Australia is an expansive country with plenty of iconic destinations to visit. Getting to each of them can seem intimidating, but it’s easier than you might think.
By Ashlea Wheeler
Getting to Sydney
Fly (international): Sydney’s International Airport is serviced by many international airlines, making it an easy gateway to arrive into the country from overseas. Flights arrive from many cities in Asia, the Middle East, North America, South America, and the Pacific.
Fly (domestic): Domestic flights will take you to Sydney from nearly everywhere in Australia. It’s a great city to use as a base for your trip. From Brisbane or Melbourne it’s a short 1.5 hour flight, while flights from Perth take just over four hours.
Drive: The closest capital cities to Sydney are Canberra (3 hours drive), Melbourne (9 hours drive), and Brisbane (10 hours drive). The National Highway system will take you between these cities.
Bus: There are buses that will take you to Sydney from Melbourne (12.5 hours) or Brisbane (around 17-21 hours).
Getting to Canberra
Fly (international): Although Canberra is not a common entry point for international travellers arriving in Australia, the airport does receive flights from Singapore and Qatar (via Sydney).
Fly (domestic): There are flights to Canberra from many capital cities including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth. From Sydney and Melbourne the journey takes just over an hour, while flights from Perth take just under four hours.
Drive: From Sydney, Canberra is an easy 3 hour drive through the Australian countryside. You can also drive to Canberra from Melbourne, which takes around 7 hours.
Bus: There are frequent bus services between Sydney and Canberra. The journey takes around 3-4 hours.
Getting to Melbourne
Fly (international): As Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne has a great selection of international flights. Most of the airlines that fly into Sydney’s International Airport will also fly into Melbourne.
Fly (domestic): Flying to Melbourne is easy within Australia, as there are direct flights from all capital cities. From Brisbane flights take about 2.5 hours, while flights from Perth take about 3.5 hours.
Drive: You can drive between Melbourne and Sydney in around 9 hours. Adelaide is also close at 8 hours drive, or 13 hours if you take the Great Ocean Road.
Bus: There are buses that will take you from Sydney to Melbourne. The journey takes 12.5 hours.
Getting to Tasmania
Fly (domestic): Tasmania is an island detached from mainland Australia, so flying in to Hobart or Launceston is considered the easiest way to get there. There are multiple daily flights into Hobart Airport from Sydney (about two hours) and Melbourne (just over an hour), as well as a few flights per week from Brisbane and Adelaide.
Drive: Driving to Tasmania is possible with the Spirit of Tasmania ferry, which departs from Melbourne and takes around 10 hours to cross the Bass Strait. Once the ferry arrives in Devonport, it’s just over an hour drive to Launceston or around 3 hours drive south to Hobart.
Getting to Adelaide
Fly (international): Adelaide Airport receives some international flights from the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific.
Fly (domestic): The are direct flights to Adelaide from every capital city in Australia. You can get to Adelaide from Sydney in just over two hours, or from Perth in about three hours.
Drive: Melbourne is the closest capital city at 8 hours drive. If you choose to drive from Melbourne to Adelaide, taking the longer route along the Great Ocean Road is a popular choice among travellers. This extends the driving time to around 13 hours.
Getting to Perth
Fly (international): Qantas has recently launched a new route from Perth to London, making it the only Australian city with a direct flight to Europe. This route takes 16 hours and 45 minutes. Perth also receives flights from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and New Zealand.
Fly (domestic): The are direct flights to Perth from every capital city in Australia, except Hobart. From Sydney it takes about five hours, while from Brisbane it takes about 5.5 hours.
Drive: Perth is located on the west coast of Australia, and while it is accessible by road from other capital cities, it is a long drive. The closest capital city is Adelaide at 28 hours drive.
Getting to Darwin
Fly (international): Darwin has a handful of international flights arriving from Asia.
Fly (domestic): The are direct flights to Darwin from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide. From Melbourne it takes about 4.5 hours, while from Perth it takes 3.5 hours.
Drive: Like Perth, Darwin is located a long drive from other capital cities in Australia. Adelaide is the closest at 32 hours away.
Getting to Brisbane
Fly (international): It’s easy to get to Brisbane from overseas, as Brisbane’s International Airport receives flights from North America, Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific.
Fly (domestic): The are direct flights to Brisbane from every capital city in Australia. From Sydney it takes 1.5 hours, while from Adelaide it takes 2.5 hours.
Drive: Driving to Brisbane is easiest from Sydney at 10 hours drive along the Pacific Highway. There are plenty of pretty coastal towns to stop at along the way.
Bus: Buses will take you between Brisbane and Sydney. The journey time is around 17-21 hours.
Getting to the Great Barrier Reef
Fly (international): Cairns Airport receives flights from many hubs in Asia, as well as New Zealand.
Fly (domestic): The Great Barrier Reef stretches along much of the coast of Queensland, so there are multiple ways to get there. Cairns, Townsville, Airlie Beach (Proserpine), and Hamilton Island are gateways to the reef, all of which are accessible via domestic flights from many of Australia’s capital cities. Flights from Sydney to Cairns take about 3 hours, while flights from Perth to Cairns take about 6 hours.
Drive: Driving to the reef is a very popular, as Australia’s east coast provides beautiful scenery for a road trip. If you drive between Cairns and Brisbane (about 19 hours), there will be plenty of opportunities for visiting the reef along the way.
Bus: The quickest way to get to the reef via bus is travelling from Brisbane to Airlie Beach. The trip takes around 19-20 hours.
Getting to the Red Centre
Fly (domestic): Alice Springs is the gateway to Australia’s Red Centre. This area is remote, but not difficult to get to. You can fly to Alice Springs from all capital cities except Canberra and Hobart or fly directly to Uluru (Ayers Rock) from Melbourne or Sydney (3-3.5 hours) if you’re short on time.
Drive: Plenty of travellers drive to Australia’s Red Centre from Adelaide or Darwin. If you choose this option, be aware that the distances are great at around 16-17 hours each way, so these journeys should be done over a few days.
Bus: Buses will take you from Adelaide or Darwin to Alice Springs. The journey time is around 20-21 hours from either city. From Alice Springs, you can organise a tour to see the Red Centre.
Getting to the Great Ocean Road
Fly (domestic): The Great Ocean Road is accessible from either Melbourne or Adelaide. Avalon Airport, located an hour outside of Melbourne, is the closest domestic airport to the beginning of the Great Ocean Road.
Drive: Driving along Victoria’s scenic coastline is what the Great Ocean Road is all about. The Great Ocean Road officially starts at Torquay and ends at Nelson, near the South Australian border. The drive takes around 6 hours to complete, though you should account for plenty of stops along the way.
Getting to Kangaroo Island
Fly (domestic): Kingscote Airport is the regional airport for Kangaroo Island. There are daily flights from Adelaide, and seasonal flights from Melbourne.
Bus: SeaLink also offer a coach + ferry service from Adelaide to Kingscote, the largest town on Kangaroo Island.
Plan your trip to Australia