Australian cities have excellent public (and private) transport systems, making travelling around them simple. Following is a breakdown of how best to get around in each capital city:
For information on buses, ferries and trains call Transport Infoline: 13 15 00 or visit the website at: www.131500.com.au
Bus – Sydney's bus network extends to most suburbs. Fares depend upon the number of 'sections' you pass through. As a rough guide, short trips cost $1.60 and most other fares in the inner suburbs are $2.70. For more information, visit the website at: www.sydneybuses.info
Ferry – Sydney's ferries provide the most enjoyable way to get around the harbour. There are three kinds of ferry: regular STA ferries, fast JetCats that go to Manly ($7.90) and RiverCats that traverse the Parramatta River to Parramatta ($7.40). All ferries depart from Circular Quay. For more information, call 02 9207 3166 or visit the website at: www.sydneyferries.info
Metro Light Rail & Monorail – The Monorail and Metro Light Rail are good means of transport within the centre. The Monorail circles Darling Harbour and links it to the city centre. The MLR operates 24 hours a day between Central Station and Pyrmont via Darling Harbour and Chinatown. For more information on Monorail call 02 8584 5288 or visit the website at: www.metrotransport.com.au and for Metro Light Rail call 02 8584 5288 or visit the website at: www.metrotransport.com.au
Train – Sydney has a vast suburban rail network and frequent services, making trains much quicker than buses. Trains run from around 5am to midnight. For more information visit the website at: www.cityrail.info/
For bus, train and tram timetables, maps and fares call the Met Information Centre on 13 16 38 or by visiting the website at www.metlinkmelbourne.com.au
Metcards allow you to travel on any and all Melbourne bus, train and tram services, even if you transfer from one to another.
Bicycle – Melbourne's a great city for cycling, as it's reasonably flat and there are good routes throughout the metropolitan area. Two of the best are the bike path that runs around the shores of Port Phillip Bay from Port Melbourne to Brighton, and the bike path that follows the Yarra River from the city for more than 20km.
Bus – Generally, buses continue from where the trains finish, or go to places, such as hospitals, universities, suburban shopping centres and the outer suburbs, not reached by other services.
Train – Suburban trains are faster than trams or buses, but they don't go to many of the inner suburbs. Flinders St station is the main suburban terminal. During the week, trains start at 5am and finish at midnight.
Tram – Melbourne's trundling trams cover the city and inner suburbs. Tram stops are numbered from the city centre. There are also 'light rail' services to some suburbs, including St Kilda, which run along disused rail lines. Be extremely careful when getting on and off a tram; by law, cars are supposed to stop when a tram stops to pick up and drop off passengers, but that doesn't always happen.
Brisbane boasts a world-class public transport network. Information on bus, train and ferry routes and connections can be obtained from the Trans-Info Service on 13 12 30 or by visiting the website at: http://www.translink.com.au
Boat – Brisbane's nippy blue CityCat catamarans run every 20 to 30 minutes, between 5:50am and 10:30pm, from the University of Queensland in the southwest to Bretts Wharf in the northeast, and back. Also useful are the Inner City Ferries, which zigzag back and forth across the river between North Quay, near Victoria Bridge, and Mowbray Park.
Bus – The Loop, a free bus service that circles the city area, runs every 10 minutes on weekdays between 7:00am and 6:00pm. Other buses run every 10 to 20 minutes Monday to Friday, from 5:00am till about 6:00pm, and with the same frequency on Saturday morning (starting at 6:00am). Services are less frequent at other times, and cease at 7:00pm Sunday and midnight on other days.
Train – The fast Citytrain network has seven lines, which run as far as Gympie North in the north (for the Sunshine Coast) and Nerang and Robina in the south (for the Gold Coast). All trains go through Roma St, Central and Brunswick St stations.
Transperth operates the city's public buses, trains and ferries. A single ticket allows you to travel on all forms of transport. For more information call 13 62 13 or visit the website at: www.transperth.wa.gov.au/
Boat – Ferries depart every half-hour, on the hour, from 7:00am to 7:00pm daily from the Barrack St Jetty to the zoo.
