Transport in Australia

Transport in Australia

Transport in Australia is a highly significant part of the infrastructure of the Australian economy, since the distances are large and the country has a relatively low population density.


kilometres) on the Hume highway from Sydney to Melbourne] The railway network is large, comprising a total of 33,819 km (2,540 km electrified) of track: 3,719 km broad gauge, 15,422 km standard gauge, 14,506 km narrow gauge and 172 km dual gauge. Rail transport started in the various colonies at different dates. Privately owned railways started the first lines, and struggled to succeed on a remote, huge, and sparsely populated continent, and government railways dominated. Although the various colonies had been advised by London to choose a common gauge, the colonies ended up with different gauges.

National rail services

The Great Southern Railway, owned by Serco Asia Pacific, operates three trains: the Indian Pacific (Sydney-Adelaide-Perth), The Ghan (Adelaide-Alice Springs-Darwin), and The Overland (Melbourne-Adelaide) [] . NSW owned CountryLink services link Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne via Sydney. Since the extension of the Ghan from Alice Springs to Darwin was completed in 2004, all mainland Australian capital cities are linked by standard gauge rail, for the first time.

tate and city rail services

There are various state and city rail services operated by a combination of government and private entities, the most prominent of these include V/Line (regional trains and buses in Victoria); Connex Melbourne which operates the Melbourne suburban railway network;
RailCorp operating all passenger rail services in New South Wales including (CityRail and CountryLink);Queensland Rail (QR) operating Traveltrain and the Citytrain network, South-East Queensland's commuter railway network under the TransLink scheme, and Transwa operating train and bus services in Western Australia.

Mining railways

Four heavy-duty mining railways carry iron ore to ports in the northwest of Western Australia. These railways carry no other traffic, and are isolated by deserts from all other railways. The lines are standard gauge and are built to the heaviest US standards.

In 2006, a fifth iron ore railway is proposed by the Fortescue Metals Group, while a sixth common carrier railway is proposed to serve the port of Oakajee just north of Geraldton.

Cane railways

In Queensland about 15 sugar mills have narrow gauge (RailGauge|2ft gauge) cane tramways that deliver sugar cane to the mills.


The Australian Highway System is broken up into 3 different categories for rural Australia:
*Federal Highways
*State Highways
*Local Roads

The road network is again extensive, comprising a total of 913,000 km broken down into: [CIA world fact book]
*"Paved:" 353,331 km (including 2,863.2 km of expressways)
*"Unpaved:" 559,669 km (1996 estimate)
*"Expressways Under Construction:" 267.6 km

The majority of road tunnels in Australia have been constructed since the 1990's to relieve traffic congestion in metropolitan areas, or to cross significant watercourses. See for a listing.


There are several pipeline systems including:
*"Crude oil:" 2,500 km
*"Petroleum products:" 500 km
*"Natural gas:" 5,600 km
** Perth to Kalgoorlie - Goldfields Water Supply Scheme
** Morgan on the Murray River to Adelaide, Whyalla, Port Lincoln
**Turunga Bain to Bendigo Super Pipe and proposed extension to Ballarat


Australia's inland waterways are not a significant means commercial transport. In the 19th century, paddle steamers were used on the Murray-Darling Basin to transport produce such as wool and wheat but the water levels are highly unreliable, making the river impassable for large parts of the year. The steamers proved unable to compete with rail, and later, road transport. Traffic now on inland waterways is therefore largely restricted to private recreational craft.

Ports and harbours



* Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Fremantle,
* Geelong, Gladstone, Mackay, Melbourne, Newcastle, Sydney, Townsville, Wollongong
* Port Lincoln

Iron Ore

* Dampier
* Port Hedland
* Geraldton
* Oakajee - proposed 2006
* Esperance
* Port Lincoln - possible 2007


* Devonport
* Launceston
* Hobart

Merchant marine vessels

As of 2006, the Australian fleet consists of 53 ships of 1,000 gross register tons or over: Portal:Nautical/Fleet/Australia


There are many airports around Australia paved or unpaved. A 2004 estimate put the number of airports at 448. The busiest airports in Australia are:

*Sydney Airport
*Melbourne Airport
*Brisbane Airport
*Perth Airport
*Adelaide Airport
*Cairns International Airport
*Gold Coast Airport
*Canberra International Airport
*Hobart International Airport
*Avalon Airport
*Darwin International Airport

Airports with paved runways

"Total:" 305
*"Over 3,047 m (10,000 ft):" 10
*"2,438 to 3,047 m (8,000 to 10,000 ft):" 12
*"1,524 to 2,437 m (5,000 to 8,000 ft):" 131
*"914 to 1,523 m (3,000 to 5,000 ft):" 139
*"Under 914 m (3,000 ft):" 13 (2004 estimate)

Airports with unpaved runways

*"1,524 to 2,437 m (5,000 to 8,000 ft):" 17
*"914 to 1,523 m (3,000 to 5,000 ft):" 112
*"Under 914 m (3,000 ft):" 14 (2004 estimate)


"sourced from CIA World Fact Book"

Public Transport in Australia

Overview table

The table below lists major cities in Australia that have or once had public transport systems. It includes only internal services (as opposed to services between towns), and does not include services run primarily for heritage reasons.

See also

* History of rail transport in Australia
* Inland Railway
* Lonie Report


*CIA WFB 2000

External links

* [ Railway maps]
* [ Driving time calculator for NSW]

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