Personally I feel the most efficient and least stressful way of getting to Sydney from Canberra or vice versa is by bus. While my regular reader will be aware I have a distinct preference for trains, the train between Canberra and Sydney takes 4.5hrs if it is not delayed, as it has been each time I have taken it.
Of course flying is an option but in reality there is little difference time wise between it and the 3.5hr bus trip when you take into account check-in time and getting too/from each airport. There is a distinct difference in cost however especially if you wish to go from city centre to city centre, as the bus does.
Two bus companies ply the route, Murrays and Greyhound Australia. The coaches used are fairly similar (the former is mostly white while the latter is bright red) and are of good quality with free WiFi (when it can pick up a signal), USB charging on every seat, leather reclining seats and a bathroom on-board. Cost is also similar – see below.
Where Murrays excel is that it has a much more frequent service – pretty much hourly during the day (from 4am) and early evening and indeed has an overnight service arriving into Sydney at 3am from Canberra – timed to link with very early departures from the International Airport, at which all services stop. In fact the International Airport terminal is the only stop on the otherwise express city to city service for Murrays. A few of Greyhound’s, less frequent services, stop at intermediate points along the way. Murrays (I am not sure re Greyhound) also has a policy of providing no video, music or radio streaming in its coaches. You can, of course, bring your own private music, etc as long as you play it through personal headphones.
Both companies depart Sydney from outside Central Station with Murrays leaving from its office at 486 Pitt Street (drop-down in Sydney is around the corner, in Eddy Avenue) and Greyhound departing from and arriving into Eddy Avenue just in front of the railway station. Both companies arrive into and depart from the Jolimont Centre right in the centre of Canberra.
Cost – Murrays
Non Flexible $38 each way
Flexible with a fee $42 each way
Flexible $46 each way
Be aware that cheaper tickets sell out quickly and are not offered on some peak services, around the weekend in particular.
Cost – Greyhound
Non Flexible $38 each way
Flexible $48 each way
Costs updated Dec 2017
Note also that flexibility for both companies relates to a change in travel date or time. All fares are non refundable with both companies.
With Murrays you will always get a seat (at full fare) as they put on additional buses if necessary. On my most recent return from Sydney to Canberra the 5pm Sunday service equated to 3 buses the first two of which left when full and did not stop at the airport meaning they arrived into Canberra about 20 minutes ahead of schedule.
You will note that I have referred to Murrays more than Greyhound in this review. This is because I have not actually travelled on Greyhound on this route. I can certainly personally recommend Murrays’ service and have no reason to believe that Greyhound’s is not equally good.
Both operators (in particular Greyhound) provide a much wider service than the Sydney – Canberra route. For details on all routes including the Sydney Canberra service see their respective websites.