, fish n’ chips and meat pies quick.

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  • Snacks/ Water: Snacks for the ride. Fruits, nuts, muesli bars and Shapes crackers were some of our favorites. There is a water fountain on board towards the back of the bus but we never made it back there to give it a try.
  • Ear plugs/ Headphones/ Neck pillow: If you want to block out the in-bus movie or neighbors chattering, earplugs are life-savers! For the most part, nobody really talks on the bus which is a good thing, but the in-bus movie can be loud at times.
  • Light sweater/ socks: I don’t know about you, but I can’t sleep with cold feet. The air-con isn’t freezing but I’ve always been more sensitive to the cold air.
  • Kindle/ Laptop/ etc: Long rides are good for something. We took our bus ride opportunities to catch up on “work”. Gerard edited photos while I drafted a few posts. Ok fine, I got hooked on The Hunger Games and didn’t get much “work” done. Lol

Drivers, Amenities, Pit-stops & More..

Amenities include the following with the exception of one. We didn’t see any alcoholic drinks being served in an ice bar! In fact, alcohol beverages aren’t even allowed on board so not sure why it’s even there. Unless by “bar” they meant the water fountain in the back of the bus, in which case, what a tease.

Drivers were mostly friendly and willing to answer questions. We had all sorts – some straight forward, a few dull, some funny and one that was just weird (in a good way).

Pit-stops are about 3-4 hours apart and is your only opportunity to get food. Your typical stop is a petrol station so options are limited. Stops should last for at least 30 minutes but we’ve had the occasional shorter breaks because of falling behind schedule. If you want a hot meal, B-line to the cash register and order it quick. Remember, you can’t bring hot food on the bus.

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Head counts are frequent and reassuring but are not always reliable. Make sure to confirm with your driver how long each stops will be. We did have an incident where someone got off the bus late in the middle of the night without letting the driver know and the driver didn’t do a head count so he was left behind. Yikes! All alone. At a petrol station. In the middle nowhere. Scary..

Seats are comfortable, recline and offer plenty of leg room. Generally speaking, you’re suppose to get assigned seats but that only happened once on our entire trip. Once the driver tells you where to store your luggage and checks you off, you are welcome to sit where you please.

I prefer rows 4-6, closer to the front where you can see the tv. I’m too claustrophobic to be in the back. Plus it’s near the toilet. I don’t like the front three rows because it sits on an angle where the bus slopes so your feet is positioned weird and your sandals slides to the front of the bus.

greyhound

Other buses may be operated by Greyhound so don’t be surprise if this pink fella pulls up to pick you up. If it’s on time, chances are it’s your bus. There should be a sign at the front of the bus that says, “Operating by Greyhound”. Or, just look out for the driver. If he’s wearing the signature red Greyhound polo, it’s your bus.

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Special Offers

Did you know Greyhound Australia offers more than just bus rides? Shame we didn’t use our pass to it’s fullest potential. For instance, you can buy one night accommodation and get the second at 50% off when you stay at select YHA properties along the east coast!

If you’re planning multiple stops throughout Australia, then Greyhound Australia is a great option. And it’s easy on your wallet.

All in all, despite the lack of options for food at some of the pit-stops, we thoroughly enjoyed our road trip from Melbourne to Cairns with Greyhound Australia. It’s comfortable, offers flexible schedules and for the most part, is on time. The stations are centrally located. We were able to walk to most of our hostel from the bus stop or most hostels offer free pick-up/ drop-off if you’re staying a bit further out of town.

Have you traveled with Greyhound Australia? We’d love to hear about your experience.

 

For a comfortable way to travel across Australia, consider booking with Greyhound Australia. A Mini Traveller Pass from Melbourne to Cairns is $445 AUD with hop on/off options and is valid one-way for 90 days. Visit their website to find the type of bus passes that best suits your plans.

Disclaimer: We received a 2 for 1 complimentary bus pass from Greyhound Australia. However, this review remains independent. My thoughts, my words. Still my voice behind the blog.

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  • http://www.MyBeautifulAdventures.com/ Andi Perullo

    I LOVE this part of the world. You’re going to have the BEST time!!!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      So far.. no complaints! 😉 We had the best time in Oz and are going to spend the next couple months in Asia!! Eeeeek!

  • http://www.MyBeautifulAdventures.com/ Andi Perullo de Ledesma

    I LOVE this part of the world. You’re going to have the BEST time!!!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      So far.. no complaints! 😉 We had the best time in Oz and are going to spend the next couple months in Asia!! Eeeeek!

