Driving Down Under - Car Hire in Australia

By: David Collins

For those who love the idea of driving for hours through miles and miles of open countryside, driving through the Australian outback may not spring to mind.

However, for those looking to travel through the country, either during backpacking excursions or just a short break, hiring or buying a vehicle can be extremely beneficial.

can be arranged for pickup from the airport, it is advised that you leave yourself a day's rest after arriving to allow recovery from jetlag.

Road etiquette in Australia is similar to the UK - tourists can often acclimatise quickly as they would already be used to driving on the left back in the UK.

>Car hire in Australia can vary depending on your length of stay. If you're taking a short break then car hire can work out cheaper, but those looking to spend time in the country should consider the possibility of buying a vehicle (which works out cheaper if you buy as part of a group of friends)

companies can vary on age requirements, usually they require the driver to be over 25 years old, but some will allow 18 to 21 year olds to rent, although sometimes this may involve a surcharge.

It is very important to ensure that your vehicle is in good working order if you are looking to travel long distances. Towns and rest stops can have hundreds of kilometres between each other, and breaking down miles from your next stop can be a very dangerous experience.

With red warning signs dotted along outback roads, the idea of breaking down in the hot open outback can be a daunting thought. You should try to take a break from driving every couple of hours or so, making sure you stock up on plenty of water, food and spare fuel.

Keeping an eye on your fuel is also crucial, for fuel stops may have miles of flat and barren wilderness between them. And whilst it may be tempting to take your eyes off the road and take in the scenery, wildlife can move quickly in front of your vehicle, so concentration is paramount to your travels in order to reduce your risk of an accident.

You should make sure you are alert at all times, for there is a risk of reduced visibility on dusty roads - especially in the presence of 'road trains' - large trailers that you should look at giving a wide berth.

It is advisable to plan ahead for your visits down under, if you're travelling as part of a group, make sure that more than one of your party is able to legally drive in Australia, for it is advisable to take turns driving in order to reduce the risk of an accident, and allow drivers the chance to rest on long journeys.

Most importantly of all - plan ahead; make a note of where you want to go, keep maps handy and identify fuel and rest stops in advance, rather than chancing it whilst driving.

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