Driving in Australia

Driving in Australia is an experience to be savoured. It’s a way to experience the wide-open spaces and magnificent natural scenery, and there are so many destinations that can only be experienced by car. Before setting off you should make sure you are well prepared for the Australian driving experience.

RULES & REGULATIONS

  • Australians drive on the left side of the road and the majority of vehicles have the steering wheel on their right side. Around 70% of Australian cars are automatic transmission. When hiring a car, manual transmission (stick-shift) is generally only offered as an option for the cheapest small cars. The gear stick in a manual transmission is operated by the left hand. The arrangement of the pedals is standard worldwide. In most cars, the indicator (turn-signal) stalk will be on the right side of the steering wheel and the windscreen wiper stalk on the left side of the steering wheel. If you have a European car, this may be reversed (i.e., normal for Europe and North America).

  • Driving conditions vary. Most Australians live on or near the eastern and south-east coasts. Roads within and between the cities and towns in these areas are sealed (paved) and well maintained, as are the main highways that join the state and territory capital cities. There are usually plenty of well marked rest areas on major highways, though these are usually very basic and do not always have toilet facilities.

  • In more remote areas (known as the "Outback") motorists may travel for hundreds of kilometres between towns or road houses without opportunities to refuel, get water, refreshments, or use toilets. In these areas, even on major highways, you will have to plan your trip, including fuel and food stops. Off the major inter-city highways, road conditions can be difficult in remote areas. Many roads are unsealed (gravel or sandy) and often poorly maintained. Some may only be suitable for four-wheel drives and some (including major sealed highways) may not be passable at all in certain seasons or weather conditions.

SPEED LIMITS

On most highways the speed limit will be 100 KMH, however you will come across frequent times when the speed limit changes to a slower speed – whether it be 80 KMH, 60 KMH etc. In cities and smaller towns, it may be even lower. One thing to note is that there will be many times when you are on the highway going 100 KMH and all of a sudden you will be entering a small town situated on the highway itself. When this happens the speed limit usually drops considerably. Be aware in these situations as you might not even realize it.

WHAT TO BRING ALONG

Here are the compulsory documents and equipment to carry:

  • Warning triangle or hazard warning lights must be used in case of an accident or breakdown (recommended that warning triangle always be carried).

  • A driving licence

  • Car registration papers

  • Insurance documents

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