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If you’re moving to Aussie or taking a holiday, you’ll need to learn how to drive on their roads. Many rules are similar throughout NZ and Australia but make sure you understand crucial differences before starting your engine.

Drive on the Left in Australia

By Alex Proimos from Sydney

Basic road rules in Australia

Mostly, the road rules in Australia are similar or the same as New Zealand including keeping to the left. There are differences though- there often can be hundreds of KM’s between towns, meaning you have to know what’s coming up so you don’t run out of fuel. Also, once you get out of the town, there is always the danger of bounding kangaroos, which will create more damage to your car than a stray possum or rabbit!

Seat belts:

These must be worn by all occupants and the driver is responsible for those under 16 years of age. Children and babies must be in approved child restraints.

Driving under the influence

The laws around this are almost identical to New Zealand’s laws. Learner and restricted licence categories have a zero limit. For adults with full licences, the legal limit is 0.05%. Driving under the influence is treated as a criminal offence.

Speed limits:

Limits are clearly stated. Most urban areas have a limit of 50km/h, school zones have a reduced limit during school hours which this differs throughout the states. Outside on the open road, top speed limits vary so pay attention to signage. In Victoria, Tasmania, NSW, South Australia and Queensland, the limit is 100km/h. In the Northern Territory and Western Australia, the limit is 110km/h, with major highways being up to 130km/h for the Northern Territory.

Australias Longest Straight Road

Australias longest straight road by Korkut Tas

Speeding fines:

Speed cameras are used throughout Australia. Some of these are hidden cameras. Police vehicles will likely have speed cameras and can pull you over. Tickets are sent to the registered address. While overseas fines are often not pursued, it may affect your driving licence application in future. Speeding the day before public holidays and between Christmas and New Year will result in twice the fines and double demerit points.

Melbourne CBD:

The CBD has trams, and so unique road rules have developed. A dotted yellow line means you can drive in the tram lane if safe. If there is a solid yellow line, it is a dedicated tram lane. Tram passengers have right of way when disembarking. Also be aware of Melbourne’s ‘hook turn’. At marked intersections, if you need to turn right at an intersection, pull into the left lane and indicate to turn right. Sit in the centre of the intersection until it is safe to turn right. This seems counter-intuitive, but it keeps the road clear for traffic staying straight.

Tolls

Many roads throughout Aussie have tolls. These can only be paid electronically using a transponder which is fitted to your car. If you incur a toll and do not have a transponder, a photograph of your registration is captured. You have 1-3 days (state dependent) to pay this fee before a fine is issued. There will be a phone number you can call to arrange payment, or a website to visit where you can pay online. If you rent a vehicle, ask the company for their policy before you leave the parking lot.

Roundabouts

These are the same as NZ. If you are turning left, indicate left and stay in the left lane. If you are going straight, do not indicate as you enter the roundabout, and then signal left as you exit the roundabout. If you are turning right, indicate right, stay in the right-turning lane, and indicate left as you take your exit.

We Live Here Too Please Drive Carefully Australia

Photo taken in Tewantin (just north of Brisbane) by Kgbo

Can you drive in Australia with a NZ license?

Yes, a New Zealand license can be used for driving in Australia and is only valid for three months, after that you’ll need to get an Australian licence for the state you are in. Generally to get an Australian drivers licence (it depends on the state) but you’ll need proof of an Australian address, proof of Australian residency, and government photo ID. It will also help if you have an Australian bank account. It costs between $50 - $150, depending on the state/territory.

You’ll need to attend an appointment, provide your Kiwi licence, a completed transfer form and the ID/ proof required. There will be an eyesight test, your new driver licence ID photo taken and pay a fee. There are differences in the process so check it out for your state in particular.

At what age can you drive in Australia?

In ACT, learner drivers can drive under the supervision of a fully licensed driver from the age of 15 years and 9 months, but it is 16 years everywhere else, exact rules do vary a bit from state to state. The minimum unsupervised driving age is 16 years and 6 months in the Northern Territory, 18 in Victoria, and 17 in other states.

Buying or renting a car in Australia

If you are moving in Australia, it’s likely you will need to own a car. You could try GoGet, which allows you to book vehicles for periods of time. If you decide to buy a car, make you run a REVS/ PPSR search to check that there is no money owing on the car.

The laws around buying a car are different in every state. You will need a permanent address to register the vehicle. Make sure it has a roadworthiness certificate.

If you’re looking to ship your car from New Zealand, Ausmove can arrange this.

Do you need insurance to drive in Australia?

By law yes, you must have insurance to legally drive a vehicle in Australia. Third party insurance is compulsory. Comprehensive insurance is recommended.

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