Even though my favourite means of transport for adventure is still the van, there are times and places where bus or train are more convenient and… cheaper. Australia is one of those places, especially when it comes to the bus. If you’re travelling with your backpack and you’re careful with your budget, you should definitely consider the option of travelling on Greyhound bus in Australia.
In this article, I will explain everything you need to know before booking a bus with Greyhound, arguably the most popular bus service for travelling in Australia.
Why travel by bus with Greyhound Australia?
Greyhound Bus Australia’s passes offer an excellent balance of flexibility and budget.
At $369 for the 30-day East Coast pass, it’s well worth it to cover over 2,700km from Melbourne to Cairns. That’s more than enough for most travellers to Australia.
Sure, Premier Bus Passes are a little cheaper at $320AUD from Sydney to Cairns, but they offer fewer daily departures and don’t offer some of the comforts of Greyhound – like on-board wifi, sockets to charge your phone and stops in central locations! It doesn’t sound like much, but for a 13-hour overnight trip, it makes everything a little easier!
Although there are other ways to travel on the East Coast, Greyhound is always the first one I recommend! It’s also the perfect way to connect many of Australia’s must-see destinations!
The advantages of Greyhound bus?
When I first travelled to Australia, I used Greyhound buses to get to all the major places on the East Coast. Taking the bus was such an easy and convenient way to travel as a solo traveller.
Here are the advantages of Greyhound buses:
- The price is very affordable and fits perfectly into a backpacker’s budget.
- The buses are user-friendly (ideal for solo travellers or social travellers).
- The buses are comfortable
- Frequent bus schedules
- Buses stop at all popular destinations (Cairns, Byron Bay, Sydney, …).
- You meet other backpackers going to the same places.
- If you are pressed for time, you can travel all night.
- You don’t have to share the driving / travel long distances.
- If you don’t have a driving licence!
- There are fewer risks with down payments / potential damage to a rental car.
- There is air conditioning, sockets to charge your phone and wifi!
Book on Greyhound Australia buses and where can I go?
Greyhound is an Australia-wide bus company that easily serves all the backpacker destinations on the east coast as well as major cities such as Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Cairns. You can even use it to get to Uluru.
How do I book a seat on a Greyhound bus?
It is very important to note that Greyhound Australia buses do not offer an organised tour. It is only a means of transport to get from point A to point B. That said, it is perfectly suited to a backpacker’s budget and itinerary!
Booking the buses is easy, as once you have purchased your pass you will be given a login and you can log on online and book your bus journeys. If you need to change your itinerary, you can also do this, which is useful as your plans may change during the journey. Buses usually run 2-3 times a day and I would recommend booking them in advance or not booking at the last minute as they can be full during the high season (November to March).
Where to go with Greyhound bus in Australia?
Using the Greyhound pass, you can stop at all the major locations on the East Coast. To name a few: Mission Beach (the perfect place for skydiving), Townsville (to get to Magnetic Island), Airlie Beach (from where you leave for the Whitsundays), Noosa (to get to Fraser Island), Brisbane, Gold Coast, the iconic Byron Bay and of course Sydney.
But most important for those planning their trip is to know where Greyhound buses stop on the East Coast.
Well, here is the full Greyhound route map covering Melbourne to Cairns!
As you can see, Greyhound stops at many locations along the coast, including major sites such as Byron Bay, Noosa, Rainbow Beach (for Fraser Island), Airlie Beach (for the Whitsundays), Townsville (for Magnetic Island) and Mission Beach – so you won’t miss anything.
What is the best way to travel by Greyhound bus in Australia?
There are three different ways to travel by bus in Australia with Greyhound: the Hop On Hop Off Pass, the National Unlimited WHIMIT Pass or the East Coast WHIMIT Pass.
Hop on Hop off
The Hop on Hop off pass is ideal if you plan to travel in one direction only. They give you up to 3 months to travel. Basically, if you know your itinerary and time doesn’t encourage you to be spontaneous and change your plans, this pass is a great option.
