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Internal flights vs. train

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Alexandria, Virginia
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Internal flights vs. train

I will be in Australia for 20 days in November. I realize that isn't nearly enough time, but am looking to visit the following cities: Melbourne (arrival/departure city), Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, and Uluru. Should I take internal flights? Or a combination of flights and trains? I would appreciate hearing from fellow travelers who have experience in taking both modes of transportation. I want to be able to maximize my time (this is my first visit to Australia) and be cost-effective. Thanks for your help!

South Pole
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1. Re: Internal flights vs. train

imo unless you are a train buff, rail transport between the capitals is something to be avoided esp if u have limited time.

air travel can be cheap if u r flexible with your itinerary eg. offpeak travel times

look at www.webjet.com.au for fare comparisons but book directly with the airline concerned

Edited: 14 July 2010, 02:18
Queensland...
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2. Re: Internal flights vs. train

Also, rail travel costs as much or more than flying (well it does in Queensland anyway). Train 31 hours! Bris - Cairns and over $200. Flight time 2.5 hours and well under $200 (depending on your dates). queenslandrail.com.au/RailServices/Traveltra… As Lien says don't do it unless you particularly want to do a train trip - not just as a means of getting from A-B.

Gungahlin, Australia
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for Canberra
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3. Re: Internal flights vs. train

Not for the first time I sense the OP has listed the most populous/well-known cities plus one well-known tourist destination (Uluru not being a city). I just wanted to make the observation that there are other possibilities. The mention of train travel brings to mind the Ghan, which is one of Australia's actual rail journeys as opposed to just a way of getting from A to B. So for example you could drive from Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road to Adelaide, maybe include Kangaroo Island, then catch the Ghan to Alice Springs and travel to Uluru (someone did a great Trip Report about that route). Alternatively you could drive between Melbourne and Sydney, taking in coast, high country and capital. Anyway, I just wanted to suggest there's more to Australia, depending on interests. But for efficient travel between the places listed I agree with the others, fly.

(I have a feeling someone else suggested something similar to the above recently, if so I apologise for duplicating, it was only when I finished typing that I thought this sounds familiar.)

Melbourne
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4. Re: Internal flights vs. train

There's nothing wrong with train travel in Australia however if you are looking for the quickest option you are better off flying. If, as MacKnee says, you are looking at doing some rail travel as part of your itinerary for the enjoyment of the journey then you could either do one of the more scenic routes or indeed travel between two of the destinations you have listed.

Melbourne, Australia
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5. Re: Internal flights vs. train

If you are flying Qantas to Australia, they have several offers (eg Aussie Airpass and Walkabout pass) that allow you to add coupons for domestic Australia flight sectors to your international ticket. Virgin Blue has an Air Pass which can be used in conjunction with any international air ticket on any airline operating to Australia.

You may sometimes, but not always, obtain cheaper fares by booking individual tickets for Australian domestic flights on the internet, rather than buying an Air Pass.

Melboune
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6. Re: Internal flights vs. train

The subject of train travel has come up at various times in the Australia forum. Here's one of the threads on the topic:

tripadvisor.com.au/ShowTopic-g255055-i120-k3…

Some people do prefer train travel, perhaps because you leave from and arrive at mid-city destinations, and if you travel overnight, there's a saving in accommodation costs. So, although the cost of an airfare may be cheaper than an equivalent train trip, there are possibly more additional costs with air travel that have to be taken into account when considering the total cost of getting from A to B (altho a really cheap airfare may still work out cheaper all up than a train ticket).

That said, in thinking about train travel, you also have to take into account that the frequency of inter-city trains is not fantastic, and also that the distances in Australia are quite great and Australia has not yet moved into the era of high-speed rail (and there doesn't appear much chance of this happening anytime soon!).

Edited: 14 July 2010, 07:34
Melboune
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7. Re: Internal flights vs. train

Here's another thread on the topic --

tripadvisor.com.au/ShowTopic-g255100-i278-k3…

Sydney, Australia
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8. Re: Internal flights vs. train

As someone who has travelled a bit through eastern Australia at least, I wouldn't knock trains off your list straight away, despite what the first response above may suggest. If you need to get somewhere very quickly between two major centres, you may need to fly. 3 hrs door to door Sydney to Melbourne compared to 10-11 hrs on a train or driving is a big difference. And yes, many Australians won't travel by train - they'll fly long distances and they'll drive shorter ones. But don't let that put you off - many Australians haven't seen much of their own country too.

However, there are a number of advantages to train travel in some ways:

• although trains are not as fast as flying, they are often faster or just as fast as driving between major centres. And because there's room to move around (unlike a bus), you usually arrive relaxed instead of stressful (which highway driving can be at times).

• Between Melbourne and Sydney, between Sydney and Brisbane there are relatively inexpensive sleeper trains, where you can get between places overnight and can wake up the next morning at your destination. They're not luxury but they're functional. Cairns to Brisbane has overnight trains some days and the tilt train the other days (which still takes part of the night).

• The thing I like about train travel is that you can see the countryside which you simply don't see going by air or even driving (if you're concentrating on the road, and especially if you're in a hurry). As an example, the route from Melbourne to Sydney is not particularly spectacular, but you do see the typical Australian countryside and some interesting little towns along the way. The route is also different to the main highway for much of its length. McKnee is right - maybe try and slot in some time outside the major centres, even if it's just a day or two. You won't regret it.

• The Ghan and Indian Pacific (none of which will be particularly useful for your itinerary) are world-renowned tourist trains, and their lesser-known cousin, the Overland (Melbourne to Adelaide) is also popular. They are expensive, though.

Even if you don't use long-distance trains, the intercity/interurban train networks out of Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney are quite good and you can get to some interesting places by using them (e.g. the goldfield cities of Ballarat and Bendigo are easy train trips from Melbourne for a day, the Blue Mountains similarly from Sydney). Think about what you can do.

Melbourne, Australia
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9. Re: Internal flights vs. train

For what it is worth - took the Overland (Melbourne - Adelaide) years ago and swore never to do so again.........esp. now there are cheap airfares around......but if you like the idea of sitting on a train for endless hours, when you could already have reached the destination and spent the day there........trains here - not so fast as Europe!

aussieleigh22

by the way "ditto the above" for inter-city buses!

10. Re: Internal flights vs. train

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