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Visiting Australia? Your Guide to Driving Safely as an Overseas Tourist

Australia, with its vast landscapes and diverse terrain, is a dream destination for travellers seeking adventure on the open road. As a tourist exploring this continent, you’ll find that it’s an excellent way to unlock the full potential of your journey.

However, before you rev up the engine and hit the highways, there are important rules and regulations you need to know about driving in Australia as a tourist.

Australian Licensing Requirements

Your driver’s license is one of the first things to consider when planning a road trip in Australia. If your license is in English, you’re in the clear and can drive on your overseas license for the length of your stay (on a temporary visa), except in the Northern Territory, where you must apply for a local license after three months.

Your licence also needs to be current, and there are a few other conditions you can check before arriving to keep you legal!

However, if your license isn’t in English, you’ll need either a formal English translation or an International Driving Permit (IDP), regardless of where you are in Australia. This requirement ensures you can communicate with local authorities and understand road signs and instructions in English.

Renting a Car in Australia

Once you’ve sorted out your licensing requirements, renting a car is next. Australia offers a wide range of options for cheap car hire rentals, so you shouldn’t have any problems finding the right one for your trip.

Driving Rules in Australia

Australia is divided into different states and territories, but they all have the same general road rules and regulations. Speed limits are also posted, and you’ll be fined if caught speeding – there are plenty of speed cameras in Australia!

Whilst you need to know all the road rules, here are a few that are particularly useful if you haven’t driven here recently:

  • Using your mobile phone while driving is now prohibited; you must use a hands-free system in your car.
  • You must maintain a minimum distance when passing cyclists. When the speed limit is 60 km/h or lower, you should leave at least 1 meter, and at higher speeds, 1.5 meters when passing cyclists
  • When driving on multi-lane roads with a speed limit of 90 km/h or more, you must keep left unless overtaking.

The only exception to the national road rules occurs in Victoria due to the addition of trams to the CBD.

Driving With Trams in Melbourne, Victoria

In Melbourne, trams are an integral part of the city’s public transport system, and you must give way to trams when they’re departing or approaching tram stops. This ensures the safety of passengers getting on and off trams. You must also not move into the path of a tram, remain at 10km/hr or less when passing a stationary tram, and you’re prohibited from driving on tramways.

There’s also the infamous Melbourne hook turn! This is where you must get into the left lane to turn right in a tram zone! Check out this VicRoads video to see the hook turn in action.

Enjoy Your Road Trip!

Driving in Australia as a tourist offers a unique opportunity to explore the country’s breathtaking landscapes and vibrant cities at your own pace. However, it’s essential to ensure your driver’s license complies with Australian regulations and familiarise yourself with our road rules. Happy Holidays!

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