If you're travelling to Sydney from overseas and have never driven in Australia before, there are a few things you'll need to think about before you get behind the wheel of your rental car from the Sydney airport.
1) You will have to drive on the left
This can be difficult to get your head around if you've spent your whole life driving on the right. When you first get into your rental car in Sydney, take it for a test drive in a quiet street or car park, until you get the hang of where everything is.
If you think it's going to take too long to get used to using gear stick with your left hand, you may wish to opt for an automatic rental car – this should make life a little easier!
2) You can use a foreign licence
If you are going to be driving around Australia for three months or less, you can use a foreign licence. According to Transport Roads and Maritime Services, this licence must be current, you must not have been disqualified from driving in New South Wales or anywhere else, and your foreign licence can't have been suspended or cancelled.
Your foreign licence must also be written in English. If it's not, you will have to keep an English translation with you at all times, or organise an International Driving Permit (IDP). This can be issued by associated members of the Australian Automobile Association (AAA).
3) You may have to pay tolls
A number of roads in Sydney and throughout Australia are toll roads, which means you have to pay to use them. Some toll booths are completely electronic, such as those on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, while others will accept cash payments.
You may want to investigate electronic tags or passes before you arrive. These are used to automatically pay at electronic toll booths, and can be organised for short- or long-term trips.
If you're plotting your journey on Google Maps, this will tell you if the route you've chosen contains tolls – so it's a good idea to check before you hit the road.
4) You will have to stick to the speed limit
This goes without saying, but you should be aware the speed limits are strictly enforced in Australia. Transport Roads and Maritime Services states that in suburban areas the speed limit is usually 50 kilometres per hour. This can decrease to 40 kilometres per hour around schools.
On highways, motorways and freeways you'll be driving at a maximum of 100 to 110 kilometres per hour. These speeds can differ from state to state, so if you're thinking about heading to Queensland or South Australia, make sure you read sign posts carefully.
The police of New South Wales often do speed checks, and driving over the speed limit is considered a serious offence. You can have your licence suspended on the spot, which could put a serious damper on your holiday plans.
5) You should keep an eye out for animals
This isn't such an issue if you're simply driving around Sydney's CBD, but if you're on the outskirts of town – particularly at night – keep an eye out for animals on the roads. According to Sydney.com, animals such as kangaroos are often attracted to headlights and may wander in front of your car.
They can cause serious damage to a rental vehicle.
It's a good idea to turn your high beams off or dip them if you see an animal on the road ahead, as this will ensure they aren't dazed by your headlights and unable to move out of the way.