Driving in Australia

Driving in Australia is an experience to be savoured. It is a way to experience the wide-open spaces and magnificent natural scenery, and there are so many destinations that can only be experienced by car.

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All Places Australia



NSW wildlife rescue

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Victorian wildlife rescue

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About Driving in Australia

Like most other sparsely populated countries, Australia's car ownership rate is very high, and the vast majority of adult Australians own cars. While public transportation can certainly be used to get around major cities, particularly the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, frequencies tend to decline sharply once you get out of the city centre and head into the suburbs, so driving yourself would generally save you long waits for public transport. In smaller cities and country towns, public transport tends to be very infrequent or even non-existent, so a car would be necessary just to get around at all.

All road measurements in Australia are metric. Distances are in metres and kilometres, and speed in kilometres per hour.

As a result of its British colonial legacy, Australians drive on the left side of the road in right-hand drive vehicles. Around 70% of Australian cars are automatic transmission. When hiring a car manual transmission (stick-shift) is generally only offered as an option for the cheapest small cars. The gear stick in a manual transmission is operated by the left hand. The arrangement of the pedals is standard worldwide. In most cars, the indicator (turn-signal) stalk will be on the right side of the steering wheel and the windscreen wiper stalk on the left side of the steering wheel.

Driving conditions vary. Most Australians live on or near the eastern and south-east coasts. Roads within and between the cities and towns in these areas are sealed (paved) and well maintained, as are the main highways that join the state and territory capital cities. There are usually plenty of well marked rest areas on major highways, though these are usually very basic and do not always have toilet facilities.

In more remote areas (known as the "Outback") motorists may travel for hundreds of kilometres between towns or road houses without opportunities to refuel, get water, refreshments, or use toilets. In these areas, even on major highways, you will have to plan your trip, including fuel and food stops. Off the major inter-city highways, road conditions can be difficult in remote areas. Many roads are unsealed (gravel or sandy) and often poorly maintained. Some may only be suitable for four-wheel drives and some (including major sealed highways) may not be passable at all in certain seasons or weather conditions.

Motorists need to be self-sufficient and prepared for emergencies when travelling off major highways in remote areas and be aware that outside of major towns, mobile (cell) phone coverage will almost certainly be non-existent. A satellite phone may be a worthwhile and possibly life-saving investment in the most remote, lightly trafficked areas. Permits may also be required to travel through Aboriginal communities in certain remote locations, though these permits can usually be obtained for free.

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Source: wikivoyage