There are some rules of the road that are helpful for you to know when planning your touring holiday in Australia, below are a few pointers regarding driving licence requirements, insurance, speed limits and some of the travelling costs that you can expect to incur.
Vehicles drive on the left-hand side of the road in Australia and seat belts are compulsory. Speed and distance in Australia are measured in kilometres. Roads within and between the cities and major towns are generally reliable and in good condition, as are the main highways that join the state and territory capital cities. Distances are given in kilometres. Signs follow standard international symbols.
Road conditions can be difficult in remote areas and the large and less populated areas in the middle of Australia (the Outback).
Not all roads are sealed and not all are passable in certain seasons or weather conditions. Your vehicle rental company will make it very clear which roads are not permitted for their rental vehicles.
Many petrol stations are open 24 hours a day and credit cards are an accepted method of payment. If long stretches of particularly sparsely populated country lie ahead of you it is advisable to tank up when you have the opportunity, even if you still have half a tank or so of fuel.
The maximum speed limit in cities and towns is 60km/h and 50km/h in some suburban areas. On country roads and highways, the maximum speed is usually 110km/h.
Australia is the land of kangaroos, emus, wombats, feral camels, cattle and horses. Normally they just sit or stand by the roadside, but sometimes wander onto roadways. Kangaroos sometimes leap across roadways directly in front of vehicles. Emus may also run across a road. Off the main highways many roads run adjacent to farms that are unfenced, and stock on the road is common. Drive carefully when you spot these big animals and be ready to use your brakes. Be careful to avoid braking heavily and suddenly as animals such as kangaroos and emus may be flipped over the lowered bonnet of a heavily braking vehicle and through the windscreen. Swerving to avoid an animal can also lead to fatalities.
As a visitor, you may drive in Australia on a valid UK driving licence, as long as it covers the class of vehicle you have hired. You must carry your licence when driving, in addition to a valid passport. An international driving permit is not sufficient and must be accompanied by a separate valid driving licence. There is an on-the-spot fine for not having your licence with you.
On individual, tailor-made holidays, basic public liability coverage is included in your vehicle rental fee, but details may vary between rental companies. A typical arrangement is that you leave an AU$7,500 vehicle security deposit. This is debited from your credit card and held as your excess for damage to your vehicle or the property of a third party.
There are, however, two excess reduction options available, by paying a daily charge. With excess reduction option one, your bond and excess are reduced to AU$2,500. If paying by credit card, an imprint is taken. Excess reduction option two is the most comprehensive available. It enables you to benefit from a reduced vehicle security deposit of AU$220. You will not have to pay any excess for damage to your vehicle or the property of a third party if this damage is not from misuse of the vehicle under the ‘exclusions’ clause.
The legal blood alcohol limit is 80mg and drink driving laws are strictly enforced.