News and Reviews

Five tips to driving across Australia

November, 2012

For some travellers, the idea of a dream trip is to drive across one of the world’s great countries or continents. Whether it’s the USA, Europe or Australia, there’s something exciting about getting in the car, choosing your own route and deciding what you want to do along the way. As one of the world’s most inspiring countries, many people choose Australia for their driving trip. There’s a lot you need to know though before you book those flights to Australia and start your adventure…

Be Prepared

Australia is about the same size as the USA but only has a population of roughly 22 million, most of which live on the coast. Consequently, in the outback it is possible to drive for perhaps days without seeing another person and should anything go wrong you could be a long way from help.

Assuming you will be hiring a car for your journey, it’s best to choose something fairly big, capable and most importantly, reliable as the roads can be of varying quality depending where you are. Holden and Ford are the most common vehicle makes, but Land Rovers and Mitsubishi Pajero’s are also suitable for combatting the terrain.

It’s best to work out at least a general plan of your route before setting off and if possible let the hire company and friends or family know where you’re planning to go. Coming up with a plan will also help ensure you see everything that you want to.

Take Plenty of Supplies

This depends on where you plan to go but you should take enough food and most importantly, water for at least two days. Australia is a hot country and it’s important to keep hydrated. If you’re heading into the outback you might want to increase the amount of supplies you take. In this case, you will also want to take full jerry cans to ensure you don’t run out of petrol. Even if your tank is still fairly full, fill up with petrol at every opportunity.

You may be travelling for days at time so it’s a good idea to take spare batteries and memory cards for cameras and phones too so you won’t miss out on any photo opportunities.

Observe the Rules of The Road

Driving in Australia is very similar to driving in the UK other than the distances involved. They drive on the left and if you have an English language licence then you can drive for three months before you need an Australian one. If you have any other licence you will need to get a permit from the Automobile Association beforehand.

Speed limits in Australia are clearly signposted but in urban areas there is a blanket 50km/h speed limit unless otherwise stated. School zones are signposted and have lower speed limits during school hours (usually 40km/h). The speed limits out of urban areas can vary; in Victoria, Tasmania, NSW, Queensland and South Australia it is 100km/h, in Western Australia it is 110km/h and in the Northern Territories it is 130km/h. Seat belts are mandatory for everybody in the car and of course, driving under the influence of drink and drugs is forbidden.

Watch For Animals

You are not likely to have any problems with animals in built up areas but further in the wilderness, collisions with animals can be a real problem, especially at night. Fewer than 15 per cent of the Australian population lives in rural areas, but these roads account for 60 per cent of fatal accidents. There are often signposts signalling where animals (usually kangaroos) can be a problem. In many cases, driver fatigue is a contributing factor to accidents so it’s important to take regular breaks and take it in turns to drive.

It’s also important to remember that there are dangerous animals to be aware of in Australia. When you stop over, check things like your shoes, bedding and clothes etc. for snakes and spiders. Crocodiles are something you need to consider too in the Northern Territories; don’t just jump into a Billabong or river thinking it is safe to do so. Although encountering dangerous animals is rare, it’s something you need to consider.

Enjoy It

A trip across Australia is something you will remember for your entire life so make the most of it. This article has told you a lot of things to be careful about but there are of course tons of things to enjoy.

If you’re friendly and approachable you can make some great friends and have excellent experiences. It’s important to be helpful to fellow travellers and in return you can sometimes end up doing great things you would never have thought of.

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