Advice for Brits Driving in Australia
You can't go wrong with an Aussie Road Trip. From "Mad Max: Fury Road" to "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert", the natural appeal and beautiful scenery of Australia is so obvious for travellers. For Brits looking to experience a slice of Australia, driving may be a very different experience than hitting the road Down Under. Below are a few things to look at before you set off on your Australian road trip.
Sorting your driving licence
You can drive in Australia using your UK driving licence as long as your licence is valid and is not suspended, expired or cancelled. A learner's permit, provisional or probationary licence is not accepted. Learn more about the different types of Driver’s Licences here.
Planning to immigrate to Australia? Keep in mind that you can only drive on your UK licence for the first three months after your arrival. After that, you will need to apply for your Australian driver’s licence. Always carry your driving licence and passport with you at all times. These are important during events such as random breath tests, vehicle inspections or following an accident.
Since Australia is a federation consisted of six states and two territories, the laws and regulations for driving with an international licence may differ from state to state. Make sure to visit the Australian Government website or check the Terms and Conditions for your chosen car hire supplier here.
Remember that where two lanes merge into one (i.e. lane lines end), the vehicle in front has the right of way. If there are multiple marked lanes, and one ends, give way to the vehicles in the lane you are moving into. It is important to keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you and take turns to merge if there are long lines of merging traffic.
You can only make a U-turn at traffic lights if there’s a U-turn permitted sign. Failing to give way when making a U-turn or where not permitted will incur a $100 fine and demerit points. When making a U-turn, you must use your indicator to signal your intentions to other drivers. You will also need to give way to all other vehicles and pedestrians.
Please note that in Western Australia only - U-turns are allowed over a continuous white line.
As a rule, at an uncontrolled intersection, you must always give way to the right, to oncoming vehicles and pedestrians. You will receive 3 demerit points and $300 fine if you fail to give way to vehicles to the right or pedestrians. Note that an uncontrolled intersection is where there is no traffic signal, stop sign, or give way sign.
Keep in mind that on dual/multi lane roads where the speed limit is under 90km/h, the ‘keep left’ rule only applies where there is a ‘keep left unless overtaking’ sign. Note that you can only drive in the right hand lane if you are turning right or making a U-turn, if you are overtaking, if the left lane is a special purpose lane, if you are avoiding an obstruction and if the other lanes are congested with traffic.
Heading to the outback
If you are planning a road trip through the Australian outback, it’s necessary to be well-prepared. Make sure to plan your trip well in advance and leave time for regular rest stops along the way. Don't forget to check your vehicle, the road conditions and the weather forecast before hitting the road.
Please note that travelling into some areas of the South Australia outback may involve the need for a Desert Pass Permit.
Enlighten yourself before your trip
- If you come across a horse rider signalling that he/she is having trouble getting the animal under control, you must pull over to the side of the road and turn off the engine for the rider’s safety, the horse’s safety and yours. Failure to comply will lead to a maximum fine of $2,611 and 20 penalty units. This is because under the Australian Road Rules, horses are regarded as vehicles and are subject to the same road rule as apply to other drivers.
- Know when to use your horn. Note that beeping at the car who just cut you off is illegal. You are only permitted to use your horn if you are warning other road users (or animals) of your presence.
- Throwing fruit waste such as apple cores and banana peels out of a car window is against the law. In Queensland, dropping injurious matter on a road will cost you $353 and two demerit points.
- You can accumulate up to 4 demerit points and a $484 fine if you get caught using your phone while driving. Learn more about the Mobile Phone Laws in Australia here.
- You may get charged if you get caught 3 metres away from your unlocked car.?
- Drivers must lock their car if they are more than 3 metres away from it.
- Toll charges in Australia may vary per location, vehicle type and payment method. It is important that you read and understand the Terms and Conditions for Toll Charge information when renting a car.
- In most states, including NSW, waving to someone outside the vehicle will cost you $325 fine and 3 demerit points.
- In New South Wales, you cannot splash mud on a bystander who is waiting for a bus. The penalty is $180.
- Travelling with your kids? In NSW, children between 4 and 7 are not permitted from sitting in the front seat. It is mandatory that children under the age of 4 is secured in an approved child restraint or baby capsule. Click here to learn more about Child Seats.
- Heading to Brisbane? Failure to turn off your blinkers while driving may result in a fine.
- Road Rules to Follow for Visitors Driving in Australia
- How to Find Cheap Fuel in Australia
- How to Avoid Getting a Parking Ticket