Advice on Public Transportation

Allison Gordon University of Sydney, Australia


August 4, 2017

During orientation, our leaders asked us to write a list of goals for our study abroad experience. I usually find these exercises unbearably cheesy, but I really tried to put thought into what I hope to get out of the trip. My list was long, with both specific ideas and broader themes. I want to see the Great Barrier Reef, swim at Bondi Beach, try great food and meet interesting people. I want to write more, learn from Australians, and shake that tourist-y feeling. My final goal was the most specific. I want to master public transportation in Australia.

My hometown, Atlanta, is a big, sprawling city with a weak train system and a confusing interstate. To get almost anywhere, you must get in a car. I worked at a newspaper this summer, and while I loved it, the rush hour commute was a nightmare. Some of my older friends told me that Australia has great public transportation, and I can happily confirm the rumors are true.

Having been here almost three weeks, here are some of my tips for getting around:

  1. If you’re visiting Melbourne, use the tram system in the CBD. The trams are basically on every street corner and the map is super user friendly. The best part? Trams inside the city are free. That’s right. Free. If you’re navigating through the grid of the city (which is usually the case), you’ll get around without paying a dime. It’s pretty spectacular.
  2. If you’re in Melbourne longer than a few days, I recommend loading up a Myki card. One of my friends wanted to check out the painted houses at Brighton Beach, and getting there via train was a breeze because of these cards. Despite the dreary weather, the beach was the highlight of my time in Melbourne. The tiny houses on the shore are so unique; I want to come back in the summer and spend a few more hours here!
  3. When you get to Sydney, take advantage of Sunday Funday! Unfortunately, Australia’s largest city doesn’t have a free tram like Melbourne does. However, the magical Sunday Funday almost makes up for it. On Sundays, you can get anywhere on public transportation for only $2.60. This past Sunday, my friends and I took a long train ride to the Blue Mountains. The hike was jaw-droppingly beautiful; we couldn’t believe the whole thing cost less than 3$. Our group saw the Three Sisters, wound our way to Leura Falls, and finished the trip with great food in Katoomba. 10/10 would recommend.