Australia driving information

Driving in Australia
Minimum age and license requirements
Stay on the left
Local speed limits
Driver fatigue
Driving and alcohol
Seatbelt regulations
Motorway driving
Country and outback driving
Hitch hiking
Australia at a glance
Sydney, New South Wales
Melbourne, Victoria
Brisbane and Gold Coast, Queensland
Perth, Western Australia
Adelaide, South Australia

Driving in Australia

Australia is an incredible place to travel your own route, at your own pace! Perhaps we're biased, but we think the country has so much more to offer when you drive it, rather than being confined to the agenda of a tour operator.

We want to make your time in Australia as enjoyable and hassle- free as possible - and that starts with helping you find the right vehicle, at the best price, with the minimum effort.

To help you have a great experience, here are some tips on driving in Australia.

Minimum age and license requirements

To hire a campervan, you must be at least 21 years of age, and either have a current and full Australian or an International driver's licence, that's written in English. Unfortunately probationary licences will not be accepted.

You must always carry your licence with you when you are driving. In fact, in some states there is an on-the-spot fine for not having it with you. Additionally, if your international licence is not in English, you must carry an English translation when driving in Australia.

Firstly, and most importantly, stay left!

Remember traffic in Australia drives on the left side of the road. You won't get very far if you don't understand this concept!

Observe local speed limits

Please drive at, or below, the posted speed limit and slow down in wet weather - or you can expect to gather a rather expensive collection of speeding tickets. The Police regularly check speeds using speed cameras, radar and lasers, on all kinds of routes and roads.

Generally, a 60km per hour speed limit applies in cities and towns, although many local and suburban roads have a 50km per hour speed limit.

In most parts of the country, the maximum speed is 100 km/h, while the maximum speed limit on motorways and freeways is 110 km/h. Make sure you observe the local speed limits, because heavy penalties apply to drivers who exceed them. And any fine you get while driving in Australia will be your responsibility - the fine will be mailed to you, wherever in the world you live.

Be careful about driver fatigue

Australia is an enormous country and there can be several hours, or even days between cities by car. To stay alert and alive, rest every two hours!

Remarkably, driver fatigue is involved in nearly one fifth of all fatal crashes in Australia. The ideal situation is to try to have a passenger with a current driver's licence share the driving with you. And have a full night's sleep the night before you drive, particularly if you will be driving at times when you would normally be sleeping.

It is strongly recommended that you take at least a 15 minute rest from driving every two hours. Even if you're close to your destination, take this rest, as fatigue crashes often occur near the end of the journey.

It is also possible for fatigue crashes to happen on short journeys, or near the start of a trip. The way to avoid these is simply not to drive if you feel tired and know your concentration is not at its best.

Don't drink and drive

It is strongly recommended you refrain from drinking any alcohol if you are planning to drive. There are heavy penalties for drinking alcohol and driving, including imprisonment. Police have the power to stop any vehicle and breath test the driver at any time, and they regularly do. In most Australian states the legal limit is 0.05g/100ml.

Always wear your seatbelt

Everyone, including visitors, must wear a seatbelt at all times. In addition, baby capsules or child restraints must be used for all children.

Be extra careful on motorways and freeways

Obviously, traffic travels at high speed on motorways and freeways, so you must be especially alert:
  • Never stop on a motorway or freeway, except in an emergency. If you must stop, move off the roadway completely
  • Never make a 'U' turn or reverse on a motorway or freeway
  • Always keep to the left, unless overtaking

Country and outback driving hazards

When driving in rural areas, it pays to be keep a watchful eye for:
  • Potholes and rough road surfaces
  • Soft or broken road edges
  • Livestock or wildlife crossing the road. Unfortunately, you often come of second best if you hit a large animal.
  • Single lane bridges
  • Changes in the road surface - this can often happen without notice
  • Very large trucks (road trains)
Remember, always drive at a speed that suits the conditions.

Don't pick up hitch hikers

It is illegal to hitch in Australia, but you'll still see hitch hikers on the roadside. Don't offer a ride to any travelers you don't not know.