The most flexible option however is the WHIMIT pass.
The national WHIMIT pass
The WHIMIT pass is a great pass that allows you to travel on Greyhound buses throughout Australia as many times as you like, in any direction, for the duration of your pass. Passes are available in 15, 30, 60, 90 and 120 day passes, which means there is a pass for every trip.
East Coast WHIMIT Pass
For travellers focusing on the East Coast route between Melbourne and Cairns (or vice versa!), the Greyhound East Coast Passes are a great option.
Like WHIMit passes, East Coast Passes include unlimited travel in any direction – so if you want to return to a previous stop, hop on a domestic flight and continue using your pass, that’s entirely possible. In fact, there are only two restrictions:
- You can only use it on the route between Melbourne and Cairns (so it doesn’t cover domestic travel).
- How long the pass is valid
In terms of travel duration, East Coast Passes are currently available for 7, 15 and 30 days.
How to choose the right WHIMIT pass?
It is very easy to determine which pass is right for you, just count the days from the day you first need the pass to the last day you need it. Don’t forget that the pass is valid for the number of days you have chosen from the first time you use the pass, you can then travel freely during these days.
WHIMIT Pass – 15 days
Choose the 15 day pass if you are travelling to Australia for 2 or 3 weeks, this option is perfect for you. If you are travelling for 2 weeks, I recommend the Cairns to Brisbane itinerary as you will be able to visit the Whitsundays, the Great Barrier Reef and the incredible Fraser Island.
WHIMIT Pass – 30 days
The 30 day pass is perfect if you are going on a 4 or 5 week trip. The itinerary I recommend for a 4 or 5 week trip to Australia is from Cairns to Sydney. During this time you can see Byron Bay, Fraser Island, the Whitsundays, Magnetic Island and Cairns.
WHIMIT Pass – 60 days, 90 days or 120 days
If you are coming to Australia for 2 or 3 months, the 60 or 90 day passes are fine. These passes are probably best suited to people coming on a working holiday visa or if you have the luxury of going with the flow and travelling for a few months. With that time, I’d recommend going ahead and doing the East Coast route from Cairns to Melbourne at your own pace, and heading to Uluru to join one of the epic tours around Kings Canyon and Uluru.
How much does the Greyhound WHIMIT pass cost in Australia?
WHIMIT Unlimited National Journey Pass Fare
15 day Greyhound WHIMIT pass = $349
30 day Greyhound WHIMIT pass = $439
60 day WHIMIT pass = $499
90 Day Greyhound WHIMIT Pass = $629
120 Day Greyhound WHIMIT Pass = $749
East Coast WHIMIT Pass rate
7-day East Coast Greyhound WHIMIT Pass = $249
15 day East Coast WHIMIT Greyhound Pass = $319
30 day East Coast WHIMIT Greyhound Pass = $389
- You will often need your ID card to board the bus. Have it ready when the bus arrives!
- Get to the bus stop at least 15 minutes before departure time, buses don’t wait!
- Book your favourite bus as soon as possible online, to ensure a seat, especially during busy periods.
- Don’t forget your USB charging cable
Frequently asked questions
Which package should I choose if I’m travelling solo in Australia?
All passes are suitable for a solo traveller. The bus service works in the same way and you get all the benefits mentioned at the beginning of this article. The most popular booking for solo travellers is the 30 or 60 day WHIMIT pass. I recommend you talk to RatPack to find the best option for you.
Is there a difference in the stops available or do all passes have access to the entire bus network?
Same network, same buses!
If I have a hop on hop off pass and my friend has a WHIMIT pass, can we use the same buses?
Both passes are valid on the same buses, the same networks and the same timetables. You book the buses in the same way online, so you can travel together without any problems.
Which is more expensive? The WHIMIT subscription or the Hop on Hop off subscription?
This depends entirely on the duration of your trip. If you travel for less than 60 days, the WHIMIT pass is actually cheaper.
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