Brisbane to Adelaide and V.V for Free (Sort of – not including Food/Accommodation)

Not many people realise that there is a way to legally travel from Brisbane to as far away as Adelaide entirely for free, but there is a catch – you must hold a Vision Impaired Travel pass.  All states and territories issue these, however for this trip we will use the QLD issued one. NOTE: all states and territories have different requirements to be able to obtain these passes. You must also fit the medical criteria, which can vary from state to state.

NOTE: Travel passes are issued on a state by state basis – eg, if you live in NSW, then you can’t apply for a VIC travel pass etc.

QLD: https://translink.com.au/tickets-and-fares/ticket-types/disability/vision-impairment-travel-pass

NSW: https://transportnsw.info/tickets-opal/ticket-eligibility-concessions/people-with-disabilities/vision-impaired-person

VIC: https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/tickets/myki/concessions-and-free-travel/vision-impaired-travel-pass/

SA: https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/driving-and-transport/disability/vision-impaired-travel-pass

WA: https://www.transperth.wa.gov.au/using-transperth/disability-assistance

TAS: https://www.transport.tas.gov.au/public_transport/concessions/vision_impaired_travel_pass

ACT: Call  13 17 10 for more info and how to apply.

This would only be able to be done once per year for free in the NSW section, as NSW only offers 1 free return regional journey per year to VITP holders. Other times you would pay the normal concession fare (or use your CPE ticket if eligible).

BRISBANE – TWEED HEADS SECTION

Your journey will start (assuming you live in the Brisbane suburban area) from your home station to Roma St, before transferring to a Gold Coast train to either Helensvale or Varsity lakes, depending on how long you want to travel for and if you want to make some stops along the way before making your way to Tweed heads.

From Helensvale to Tweed heads:

Alight from your train at Helensvale and it’s just a short walk over the footbridge to the light rail platforms. G:Link tram services operate every 7 minutes between Helensvale and Broadbeach South Stations (soon to Burleigh heads once the stage 3 extension is complete). From there, transfer to the 700 bus that will take you the rest of the way to Tweed.

From Varsity Lakes Station:

Alight from the train and make your way up to the bus interchange and hop on the 760 bus that will take you to tweed heads via Burleigh heads and Palm Beach.

TWEED HEADS – SYDNEY SECTION

Now you’re probably thinking, why go all the way to tweed to catch the NSW TrainLink bus when I can just catch it from Surfers Paradise? When you book your ticket with NSW Trainlink, you have to register your travel pass details with them in order to get the free ticket, and the free ticket on NSWTrainlink services only count if the journey starts and finishes in NSW, (hence catching the coach from Tweed). For this trip to work as intended, you would need to catch one of the 2 afternoon bus departures from Tweed Heads. In this case I would recommend the 4:42pm departure as it will get you there quicker than the 3:15pm departure. The difference is that the 3:15pm departure stops at more towns along the way arriving at Casino at 6:39pm compared to the 4:42 departure which only stops at Murwillumbah and Lismore only before arriving at Casino at 6:55pm.

Once off the coach at Casino its a short stroll with your bags to luggage check-in before boarding NT34 Overnight XPT service to Sydney. NOTE: The pass will only cover trips in economy or first class seats – you will need to pay if you want a sleeper. The best seat on the train, which I would highly recommend is in car C, which also has the buffet. There are 4 accessible seats (seats 7, 9, 10 and 23) and 2 spaces for wheelchairs. These fill up extremely quickly so when you book, be sure to request these if you require (or if you want a seat to yourself without anyone cramping your personal space for the next 12 hours). NT34 departs at 7:30pm (NOTE: Times may vary due to delays).

SYDNEY – ADELAIDE section:

There are two ways to do this. You can either go to Adelaide via Melbourne or Adelaide via Albury. I will cover both itineraries, however the trip via Melbourne will require a one night stopover, so you will need accommodation for the night.

SYDNEY – ADELAIDE (VIA MELBOURNE)

Once you have arrived in Sydney (NT34 arrives at approximately 6:50 am the next morning, delays depending), your bags will be trans-shipped to ST23 daylight Melbourne XPT service. This service departs at 7:40am, stopping all intermediate stations to Melbourne, arriving at 6:30pm. From there, you will need to pick up your V/line paper ticket (if you haven’t already booked it as V/Line don’t do E-tickets) from the V/Line ticket window and also find accommodation as there are no services to Adelaide until the morning. My recommendation is the Atlantis Hotel, which is about a 5 minute walk (or a short tram ride up spencer st). Rooms are spacious, comfortable and affordable depending on time of year visiting, roughly give or take between $100-$150 for the night.

