These pages have been put together primarily for International Competitors and Visitors to help them get to Lake Gairdner for Speed Week. As more information becomes available it will be added to these pages.
Registration and Licencing
- In Australia vehicles travel on the left-hand side of the road and the driver is positioned on the right-hand side of the vehicle.
However Left Hand Drive vehicles more than 25 years old are permitted with conditional registration.
- Australian Vehicles are registered in the State of residence, but can be driven anywhere in Australia.
- As an international visitor, you are able to drive in Australia with your foreign licence for three months, so long as that licence is in English. If your licence is not in English, you will need to attain an International Drivers Permit (IDP) from your home country to use in Australia. In most Australian states and territories (the exception is the Northern Territory), you are able to drive on a overseas licence as long as it is current. You can only drive vehicles which your overseas licence authorises you to drive and you must drive according to any conditions on your overseas licence.
For citizens of the United States, the U.S. government requires you apply for an International Driving Permit with either the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA). Again, you must be 18 years old or older with a valid U.S. driver's license to apply for an IDP.
- You must carry your current overseas licence, IDP or translation with you while driving. Some car rental companies require you to have a photo ID licence. If your foreign licence does not have a photo ID, you should get an IDP before travelling to Australia if you intend to rent a car.
- There is a consistent set of road rules across Australia.
- Seat belts must be worn by all occupants. Children and babies must be restrained in an approved safety harnesses, capsules or booster seat, in some states up to 7 years old. Seat belt laws are strictly enforced, and the onus is on the driver to ensure all passengers are buckled up.
Passengers 16 and over not wearing a seat belt will be fined along with the driver if caught.
- The blood alcohol limit is 0.05% throughout Australia, with zero limits for learners and drivers with provisional licences ("P" plates) in some states. Random alcohol and drug tests are conducted by the police. If caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a first offender might expect a fine and a period of driving suspension. This is considered to be a criminal offence. Fines will generally be determined by a court, based on how high your reading is. Refusing a random breath test is also an offence and similar penalties apply as for driving under the influence of alcohol.
- Speed limits are clearly signposted. A default 50km/h speed limit applies in urban areas with street lights in the rare event that there is no other signposted limit. Signposted school zones have a 40km/h limit during certain school hours, generally 8am to 9.30am and 2.30pm to 4pm and are signposted in NSW and VIC. These limits also apply to days in which teachers but not students attend school. It is important to be aware holidays vary from state to state so crossing borders can suddenly mean you are in a school zone. In South Australia, school zones have a 25km/h limit. In Queensland, school zones on roads with higher speed limits may also be signposted at 60km/h or 80km/h. Victoria may have 60km/h school zones on roads with higher speed limits. The Australian Capital Territory's school zones are 40km/h but apply for the whole of the school day.
The speed limit outside the urban areas also varies between states. In Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, the default speed limit is 100km/h. In Western Australia and the Northern Territory the default speed limit is 110km/h and in the Northern Territory it can be up to 130km/h on major highways.
- Speed cameras are used in all states and territories of Australia, with some states using hidden cameras, others preferring obviously placed ones. Point-to-point speed checks (over a certain distance) or aerial speed checks are also used in certain places. All police vehicles should be presumed to have speed radars. There is no defined margin of tolerance for speeding. Cameras also monitor red (stop) traffic signals.
Rental car companies often charge an administration fee if speeding or other fines are incurred, and will pass your name and address to the authorities. Fine notices are invariably sent to overseas addresses. Your fine won't generally be pursued outside Australia, but you should consider the consequences if you wish to drive in Australia in the future.
On the day before public holiday weekends and between Christmas and New Years Day, some states double their fines and demerit points due to the risk of accidents on these busy weekends.
Traffic signals It is illegal to turn left on a red traffic signal unless signposted.
In some states it is illegal to do a U-turn at a traffic signal unless otherwise signed. In Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory this move is allowed on a right arrow except where signposted.
Pedestrians always have the right of way.
Roundabouts Because Australians drive on the left, traffic goes clockwise around a roundabout. When approaching a roundabout, you need to give way to vehicles already on the roundabout, that is, coming from your right.
The rules for all roundabouts are:
- If you are turning left, signal left as you approach the roundabout and remain in the left-hand lane.
- If you are going straight through, don't signal as you approach the roundabout. You may choose any lane with an arrow pointing straight ahead. Signal left after you have passed the exit before the one you want to take and exit the roundabout in the same lane you are in.
- If you are turning right signal right as you approach the roundabout in the right-hand lane. Signal left after the exit before the one you want to take.
- On multi-lane roundabouts, arrows will be painted on the road indicating which lane you should be in for specific directions. Otherwise, just take the left lane for left, or the right lane for right, and either lane to go straight.
- Rental vehicle companies may ask you to take a short road rules test focused towards tourist requirements, or will refer you to information for visitors provided by the local roading authority such as Roads and Maritime, or (if there is time) will take you on a brief familiarisation drive if you haven't driven on the left before.
- Rental vehicles usually have restrictions where they can be driven. Check the fine print as they are usually prohibited from being driven on unsealed roads or taken more than a predefined distance from base or from a major urban area.