About Australia

It's big.
Australia is the sixth largest country in the world, occupying around 5% of the world's surface. It's size is roughly the same as the 48 mainland states of the United States of America, and is around 50% larger than Europe. But unlike Europe, it has the lowest population density in the world - in fact, with only 20 million people, Australia only averages just over two people per square kilometre.

It has a great climate.
Australia's climate makes it a superb place to holiday at any time of the year. It is the driest continent on earth, with long hot summers and plenty of warm blue-sky days in winter. The seasons are the opposite to those of the Northern Hemisphere, with summer starting in December, and winter in June.

The Aussie climate makes for a wonderful quality of life - alfresco dining, sublime days on the beach or the water, outdoor barbeques. It's little wonder too, with such a great climate, that sports are a way of life here.

It's made up of 8 states and territories.
In alphabetical order (we'd hate to show favouritism): Australian Capital Territory (ACT), New South Wales (NSW), Northern Territory (NT), Queensland (QLD), South Australia (SA), Tasmania (TAS), Victoria (VIC) and Western Australia.

It has the most beaches in the world.
Over 7,000 in total. And on many of them, you won't see another soul.

It has the world's largest political electorate.
Kalgoorlie in Western Australia is not only the country's largest producer of gold, but has the world's largest political electorate - it covers an incredible 2.2 million square kms!

It has one incredible wildlife.
From koalas to crocs; from Kookabarras to wallabies. And then there's the most famous of them all - the kangaroo. Today there are an estimated 40 million kangaroos in Australia - more than when Australia was first settled.

...not to mention the flora
Australia supports at least 25,000 species of plants. In comparison, Europe only supports 17,500.

It has the world's longest continuous fence.
It's true. Called the 'dingo fence', this seemingly neverending fence runs through central Queensland for 5,531 kilometres. It is 1.8 metres high and is designed to keep out the nasty native dogs who are partial to a meal of lamb.

What else?
The electricity runs on 240 volts, 50 hz.
The currency is the Australian Dollar. Check currency exchange rates
The language is English, but that doesn't mean you'll understand all of it. Fair suck of the sav, mate.
The drinking age is 18.
Tipping is welcomed, but not essential.

And what about tourist visa requirements?
A valid passport or similar acceptable travel document is required of all people wishing to travel to and enter Australia. Everyone, except holders of Australian and New Zealand passports, requires a visa to enter Australia. New Zealand passport holders apply for a visa upon arrival in Australia. All other passport holders must hold a visa before traveling to Australia.

Sydney, New South Wales

Life doesn't get a lot better than in New South Wales. And for the visitors, Sydney, its capital is an exciting, vibrant multicultural city with great options, whether you're wanting exhilaration or relaxation.

What you just HAVE to do in Sydney:

Shop till you drop. Sydney has all the shopping you could ever want. There are a myriad of boutique and speciality stores, and huge department stores. There are international designers like Prada and Gucci, and local designers such as Alannah Hill and Morrisey. Make sure you visit Oxford Street in Paddington.

Eat out as much as you can. If you like a little water with your food, you're in for a treat. Sydney has a multitude of gourmet restaurants where you can enjoy breathtaking views over the harbour. Sydney has all kinds of high-end dining experiences to choose from, or you can relax in one of the many cafés in the city's inner precincts and beaches. Put Paddington and Balmain on the menu if you're interested in quality pub-dining, and if you like to take in a little history with your meal, make sure you visit the historic pubs in The Rocks.

Swim, walk, climb, cruise. Stunning scenery surrounds you in Sydney, and it would simply be unthinkable not make the most of it. Refresh yourself with a swim in the tepid summer sea, then soak up life Sydney-style on the Bondai to Bronte coastal walk. Go for a cruise on Sydney's magnificent harbour, or jump on a yacht and explore the harbour’s hidden coves. Truly slip into the holiday spirit on Sydney's Northern beaches, or get the adrenaline pumping with a Sydney Harbour Bridge climb.