The next morning you’ll need to be up early to catch the V/Line daylink service. Depending on day of departure, this would consist of a train to Bendigo and a coach from there (Monday-Saturday only) or a coach all the way (Sunday only). Your trip details will be printed on your paper ticket. The sector involving the train will depart at around 7am, arriving in Bendigo at 8:55 and the coach connection departing half an hour later (you won’t have time to see much of Bendigo). The coach then arrives into Adelaide at 6:35pm local time (be sure to wind your watch back 30 minutes when crossing the Vic/SA border).

SYDNEY – ADELAIDE (VIA ALBURY)

If you feel like spending a bit of time in Sydney, then this is the option for you. After alighting from NT34, you can book your bags onto the overnight XPT service to Melbourne, which doesn’t depart until about 8:40pm, giving you a full day at your leisure to enjoy Sydney. If you haven’t been before, I highly recommend hopping on the City Circle line train or L2 line to Circular Quay, either hanging around there, the rocks etc, or even hop on a ferry to Manly – or if you want to hang around somewhere close by to Central station, then I recommend World Square shopping centre, Paddy’s Markets and Chinatown. Your vision impaired travel pass will also cover all local train, tram, bus and ferry services, but you won’t be able to open fare gates if you hold a pass not issued in NSW. For places to eat, I highly recommend City Extra at Circular Quay, which is the only 24hr restaurant in the city area. However, the prices can be a bit steep if you’re on a budget, and also Emperor’s Puff at Chinatown, which offers the cheapest desert in Sydney and possibly the country. They sell little custard cream puffs – they’re 60c each, $4 for 7 or $5 for 10. Other than that, there are plenty of other options including pubs and fast food. If you feel like staying a few days, then I can highly recommend staying at either the Meriton Suites Campbell St, Central Studio Hotel or The Ultimo – all are within walking distance to public transport, with Central Studio being closest to Central Station. I use Booking.com for all my accommodation options but if you want to book with these places direct, that’s fine too. Railfans can also enjoy a trip out to Thirlmere to the NSW Rail museum – NOTE: public transport in the Southern Highlands isn’t exactly reliable, consult the trip planner on the Transport NSW website for times.

Once you’ve completed your day of sightseeing (or stay if you want to hang around longer), you’re probably feeling rather tired. Head back to Central station about 30 minutes before the train departs. You will then board ST21 departing at 8:40pm and then disembark at Albury at 4:08am (a crew member will give you a courtesy wakeup call about 15-20 minutes before arrival). Once in Albury, you will then transfer to the V/Line coach (known as the speedlink) to complete the remainder of your journey to Adelaide. This service operates daily and departs at 4:25am, arriving in Adelaide at 5:55pm local time. NOTE: I haven’t done this service as yet, but it could be a little trickier to do, as the connection between the XPT and V/Lline coach is not guaranteed, so ensure you have a backup plan in place in case you miss your connection.

Therefore, if it’s your first time doing this, I would recommend going via Melbourne in that you would have a definite connection, even if you have to stay overnight.

Now depending on how long you plan to stay in Adelaide is up to you. There’s plenty to do, along with city sights tours, train with bus connection to Victor Harbour (which will also be covered by your vision impaired travel pass), and if you’re a railfan, be sure to take a ride on either the Cockle train or Southern Encounter operated by Steamranger, or take a visit to the National Railway museum at Port Adelaide (soon to be connected by direct rail access with a new station opening soon at Port Dock). I would also recommend taking a visit to Glenelg on the tram. I will post links at the bottom of the article. I recommend staying at the Adelaide Riviera Hotel which is close to bus, light rail and train services.

After all the fun is had, the question is, how to get home. If you want to take advantage of the savings with your travel pass, you can do the journey you just did in reverse.

ADELAIDE TO SYDNEY (VIA MELBOURNE)

Your V/Line coach will depart from the Adelaide City Coach terminal at 6:35am (daily departures) arriving into Bendigo at 4:50pm, before transferring to a V/Line train departing at 5:29pm and arriving 7:40pm (Monday-Friday) or departing 5:26pm, arriving 7:24pm (Saturday-Sunday). Now to get to Sydney wouldn’t be a guaranteed connection, so if you have time and want to see the sights of Melbourne, stay a few days, there’s plenty to do. Again, staying at the Atlantis Hotel. I can’t recommend places to eat in Melbourne because there are too many to list – but if you like italian food, then head on over to Lygon St. As for attractions, there’s the Melbourne Zoo, City Circle Tram, Luna Park, and also day tours to the 12 Apostles (at own expense). Railfans can enjoy a trip on the Victorian Goldfields Railway from Castlemaine to Maldon, Puffing Billy Railway (I recommend doing the full line from Belgrave to Gembrook), Bellarine Peninsula Railway, Mornington Tourist Railway and a visit to the Newport Railway Museum – Steamrail and 707 Operations heritage rail organisations operate regular preserved steam, diesel and electric red rattler excursions as well – consult their websites for upcoming events. (websites attached at the end of the article)

