Australia Driving Tips
New South Wales, the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia — these are all areas within a huge, diverse continent that beg to be explored. Of course, the best way to see anything is off your own back, and a road trip could seriously enhance your time in this beautiful land we call Australia.
Driving within the various states of Australia is becoming a hugely popular way to see the country. Of course, this brings with it various questions about driving in a foreign country, especially if you are using a rented car. So let’s look at the basics.
You are able to drive within Australia on a foreign driving license, valid for the same class of vehicle, for three months after your arrival in the country. That being said, rules and regulations vary from state to state, and in some you may be required to carry an international license as well as your foreign license, and some may ask for a formal translation, which is the International Driving Permit (IDP).
You must be at least 21 years of age to drive in Australia. Anyone 70 years and over will be asked to take regular medicals and eye examinations.
Let’s talk the law
- In Australia, vehicles are driven on the left side of the road
- Do not use mobile phones while driving, except a hand’s free kit
- Give way to right hand side traffic
- Always abide by the speed limit
- Always wear seat belts while driving, including passengers
- Drive in the direction of arrows marked on the road surface
- Don’t overtake with white lines
- Always carry your license while driving
- Traffic signals and road signs must always be obeyed
- Never take U-turns at traffic lights
- While turning, always use indicator
- At pedestrians crossings, always give way to pedestrians
- Children under seven years of age should always be seated in the back seat of the vehicle
The normal speed limits on Australian roads are as follows:
- 100 km/h (62 mph) on freeways and major highways
- 50-80 km/h (31-49 mph) on local road
Never be tempted to speed in order to get anywhere faster, as you’ll be caught by one of the many speed cameras, and fined. Road signs will give you the exact speed limit for that area.
Laws with regards to drinking and driving are extremely strict in Australia, and police will carry out random breath tests. Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.05 g/100ml is permitted for full license holders. For provisional and learner licences, the BAC is ZERO. It is advisable not to drink at all, regardless of the legal limit, and that way you know you’re not in trouble. Being caught out over the limit is a serious criminal offence and may carry possible prison punishment.
Parking in Australia has both free and paid types. For parking in cities, there is always a time and a fee. For parking aid, there are quite comprehensive parking signs in Australia, which will help you find your way. For example, a sign stating 1/2P means you can park there for half an hour, and similarly, 3P means you can park for three hours. ‘Ticket’ means pay and display. It’s worth mentioning that S in a red circle with a diagonal red line through it means no stopping.
Sydney Driving Guide: SPEND LESS – DO MORE
If you’re arriving into Sydney Airport for the first time you probably have plans to see the local city sights, like the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay, and The Rocks, taking a ferry over to Manly or visiting Bondi Beach.
But if you’ve done it all before, then maybe it’s time to hit the road with your rental car and head out of town to discover some unique experiences to tell your friends and family about when you return. An hour or two beyond the city limits can give you some unforgettable natural experiences and the trips can often be done on little more than a tank of fuel.
Drive up into the mountains
The Blue Mountains are part of the dividing range that runs down the east coast of Australia, and are an easy 90 minutes drive to the west of Sydney.
Some great scenic lookouts can be found in a number of places, including the Three Sisters rock formations seen from Echo Point in Katoomba and Cahill’s Lookout also near Katoomba which is best viewed at sunset overlooking the lush Megalong Valley.
Govett’s Leap outside Blackheath, not far from Katoomba is considered one of Australia’s most spectacular views, so it’s well worth a visit too.
If you’re going to make a day of it, consider having a bite to eat for lunch at the newly renovated Hydro Majestic Hotel which is an iconic property located on a cliff top also overlooking the Megalong Valley.
Off to Palmy
Locals give this Northern Beaches extremity the fond name of “Palmy”, short for Palm Beach. This trip will take you approximately 60 minutes each way.
At the furthest point on the peninsular you can park your car near where the Sydney to Palm Beach seaplanes frequently land, and climb the 1km Smuggler’s Track built in the 1850’s, up to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse 91 meters above the beaches, overlooking north to the Central Coast above the Hawkesbury River and south back towards Sydney.
If you’re visiting from May to December, make sure you bring your camera and binoculars as you may catch a glimpse of whales in the migration season. Even if you are coming at another time of the year, it’s still an awesome place to take some photos.
There are plenty of good eateries around Palm Beach and the nearby suburb of Avalon which is popular with locals and surfies alike.
For the cost of a burger and chips
Actually, the local fish and chips are really good and the scene is ideal for eating them, with the fresh ozone of the Pacific Ocean on one side of the peninsular at Palm Beach, and on the other side the sparkling still waters of Pittwater. Both areas have fish and chip cafes.
And really for the price of those fish and chips, consider taking the ferry from Palm Beach to Mackrell Beach and experience a few extra hours wandering around tranquillity in this small isolated village situated on Pittwater, where the only road is grass between the houses and no shops or cars exist.
For a longer break
Consider extending your trip to an overnight stay to unwind and soak in nature. Both areas have a variety of local accommodation ranging from luxury to budget.
At Cheaperthancars and Cheaperthanhotels we provide deals and lots of choice on your car rental and accommodation, to spend less and do more with your saving when you get there.
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