The Human Face of Commuting

Weekday Space’s recent competition called for nominations for Australia’s Longest Commute and revealed some very human reasons for super human commutes and some tips for balancing commuting and selfcare.

The competition which included entries from four out of six Australian states demonstrated that caring for others and a dedication to work and study came out strong common motivations for travelling long distances.

Caring for Others

“I feel I commute a long commute. I travel over 100km five days a week to care for and nurse your family and friends. I spend more time caring for others than with my own family.”
Fiona, Nurse – Mt Annan, NSW

“My sister travels from Berrimal Victoria to Broadmeadows every other day just to make sure mum is ok, that’s a 7hr round trip every time.” Helen, Berrimal, VIC

“I drive my son from our house to my parent’s house every workday and then I keep going to work. If I wasn’t driving my son to my Mum’s my commute would be about 20km, but because I want my Mum looking after him I commute 109 km.” Haley, Trainer – Homebush, NSW

Commitment to Work

“My brother commutes 45 km to work as a butcher and does it six days a week. He has a poor income yet loves his work, it’s been 33 yrs.” Bronwyn – Mildura, Victoria

“My best friend is a policeman in the Kimberley and has a loop over 300km to do each day!” Jed, Adelaide, SA

“I currently travel an hour away from my home each weekday for my job. Being a teacher and securing a permanent job sometimes requires this length or commute due to demand areas. I have been doing this commute for a little over 4 years.” Sarah, Teacher – Bundaberg, QLD

“My husband flies to Iraq from Brisbane every 4 weeks to work on an oil field. I think this beats my 12km on the bus to the hospital for work as a nurse.” Grete- Shelley Beach, QLD

“My husband flies from Brisbane to Townsville and back again every single week to treat patients.” Natasha – Brisbane, QLD

Getting Ahead

“I travel down to Melbourne from Bendigo for university and placement. My commute takes 3 hours door to door and I do this 4 day a week. I feel like I know that train line better than I know the back of my hand.” Sarah, Student – Bendigo, VIC


Dr Greg Schwager who has been working in mental health for over twenty years, entered the competition for his regular work commute from Marrickville to the base of the Blue Mountains. He shares his top 3 tips for caring for oneself while commuting.

  1. Sharing is caring. One of the biggest reasons long commutes are so unpleasant is because they have the potential to be lonely. Sharing your journey by carpooling is not only good for the spirit but also better for the environment and more cost-efficient. If you can’t carpool you can look at to staying closer to your work during the week with friends or via a site like WeekDay Space. This has an added social benefit which is great for wellbeing.
  2. Fuel a Past Time or Passion. An alternative approach is to try to make your commute a time to explore new interests, enjoy a current past time or learn something new. Listen to comedy shows or audiobooks, explore new music, or learn a language. Or perhaps sing along to your favourite track (maybe not so much if you are public transport) Singing, no matter how bad you are, can help reduce stress hormones and increase positive emotions.
  3. Take Time to Reflect: Our commute can be a rare opportunity to take a broader perspective on where we are and where we want to go from here. Alternatively, a long commute can help us put work behind us at the end of the day; greater physical distance between home and work can be a good thing to the extent that it helps us keep the two realms psychologically separate as well, helping us transition less abruptly from one to the other.