When you’ve done exploring and enjoying your time in Melbourne, hop on one of 3 V/Line departures to Albury. (departing 7:07am,  12:04pm and 6:02pm arriving 10:43amm, 3:40pm and 9:38pm respectively). Then hop on the overnight XPT, departing 11:05pm, arriving into Sydney at 6:58am the next morning.

ADELAIDE TO SYDNEY (VIA ALBURY)

If you don’t want to spend time in Melbourne, then catch the Albury Speedlink service departing Adelaide coach terminal at 8am, arriving Albury at 10:35pm, before hopping on the overnight XPT departing at 11:05 arriving 6:58am the next morning. Again, it isn’t a guaranteed connection, but a slightly bigger window than the forward journey.

SYDNEY TO TWEED HEADS

The only way to get from Sydney back to Tweed heads and Brisbane would be to catch NT31 Brisbane XPT to Casino, departing at 2:41pm arriving at 2:19am, where your coach to Tweed heads would depart at 2:35am arriving into Tweed at 5:48am, where you can then transfer to the 760 to Varsity Lakes station and then onto the QR train back to Brisbane, or wherever your home station is.

Of course you can always go direct and pay a small charge for crossing the borders and stay on the XPT direct, which would only work out to be about $20 or so – ask your trainlink agent when booking.

And there you have it, how to get from Brisbane to Adelaide and Vice Versa for virtually free!

Links:

TIMETABLES
XPT Timetables for North Coast Line (NT34 and NT31) https://transportnsw.info/regional-north-coast-line

XPT TImetables for Southern LIne (ST21, 22 and 23) https://transportnsw.info/regional-southern-line

V/Line Adelaide Daylink Timetable (Via Bendigo): https://www.vline.com.au/getattachment/4fab0ff5-e4e9-4636-97af-b66bde30eacd/Adelaide-Melbourne-(Daylink)

V/Line Adelaide Speedlink Timetable (Via Albury):  https://www.vline.com.au/getattachment/e74e25d5-322b-4c95-8b5c-50f24ac09605/Adelaide-Melbourne-(Speedlink)

V/Line Northeast Line Timetable: (https://www.vline.com.au/getattachment/90b9a59e-f637-4c36-973c-02e404ba4266/Albury-Wodonga-Melbourne-(via-Wangaratta-Bena)

PUBLIC TRANSPORT JOURNEY PLANNERS:
QLD: https://translink.com.au/

NSW: https://transportnsw.info/trip#/trip

VIC: https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/journey/

SA: https://www.adelaidemetro.com.au/plan-a-trip/plan-my-journey

ACOMMODATION:

The Ultimo (https://www.theultimo.com.au/)

Central Studio Hotel (https://www.centralstudiohotel.com)

Meriton Suites Campbell St (https://www.meritonsuites.com.au/our-hotels/nsw/sydney-cbd/campbell-street)

Atlantis Hotel Melbourne (https://www.atlantishotel.com.au/)

Adelaide Riviera (https://www.adelaideriviera.com.au/)

HERITAGE RAIL ORGANISATIONS

SteamRanger (https://www.steamrangerheritagerailway.org/)

NSW Transport Heritage (https://www.thnsw.com.au/)

Newport Railway Museum (https://newportrailwaymuseum.org.au/)

National Rail Museum Adelaide (https://nrm.org.au/)

SteamRail Victoria (https://www.steamrail.com.au/)

707 Operations (https://www.707operations.com.au/)

Victoria Goldfields Railway (https://www.vgr.com.au/)

Puffing Billy Railway (https://puffingbilly.com.au/)

Bellarine Peninsula Railway (https://bellarinerailway.com.au/)

Mornington Tourist Railway (https://morningtonrailway.org.au/)

Sydney Tramway Museum (https://www.sydneytramwaymuseum.com.au/)

Melbourne Tramway Museum (https://www.hawthorntramdepot.org.au/)

Tasmania’s Historic Train Services

Tasmania’s rich history includes a network of historical railways that once connected towns, villages, and industrial centers across the island. While regular passenger services are no longer available, several heritage railways offer scenic journeys through Tasmania’s wilderness and historic sites. Here are some popular options:

