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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.

Driving license/paperwork

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).

Age restrictions

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.

Drunk driving

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 regulations

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.

Cairns Driving Guide

If you are coming to Cairns for the first time it’s highly likely that heading out to the Barrier Reef is one of the prime things that you have planned to do. Good choice.

But if you hop into your rental car, there are some incredible experiences to be had along the coast and up into the mountains and hills that surround Cairns, that are only around a couple of hours drive away.

The Daintree Forest

Just over two hours north of Cairns you will be whisked away into a forest reputed to be over 150 million years old in parts.  Welcome to the Daintree Forest.

This step into prehistoric times will expose you to some of the oldest and most interesting species on the planet.

We recommend that you head to The Daintree Discovery Centre which features a  23 meter high Canopy Tower, aerial Walkway , boardwalk tours,  and a display Centre. This is no ordinary forest, so we really do suggest you take the time to learn and enjoy your prehistoric time warp visit.

Mamu Tropical Skywalk

90 minutes south of Cairns is the Mamu Tropical Skywalk. There are spectacular views to be had walking the one-hour return trip along rainforest tracks and walkways that go high into the tree tops.  The chances are that you will see quite a bit of wildlife along the journey.

Arguably the best part if the 27 meter observation tower with its two viewing decks providing stunning views across the North Johnstone River gorge from the top of the tower.

Atherton Tablelands

90 minutes to the west of Cairns will take you up into the lush green valleys and mountains of the Atherton Tablelands. It may only be a short distance away, but this area really does have a different temperate climate which makes it feel like you are in another country. Even snow has been recorded here on rare occasions.

Expect to see miles of orchards, coffee and tea plantations as well as dairy farms.

There are also some spectacular waterfalls, and in particular you can find three memorable ones a short drive from Millaa Millaa on the Waterfalls Circuit, which begins 2kms east along the Palmerston Highway, and left onto Theresa Creek Road. Allow about an hour for this trip which will vary according to how much time you spend at each waterfall.

At Cheaperthancars and Cheaperthanhotels we offer a wide choice of discounted car rental and accommodation around Cairns, so that you can spend less and do more when you get there.

Your Cheaperthancars Team

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