Bus – You can get to most sights in the inner city with the free CAT bus services in the city centre, running from 6:50am to 6:20pm on weekdays. There's a bit of a longer wait on weekends. On regular buses, a short ride within one zone is $2.40, two zones $3.60 and three zones $4.50. Zone 1 covers the inner suburbs (including Subiaco and Claremont) and Zone 2 extends all the way west to Fremantle.
Train – Transperth also operates the Fastrak suburban train lines to Armadale, Fremantle, Midland and the northern suburb of Joondalup. There's free train travel (in the free transit zone) between the Claisebrook and City West train stations. All local trains leave from the Perth train station on Wellington St.
The Adelaide Metro Information Centre (cnr King William & Currie Sts) has timetables and sells tickets for the integrated metropolitan buses, trains and the Glenelg tram. For more information phone 1300 311 108 or visit the website at: www.adelaidemetro.com.au
Bus – Bee Line (No 99B) runs in a loop from the Glenelg tram terminus at Victoria Sq to the City West campus of the University of South Australia. City Loop (No 99C) runs clockwise and anti-clockwise around the margins of the city centre from the train station, passing the Central Market en route. Both Bee Line and City Loop buses are free.
Train – Suburban trains depart from Adelaide Railway Terminal, by the Casino. For more information call 08 8210 1000.
Bus – Darwinbus (City Bus Interchange, Harry Chan Ave) runs a comprehensive service from its small depot, for more information call 08 8924 7666. The Tour Tub minibus tours Darwin's sights throughout the day and you can hop on and off along the route. For more information call 08 8985 6322 or visit the website at: www.tourtub.com.au
Taxi – As well as a regular taxi service, Darwin has two taxi bus services – Arafura Shuttle and Unique Minibus – that will take you anywhere in the central area for a flat $3.00 ($5.00 for two people), and elsewhere, such as Fannie Bay and East Point, for a fixed fee. For a regular taxi service call13 10 08, for Arafura Shuttle call 08 8983 0577 and for Unique Minibus call 08 8928 1100.
Bus – Metro operates the local bus network; there's an information desk dispensing timetables inside the main post office on the corner of Elizabeth and Macquarie Sts. One-way fares vary according to the distance travelled (from $1.50 to $3.40). For $4.50 you can buy an unlimited-travel Day Rover ticket that can be used after 9:00am Monday to Friday, and all day Saturday, Sunday and public holidays. For more information call 13 22 01 or visit the website at: www.metrotas.com.au
Bus – Canberra's public transport provider is the ACT Internal Omnibus Network (ACTION). The main Civic Bus Interchange is along Alinga St, East Row and Mort St in the city centre. Visit the information kiosk (East Row) or visit the website for free route maps and timetables. For more information call 13 17 10 or visit the website at: www.action.act.gov.au
Canberra Day Tours operates a hop-on, hop-off bus service that loops around major attractions. Tickets ($30.00 for an adult) are valid for 24 hours. For more information call 0418 455 099 or visit the website at: http://www.canberradaytours.com.au
Driving in Australia
In Australia, laws and driving regulations differ from state to state. Some states require you to carry an International Licence with your current foreign licence. Other states request you carry your current foreign driver's licence together with a formal translation of your licence into English.
As a general rule, you are able to drive in Australia, as a visitor, on a valid overseas driver's licence that covers the same vehicle class for a maximum of three months after arriving in Australia.
However, if you plan to stay longer than three months, then you’ll need to pass a test on Australian road rules and regulations and meet all necessary requirements before being granted an Australian driver’s licence. A copy of the Australian road rules including Australian road signs can be found at www.ntc.gov.au
Some road rules differ within each state and territory. Contact the relevant Roads and Traffic Authority below for further information.
State and territory governments issue drivers’ licences. For more information on jurisdictional licensing rules visit www.immi.gov.au
In Australia we drive on the left hand side of the road. The maximum speed limit in cities is usually 50 kilometres an hour and 100 kilometres an hour on the open road unless the signs indicate otherwise.
