Before we get to Australian roads, you should know that this page may contain affiliates. However, I will never recommend resources that I do not find helpful or useful to myself. For more information on what this means please see my Disclaimers and Policies page.
Driving in a new country can be overwhelming. Australia is no different. But have no fear, there are some simple ways to keep yourself safe when driving! If you’re looking to buy a vehicle for your travels, here are my top tips.
Ways to Be Safe on Australian Roads
- Drive on the left! While this does feel like something that is obvious, it can be hard to adjust to. When you first start driving on the other side of the road, you might notice that you drift into traffic. Always make sure to stay in your lane.
- Don’t drive at dawn or dusk. Animals here are much more active than you might be used to. And kangaroos are so unpredictable. If you see an animal warning sign, then be on guard. We always avoid driving at these times of the day because it just isn’t worth it! The animals are everywhere. Additionally, be careful driving after rain. Sometimes kangaroos will drink the water on the roads.
- Abide by speed limits. This is probably a rule at home too but the speeding tickets in Australia can get outrageous. Like $200 for going 7 km over the limit. Your money is better spent elsewhere. The drinking and driving limit is 0.05. And do not drive drunk. It is never an okay thing to do. All of the wine regions have tours or ways around drinking and driving. It isn’t worth it.
- Everything is far apart. This can make for some long, boring drives. We found listening to podcasts helpful. But there are a lot of roadside turnouts along the highways. Take advantage of them! Stop as needed to revitalize yourself.
- Since everything is so far apart, make sure that you have extra water, jerry cans, and food. Not only are prices higher in remote areas but if your vehicle breaks down it could be quite a distance before the next town. This means that stocking up on food and water can save your life. The suggestion is 10 litres of water per person per day. A jerry can be the thing that gets you to the next town. Australian roads are known for breakdowns, if your vehicle breaks, stay with it.
- Fuel is so expensive. Honestly, we went to Uluru via self-drive and it almost would have been cheaper to do a tour. Expect high fuel costs anywhere remote. And higher than you’re used to costs everywhere else.
- I say gas, you say petrol. Australians refer to gas as petrol and can occasionally be confused if you ask for anything else.
- Cell service is spotty at best. So, bring a paper map and know how to use it. There are often long distances between cellphone towers. Even with our Telstra phone plan, we often didn’t have service in the Northern Territory.
- Road trains. These are wild! They are the longest vehicles that I have ever seen. If you are going to pass one, make sure that you have at least two kilometres of visibility. But, they usually flash their blinkers when it is safe for you to pass. Make sure to put yourself in their mirrors and out of their blindspots.
- As you drive, you might notice other drivers giving you a little hand wave. Typically, it is as simple as lifting one finger off of the steering wheel. It’s polite! Make sure to reciprocate.
- Tolls are annoying and everywhere. If you don’t pay your tolls in three days you get late fees. Again, with the
- Look into road conditions. In some states, flooding may have caused damage. It is best to check with someone before venturing on long trips. Additionally, Google Maps can be quite unreliable in Australia. It never hurts to double-check your route with someone.
Bonus: If driving in Melbourne watch for the hook turns! This means that you make a right-hand turn from the left lane. The reason for this is the tram network.