About Melbourne Domestic Airport (MEL)
Address: Serviced By Enterprise Redspot, T1 Dep Drive Melbourne Airport, Melbourne, 3045 , Vic, Vic
Known to locals as Tullamarine Airport, Melbourne Airport (MEL) is 23 km (14 miles) from central Melbourne.
Driving in the most central part of Melbourne near the Yarra River is typically problematic, with congestion at all hours and parking nightmares aplenty. On the other hand, getting around the rest of Melbourne is better experienced behind the wheel of your own car hire. Most of the city’s top attractions are spread out, for example, Melbourne Zoo and Royal Botanic Gardens are more than 6 km (4 mi) apart.
Navigating Melbourne is generally big city, left-hand driving with one added bonus obstacle — the tram system. If you’ve never executed a “hook turn”, you’re in for a real treat. Melbourne’s tram tracks occupy the center of the roadway, and at some intersections, you’re forced to make a right-hand turn from the left hand lane. You’ll see signs reading “Right Turn from Left Lane Only” and a simple pictogram of the maneuver.
Heading out of Melbourne, National Route 1 (The Princes Highway) follows the coast in both directions, while myriad state highways branch out into the suburbs. The Yarra Valley wine region (roughly 45 km / 27 mi) is a little more than an hour’s drive from central Melbourne. Overall, experienced drivers will feel at ease in traffic, while intermediate motorists can cut their teeth on relatively civilized lessons in city driving.
Choosing your car
Melbourne Domestic Airport car rentals are provided by the Big Six — Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Enterprise, and Thrifty — with counters located across from Terminal 2 (International), and accessed from covered walkways from each of the airport’s four terminals. Hyundai compact, Suzuki economy, and Mitsubishi mini cars are ideal for zipping around town. If you need more room for people and gear, Kia standard and Toyota intermediate cars are suited for city and country cruising. With all-wheel drive and a high profile on the road, look to a Holden SUV. Kia and Hyundai 7-9 seater vans are perfect for hauling people and cargo.
Tips and advice
There are two primary toll roads in Melbourne that you may want to use: Cityink and EastLink, neither of which can be paid in cash. Most airport car rental companies will offer you a cheap toll option, sparing the hassle of applying for the toll road day pass.
Many visitors struggle with the added challenge of a tram system sharing the roads, but you can simplify things by remembering that trams: (1) Always have the right of way, and (2) Overtaking a tram from the left is prohibited, and (3) never pass a tram with its doors open.
Inner city speed limits are generally 40 km/h and below.
Everything is further apart in Australia. It’s a minimum 10-hour drive to Sydney (878 km / 545 mi) via the Hume Highway, and roughly 9 hours to Adelaide (726 km / 451 mi).
When traveling long distances, avoid driver’s fatigue by taking frequent breaks. It’s also a good idea to have an additional driver (or two) on the rental agreement, which allows for traveling in shifts.
Brighton Beach is Melbourne’s local mecca for sunbathing, but you’ll find far better beaches down around Kilcunda, 122 km (73 mi) south.