Driving in Australia
Author: K McLean (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)
If you have ample time in your hands, Australia is a marvelous country to explore by car. You can meander through the wine country in South Australia, or take the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. If you are contemplating a trip into the Outback, always make sure you brought with you adequate supply and fuel - otherwise the mistake can prove fatal.
King Georges Road, Sydney
Author: J Bar (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)
Renting a CarIf you hold a driving license in English, yhou do not need additional permit to drive in Australia. If it isn't in English, then bring along a translation. The most practical spot to rent a car is at the airport, right after you arrive. All the major names are represented at the big airports, among them Hertz, Avis, Budget and Thrifty. Expect to spend A$55 a day for a small car or A$100 a day for a larger one. A 4WD will set you back A$120. It may be a good idea to travel in a group of four, then you can share out the costs. "Third party fire and theft" insurance is usually included in the price, along with insurance against accidental damage to your hired car.
PetrolPetrol prices are lower than in Europe, unless a strong Australian dollar makes it expensive. Petrol is sold by the liter. Available grades included leaded, regular unleaded, premium unleaded, and diesel. Most petrol stations are self-service and accept major credit cards.
Driving in AustraliaPeople drive on the left side of the road in Australia, similar to Britain, Singapore and Hong Kong. There is a 40-60 km/h speed limit in the cities, towns and suburbs, and 100-110 km/h on the expressways and highways. The driver and all passengers are required to wear seat beats.
Road ConditionIn general, you can expect the roads in the major cities to be in excellent condition. The further you go outside the major cities, the smaller the roads get. The highways linking distant cities are usually only two lanes in width with very low traffic.
Road signs in Melbourne
Author: SteveRwanda (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)
TollsWithin and around the cities, there may be a number of toll expressways, but other than that, most highways are toll free. Some of the tollways are now cashless. You need a credit card to make payment. For these, the simplest way to pay is to use an e-pass, the details are available at the Sydney Motorway website. Regular commuters use an e-tag, which is a device stuck to the inside of the car windscreen. The toll and any additional surcharges will be deducted directly from your credit card.
Driving in the cityMost of the major cities have excellent public transport, which makes driving unnecessary, impractical and expensive. If you plan to drive around the major cities, try to avoid the rush hours from 7:30 am to 9:30 am and 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Parking space is scarce and expensive in the large cities. Many high-traffic places allow you metered parking of just one or two hours. In addition, some have clearway zones for specific times of the day. If your vehicle is found parked there when it is not supposed to, it will be towed away.
Travel to the OutbackThe Outback has roads of the level of ruggedness not seen anywhere in the Western world. Although many places now have sealed roads for conventional cars, some of the more remote places should only be reached by 4WD. If you are unfamiliar with where you are going, always make thorough planning before starting your journey. Ensure your vehicle is in good enough condition to handle the trip, bring with you plenty of supplies, most important of which are drinking water, fuel and food.
I often have to remind travelers not to underestimate the distances in Australia. If you are planning to explore quite a bit of the country, even if it's within within a single state, you should consider renting a car. Other forms of transport will get you from one hub to another, but to go into the countryside, you couldn't do it by public transport. In fact, apart from renting a car, your only other options are to join a package tour or to hitchhike.
Expressway in South Australia
Author: BInguyen (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)
Return to Australia