West Coast Wilderness Railway: This renowned railway operates between Queenstown and Strahan, traversing 35 kilometers of stunning river and mountain scenery. Climb aboard a vintage steam or heritage diesel locomotive and travel through historic sites, experiencing a bygone era of Tasmanian travel. Website: http://www.wcwr.com.au/

The West Coast Wilderness Railway. Image by Christopher Neugebauer

Tasmanian Tramway Museum: Located in Launceston, this museum offers a glimpse into Tasmania’s tram history. Take a short tram ride through the city center on a restored 1940s tram, accompanied by sounds and sights from the past. The museum also houses a collection of restored trams, locomotives, and other transportation artifacts. Website: Launceston Tramway Museum

Postcard Launceston railcar 16 on the entrance square Gunpowder Mill. Creator: Tasmanian Postcards. Credit: Henrik Boye

Don River Railway: Located along Tasmania’s northwest coast, this heritage railway features steam train trips along the picturesque Don River. Explore the surrounding bushlands and limestone quarries while enjoying the tranquility of the Tasmanian countryside. The railway also boasts a museum showcasing restored locomotives for train buffs. Website: http://donriverrailway.com.au/

The Don River Railway. Image by Steven Penton

Tasman Limited: Though no longer operational, the Tasman Limited holds historical significance. This train service once ran between Hobart and Launceston, offering passenger transportation until 1978. Today, the train carriages are preserved at the Tasmanian Transport Museum in Hobart. Tasmanian Transport Museum. Website: https://tasmaniantransportmuseum.com.au/

The Tasman Limited in Hobart. Image by Leonard J Matthews

Labor’s Measures to Address Cost of Living

The Albanese Labor Government has taken significant steps to alleviate the cost of living for Australians. Here are some of the measures they have implemented:

Direct Financial Assistance:

  • Increased income support payments: The base rate of several working-age and student income support payments, including the JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance, has been increased by $40 per fortnight for eligible recipients. Additionally, eligibility for the higher rate of the JobSeeker Payment has been extended to single Australians aged 55 to 59 years, matching the criteria for those over 60.

Healthcare:

  • Reduced medication costs: Implemented reforms expected to save consumers $250 million in medication costs over the past year.   
  • 60-day dispensing: Allowed for longer prescriptions (60 days) to potentially reduce dispensing fees for patients. To reduce the cost of medicines, the government is allowing some patients to receive 2 months’ worth of their medicines per visit to the pharmacy, resulting in savings of $1.6 billion in out-of-pocket costs over 4 years for at least six million Australians.
  • Bulk Billing: The government is investing $3.5 billion to triple the bulk billing incentive for common GP consultations for children under 16 and Commonwealth concession card holders. This move ensures that 11.6 million eligible Australians can access a GP without any out-of-pocket costs, making it easier and more affordable to see a doctor.

Energy:

  • Energy Bill Relief Plan: Partnered with states and territories to provide up to $3 billion in electricity bill relief for over 5 million households and 1 million small businesses, resulting in lower electricity and gas price increases in 2023-24 compared to earlier forecasts.

Early Childhood Education:

  • Increased investment in childcare: Aims to increase affordability and accessibility of childcare through increased funding, potentially benefitting families by reducing childcare costs.

Rental Affordability:

  • National Housing Accord: While not directly addressing immediate cost concerns, this initiative aims to increase housing supply in the long run, potentially leading to improved rental affordability in the future.

Tax Relief:

  • Tax cuts: The Albanese Labor Government has made decisions regarding income tax cuts. They plan to retain the 37% tax rate for high-income earners, unwinding the most controversial element of the Morrison government’s stage-three tax cuts. This move redirects savings to low- and middle-income earners, ensuring that everyone earning between the tax-free threshold of $18,200 and $45,000 will receive a tax cut. While this decision has sparked political debate, it allows Labor to argue that it is providing more generous cuts to about 80% of Australians.

Wage Growth:

  • Indirectly supporting wage growth: While the government doesn’t directly set wages, their broader economic policies, such as increased investment in skills and training and supporting economic growth, aim to create conditions that could lead to higher wages over time. Additionally, the Fair Work Commission raised the minimum wage by 5.2% in July 2023, directly impacting the lowest-paid workers.

Other Initiatives:

  • Fuel excise cut extension: Agreed to a temporary extension of the fuel excise cut, providing some relief at the pump.
  • Free TAFE courses: Introduced free TAFE courses in priority areas, potentially leading to upskilling and potentially higher wages for some individuals.
  • Concessional loans for pensioners: Increased the maximum concessional loan amount available to eligible pensioners, aiming to help them manage unexpected expenses.

Featured image from by -Chupacabras- at https://flickr.com/photos/25222005@N08/2755112918