  • HungryVeganTraveler

    Seems like a great option to consider while Down Under. As a vegan, I would be sure to pack plenty of snacks since it sounds like those pit stops don’t offer any vegan offerings.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yea, the options weren’t that great even for me and I eat pretty much anything. Doubt petrol stations even know what vegan options are. Lol. You’re right to bring your own snacks and food. 😉

  • HungryVeganTraveler

    Seems like a great option to consider while Down Under. As a vegan, I would be sure to pack plenty of snacks since it sounds like those pit stops don’t offer any vegan offerings.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yea, the options weren’t that great even for me and I eat pretty much anything. Doubt petrol stations even know what vegan options are. Lol. You’re right to bring your own snacks and food. 😉

  • http://twitter.com/purplekat99 Becs

    I did Greyhound from CNS to BNS (and then an overnight from SYD to MEL because I had all my luggage and had a better chance of “sneaking” it onto the bus instead of flying).

    I liked the bus. I had assigned seats almost always (liked that a lot more) and I liked that all the hostels knew the bus schedule and could accommodate everyone accordingly. I made about twice as many stops as you did from CNS to BNS and only had one over night and for me was quite painful.

    But still, so much better then Greyhound in the US! I am glad they are not part of the same family:-)!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      oOoo.. great idea with the luggage for those traveling on the heavier side. Lol. We didn’t do many cities in between so our rides were long but not too painful. I really like that the hostels knew the bus schedule, too. We even arrived at 2am once and they had our keys stored in the security box ready for our arrival. So convenient!

  • http://twitter.com/purplekat99 Becs

    I did Greyhound from CNS to BNS (and then an overnight from SYD to MEL because I had all my luggage and had a better chance of “sneaking” it onto the bus instead of flying).

    I liked the bus. I had assigned seats almost always (liked that a lot more) and I liked that all the hostels knew the bus schedule and could accommodate everyone accordingly. I made about twice as many stops as you did from CNS to BNS and only had one over night and for me was quite painful.

    But still, so much better then Greyhound in the US! I am glad they are not part of the same family:-)!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      oOoo.. great idea with the luggage for those traveling on the heavier side. Lol. We didn’t do many cities in between so our rides were long but not too painful. I really like that the hostels knew the bus schedule, too. We even arrived at 2am once and they had our keys stored in the security box ready for our arrival. So convenient!

  • http://iamreadytostart.blogspot.com/search/label/down%20here 77235

    i din’t know it was possible

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yup, sure is! 😉

  • http://iamreadytostart.blogspot.com/search/label/down%20here 77235

    i din’t know it was possible

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yup, sure is! 😉

  • http://twitter.com/aMoneyForTravel MoneyForTravel.net

    My wife and I took Greyhound Australia from Perth to Coral Bay, many years ago. I have also had the unfortunate experience of taking Greyhound back home in the States too – which sucks.

    I too can vouch for Greyhound Australia. It’s a much, much better ride.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      I’d love to read what people have to say about their experiences in the States. Such a shame. Glad our first Greyhound experience was in Oz. Thanks for vouching for it! 😉

  • http://twitter.com/aMoneyForTravel MoneyForTravel.net

    My wife and I took Greyhound Australia from Perth to Coral Bay, many years ago. I have also had the unfortunate experience of taking Greyhound back home in the States too – which sucks.

    I too can vouch for Greyhound Australia. It’s a much, much better ride.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I’d love to read what people have to say about their experiences in the States. Such a shame. Glad our first Greyhound experience was in Oz. Thanks for vouching for it! 😉

  • ken stan

    Sure looks better than the U.S, Greyhound. Those old buses are older than you guys.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      Haha.. probably. Maybe that’s the issue – the old buses. The ones in Oz look mighty new and fancy to us. 😉

  • ken stan

    Sure looks better than the U.S, Greyhound. Those old buses are older than you guys.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Haha.. probably. Maybe that’s the issue – the old buses. The ones in Oz look mighty new and fancy to us. 😉

  • http://technosyncratic.com Technosyncratic

    Those buses look SO NICE compared to the ones in the U.S.! These tips are great; I never would have thought to use Greyhound in Australia, but it seems like a cool idea.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      Right?! We were worried we’d be in for a ride. Literally. It was actually cool. So many people use Greyhound in Oz, it’s really convenient and a great way to see the country.

  • http://technosyncratic.com Technosyncratic

    Those buses look SO NICE compared to the ones in the U.S.! These tips are great; I never would have thought to use Greyhound in Australia, but it seems like a cool idea.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Right?! We were worried we’d be in for a ride. Literally. It was actually cool. So many people use Greyhound in Oz, it’s really convenient and a great way to see the country.

