With gorgeous scenic highways, vast distances between major cities and plenty of exploring to do along the way, Australia is a road trip dream. We've answered some common questions about driving in Australia and making the most of your journey.
Yes. If you plan on driving in Australia, you will need to show a valid international driving permit as well as the driver's licence you hold in the country you live in.
On a two-way road, Australians drive on the left side. It's important to remember this or ask your passengers to remind you every time you jump in the car.
Yes. The driver and every single passenger in the car must wear a seatbelt. If you have children under the age of 7 in the car, they must be in a legally approved child restraint or car seat.
Speed limits vary throughout Australian roads and are strictly enforced. Speed limit signs are displayed in kilometres per hour and they indicate the maximum speed permitted on that road. Some roads do not have visible speed limit signs and all residential areas are 50km/hour unless signed otherwise. If you are unsure of the speed limit, it is best to keep to 50km/hour.
In Australia, on an open and full licence, it is illegal to drive a car if your blood alcohol level is 0.05 per cent or higher. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is dangerous to yourself and others sharing the road and Australia has very serious penalties for this. Some medicines, mouthwashes and food may contain alcohol and could affect your blood alcohol reading so be ready to check labels before consuming these products and driving.
The car or campervan rental company will either charge your credit card for the amount owing on the fine or provide your personal details to authorities who will issue a fine to your mailing address. We recommend you pay any fines immediately after receiving them and before you leave the country. Failure to pay fines received in Australia may result in not only refusal of future car rentals but a refusal of entry into the country or visa cancellation.
It is strictly illegal to use a handheld mobile phone when operating a vehicle. This includes using the phone to make or receive calls, texting, playing games or operating the gps.
Due to the size of the country you may be required to drive long distances between cities and landmarks. It is important to be prepared and have a plan before setting off on your journey. You should plan several rest stops to prevent driving dangerously while tired. On main highways, rest areas can generally be found every 80-100 kilometres. Rest areas can be a simple place to pull over or may have public toilets and drinking water
In general, Australian roads are in very good condition and will vary from sealed surfaces to gravel and unsealed roads. It is recommended that you only travel on unsealed surfaces in a four-wheel drive vehicle that is designed for such roads. Checking local weather guides and authority signs and websites is a good idea in case of harsh weather conditions such as floods, bushfires or cyclones.
It is not uncommon to see animals and wildlife on roads and kangaroos are a regular cause of accidents. Other animals such as emus, wombats, cattle and koalas can be found close to and on roads so you should always drive at a safe speed so that you can reduce your speed easier if required. Attempting to swerve quickly out of the way can cause your car to roll or spiral off the road.
With a rental car or campervan from a Compare and Choose partner company, the vehicles will be in great condition and regularly serviced to minimise the risk of breaking down. In case of a break down it is a good idea to carry extra water and food and it is important to always have plenty of fuel. If you are in a rental vehicle, follow the company's instructions for roadside assistance. Planning your journey and knowing the distances between your destinations will minimise the chances of running out of fuel. Keep your family and friends up to date with where you are travelling particularly if you plan to drive in remote areas off major highways. You may also consider hiring emergency communication equipment such as a satellite phone as mobile phone signal can be very minimal in rural areas.
Generally, sealed roads will either have a solid centre line or broken lines. When the centre line closest to you is solid, you are not permitted to overtake other vehicles. If the centre line is broken, you may overtake when it is safe to do so.
Many Australian motorways or major roads have toll points where you have to pay after passing these. Most are electronic and it is best to check with your specific rental company their policy for road tolls as some offer e-tags and direct debit while others may require you to pay for tolls manually.