It’s important to properly understand the size of Australia – it’s enormous! In fact, Australia is the world’s 6th largest country, despite having a population of only 23 million.
Distances and travel times
The Australian mainland measures 4,000 km (2,485 miles) from east to west and 3,200 km (2,000 miles) from north to south. Distances and travel times between cities and major destinations are significant, making them an important consideration when planning itineraries for your customers. For example, to fly between the east and west coasts, from Sydney to Perth, takes approximately 4.5 hours. See our distances and travel times chart as a guide.
Because of the long distances involved, flying is a great way for time-pressed visitors to travel around Australia. Look out for international airfares that offer, or include, domestic services at a reduced rate. Domestic and regional airlines operate reasonably priced services throughout Australia. The principal domestic airlines include Qantas and Virgin Australia, as well as budget options Jetstar and Tiger Airways. All four airlines fly to capital cities and major towns, and often provide air passes and special fares to international visitors.
Australia is an excellent destination for the road-trip enthusiast, with an extensive network of well-maintained roads. There are also many unsealed or dirt roads to beautiful rural destinations for more adventurous travellers. Many iconic driving routes allow visitors to experience Australia up close while travelling at their own pace.
It’s easy to hire a car in Australia. Reservations are a must, especially in peak holiday periods. Interstate one-way rentals are available, but these may incur drop-off charges if minimum rental requirements are not met. Customers generally need to be aged 21 or over and must, produce a valid non-provisional driver’s licence. If the license is not in English a valid international driver’s licence and certified translation is required. Australians drive on the left-hand side of the road, with the steering wheel located on the right-hand side of the car. Speed limits vary but are generally around 50 km/h (31 m/h) in urban areas and 110 km/h (68 m/h) on motorways. Major cities often have toll roads that collect fares electronically. The hire car company will explain to customers how this works.
Travelling by campervan is a popular way of exploring Australia. It can also be very cost effective, as transport and accommodation costs are combined. Campervans range in size from two to six berth and many come with cooking facilities allowing travellers to enjoy inexpensive meals in stunning locations. Important to note that in Australia campervans must be parked in a designated holiday park/campsite overnight. There are great facilities across the country where the van can be hooked up to an external power source. This also allows visitors to meet fellow travellers and share their stories.
Off-road and outback driving
There are plenty of opportunities for off-road driving in Australia, particularly in the Outback. However, previous experience is highly recommended. In fact, some car rental companies will only rent 4WDs to customers who can show that they have driven these vehicles before.