My first visit to Australia provided lasting memories that I conjure up even to this day – the koala bears that actually aren’t that cuddly, the fragile Great Barrier Reef bursting with color, the aboriginal artifacts, the friendliness of its people, the majesty of the Sydney skyline with the Opera House at center stage, and the diverse natural areas of the country.
Another aspect that stood out then was the need to travel from one area to another via an airplane. At the time, I did not realize that there were indeed more environmentally friendly (and far more scenic) modes of transportation across the states of Australia. Since then, Australia has come a long way in promoting its greener transportation options and eco-certification standards.
- Train Travel – a vast system of railroads comfortably connects travelers to many points of interest throughout Australia. The famous Indian Pacific links Sydney, Adelaide and Perth in 3 days, crossing the great Nullarbor Plain in the process. Alternatively, you can reach Alice Springs and Darwin on the equally famous Ghan from Adelaide (pictured above) and in the East, XPT trains link Sydney with Melbourne and Brisbane. The best site to research fares and timetables, although awkward in its booking process, is Rail Australia, and for five-star luxury escorted tours, try Great Rail Journeys.
- Bus Travel – another extremely popular option is to travel by bus throughout Australia. Although, bus routes are cumbersome west of Adelaide, various bus companies work with the railway companies so that passenger tickets can be accepted on some train routes. Greyhound Australia, which operates an extensive system of bus routes, even sells multi-day passes allowing you to travel along a pre-set route getting on and off at stops along the way. Some passes allow free tours and transfers, and are valid from 45 to 365 days.
- Boat/Cruise Travel – if you prefer to be on a smaller boat while traversing through the Australian states, an eco-certified Coral Princess (pictured above) might be your ticket. Choose from various itineraries, you’ll experience an educational, expedition-style journey through the Great Barrier Reef, for example, in style.