Motoring in Australia

Australians don't need to be told this, but for the benefit of International travellers, let me say that if you want to get to see the real Australia, you have to do at least some of your travelling by road. Driving your own vehicle, or hiring one, is often the only way to gain access to some parts of Australia that are serviced only by road transport. Australia's major roads and highways are all sealed, so you can see just about all the major attractions the country has to offer without going off the bitumen.

Australia's towns and cities are linked by a network of well signposted, well maintained sealed highways and major roads which allow for easy travel between localities. In most states, the speed limit on the open road is 110 kilometres per hour. In built up areas the speed limit is either 50 kilometres per hour or 40 kilometres per hour. Speed limits are clearly marked with International-standard signage. In Australia, a drivers licence from your home country or another Australian state is sufficient to drive a motor vehicle in all states and territories, as long as it is current, has photo identification and is for the same class of vehicle you intend to drive.
Visitor Travel: Rent or Purchase?

If you are considering renting a vehicle, purchasing an older vehicle is a viable alternative, thanks to websites like Cars 4 Backbackers and Travellers Auto Barn which provide a useful service for travellers wishing to take up this travel option. Travellers can purchase a cheap car, campervan, station wagon or 4wd through the website, and when they have finished with it when they are ready to leave Australia, they simply sell it back or advertise it on the website and sell it to another traveller seeking their own set of wheels during their visit to Australia.
Four Wheel Driving

For thousands of years, the indigenous peoples of Australia have used a network of tracks to get from one part of the island continent of Australia to another. Following British colonisation, camels and horses were introduced to make these epic journeys easier for the explorers and pioneers. Today, thanks to 4-wheel drive vehicles, the outback has become accessible to just about anyone. These are the major highways and tracks - some of which are sealed (paved) and some of which are mere dirt tracks - favoured by 4-wheel drivers.


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Interstate Drives

These cross country road trips are major routes followed by the majority of road traffic from one state and another. The majority are sealed roads, those that are unseled can be driven in any kind of vehicle - 2 or 4 wheel drive, campervan, or towing a caravan or trailer - provided care is taken and weather and road conditions are checked first before embarking on a journey.

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Roads Less Travelled

These drives are nearly all on sealed roads that anyone can do in any kind of vehicle. Those which aren't, or which have unsealed sections, are well maintained and easily negotiated if care is taken. Some are self contained regional trips from and back to a particular point; others are part of a longer journey to or from a particular destination.

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Outback Highways and Tracks

These are the major highways and tracks that thread their way through the Australian outback. Some are called highways, but they are far removed from what the average person might think a highway is. They are generally unsealed bush tracks on which travel in 2-wheel drive vehicles may be possible at certain times of the year, but generally isn't. The use of 4-wheel drive vehicles is recommended.

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Regional Road Trips

These journeys are ideal for anyone in a capital city or major regional centre who is desirous of getting out of the big smoke and exploring the surrounding countryside or regions beyond. As with the interstate road trips, most of these drives are on sealed roads and are suitable for any kind of vehicle - 2 or 4 wheel drive, campervan, or towing a caravan or trailer, except where stated otherwise.

Five Decades of Motoring in Australia

Take a wander down Australia's motoring memory lane, following the changing face of motoring, from the 1950s through until the1990s. We look at the history of car manufacturing in Australia, the makes and models that have come and gone, and the iconic vehicles of each decade.

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The 1950s

A decade of great optimism in just about every aspect of life in Australia, the 1950s saw a rush of foreign car manufacturers - from Studebaker to Mercedes Banz - eager to set up car manufacturing plants in Australia so as to take advantage of the boom times.

The 1960s

The 1960s was a decade of great change and the motor vehicle industry played a major role in those changes. The decade began with the introduction of the iconic Mini and ended with the arrival of home grown muscle cars - the Holden Monaro, the Falcon GT and the Valiant Charger. In between came the beginning of the end of our preference for European vehicles with the arrival of the Japanese.

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The 1970s

In the 1970s, the Japanese car manufacturers took a stanglehold of the Australian motor vehicle market. The nation had its fling with big V8 muscle cars until the fuel crisis of the mid 1970s hit, when Japan's every growing range of well equipped, economically priced four cylinder cars began to look a much more attractive proposition, particularly to the young generation of first car buyers.


The 1980s was the decade of the people mover - an idea conceived in the 1960s with Volkswagen's iconic Kombi van, and perfected in the 1980s by Toyota with the introduction of its 8 seater Tarago. Numerous big motoring names came in went in this decade - Chrysler became Mitsubishi, Datsun became Nissan, and when the dust settled, Australia was left with only four motor vehicle manufacturers - Holden (GM), Ford, Mitsubishi and Toyota.


The 1990s will be remembered as the decade when the motoring industry went high-tech. The world wide focus was less on style and more on fuel economy, technical sophistication and reliability. Now it was possible to have speed, safety and economy all in the one package.

Names, Emblems and Terminologies

A look at motoring body styles and what their names mean, then an A to Z of major car manufacturers and how and why those companies and the models they produced were named. The makes and models listed here are primarily those that are either presently sold in Australia or are no longer manfactured but were once sold in Australia. Makes and models not sold in Australia may not be included.

Micro and Bubble Cars

Microcars, or bubblecars or whatever you call them, were very much a product of their time, an era that came and went quickly, but has left the world with some unique, and strangely loveable collectors items. Soon after their demise, bubblecars became status symbols for people who love quirky things. Ironically, the reasons for their latter-day popularity is what caused consumers at large in the 1950s to turn their back on them.

Car Manufacturing in Australia
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