All about Greyhound
23.12.2010 25 °C
I'm not sure if the last blog painted a good picture of the East Coast for those wishing to travel by bus. I hope so. If not feel free to email me with any questions.
An overview of the bus companies that service the East Coast of Australia between Sydney in Cairns
Greyhound dominates the express bus scene in the backpacker market. It’s a simple product and a simple service and its value for money. They depart between most destinations at least twice a day. They have big comfortable 48-50 seat coaches, they have toilets on board some, and if they don't they stop regularly enough to stretch your legs and have a pee. The drivers are professional, they don't say much but then they're not paid to. They're paid to drive and get you safely from one place to another.
Greyhound doesn’t pretend to be anything but an express bus service. You can easily book Greyhound online or by telephone. Once you start travelling the rebooking system is very easy. They offer backpacker discounts if you hold certain cards like YHA, VIP, Nomads MAD cards, and the Aussie Saver Card. If you're a student and hold an ISIC card you'll also get a discount. Greyhound always has special deals on their website so it’s worth checking. An example is mates-rates where you can buy one ticket and get 50% off the 2nd ticket (check the website for details). Many of the deals offered by Greyhound are only available within Australia. Take a minute to read the conditions of travel.
A typical Greyhound pass between Sydney and Cairns is the Mini- Traveller: It’s around $320 aussie dollars and includes discounts on some accommodation. The pass is valid for 90-days unlimited travel in one direction only. In my opinion this offers great value. Especially so because Greyhound have at least two services each day between destinations. A typical day’s travel could be Sydney to Byron Bay: leave in the morning at 7am and arrive in Byron at 9.25pm that night. A long day, but hey, welcome to Australia. If you left at 7pm you'd arrive at 8am the next morning ready for breakfast and some sun and surf. The overnight bus is popular with budget travellers as it saves you a nights’ accommodation (around $27.00).
Between Sydney and Cairns you'll probably travel on a bus for around 7 to 8-days over however long it is you are travelling for. Based on that and using a Mini-traveller pass you're spending about $46 per-day on transport, which is quite good value.
Greyhound also has national passes that cover the entire eastern half of Australia, and whole of Australia. (Eastern half? draw a line south from Darwin to Adelaide. Everything east of there is what I call the "eastern half.) I won't cover national passes until much later.
Is there a downside to Greyhound? Not really. Like I said in the beginning it’s a simple A-B to service that takes you everywhere you need to go on the East Coast. They have regular departures, and they have a good mix of brand new and not so new buses. The buses (or coaches as we call nice buses in Oz) are comfortable and reliable. They have a variety of bus passes to suit everyone’s taste, and they keep things interesting with a lot of deals going. Most important is that Greyhound doesn't pretend to be anything but an express bus service for budget travellers. In my opinion the tickets are priced very fairly. They don't try and hit you with extras when you're on-board and there are no hidden costs. Thousands upon thousands of budget travellers use Greyhound every year and do so without complaint.
Australia is a huge country probably better suited to air travel than anything else, but you can't see the countryside from the air. You can't smell the desert air or feel the heat of a tropical day or taste the salt of the Pacific Ocean. If you're worried that travelling on Greyhound means less chance of meeting people I wouldn't be. You will meet people, and if you don't like them get off and take the next bus.
I'll cover Oz Experience and Premier Motor Services next time.