Greyhound Australia is the only national coach service in Australia. Whilst we had wanted to hire a campervan, much like we’d planned for New Zealand, but with prohibitive costs we opted for a Greyhound bus pass which we purchased through STA Travel.
Greyhound offer a number of different bus passes; a Hop On, Hop Off pass for a variety of routes, short hop passes, to passes that you can top up by the kilometre.
We opted for the Melbourne to Cairns Hop On, Hop Off pass. This pass allowed us to get on and off as many times as we wanted provided you continue to travel in one direction. The beauty of the pass is that they are valid for six months from the date of purchase and for three months once travel commences.
Did you know that it is 2454-miles (3950-kilometres) from Cairns to Melbourne? Australia is big! This meant that the majority of our journeys were around four hours in length, with one being a twelve hour overnight slog! Fortunately Greyhound boasts that they have a fleet of modern top of the range coaches complete with free on board wifi, leather reclining seats, in seat USB chargers and panoramic windows.
Despite their long list of great amenities, the reality was somewhat different. The leather seats were comfortable but when it’s hot and humid out, the last thing you want to sit on is a leather seat because you are guaranteed to stick to it. The wifi very rarely worked and even if you were able to log on the connection was so slow that you couldn’t do anything anyway. The in seat USB chargers really did come in handy and whilst it was nice to have such big windows to look out of, there was never really that much to see.
As part of your pass you are entitled to place a bag in the main storage area underneath the coach and then you are provided with overhead locker style storage areas above your seat. Unfortunately the overhead lockers were so small we struggled to fit even a small handbag or our camera bag. This meant that we had to keep our hand luggage sized backpacks and food bags under the seat in front or in the foot well.
We also noticed that a lot of other passengers were not courteous to the fellow travellers. A number of times Kelly got stuck under the seat in front where she was trying to store her bag and the passenger in front had boarded, sat down and reclined their seat back right down on top of her. Awesome!!
In terms of how the journeys were, the majority were fine. Our first journey was atrocious. The driver was extremely rude. He made everyone form a queue and then called people forward seat by seat to load their luggage and sit down. Unbeknownst to us on this journey there was allocated seating and for whatever reason, we weren’t seated together. The driver made us wait until everyone else was on board before saying we had to sit in the back two seats. These seats are right on top of the engine so it was excruciatingly hot even with the air conditioning on full blast. We were also right next to the toilet which was delightful. The door either didn’t lock or it would jam shut so we had to get up on numerous occasions to help people open and then close the door. A number of people didn’t work out that in order for the lights to work, the door had to be locked, so they were going to the loo in the dark and we’re sure a number of people had little accidents… Suffice to say it absolutely stank.
Overall our experience was okay. The coaches got us from A to B and that was all we really needed. It certainly wasn’t as good as we had been led to believe it would be by fellow Kiwi Experience passengers. It can be quite difficult finding a journey that fits in with having to check in, and out, of accommodation, which we were very spoilt with Kiwi. The stops were convenient, as in they were centrally located, but we did try and book our accommodation so that we didn’t have miles to trek with our luggage.