- Most cars run on Unleaded Petrol (ULP).
- Some (especially 4WDs and trucks) use diesel.
- Almost all service (gas) stations are self-serve.
- Even on major regional roads, service stations and roadhouses may close overnight. If you are planning a long drive at night, make sure you plan ahead, and know where and when you are going to get fuel.
Animals and Road Kill
- Many accidents occur at night due to driver fatigue, and the presence of native animals which become more active in the evenings.
- Some car hire firms impose a curfew on driving after sunset in Western Australia and the Northern Territory for very good reason.
- Some endangered species such as cassowary are especially at risk of vehicle strikes
- Try to arrive at your destination well before nightfall. If forced to travel at night, reduce your speed and remain alert.
To travel to Lake Gairdner to compete at Speed Week you will be traveling significant distances no matter where your journey starts from. You may choose to land in Sydney, pick up a car and head out, but be aware you have a least 2, maybe 3 full days travel ahead of you. From Melbourne it is 2 days unless you have multiple drivers and are prepared to press on. Even from Adelaide it is a very good days travel.
The thing to remember is, the conditions get harder the closer you get to the Lake with the last 200kms on rough, rutted outback dirt roads. Also if you are travelling late in the day (sunset) this is when the wildlife is most active and the opportunity for an accident increases significantly.
Once you hit the dirt when you turn right at Iron Knob you are in what is officially called "Remote Outback", you will only pass 3 homesteads on your way to the lake. There is NO mobile coverage past this point. It can be a dangerous place if you go missing or get lost. It can also be extremely hot and cold as well. We have had temperatures around 50°C (122°F) during the day and when the weather is not so good it can be as low as 0-10°C (32-50°F)
This is why we strongly recommend that you look to make Port Augusta your last stop before heading out to the salt. Another good reason to do this is that you can stock up on food, drinks and fuel for the week, because when you get to the Lake supplies are few and limited to take away type meals and Fuel from Mt.Ive station. Yes, you can also buy water and ice at the lake.
Dust: once you hit the gravel roads if your car is not sealed properly the cabin will very quickly fill with a fine, red, choking dry dust. Same will go for any enclosed trailer. Once you turn off the bitumen you can stop and try sealing any doors or gaps with racers tape, this will work to a certain extent, but by far the better option is to create a positive pressure in the compartment you are trying to keep the dust out of. So in the car, crack a front window or with a trailer if it has any vents near the front of the trailer open those. Then keep the rear of the car or trailer as air tight as possible. Some racers who have open trailers ceran wrap their vehicles to try and keep the dust out, this can work, but if there is even the slightest gap your vehicle will be covered in dust. Leaf blowers are available at the entrace to the lake as this is the best way we have found to de-dust, but it is always a good idea to take you own blower. NOTE: You cannot blown out a car on the salt surface.
Other things to note:
- Electricity: Power in Australia is 240 volts 50 hz and uses slanted flat plugs. Some electronic devices like computers can adapt to different power ratings, but many electric tools cannot. Buy your plug adaptors in your country of origin. There is generated 240v power available at the DLRA camp. If you rely on corded tools and chargers you may want to think about bringing your own generator with you.
- Mobile Phones and Wi-Fi devices: The mobile phone 4G and 3G network covers most cities and towns and along most highways, some carriers work better than others. The Telstra phone network and it's pre-paid plans are recommended for these reasons. Once you turn off the highway onto the dirt at Iron Knob, you can pack your phone away.
If communication at the lake is of importance to you, you can short-term hire a satellite phone, which can be used anywhere.
- Navigational Maps and GPS: Most Australian made navigational maps and GPS's will get you all the way to Lake Gairdner out of the box. However some may not. There are off-road GPS's which have much more detailed topographic maps. If you are using your phone, it is recommended that you download maps before your trip.
- Hand Held and Vehicle Radios: Most competitors vehicles will be fitted with a UHF 40 band radio as these vehicles also double as a support vehicle on the salt. (There's more information on requirements for support vehicles here.) On the open road Ch40 is the highway channel and can be useful when travelling to the Lake. Road trains and oversize vehicle convoys will alert drivers on Ch40.
Channels 5 & 35 are specifically for Emergency use only.
Channel 10 is used by 4WD Drivers - Convoy, Clubs & National Parks
Channel 18 is used by Caravan & Campers Convoy Channel
Channel 40 is the Highway channel.
If you are importing a race vehicle to compete at Speed Week you would want to be landing in Melboure or Adelaide.
For more detailed information how to get to Lake Gairdner check out the Lake Gairdner page. It includes the following topics; "Where is Lake Gairdner", "How to get to Lake Gairdner", "Road Condition Information" and "Outback Travelling Tips".
|Drive Times||Melbourne||Adelaide||Port Augusta||Lake Gairdner|
|Sydney||8 h 54 min
|14 h 15 min
|16 h 4 min
|22 h 31 min
|Melbourne||7 h 54 min
|11 h 4 min
|17 h 32 min
|Adelaide||3 h 21 min
|9 h 48 min
|Port Augusta||6 h 21 min
Are you looking for more information? Contact us