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Greyhound Australia Review – A Backpackers Best Friend.

May 29, 2020

When we made the decision to do the traditional backpacking route of Australia, at first I was kind of dreading it because of all the flights involved. BUT, after a bit of research and googling (yay for Google!) I stumbled upon Greyhound coaches and I pretty much knew it was the best option for us.

greyhound australia review

Basically Greyhound offer a huge network of coaches that run all the way up and down (and across) Australia.

Every backpacking destination that is worth going to (and I really mean that) is covered by these coaches, and you hop on and off as you please, depending on what pass you’ve opted for. We chose a mini-pass, which allowed us to travel all the way from Cairns to Sydney hopping on and off wherever we liked – so long as we only went in one direction (for us, that was down the coast, rather than up).

Obviously, you choose the stop-offs you want (depending on where peaks your interest) and you choose the schedule too. If you only want to stay a night in one place, but a week in the next – that’s fine!

greyhound coaches australia review

Are the Greyhound coaches nice?

Yes, we were really impressed by them. We only had a couple of occasions where the coaches felt a little old or scruffy – most of the time the coaches were clean, spacious, and new-ish. For what you pay, you can’t really find a nicer mode of transport, it’s comfortable, easy and takes any hassle away from the trip.

As you can see from below – they’re easy to spot too!

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Doesn’t it take forever to see Australia by coach? 

OK, so the Greyhound coaches perhaps aren’t the quickest way to see the country – but you save yourself the hassle of airports and flying, and usually (what with checking in your baggage, driving to the airport, etc) even a 1 hour flight can end up taking 4/5 hours…. in which case, you might as well get the coach, save yourself the money (especially the airline baggage fees).

Where do the coaches depart from?

The coaches all depart from central locations within each town and city – so you don’t have to worry about getting a $30 taxi ride out to the bus station or bus stop – which is usually the case with airports. In Sydney I think we forked out $60 for a taxi from the airport to the city…! Ouch!

greyhound australia review australia

How long are the greyhound coach journeys?

The longest coach ride we did was 12 hours – which seems like a lot, but to be honest it was kind of nice. I stocked up on a couple of cheap movies from iTunes, synced my Spotify so I had lots of new music to listen to – and then just sat back and enjoyed the ride. It’s not like UK coach journeys where you never stop for rests or toilets – the guys at Greyhound are pretty good with stopping frequently for that kind of stuff, maybe once every 3 hours – if not more. I’m not a big fan of coach-toilets (even though there are some on board) so I was pretty glad for the frequent rest stops!

We did two of those very long journeys, one over a full day and one over night. The night time one seemed to go much faster and it was way easier to fall asleep because it was dark outside, it was also much quieter during the night time coach and there seemed to be about half as many people on board. I would recommend in all cases doing the longer journeys overnight, because (trust me) 12 hours feels way shorter when you can’t waste away at least 5 of those sleeping.

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Can you eat on the coaches? 

Of course you can – I think you just need to be respectful of others though. Cold food is best (hot food tends to smell stronger – which might get you a few glances off other passengers!) so stick to things like sandwiches, sushi, pasta salad…. those kinds of picnic foods.

The rest stops are usually for about 20 minutes too – which gives you a chance to get out and stretch your legs, and even grab some food from those garages if you want to. I’d stock up beforehand too as a back-up though, because sometimes the garages you stop at might not have much to offer aside from sausage rolls, meat pies and burgers! Some of them however were serving full on buffet type meals – which was a welcome change!

What are the coaches like for space? 

Not bad actually – I was pleasantly surprised! They were never too busy either, so most of the time Pad and I opted for a double-seat to ourselves. He might be the most loveliest boy I’ve ever known – but I’d still choose to have 2 seats to myself on a 12 hour coach journey…!

Leg room is pretty good (for all you tall folk reading) although this was never even remotely an issue for me as I’m only 5ft2 and I have small legs. I’m usually spoilt for leg room even in the tightest of spots. I got Pad to model the legroom below for you though – he is 6ft with normal legs and his don’t even touch the front seat.

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How do you purchase tickets? 

You can book them online, or call them up, or go into one of their branches (see below) – so it’s pretty easy really. We liked that you could then book each individual journey ahead of time online – which made us way more organised than usual. You do have to do this – you can’t simply turn up and hope to get on a coach. We booked all our journeys about a month ahead of time (being the keeno planners we are) and then we had our full itinerary.

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You don’t need to be this forward thinking though – you could probably get away with booking about a couple of days in advance, and there would be seats available  To put it into perspective – we travelled on some of the busiest routes in peak season – and none of our coaches were ever full t the brim.

I would recommend printing a few copies of your ticket / pass out though just to keep handy. Usually you don’t need them – but occasionally drivers would demand to check them and some people were always caught out. So maybe print a few copies out and keep them in your purse and your passport.

