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Exploring the east coast? Can’t drive? Don’t have a car? Then the Greyhound bus maybe for you! In this post we shall look at what the Greyhound bus service is all about, where it operates, how much it costs and the pros and cons.
What is the Greyhound bus service?
The Greyhound bus service can trace its roots back almost 110 years, from its humble beginning, servicing no further than Melbourne to what it is today, Australia’s only national bus service employing over 600 people and taking over 5 million people a year to various destinations around the continent.
Greyhound Australia recently invested in 40 brand new high quality coaches so you’ll be travelling in comfort wherever you decide to go. Well, as long as that annoying kid sat behind isn’t trying his best to kick the crap out of your kidneys through the seat.
They also offer 3 more convenient/cost effective ways to travel, in the form of different travel passes. The “hop on hop off pass”, the “short hop pass” and the “km pass”. Of course, you can just buy an ordinary one trip ticket but they don’t work out as cheap in the long run, so we shall delve into the passes that’ll save you money in the long run.
Where will the Greyhound take me?
Traveling the east coast by Greyhound bus is pretty straight forward with plenty of services running daily, 365 days a year, stopping at most towns along the coast. It even covers a fair few of the major inland towns.
If you want to travel the “red centre” then, again Greyhound has you covered with services from Adelaide, Darwin and Cairns.
Go any further west though and you going to run into problems! From Darwin to Broome is possible but any further south and you’ve no chance. Any further west of Adelaide and you can forget it. Greyhound doesn’t service Perth at all, the population must be too sparse on the west coast to warrant having any routes out that way.
2 different types of pass…
As stated earlier there are three different passes available, each of them have their own strong and weak points so let’s have a look at what you get for you money.
Hop on hop off:
The unlimited hop on hop off pass lets you travel between two preset destinations for an unlimited amount of trips, for up to 30 days travelling in any direction. These passes cannot be extended.
- Cairns to Byron Bay – $350
- Cairns to Sydney – $445
- Melbourne to Cairns – $549
Another type of hop on hop off pass only allows you to travel in one direction (of you choice) as much as you want for up to 3 months, giving you the opportunity to plan a route and spend plenty of time to really explore everything the route has to offer. These passes can also be extended for an extra 3 months, of course at an extra cost. Nothing ever comes for free does it…
- Alice springs to Cairns – $395
- Brisbane to Cairns – $350
- Sydney to Cairns – $445
- Melbourne to Cairns – $549
Short hop pass:
The “short hop pass” does pretty much what is says on the tin. Short distance, less time. In fact with the short hop you only get 30 days to get from you chosen start point to your end point. Again you can only travel one way and you cannot extend the short hop pass. Here’s some prices…
- Adelaide to Alice Springs – $229
- Darwin to Alice Springs – $239
- Sydney to Brisbane – $149
- Sydney to Byron Bay – $119
- Sydney to Melbourne – $115
- Brisbane to Melbourne – $235
Then there’s the KM pass, the one I’d go for!!
Hands down the one to go for if you’re serious about seeing as much of the east coast as possible. The “KM pass” offers the most flexibility of all the passes. Simply sign up and make a Greyhound account, decide where you’d like to visit within the next 12 months, have a rough guesstimation of how many kms it will be in total and put that many kms on you account. You’re free to go anywhere on any Greyhound bus at anytime in any direction you please. Just knock it off the amount of kilometers on you account. Simple.
Don’t worry about buying too many as you can always trade kms for tours, adventures and accommodation. This way you shouldn’t have to lose any at all. However, there is one problem with spending you points on accommodation/ tours etc which we will come to in the cons section below.
So now here’s a quick run down of how far you’ll get for how much money:
- 1000km – $199 = 19.9c per km
- 2500km – $419
- 5000km – $789
- 7500km – $1129
- 10000km – $1439
- 15000km – $1969
- 20000km – $2379
- 25000km – $2679 = 10.7c per km
As you can see from the prices above, the more kms you buy the more the price per km drops. To get the best price, you’re looking at spending nearly $3000 on coach travel! Not exactly pocket change.
Prepaid: Spending money early on Greyhound bus kms before you’ve spent it all on goon and gambling can only serve you well in the future (well next 12 months). Find a job in the next state but light on money, its OK just use you “kms”.
Good routes: Anywhere in the eastern half of Australia and you should be able to get fairly close using the Greyhound service.
Cheaper per km: Splash out on that $3000 worth of kms and its cheaper per km than fuel in a car.
Relax: Coaches are air-conditioned and most have toilets.
Free WiFi: Keep entertained on the move with every coach having free WiFi.
Exchange kms: Swap kms for accommodation etc
Stress free: No maintenance costs and to an extent chauffeur driven.
Meeting people: You’ll meet many like-minded people doing the same thing.
Now the cons…
Cheap km passes aren’t cheap: Go for the 1000km pass and you’ll be paying over the odds on fuel cost compared to if you had you own car.
Annoying kid: As mentioned earlier, that kid that can’t help but tap dance on the back of your seat.
Miss out on things: Compared to having you own car, you’ll miss out on many sight seeing opportunities – your chauffeur from before, now only goes where he wants and not where you want.
No accommodation: Every time you get off the bus you’ll need to source and pay for accommodation, not a problem if you have a campervan or car with mattress in the back.
Only 12 months: Being able to stay in Australia up to 2 years but only 12 months to use you’re kms. You could buy at 2 different times but then you’ll lose the higher km discount.
No toilets: Some coaches don’t have toilets, when ya gotta go ya gotta go! I dunno, maybe pack a brown paper bag 😉
Changing services: Nothing worse than having to change coach half-way through a journey.
Some places you just won’t be able to go: You can only go where the Greyhound service goes.
Exchange rate: The biggest con for me. As stated earlier, you can exchange km for, let’s say accommodation. Look on the Greyhound website for a 2 night stay on Magnetic island, sounds nice. The price for cash is $108. To pay with kms it’ll cost you 990km, that’s not far off $200!!! you’ll only break even on exchanging km this way if you bought the 25000 to start with, otherwise you lose out.
Personally I only used the Greyhound bus a few times, really only when my cars blew up. The little experience I have of them was OK to be fair but its not like really cheap or anything, neither do you get to stop and see all the things you really want to. Having you own vehicle or ride sharing really is a must for Properly seeing Australia. If you don’t want the hassle and up keep costs of owning a car you’ll only really use on the odd road trip I highly recommend hitting the banner below and compare prices on hiring a campervan/car before using the bus.
On the other hand if you don’t have a driving license or you’re not bothered about sight seeing and just want to get to where you’re going then the Greyhound bus service ain’t all bad and worth a go.