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What You Need To Know About Driving in NSW, Australia

Driving in Australia | EverWanderingWanderers


We can start this post with the obvious, In Australia, you drive on the left. 

As part of our 10 days in Australia we rented a car in Sydney and drove about an hour and a half west to Katoomba for the weekend. For those of you who are considering renting a car in Australia, take a deep breath, it is actually not that stressful. Overall we found the process to be similar to the states. Prior to booking our rental with Hertz (cheapest rate we could find) I did conduct two lines of research: 
  1. Australia.gov.au - Driving with an Overseas Licence - As a good consumer of research I only trust sources with ".gov" or ".edu" sources. The Australian government does a very nice job of making their site as clear as possible. 
    1. As can be read on the Australian government's website, driving laws and regulation differ by the state. Since we were spending our time in New South Wales (NSW) I only went by their terms.
    2. Now, there are no needs to attain a license - unless your trip in NSW will be for more than 3 months. Since we were only there for 10 days we abide by the following: If you have an overseas license and have held that license for more than 3 years, your NSW license equivalent is an unrestricted driver license. 

Okay, sounds good enough. So as it reads, we don't need a license. Right? 
  1. Speak directly with your chosen rental car company before you book. It was quite easy to chat with a Hertz representative online through their website to confirm my deduction that since we both have held driver's licenses for more than 3 years we are fine to drive in NSW. 
    1. Hertz confirmed. 
    2. Rental car booked! 

Now, the process of picking up and returning the rental car was the same as in the States. You arrive at your specified pick up time, present your insurance, driver's license and sign all the paperwork. I do recommend taking advantage of their $10 a day GPS device. While we were in Australia each of us shut off the data on our phones and only used the devices while on WiFi at our hotels or restaurants (if available). Therefore, using the GPS maps on our phone was not feasible.

Alright, so you have your rental car and now it's time to exit the parking lot and drive on the left side of the road.


Having never driven on the left side of the road, or in another country for that matter, we were...excited? nervous? anxious? prepared for the adventure! The best way I can describe it is that it feels unbalanced. As you exit the garage and drive through the city to your destination, it feels as though the left side of the car (i.e., passengers side) is too close to cars, too close to medians and oddly that there is so much space on that side and such little space between you and traffic. Each time we made a turn we verbally said "Stay Left! Stay Left!"

Once you get out of the city, of course, the driving becomes less stressful and you start to settle into the left side and enjoy the view.


While we did not see any wildlife on our journey out to Katoomba, we were certainly on the look out every time we saw one of these signs along our route:   

Driving through Australia is incredibly gorgeous and adventurous. Don't let the fear of booking a rental or the change of driving on the left intimidate you. I promise you it is well worth the time, energy, and mental "Stay Left!" reminders.

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