How To Vacation Across Australia This Summer Without An Exorbitant Rental Car Life and style

Vacationers dreaming of summer road trips have been sidetracked by rental car prices soaring to double pre-pandemic rates.

The global car shortage hitting new and used car retailers has pushed up rental prices by several hundred dollars a week. Affordability is at its worst in Tasmania, where rental cars cost tourists an average of $ 169 per day – more than anywhere else in Australia. There have been reports across Australia of cars costing up to $ 400 a day. The shortage of rental cars in Tasmania has become so acute that state government offers local residents $ 1,000 to loan their cars to visitors.

But in place of car rental, the humble train, bus and bicycle are also making a comeback. And ridesharing services profit from the high prices.

This year could be the perfect opportunity for interstate travelers to make the most of crazy season with nothing but a suitcase and a Covid vaccination certificate.

Here’s how to get around without a rental:

Form

There is perhaps no better way to experience the countryside of a foreign country than by train.

If you’re in the mood for adventure, a quintessential Queensland train journey begins in Cairns and drops you off in Forsayth via the humid tropics of the Kuranda Range and through the epic grasslands of Savannah Country.

From there it’s an easy bus to Cobbold Gorge. the outback rail experience departs from Cairns weekly, with tours included.

Or, if Western Australia opens its borders as planned in January, at the top of the list is the train from Perth to the mining town of Kalgoorlie. The original train line, opened in 1971, cut the 653 km journey from 14 to eight hours, making it Australia’s fastest service at the time.

The modern Prospector train is a bit more upscale – with a buffet, on-demand entertainment systems, and air-conditioning.

Narrawallee Beach in Mollymook on the south coast of New South Wales. Photograph: David Gray / AFP / Getty Images

Bus

The bus can sometimes have a bad reputation, and what for? He gets the job done, at his own pace. Buses have the advantage of covering more routes and, at best, can take passengers directly to their destination. They are also often the cheapest option.

A poorly kept secret for carless Canberrans is Rixons buses – the only door-to-door service at the beach. If you fancy a trip to the south coast of New South Wales, which is notoriously difficult to access by public transport, Rixons offers a multi-day shuttle service from the Australian Capital Territory to your destination. Whether you are looking to stroll Beach or Oyster Scales in Mollymook. The best part is stopping in Braidwood for a pie on the way.

Aerial view of Hardy Reef in the Whitsunday Islands region
Hardy Reef, near the Whitsunday Islands. Photograph: Horizon International Images Limited / Alamy

Further north, if you’re feeling adventurous, take two to three weeks to brave the popular 3,150 km bus route from Sydney to Cairns and experience Australia’s east coast. Greyhound Bus are a great option for travel. A hop-on hop-off pass is valid for up to 90 days, starting in Sydney and winding through Byron Bay, the Gold Coast, Fraser Island and Rockhampton. You can even stop and sail the Whitsunday Islands on your way.

Bike

There is nothing like having your transportation combined with some form of exercise.

Avid cyclists would find it difficult to cycle past the Victoria High Country – Alpine land of deep ravines, lush vineyards and quaint Gold Rush towns that are home to half of the state’s recognized mountain bike trails .

the high country brewing trail is a great way to discover the craft brewers of the region or, for a more leisurely pace, the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail winds 116 km from Wangaratta to Bright, with an offshoot at Beechworth. Be sure to stop in the Milawa food region for wine and cheese.

A view of the Victoria High Country
A view of the Victoria High Country. Photograph: David Wall / Alamy

Traveling by bike is often easier when combined with trains and buses for longer distances – but be sure to check in advance if they will carry your bike and if you need to book.

Boat

Before cars, before trains, before planes, there were boats. Slow, of course. But picturesque? Absoutely.

Unless you’re prone to seasickness, water is a magical way to travel and experience Tasmania. A quarter of the southwest of the island is closed to vehicles, with some of its finest features inaccessible except by boat.

Bruny Island Cruises offer an easy way to reach the island from Hobart, with options for eco tours, food tours and day trips.

Also departing from Hobart, it’s worth taking a quick 1.5-hour bus to Triabunna to board the ferry to Maria Island, a national park offering an incredible view of the bay.

Carpooling

Ridesharing services have taken advantage of the relaxed lockdown restrictions. Uber has received more requests for trips over 30 miles to traditionally popular summer vacation destinations since August, from Byron Bay to the Mornington Peninsula. Trips over 30 km increased 21% in Cairns and 24% on the Gold Coast, according to data provided to Guardian Australia.

The newly launched Uber Reserve is an alternative to the expensive car rental market. It allows passengers to book an Uber ride up to 30 days in advance in most major cities, with a locked-in initial price.

For those who are desperate to drive, the company has also launched Uber rental, which allows users to compare car rental options in certain regions.

Another notable carpooling option includes Cosat, on the model of the famous BlaBlaCar in Europe. The website allows drivers to offer a seat in their car at an agreed price, whether they are traveling from Lightning Ridge to Lismore or Melbourne to Newcastle.

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