Australian driving rules, considerations and road conditions

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Driving rules, considerations and road conditions

If you are planning on driving while you are in Australia, you will need to follow Australian driving rules and ensure you have an appropriate drivers licence.

You should also take into account the general driving considerations listed below.

If you are planning on travelling long distances, check the road conditions and driving distances and times of the route you are planning to drive.

You may also want to know how much fuel costs will be.

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Driving rulesDriving rules

The main driving rules in Australia are:

  • Australian's drive on the left side of the road.

  • Seatbelts must be worn at all times (heavy fines apply if you get caught without one).

  • Always carry a copy of your drivers licence (in english). If you don't have an english drivers licence, you must accompany your licence with an International Drivers Permit that is written in english.

  • Do not drive faster than the speed limit - speeds usually range between 40 to 60 kilometres per hour in suburban areas and 80 to 110 kilometres per hour on highways, motorways, freeways and unpopulated roads.

  • For experienced drivers the blood alcohol level is 0.05. For provisional drivers it is Zero (this is for those drivers who have only recently got a licence or have only been driving for a couple of years).

  • Give way to pedestrians at pedestrian crossings and other pedestrian crossing points.

Although there are some small differences between driving rules and regulations for each State and Territory in Australia, they are basically all very similar. For comprehensive information about driving rules and regulations for international visitors, refer to the Roads & Traffic Authority of New South Wales website.

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LicenceDriver licence requirements for Australia

When driving in Australia you must carry your valid drivers licence in English. If your licence is not in English, then you must also carry an International Drivers Permit (that is written in English) and has been issued from your home country.

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ConsiderationsGeneral driving considerations

  • Be aware of driver fatigue, if you are driving long distances, stop every couple of hours for a break and have a sleep if you feel tired.

  • So you don't run out of fuel on long drives, make sure you have an idea where the next place is you can buy fuel from (particularly in more remote areas).

  • Try and avoid driving in the countryside at dawn, dusk and night time, as this is when a lot of wildlife is on the roads, which can be potentially hazardous to drivers.

  • Watch out for large road trains and trucks, particularly as the debris from them can cause windscreen damage and also be wary if overtaking.

  • Make sure your car is roadworthy.

  • Carry a spare tyre and equipment to change it.

  • Carry a mobile phone.

  • Take out national roadside assistance (breakdown service).

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Road conditionsChecking road conditions around Australia


If you are planning on doing long distance travel it is advisable to check the road conditions before you leave. You can do this by viewing the RACQ Australian Road Conditions Reports website.

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DistancesDriving distances and times

The below Driving distances and times were retrieved from Google Driving Directions. These figures are based upon the shortest route between destinations and the time is based upon non-stop driving between the destinations.

Distance is shown in kilometres and time in hours.

  Adelaide Alice Springs Brisbane Cairns Canberra Darwin Melbourne Perth Sydney
Adelaide - 1531
17hr
2050
24hr
2968
35hr
1197
14hr
3029
35hr
728
9hr
2693
29hr
1409
16hr
Alice Springs 1531
17hr
- 2991
35hr
2416
29hr
2612
29hr
1498
19hr
2260
25hr
3609
38hr
2786
31hr
Brisbane 2050
24hr
2991
35hr
- 1712
21hr
1207
15hr
3426
40hr
1680
21hr
4334
48hr
934
12hr
Cairns 2968
35hr
2416
29hr
1712
21hr
- 2527
30hr
2849
34hr
2840
35hr
5252
60hr
2431
29hr
Canberra 1197
14hr
2612
29hr
1207
15hr
2527
30hr
- 3945
46hr
666
8hr
3774
65hr
290
3.5hr
Darwin 3029
35hr
1498
19hr
3426
40hr
2849
34hr
3945
46hr
- 3757
42hr
4045
42hr
3978
46hr
Melbourne 728
9hr
2260
25hr
1680
21hr
2840
35hr
666
8hr
3757
42hr
- 3420
37hr
879
10hr
Perth 2693
29hr
3609
38hr
4334
48hr
5252
60hr
3774
65hr
4045
42hr
3420
37hr
- 3947
43hr
Sydney 1409
16hr
2786
31hr
934
12hr
2431
29hr
290
3.5hr
3978
46hr
879
10hr
3947
43hr
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Fuel costFuel costs

If you are planning on driving yourself, the average cost for fuel in Australia generally ranges between $1.30 to $1.70 per litre (however in more remote places be prepared to pay more than this).