Australia Driving Tips
New South Wales, the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia — these are all areas within a huge, diverse continent that beg to be explored. Of course, the best way to see anything is off your own back, and a road trip could seriously enhance your time in this beautiful land we call Australia.
Driving within the various states of Australia is becoming a hugely popular way to see the country. Of course, this brings with it various questions about driving in a foreign country, especially if you are using a rented car. So let’s look at the basics.
You are able to drive within Australia on a foreign driving license, valid for the same class of vehicle, for three months after your arrival in the country. That being said, rules and regulations vary from state to state, and in some you may be required to carry an international license as well as your foreign license, and some may ask for a formal translation, which is the International Driving Permit (IDP).
You must be at least 21 years of age to drive in Australia. Anyone 70 years and over will be asked to take regular medicals and eye examinations.
Let’s talk the law
- In Australia, vehicles are driven on the left side of the road
- Do not use mobile phones while driving, except a hand’s free kit
- Give way to right hand side traffic
- Always abide by the speed limit
- Always wear seat belts while driving, including passengers
- Drive in the direction of arrows marked on the road surface
- Don’t overtake with white lines
- Always carry your license while driving
- Traffic signals and road signs must always be obeyed
- Never take U-turns at traffic lights
- While turning, always use indicator
- At pedestrians crossings, always give way to pedestrians
- Children under seven years of age should always be seated in the back seat of the vehicle
The normal speed limits on Australian roads are as follows:
- 100 km/h (62 mph) on freeways and major highways
- 50-80 km/h (31-49 mph) on local road
Never be tempted to speed in order to get anywhere faster, as you’ll be caught by one of the many speed cameras, and fined. Road signs will give you the exact speed limit for that area.
Laws with regards to drinking and driving are extremely strict in Australia, and police will carry out random breath tests. Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.05 g/100ml is permitted for full license holders. For provisional and learner licences, the BAC is ZERO. It is advisable not to drink at all, regardless of the legal limit, and that way you know you’re not in trouble. Being caught out over the limit is a serious criminal offence and may carry possible prison punishment.
Parking in Australia has both free and paid types. For parking in cities, there is always a time and a fee. For parking aid, there are quite comprehensive parking signs in Australia, which will help you find your way. For example, a sign stating 1/2P means you can park there for half an hour, and similarly, 3P means you can park for three hours. ‘Ticket’ means pay and display. It’s worth mentioning that S in a red circle with a diagonal red line through it means no stopping.
Alice Springs - Driving Guide
Most people arriving in Alice Springs either love this place or hate it. But whatever your thinking it tends to be a starting point for many people to explore the Red Centre to the North and to the South. There’s no denying it has many excellent restaurants and a wide range of places to stay, but it is probably the first encounter many people will have with the outback aborigines that make up the Indigenous charm of the place.
For a land so isolated from the rest of the World, travelling 4 hours to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a relatively short drive away. The stunning MacDonnell Ranges are to the east and west of the town centre, and very close in you can find yourself among ochre-red gorges, with colonies of tiny rock wallabies, light colored hills and spirit grey-white gum trees all adding to the mysticism of this ancient outback land.
If you are here, then there is a chance that you will be willing to absorb some of the wonders that surround this town, to take away a lasting impression and get the most out of your rental car.
- The MacDonnell Ranges consist of hills and gorges of natural beauty stretching 200 kms either side of Alice Springs. Here are a couple of the highlights worth driving a relatively short distance to.
- Alice Springs to Standley Chasm
- 45 min to Standley Chasm via via typically (49.5kms) via Larapinta Dr/Red Centre Way/State Route 2
Named Angkerle by the local Aborigines, the Chasms European name comes from honoring Mrs Ida Standley who became the first school teacher in Alice Springs in 1914. In 1925 a school specifically for Aboriginal children was moved from Alice Springs to Jay Creek [Iwupataka] and Mrs Standley was the matron.
During her time at Jay Creek she became the first non-Aboriginal woman to visit the feature that now bears her name.
The setting is unreal amongst shady trees on the bank of the Angkerle Creek. There is a small kiosk cafe here if you want to have a light snack, dinner or coffee.
Visiting here around lunch time is best, as the sun creates a spectacular lightshow as it passes dramatically through the crevice.
Alice Springs to Simpson Gap
27 min to Simpson Gap via Larapinta Dr/Red Centre Way/State Route 2
Another must see with dramatic cliffs, scenic waterhole and the mulga bushland, is Simpson Gap. Getting out of your rental car and continuing on foot will help to connect you better to the landscape and appreciate the ancient rock formations, the fauna and flora and perhaps the aboriginal way of existence. The famous Larapinta bushwalking trail passes close by and continues through the West MacDonnell National Park and is an excellent walk to experience all of this up close.
Alice Springs to Finke Gorge National Park
1h 29 min to Alice Springs (127 km) via Larapinta Dr/Red Centre Way
Drive south for a sight to behold where you can see the red cabbage palms found in the lush Palm Valley, which also is home to a wide range of diverse plants.
Finke Gorge National Park to Rainbow Valley
3h 1 min to Rainbow Valley (90.5 km) via National Highway 87
We recommend travelling the extra distance to the east and into the Simpson Desert, which starts from from near Alice to the South Australia border. Here you can witness the outstanding and memorable scenery of Rainbow Valley with its majestic sandstone bluffs and rainbow-like bands, Chambers Pillar, rising in a 40 metre rock tower column, straight up from the flat desert.
At Cheaperthancars and Cheaperthanhotels we offer a wide range of choice of deals on both rental cars and accommodation around Alice Springs. We really do believe that the less you spend, the more you will be able to do with the savings when you get there.
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