Does it matter which company I use?
22.12.2010 25 °C
The distance between Sydney and Cairns is roughly 2,800klms or 1,739 miles. It's a bit hard to put into perspective until you're actually on your way and have completed your first big drive or bus journey. You quickly learn all the tricks of how to stay entertained over long distances - ipods are as essential as a comfortable seat and a book.
There's a lot of coastline and beaches and towns along the way. A lot of backpacker hostels and a lot of good things to see and do; some free, some not. There’s really only one main highway for bus travellers and all of the main bus companies stop at all the hotspots. To explain hotspot: a place that 99% of backpackers stop due to some sort of unique activity or history of being fun, and welcoming to backpackers. Places like the Whitsunday Islands and Fraser Island.
So ask yourself these questions
1. Do I care what happens on-board the bus? For example - Do I care if we play games to pass the time or am I happy to do my own thing?
2. Do I want someone to tell me about local history and culture and point out items of interest? Or am I happy with my Lonely Planet book or app or whatever guide book or device I’m carrying
3. Is it essential that I travel with other backpackers? Or am I happy to meet people along the way no matter how I travel.
4. Do I have to have buses departing everyday for maximum flexibility? Or am I happy with random days.
5. I really want to be able to travel overnight to save money on accommodation. Or, actually, I don’t care if I travel at night or not. Or, I only want to travel during the day.
6. Do I only want to travel to places of my own choosing? Or, I’m happy to go where the bus stops for the night
7. A couple of hundred dollars extra doesn’t bother me. Or, it does bother me: that’s 8-9 nights accommodation
8. I have limited time so I need daily or even 2x daily departures. Or, I have all the time in the world. I’m in no hurry
The average travel agent probably wouldn’t ask you most of these questions. I’ll talk more about what value travel agents do or don’t add a bit later on.
The most important things to remind yourself about travelling the East Coast of Australia is that
a. It’s incredibly well set up for travellers and working holiday makers, and
b. It can be expensive if you make the wrong choices too early, and
c. It’s more about what happens off the bus than on the bus. In other words, there’s so much of nothing in Australia. You can travel for hundreds of kilometres and nothing really changes. Quite the opposite of New Zealand (and the countries should never be too closely compared)But this is part of the appeal to many people, especially outback travellers
So ask yourself these questions. I’ll get into the detail of the bus companies in my next post. The bus companies being Greyhound, Premier, and Oz Experience. I’ll also cover tours such as 14-day tours of the East Coast where just about everything’s included. These tours can be a very good choice for the right person.