Buying your own car
While in Australia you may decide to purchase your own transport. A reasonable second hand car can be purchased for less than $10 000.
If you purchase a car, you will be responsible for registration and service costs, repairs, fuels and insurances. The registration fee covers third party personal accident damage only. You can also pay extra to have third party insurance, which will include fire and theft as well as damage to other cars. You may even wish to take out a more comprehensive insurance policy. The cost of a comprehensive insurance policy can be expensive but is recommended. The cost will depend on your age and driving record and the type of car you own.
You can find out more about registration from the road authority in the state or territory where you live.
Alcohol and driving
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious offence, punishable by loss of your licence and sometimes jail. Random breath testing is conducted across Australia and the driver’s permitted level of alcohol in the bloodstream is 0.05 per cent.
Seatbelts and helmets
The wearing of seat belts for the driver and all passengers is compulsory in Australia. Motorcycle and scooter riders are required to wear an approved safety helmet while riding.
Wearing this safety equipment will greatly reduce your chances of being killed or badly injured in a crash.
Children under seven years of age must be restrained in a suitable and properly fastened child restraint or booster seat when travelling in a car. The type of restraint depends on the age of the child.
Read more about child restraints at www.kidsafe.com.au
Use of mobile phones
It is illegal in all Australian states and territories to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving. This includes talking, sending text messages, playing games, taking photos/video or using any other function on your phone. Using a hand held mobile phone is also illegal when your vehicle is stationary but not parked (e.g. when you’re stopped at traffic lights). You can purchase a hands-free kit from most mobile phone dealers.
Whether you drive, walk or cycle, road safety is a serious public health issue which affects everyone in the community. Everyone needs to know the Australian Road Rules, how to take care of themselves and to respect others on the road.
Below are some general tips to help you stay safe on the road.
- Never exceed the speed limit. Not only is it illegal and you will be fined, but it also increases the likelihood of a crash.
- Do not drive if you are feeling fatigued. There is a significant increase in the risk of you being involved in a crash if you are becoming tired when driving. When you are starting to become tired you can't concentrate properly on your driving and so you can't respond as quickly and safely as you should.
- Whether you are the driver or a passenger in a vehicle, you must wear a seatbelt by law. Ensure your seatbelt is properly adjusted and fastened.
- Australia has strict laws about drinking alcohol and driving. The Police is authorised to stop any vehicle and breath test the driver at any time. If you are going to drink any alcohol the best advice is to plan not to drive at all.
- Leave at least a two second gap between the car ahead and your own. When driving at night, in low visibility or unfamiliar roads, it is recommended that you allow at least a four second gap.
- Use daytime running lights. This makes it easier for your car to be seen by other drivers and will make it easier for you to see on an overcast day.
- If you are planning on going on a long trip make sure you have a good night’s sleep before you leave and plan regular rest and refreshment breaks during the journey.
- Always look for the safest place you can find to cross a road. Traffic lights or pedestrian crossings are the safest places to cross. At traffic lights, only cross the road when the green walking signal is displayed. Never start crossing when there is a red signal.
- Whenever possible always try to cross in a group or with some friends. A group is more visible than a single person crossing a road on their own.
- Always remember that oncoming traffic on Australian roads is seen coming from the right.
- Always stop, look right and left, and listen for any approaching cars. Wait until there is no sign of cars or traffic before you cross a road.
- Never run out onto a road without first looking both ways for traffic.
- Never try to cross a road from between parked cars. Drivers can't see you and you can't see the driver.
- Always walk on the footpath. When there is no footpath available always walk as close to the kerb as possible, facing the oncoming traffic.
- Always be on the lookout for cyclists who may be riding their bicycles on the footpath.
Wearing dark colours makes it very difficult for drivers to see you, especially at night. Light coloured or reflective clothing can greatly assist in ensuring that drivers can see you well in advance.