How hot will it be?
Summer gets toasty warm and a little humid, with an average high of 25°C during the day, while at night it drops to an average of 18. Don't be surprised, though if you get a stretch of days in the 30s over summer. Winter, from June to August, is usually a little chilly and rainy, with day temperatures reaching an average 16°C, and lows dropping to an average 8. Bring a jumper in winter.

To compare prices on Sydney Car Hire click here.

Melbourne, Victoria

They say once you visit Victoria, you'll never want to leave. It's capital, Melbourne, is Australia’s second-largest city, and is also the country's capital for shopping, where there's genuine passion for food, wine and the arts. It's a city of style and sophistication, with an inviting cosmopolitan atmosphere offering the best of Italian, Greek and Asian food and culture.

Top 10 things to do in and around Melbourne:

1. Eat out in Lygon Street. It has Italian restaurant after Italian restaurant. Mama mia!

2. Eat out around South Bank, for glorious Yarra River views.

3. Go out in stylish Chapel Street, bohemian Brunswick Street or the gentrifying red light district, St Kilda. Or go gambling at the lavish Crown Casinos.

4. Shopping: Do lots of it. Set aside several days. Melbourne is the shopping capital of Australia. Whether it's high fashion or fine art, Melbourne’s ever changing choices make shopping an adventure. Check out Little Collins Street in central Melbourne, or Chapel Street for clothes. Discover the new precincts QV and GPO and get lost in laneways and arcades.

5. Go wine touring in the Yarra Valley. Victoria boasts 350 wineries in 22 wine regions, and many offer exceptional wine with equally fine food. Eyton on Yarra, and Yering Station are two you shouldn't miss.

6. Visit the penguins at Philip Island.

7. Drive down the glorious Great Ocean Road, and take in the spectacular Twelve Apostles.

8. Visit the Museum, one of the most inspiring places in the Southern Hemisphere.

9. Go to an Aussie rules (AFL) footy match. You may not understand it, but you won't forget it.

10. Watch an open air movie in the Botanical Gardens, if you happen to be there in summer.

How hot will it be?
That's a difficult question to answer in Melbourne. The locals say it has four seasons in one day. And during summer, it can swing from mid 30s down to 18 degrees in a matter of minutes. Generally though, Melbourne has a warm to hot summer, from December to March, and a cool winter from June to August.

To compare prices on Melbourne Car Hire click here.

Brisbane, and the Gold Coast, Queensland

Sun, sun and more glorious sun. Queensland is a tropical paradise, that makes for a relaxed, easy going lifestyle and holiday ambience. Brisbane, the capital is a thriving city of just over 1.5 million, while the Sunshine and Gold Coasts boast some of the world's best beaches. Further north, Cairns and The Great Barrier Reef are recognised for their world class attractions, superb natural features and friendly hospitality. Don't forget your shorts and sunscreen.

You must:

Visit The Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest and most complex reef system. It stretches more than 2000km along the north-east coast of Queensland. It has hundreds of continental islands, reef islands and cays, and thousands of individual coral reefs. It's an incredible playground for scuba diving and snorkeling.

Discover Cairns, the colourful city in North Queensland. There is superb dining and shopping, and of course the Great Barrier Reef, the rainforest, the outback and the expansive wilderness of Cape York Peninsula are on your doorstep.

Take in the Gold Coast themepark. Fantasy, thrills, and adventure abound at some of the most amazing themed attractions in the southern Hemisphere. There's Sea World, the spectacular marine zoological park, where dolphin and sea-lion shows and daredevil skiing stunts will keep you on your seat's edge.

There's Warner Bros Movieworld, for all the best Hollywood themed rides, or go to Wet 'n' Wild Water Park - where there's a giant wave pool, and all kinds of thrilling water slides, including a seven-storey speed slide.

If you love nature, visit Currumbin Sanctuary where you'll see hundreds of mountain parrots, or see the kangaroos and emus at Fleays Wildlife Park.

Enjoy Succulent Seafood by Brisbane River. Then take a river cruise and take gain breathtaking views of the city. Then spoil yourself with succulent seafood platters and fine dining by Brisbane River. Or go to the cafes and restaurants in West End, on the southern side of the river.

