Top Tips for Navigating the Airport When you Arrive in Australia

The very first place you’ll encounter on your international student journey to Australia will be the airport. Fundamentally, it will likely be similar to the airport in your home country, but things like public transport access and taxi options are bound to be quite different. 

Let’s run through what to expect when you land in Australia so you can navigate the airport with ease.

CURRENCY EXCHANGE

Australian airports are packed with numerous different currency exchange kiosks. Try to avoid changing your money here, as the exchange rates are usually significantly worse than elsewhere. Either do it before you depart your home country, or wait until you can get to a currency exchange outlet outside of the airport (usually in big shopping centres or city centres). 

STUDENT WELCOME DESKS

In most major Australian airports, you’ll find international student welcome desks set up in arrivals areas. These are designed to welcome you to your new city and offer a bit of support to help get you started. Volunteers at these desks can offer orientation advice, maps, information on accommodation and transport, and you’ll usually find stacks of Insider Guides’ print guides on offer for free!

TRANSPORT

Airports across the country usually offer plenty of transport options. Public transport tends to be the cheapest, but will often only get you to a central point like the CBD. Taxis or rideshares (like Uber or Ola) cost more, but will get you directly where you need to be. Within the airport, you can pick up a public transport card, which will be more cost-effective than buying a single-ride ticket.

INTERNET

Most, if not all, Australian airports offer free wi-fi as soon as you step off the plane into the terminal, so you can message or call friends and family to let them know you’ve arrived. Alternatively, SIM cards are available for purchase at kiosks and small stores in the airport. But, you can also use the free wi-fi to download offline maps services or book a rideshare, if you don’t want to buy a SIM card when you first arrive. 

AIRPORTS BY CITY

SYDNEY

Arriving from overseas, you’ll land in Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport Terminal 1, which is approximately 8km from the city centre. 

The Airport Link train is the quickest way to get into the city, with trains running every 10 minutes. You can buy an Opal transport card in the train station before getting on the train; a single trip to the Sydney CBD will cost a maximum of $19.40. For more details and transport options, check the Sydney Airport website

For a taxi or rideshare, a trip to the CBD will cost about $45-55. Taxi ranks are at the front of the terminal, or you can arrange to meet your rideshare at the priority pick-up area. 

StudyNSW has a Welcome Desk in Arrivals Hall A to greet all international students. Check the Welcome Desk’s opening hours here.

MELBOURNE

Melbourne Airport (or Tullamarine Airport) is about 22km from the city centre. 

The most convenient transport option is the SkyBus. It runs 24/7 from the airport to Southern Cross Station in the CBD and costs $19.75 one way (there are also services running to other locations around Melbourne). You can buy a ticket online before you depart your home country, or you can buy one at the SkyBus kiosk when you arrive in Melbourne. The SkyBus also has free wi-fi. 

A taxi or rideshare service can cost between $55 and $65+, while Public Transport Victoria buses run from Terminal 4 and generally cost under $10 to get into the CBD (just make sure you buy a myki transport card at the airport). Find more information here.

BRISBANE

Brisbane Airport is located 18km from the Brisbane CBD.

A taxi to the city will cost about $45-$55 (you can use the Yellow Cabs fare estimator to work out exactly how much it will cost to get to your destination) while a rideshare service will be upwards of $32. 

A ticket for the Airtrain starts at $10, or you can purchase a go card (Brisbane’s public transport card) to use the service. The Con-X-ion shuttle bus can drop you off at a number of Brisbane locations, starting at $15 for a trip to the CBD. For further details on all of these services and more, click here.

ADELAIDE

Adelaide Airport is just under 6km from the city, so getting to the CBD is fairly quick. 

Taxis and rideshares cost between $15 and $25, depending on your destination. The JetExpress bus costs between $3.60 and $5.50 for a trip to the city using a metroCARD, while the Airport City Shuttle offers door-to-door service for many hotels and businesses in the CBD and costs $10 (book at the Information and Tourism Bookings Booth in arrivals). You can find all transport information here

During peak arrivals seasons, StudyAdelaide has a Welcome Desk set up for newly arrived students. Make sure to let them know when you’re arriving by filling out this form.

PERTH

About 12km from Perth’s city centre is Perth Airport. 

The only public transport option available at the moment (a train service is set for 2021!) are Transperth buses, costing under $5. They do not run 24/7, so make sure to check the timetable. 

Otherwise, a rideshare service or taxi will cost between $35 and $55. Further transport details can be found here

StudyPerth’s Welcome Desk can be found by following the StudyPerth ‘footprints’ through the Arrivals Hall in Terminal 1. Or, visit the Welcome Cart in Terminals 3 or 4. There, you will receive a welcome pack with water, maps, travel discounts, and the Insider Guides Perth guide.

CANBERRA

Canberra Airport is only 8km from the city centre, and there are a few transport options. 

Taxis and rideshares cost around $30 to the city, while the Transport Canberra buses are under $4 (but make sure to buy a MyWay card before leaving the airport – this will be cheaper than buying a single-use ticket). For more details, click here

Gold Coast

Gold Coast Airport, also known as Coolangatta International Airport, is located about 20km from Surfers Paradise.

The Gold Coast’s public transport system includes trains, trams and buses, although only buses go directly to and from the airport. A trip to the central parts of the Gold Coast costs around $5-8. The best option is to plan your trip on TransLink to get the most up-to-date details on your journey.

Alternatively, a trip on the SkyBus starts at $15 and takes you to various locations on the Gold Coast, while a taxi or rideshare will cost upwards of $40. You’ll find more information about airport transport here.

Hobart

Across the River Derwent from Hobart CBD is Hobart Airport, approximately 18km away from the city centre.

Taxi, rideshare and buses are your best and most convenient transport options. A taxi or rideshare will cost $40-$55, while a SkyBus ticket can be bought online or from kiosks at the airport. Tickets are $19.50 and you can choose from a range of drop-off points in the city. For more details, click here.

DARWIN

Darwin International Airport is 13km from the CBD. 

You can expect to pay around $25 for taxis and rideshares to the CBD, while the Darwin City Airport Shuttle Service costs $24 and will drop you off at a number of locations (make sure to book in advance). All transport options from Darwin Airport are listed here.