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Are the coaches comfortable?

I think so, especially over the budget airlines. I’d much rather spend 8 hours on a coach that has a reclining seat and legroom, than on a budget airline with neither of those two things. I slept all the way through a couple of our journeys – which was pretty sweet!

Here are a few things I’d recommend taking:

  • A big hoody or jumper (the coach can get a little cold in the evening and at night)
  • A neck cushion
  • Socks! Because you probably don’t want to wear shoes for 12 hours – and your feet will get cold without them.
  • Ear-plugs (in case you have a loud talker behind you!)

I don’t really think it matters where you sit on the coach (that’s just personal preference to be honest) but it’s worth grabbing a seat near the front if you don’t have any entertainment with you. Sometimes the drivers will put a film on occasionally – so if you’re near the front you should have a good view of the TV screen.

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Do you have to book ahead?

Yes you absolutely do!

Even though you’ve bought your ‘ticket’ or ‘pass’ you still need to book you seat on the journeys you want to take. You can do this pretty last minute, but it’s important to know, you can’t just ‘turn up’ and hope to get on.

Overall rating for greyhound coaches?

I’d give Greyhound 9/10.

We never experienced any problems, and I LOVED not having to get on a plane for a month. The coaches are clean, comfortable and their system is easy enough to work out, and easy to get the hang of. It’s an awesome way to see Australia, and you’ll even meet new people along the way who are working along the same route as you – which is an extra bonus.

The only thing I’d change is perhaps the online booking system and making the process a little simpler – but like I said – once you get the hang of it – you’ll be a pro.

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  • Elle Croft September 9, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    When I travelled up the east coast of Australia some 10 years ago, Greyhound was the only affordable option for backpackers, but it was AMAZING! There is no way you can fly to some of the places that the buses stop, and the comfort level is so much better than a plane. Although some of the legs are ridiculously long, it’s the best way to backpack Australia.

    • Elle-Rose September 16, 2013 at 9:20 pm

      Totally agree Elle! I think the whole convenience side of it is such a plus (even though some of the legs can be pretty lengthy!) I’m always more likely to sleep for 10 hours on a coach though, than on a plane! So I’d always choose the coach if time isn’t an issue 🙂 xx

  • Jess December 31, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Hey, this blog entry has been great. I’m travelling to NZ and Australia next summer and the greyhound coaches seem the easiest and cheapest ways to see Oz 🙂 What greyhound bus pass did you buy? I’m thinking of getting one of the 15,000/20,000km passes but not sure yet. I’ll be travelling solo 🙂

    • Elle-Rose January 1, 2014 at 11:58 am

      Hi Jess! Glad you found the blog post useful! I used the Cairns to Melborune mini-pass, which meant we could hop on and off as much as we liked, so long as we only ever went in one direction (either north or south). I’d recommend that pass completely if you’re only doing the east coast, as the mini passes are really affordable. If you’re wanting to spend more time and do the west coast and the centre too though – then the pass you’ve mentioned sounds like a good choice. Best idea, is to go into a branch when you arrive in Oz and chat through with them, that’s what we did 🙂 Have an amazing time! You’ll love it! xx

  • Sarah May 26, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    Thanks for the awesome post! I was wondering if there was a set time in which you had to use your pass? Like is it only valid for a month or anything? Thanks!

  • Eleanor Charnock November 22, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    This is exactly what I needed to hear! I am also planning a holiday in Australia, and I was worried it was all going to get expensive with flights or hiring a car!

    • ellerosetweets January 12, 2015 at 10:40 am

      Hi Eleanor (yay name twins!) it’s awesome and you’ll love it. And so easy too – kind of takes away all the responsibility that no one wants to have anyway! x

  • Emily Victoria Hart February 1, 2015 at 12:06 am

    I’m so glad i found this! me and my friend are going to travel to australia and are looking at the best ways to get around. Do you remember/know how many stations it can stop at/destinations between Cairns and Sydney? We were thinking of taking this exact route but I can’t seem to find info on how many and where it stops. xx

  • Harriet February 12, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    This is a great page, and answered pretty much all of my questions. I was just wondering, if I purchased a ‘Hop on – Hop off’ pass, how do I book my seat online. It always asks for an amount and then my payment details. Is there a box you can tick if you have already purchased a pass?
    Many Thanks – Harriet

  • Rachel Louise Neill April 6, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    Did you feel safe when on the buses? Did you ever feel that your stuff was at risk? I’m going alone you see

    • Elle-Rose Williams September 5, 2016 at 3:35 pm

      I always felt safe 🙂

  • Colette Dempsey September 5, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    How long did the coach take to get all the way from Cairns to Sydney(minus your stops)? I’m planning to visit Australia next year and I’m wondering if I’ll be able to do the longer trip all the way to Melbourne and still have enough time to get off at all the stops I’d like to visit!