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Australia by Boat

More travellers are looking to go flightless either for green reasons or just to slow down and enjoy their trip. Unfortunately as border security tightens and global piracy increases, taking a boat to Australia is getting tougher.

Your best bet is to try to hop a freighter. The romantic days of crewing on a freighter are gone, so today you’ll have to pay. From the UK to Melbourne, for example, you can expect to pay around AUD$8,500. That’s the tough bit out of the way, now you can lie back and enjoy the journey which will take almost 40 days. Bring a book or, better yet, a set of encyclopaedias.

Travelling from Singapore to Darwin is quicker and cheaper but few companies take passengers on this route. You can travel on from Melbourne to Tahiti, California or even Canada. Ship life is fairly comfortable with meals provided and your own cabin, shower and possibly TV, plus you’ll get to make a few interesting stopovers you might not have planned.

You can start planning with companies like Strand Travel or Freighter World.

This piece was originally written for the Herlad Sun travel Q&A section. Published here at the request of Parlance.


  1. I have a diary from my great Uncle Alf who travelled from Melbourne to Europe on a freighter in 1931. This seemed to involve dressing for dinner with the Captain each night. It includes the rather gorgeous line that shadows on the moon, as seen through the captain's telescope after a genteel dinner and sherry, looked like "shadows stretching back into the past". Nice.

  2. There is a newish book out by Josie Dew about travelling from UK to New Zealand by ship. I haven't read it yet but I'm guessing it would be interesting for anyone interested in the topic!

  3. $8500 - that's not so bad if you include food and accommodation for 40 days. Do you have any idea how long the ships stay at each port and whether there are many stops?
    I think I'll look for that book that lisa mentioned.

    I wondered about training most of the way, and just doing a short flight from Australia to the Asian mainland. I guess that would be hugely expensive.

    I suppose there would be a medical officer on freighters?


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