How hot does it get?
Queensland has an excellent climate all year round. Brisbane averages 27°C in January and dips to an average 23°C in July, while Cairns reaches a scorching average of 31°C in January, and settles at an average 25°C in July.

Compare prices Brisbane Car Hire or Gold Coast Car Hire or Cairns Car Hire

Perth, Western Australia

Perth, WA's capital, is a sophisticated, scenic city, with a population of 1.3 million. You'll never be short of anything to do, with great shopping, excellent 5 star dining, and some of Australia's finest wines. Then there's the 80 kilometres of incredible beaches, the bushland in central Kings Park, and lovely Rottnest Island.

5 things to do in and around Perth:

Discover the Swan Valley wine region. The Swan Valley is Western Australia's oldest wine growing region. Here you'll find award-winning wineries - many of them owned by local families. They provide the perfect place to take in a meal alfresco-style, and taste the latest vintage.

Picnic on the Sunset Coast. Perth’s Sunset coast has an amazing 80 kilometres of beaches. Take a picnic and enjoy the gold, pink, and yellow visions that grace the west coast.

Eat out in Perth. Perth boasts more restaurants per capita than any other city in Australia. The locals love to eat out. The most popular spots are Cottesloe Beach for relaxed alfresco eating or Subiaco for more formal dining.

Buy a painting in Fremantle. Just south of Perth lies the port city of Fremantle. Here you'll find markets, and all kinds of entertainment and eating options. Eat alfresco in one of the many eateries and cafes, and make the most of the beautiful Perth climate. Fremantle's multitude of galleries provide a great opportunity to buy works from by local artists.

Visit Rottnest Island. Rottnest Island is a short trip from the mainland that's well worth taking. It is home to the quokka, unique Australian marsupials, that provide much entertainment for visitors - especially since bicycles are the only form of transport on the island. Rottnest Island is also a paradise for all kinds of water-related activities.

What's the climate like?
Perth gets very warm, with an average high in January of 30°C, while winter's low averages 19°C in July. Western Australia takes up almost 40% of Australia and has two climatic zones - a tropical North, and a milder Mediterranean-like climate in the South.

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Adelaide, South Australia

South Australia has it all. You can drink world class wines in amongst spectacular vines. You can swim with dolphins and rare sea horses. You can cruise the Murray River on a houseboat. Or you can hang out in Adelaide, the graceful city with wide streets, elegant buildings and parks, that loves the arts, great food and tasty wines.

What to do in and around Adelaide:

Go walkabout. Adelaide is compact city that is easy to stroll around. It has a charm and grace with sophisticated wining and dining, and well preserved beautiful architecture.

Stay in five-star luxury with your own chef on Kangaroo Island. Kangaroo Island has pristine beaches, breathtaking scenery and thriving native wildlife. You can ride a horse, go diving or fishing, or check out the wildlife and all those incredible wildflowers.

Drink in the ambience of iconic wine regions. Barossa, Coonawarra, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills... South Australia truly has some of the world's iconic wine regions. The Barossa is Australia's leading premium wine growing area and has a rich heritage of villages, architecture, wine, food and music. Definitely a must see.

Head for the markets. Start the day in Adelaide's famous central market and then head for the hills - Adelaide Hills - to discover markets for some of the region's fresh produce.

Get cultured. Adelaide has a big reputation for arts and culture. The Festival Centre on King William Road is the centre of opera, theatre and the orchestra. For visual arts, the Art Gallery of South Australia is a must for Aboriginal works, Australian 19th century paintings as well as its collection of Rodins.

What's the climate like?
Around the coast, the temperate climate makes for great outdoor living and a relaxed lifestyle. Adelaide ranges from its average January temperature of 28°C to July's 14°C.
If you're heading to the north of South Australia, be prepared for really hot temperatures, especially in the summer months.

Disclaimer: Please note that we do our best to ensure the accuracy of this information, and apologise if any of the information in this section is incorrect or outdated, but accept no liability for any consequences arising from this.