Since 1945 more than six million people from across the world have come to Australia to live. Today, more than 20 per cent of Australians are foreign born and more than 40 per cent are of mixed cultural origin.

Friday, 10 February 2012


So I thought I'd write a post about driving. Not sue why, but most people do it and there are some things you might need to know about driving in Australia. You wouldn't think there are many differences, and they’re not really, but the few things there are you'll notice, and some things that could be useful know.

I mentioned before that getting you Australian drivers licence is quite easy if you have other documentation for ID. It’s usually a straight swap. If you hold a full UK licence, then you’ll fill in a form and get your new Australian license within the hour. This process applies to most European countries too. If you are from a country on the list of approved countries you can simply swap it without having to do any form of driving test. If your country id not on this list, you may need to do a theory and/or practical assement before you get your licence.

The list of approved countries can be found here:

These are specifically for the Australian Capital Territory but will almost certainly the same for other Australian states.

The only test you will need to do is a quick eye test, which is done at the counter in the offices where you get your licence.

I think they are supposed to take your UK licence off you, but I got mine back. I’m not sure about this but it’s handy to have my UK one as well for when I go back to visit.

Ok, so if you’re coming over as a family and your kids are needing to learn to drive, there are other rules that apply. Learning over here is much the same, same things covered etc. The slight difference is that learner drivers in Australia must do a set amount of supervised driving hours. So in New South Wales for example, have to first pass a Driver Knowledge test to gain a Learners' Permit. (a learner licence) You can't take a driving test until you have held the Learners' permit for 12 months and logged 120 hours of supervised driving, including 20 hours of night driving. That’s a lot of hours. After this you can apply for your test (theory and practical)

So if your kids do pass this, they are then put on “P Plates” or a provisional licence for 3 years. This will mean they cannot drive any car without having P’s stuck to the front and back. That’s a major difference to the UK where you can pass on the day and go off driving as soon as your full licence arrives in the post.

Ok well enough about learning, let’s get on to driving. You’ll quite quickly notice that there are a lot or damn ugly looking cars. Not sure why, but damn they’re ugly! A lot of cars seem to be American in style, i.e., they have none. Having said this there are some good looking cars. You’ll also notice that European cars are quite rare in comparison to Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and all Asian car brands. This isn’t surprising considering how close they are to these countries and it’s what you’d expect.  Also, European cars are a heap more expensive in Australia, as you’d expect from having to import them for further away. Common sense.

The other thing you’ll notice is that every other car in Australia is either a V6 or a V8. They love their big cars. 3 to 6 litres seems to be the norm, and mostly rear wheel drive. A few you’ll see everywhere, Ford Falcons and its arch enemy the Holden (Vauxhall) Commodore. Both available in the good old aussie “ute” (Utility vehicle)

And another thing...every other person seems to own a trailer. I’ve never in my life seen so many trailers. What’s more it’s quite un nerving following a car towing a trailor at 110Kmh with the entire contents of theirs home held on with what looks like dental floss. My advice? PASS IT as soon as you can!

The roads over here always seem to be littered with what used to be someone’s bed side table, DVD cabinet, or garden furniture. Some of the things I’ve managed to swerve around so far were an outdoor bin (just yesterday) bags of garden waste, half a tree and more worrying two concrete breeze blocks casually lying in the middle of the road. You’ve been warned! 

I think this is due to the fact that given the lack of rain they don’t need vans. Tradesmen all have Utes, (Google it) where in the UK they’d have a Transit.

A good point (or possibly bad point) in Australia, they have no MOT’s. Now you know what I mean by possible bad point. They do have vehicle inspections but they are not compulsory once a year.

When you buy a car, you as the buyer are responsible for getting it inspected before you can get it registered in your name. No pass, no registration. So you REALLY need to make sure you don’t buy a lemon, or it could be expensive or even useless for you. On the bright side, once you own the car, you don’t need to get it inspected for the life of the car, unless your the lucky winner of the inspection lottery. This is where when your Rego (Tax disk) is ready for renewal, you could be picked randomly for a vehicle inspection. Then you’ll have to go over the pits before you get you new one (if it passes)

Another quick point, Third party insurance is built in to your Rego (Tax disk) but only Third Party. You need to get insurance from a company for anything more and it is very advisable, and compared to the UK, dirt cheap.

Australian cops take speeding very seriously. Same kind of punishment, points and a fine except in Australia, you start with all your points and have them taken off your licence instead of having none and having them added. They’re call de-merit points. End up with none left and bye bye licence. They will also run “Double de-merit” weekends. These fall on public holidays, where if you get caught speeding or anything else driving wise on those weekends they take double the points off your licence. You’ve been warned J. Don’t expect speed cameras to be painted Yellow either, they’re not.

Un-official road rules

If you need to pull out and pass it. In the UK you’ll regularly get people flashing their lights at you to let you in if you want to pull out. This does NOT happen in Australia. So don’t put on your indicator and look in the mirror waiting for the flash, it won’t come. You go!

It also seems that the amount of space is irrelevant. You will get people pulling out between you and the car that’s 8 inches in front of you at the time.

Trucks don’t care, trucks in the UK are limited to 60mph. I think they are limited in Australia but it doesn’t seem like it.  They will pass you with a double trailer at 130kmh (80mph) and not think anything of it. They are also HUGE.

Another rule that seems to be compulsory is on a wet night you must take out your rear wheel drive, 6 litre V8 and proceed to do doughnuts around quiet roundabouts, or burnouts at every intersection or street corner. It’s the rules. You’ll find the tell tale long black, slightly swervy or even round skid marks the morning after on the way to work. 

Ok so I think I’ve covered the basics at least. There is a lot more information out there about the important legal stuff, and rules change from state to state so you’ll need to do your own research for where your planning to live.

 Feel free to comment below with your comment if you live here already or you have any questions.

 Ciao for now.

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