  • http://www.theworldofdeej.com The World of Deej

    Would never have thought to consider Greyhound. I took my first bus trip here in the states from LA to Vegas, and it was a good experience. Good to know this is an option in Oz, whenever I finally make it down there:)

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yea, neither did we. But so many friends recommend we go Greyhound so we gave it a shot and glad we did. We haven’t traveled by bus at all during this trip so it was a nice change of transportation. :)

  • http://www.theworldofdeej.com The World of Deej

    Would never have thought to consider Greyhound. I took my first bus trip here in the states from LA to Vegas, and it was a good experience. Good to know this is an option in Oz, whenever I finally make it down there:)

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yea, neither did we. But so many friends recommend we go Greyhound so we gave it a shot and glad we did. We haven’t traveled by bus at all during this trip so it was a nice change of transportation. :)

  • http://www.gaijinjapan.org/ tunimaal

    It awesome… It remember me when I did Vancouver to Banff (17 hours) and then Banff to Toronto (58 hours in a row) last year. It was with Greyhound North America and trust the bus are not at the same quality as the one you took

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      wow. 58 hours. You should get a medal for that or something! Yes. Hopefully people are aware that there is a difference between the 2 companies.

  • http://www.gaijinjapan.org/ tunimaal

    It awesome… It remember me when I did Vancouver to Banff (17 hours) and then Banff to Toronto (58 hours in a row) last year. It was with Greyhound North America and trust the bus are not at the same quality as the one you took

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      wow. 58 hours. You should get a medal for that or something! Yes. Hopefully people are aware that there is a difference between the 2 companies.

  • http://www.baconismagic.ca/ Ayngelina

    This may seem weird but I love 12 hour bus rides, it gives you time to just sit, relax and think. I always looked forward to travel days in South America which were 12-20 hours each.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      We actually got a lot of “work” done which was great. It didn’t feel like 12 hours. I’m looking forward to bus rides in S. America when we ever get there. Hoping sooner rather than later. 😉

  • http://www.baconismagic.ca/ Ayngelina

    This may seem weird but I love 12 hour bus rides, it gives you time to just sit, relax and think. I always looked forward to travel days in South America which were 12-20 hours each.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      We actually got a lot of “work” done which was great. It didn’t feel like 12 hours. I’m looking forward to bus rides in S. America when we ever get there. Hoping sooner rather than later. 😉

  • http://le-fabuleux-destin-de.blogspot.com/ Kristina

    Great review! Just moved to Melbourne and will probably use the Greyhound now and then! Thanks for sharing!!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      You’re welcome! Ahh, Melbourne is my favorite! Lucky you. Enjoy Greyhound! It’s a great way to see the country. :)

  • http://le-fabuleux-destin-de.blogspot.com/ Kristina

    Great review! Just moved to Melbourne and will probably use the Greyhound now and then! Thanks for sharing!!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      You’re welcome! Ahh, Melbourne is my favorite! Lucky you. Enjoy Greyhound! It’s a great way to see the country. :)

  • steveh250

    We travelled around Australia in 1992 on pretty much the same route you did but we started in Sidney, went up the middle to Alice Springs and then across to Cairns and then the same route as you. Even back in 1992 the Greyhound pass was a fantastic way to travel. Good for you guys in doing this – when my,now, wife and I look back on the trip it was amazing!!!!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Good to know Greyhound has kept it up their quality all this time!

  • steveh250

    We travelled around Australia in 1992 on pretty much the same route you did but we started in Sidney, went up the middle to Alice Springs and then across to Cairns and then the same route as you. Even back in 1992 the Greyhound pass was a fantastic way to travel. Good for you guys in doing this – when my,now, wife and I look back on the trip it was amazing!!!!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Good to know Greyhound has kept it up their quality all this time!

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  • MG

    Hey Kieu! Im planning a trip from Cairns to Sydney, and am definitely using Greyhound. Did you buy the travel package that includes bus pass + 10 night stay at the XBase Hostels or know how it works? I would love some advice on that matter! Thanks!! :)

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Hey MG! We didn’t book the packages with stay options, only the traveller’s pass with hop on/off option. For accommodation, we researched and book those on our own – most of which were hostels. Not sure how the “Stay” portion of it works, thinking you just need to reserve your rooms in advance. At least that’s what we had to do for the “Travel” – we had to reserve our seats in advance. Greyhound has an FAQ and you can also email them with questions. Hope this helps! Jealous you’re going to Oz, we miss it so much!

  • Jade

    Hi guys, we’re about to do the Sydney to cairns hop on hop off. We have 1 month exactly but want to get to Cairns for the last 5 days. Is this reasonable?

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Hi Jade. Awesome that you’re doing OZ for a month! Just to clarify, are you asking if 5 days in Cairns is too many days?

  • Larry

    3/10 rating is what I give Greyhound Australia… Wifi doesn’t work 99% of the time along with AC. Not to mention the stopover’s are at greyhound stops with shitty overpriced food. WASTE OF MONEY

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