An Australian self-drive holiday is all about the freedom to decide where and when you want to go and how you will get there!
A self-drive vacation is one of the best options to see Australia on your own terms. Driving in Australia is a great pleasure with the opportunity to explore wide-open spaces and wonderful natural landscape. There are many destinations in the land down under that are best experienced by car.
With eight major gateway cities to choose from, it is possible to arrive at one city, embark on a self-drive tour and leave via another city. With inter-city rentals, you can get maximum mileage from your trip.
Self-drive is simple and convenient and Australia has some of the best road trip itineraries in the world. It helps that Australians use the metric system so speed limits are defined in kilometres per hour and distances are measured in metres and kilometres.
A big advantage is the left hand drive system similar to Singapore so you are ready to hit the road when you land with very little orientation adjustment to be made. You can purchase a self-drive package from an agent or simply plan your own route and hire a car. To get the most of your Australian driving experience, it helps to be well prepared.
For a start, it is necessary to produce an International Driving Permit (IDP) to hire a car in Australia. However, if you have a driver’s license printed in English such as the ones in Singapore, there is no need for an IDP. Book your vehicle in advance so you have a better selection to choose from. When you arrive in the country, collect the keys right away and you are ready to begin your trip.
Select the kind of vehicle that best suits your needs. Consider the number of adults and children travelling in your entourage and then work out if you need a sedan, compact SUV or bigger MPV. Remember you also need space for luggage.
For references, there are plenty of first-rate maps and guidebooks that give comprehensive information and route suggestions for self-drive trips in Australia. Some vehicles come with GPS satellite navigation systems with in-cabin display and voice prompts that give you directions.
Where possible, try to familiarise yourself with the native road regulations. There are some peculiarities to look out for. For example, at certain peak hours during the day in Melbourne, trams have the right of way over other vehicles. Certain parking lanes are designated Clearways, which means they convert to traffic lanes during peak times.
It is mandatory that all vehicles in Australia require insurance. Take note that in some cases, the insurance coverage may become void if you are not driving on bitumen roads, so stick to sealed bitumen motorways. It is compulsory to use seat belts including all passengers in the back seat.
While you are on the road, remember that Australian speed limits are generally set at 40km to 60km for built-up areas and 100km per hour for open roads. On some parts of the freeway, the limit can go up to 110km per hour.
If there is indication of double white lines along the centre of the road, it means overtaking of vehicles is illegal or just plain dangerous. If the white line is broken on one side, it is all right to overtake on that side.
Remember to activate the indicator when making a turn. Headlights are to be switched on from sunset to sunrise. It is also wise to use headlights during the day in poor visibility conditions such as fog or rain. If the driver of an oncoming car flashes his or her high beam at your car momentarily, they are trying to warn you to proceed with caution or slow down. Most likely there is some trouble up ahead in the form of an accident or a fallen tree across the road.
Be prepared for toll payments especially in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Ask your car hirer about making arrangements for paying toll. With a prepaid account, it is possible for toll fees to be automatically charged as your vehicle passes under gantries at strategic locations. This way you cut down on the risk of non-payment and avoid incurring a penalty.
Toll payments made easy
Hertz offers a convenient way through its link with toll provider, Roam Express. Simply opt-in to Roam Express Rental e-Pass when picking up your vehicle to pre-register your details for automatic credit card payment of tolls.
When driving in Australia, make sure you wear comfortable shoes and clothing and a pair of good sunglasses. Carry enough water to drink to last the long road journeys. Take turns swapping driving duties with your co-driver. If you’re going solo, it is advisable to take a break every two to three hours for a breath of fresh air and give your legs a chance to stretch.
Article written for www.natastravel.com
Information contributed by Hertz