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Motorhome Driving Tips

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Everything you Need to Know About Driving a Motorhome in Australia

An Australian road trip in a campervan or motorhome is a fantastic way to see this incredible country. From the vibrant cities to the lush forests, there’s something new to experience at every turn.

It’s a bucket list item for visitors and locals alike to rent a travel van and explore Australia. But if you’re new to driving in Australia, it’s a good idea to have a thorough understanding of the driving rules before you hit the road. To help plan your trip, we’ve put together this handy blog with everything you need to know about driving a motorhome in Australia. Here’s what we’ll cover:

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  • Make sure you have a valid licence to drive in Australia
  • Become familiar with basic road rules
  • Test your road code knowledge before hitting the road
  • Familiarise yourself with your motorhome beforehand
  • Stay safe when travelling with children
  • Be aware of hazards
  • Know where you are allowed to park your motorhome
  • Take regular breaks
  • Don’t drink and drive
  • Be aware of toll roads in Australia

Make sure you have a valid licence to drive in Australia

If you already have a current full Class-C Australian driver’s licence, good news! You don't need any special licence to drive Australian motorhomes as long as it meets certain requirements. Your Class-C licence means you can drive a campervan that weighs up to 4.5 tonnes in GVM (gross vehicle mass).

When driving in Australia, always carry a copy of your licence in English. If you’re using an international permit, you must also carry your original driver's licence. If you have a foreign licence, please ensure:

  • It is current
  • It is appropriate for a full-size motor vehicle (with no restrictions)
  • It is accompanied by an international driving permit
  • ​You can present an accredited English translation if your licence is in a language other than English

MORE INFO: Find out more about applying for a driver’s licence in Australia.

Become familiar with basic road rules

Each state in Australia has its own road rules. However, there are common rules across the country. Here are 10 key road rules to know before you head off on your Australian road trip:

  1. In Australia, we drive on the left-hand side of the road.
  2. Everyone in your campervan must wear a seat belt when the vehicle is moving.
  3. When you’re driving in Australia, it is important to stay within speed sign limits.
  4. It is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.05.
  5. All traffic must proceed in a clockwise direction in a roundabout. A vehicle already on a roundabout has right of way over any vehicles entering.
  6. Give way to vehicles on your right.
  7. Always overtake to the right. First, be sure you can see enough of the road to safely complete overtaking and move back to your side of the road.
  8. It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving, even when stopped at traffic lights.
  9. Always park on the left-hand side of the road. It is illegal to park facing oncoming traffic.
  10. Pedestrians should always look right first before crossing a road

For more expert information about the driving rules in Australia, take a look at the National Transport Commission’s Australian Road Rules. This helpful guide outlines road rules in each state or territory.

Test your road code knowledge before hitting the road

Planning to rent a van to travel around Australia? Familiarise yourself with our Road Code rules by taking the Tourist Driving Theory Quiz. The questions are designed to help you stay safe on your Australian road trip.

The quiz covers pointers such as:

  • General knowledge: safe driving knowledge including signs, speed limits, intersections and road rules.
  • Intersections: Traffic signs, vehicle movements, priority and give way rules, and road position at intersections.
  • Traffic signs: Essential warning signs and road information signs.

Familiarise yourself with your motorhome beforehand

If you’re new to driving a campervan or motorhome, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the basics before you hit the road. When you pick up your maui motorhome, one of our friendly team members will run through everything you need to know. You’ll also be shown an introductory walk-through video of your campervan. This video is also available in the thl Roadtrip app, so feel free to download the app ahead of your arrival. A few other key points to remember when driving a campervan include:

  • Height: Remember that campervans can be double the height and length of a standard car. Keep an eye out for height indicator signs, cantilever awnings and overhanging tree branches. Be careful when reversing near static objects.
  • Loose objects: Remember to close and lock drawers, lockers, hatches etc before you drive away.
  • Fuel up: Australia has vast swathes of remote outback and bush areas. If you’re travelling through a remote area, always make sure your fuel tank is full.
  • Be courteous: If you notice traffic building up behind you, pull over as soon as it’s safe to do so and allow others to pass.
  • Take your time: Your Australian road trip is best enjoyed by taking your time. Remember, because your campervan or motorhome is heavier than the car you may be used to driving, you’ll need to allow more time to brake. Always keep a safe distance and maintain a safe speed.
  • Care reversing: Make use of your mirrors and rear-vision camera (if fitted). It may be helpful to have someone stand at the rear to guide you.
  • Corners: Remember to give yourself plenty of space when turning corners.
  • Driving essentials: Familiarise yourself with the position of your campervan’s lights, wipers, indicator, and other controls before you set off.

Stay safe when travelling with children

When you rent a travel van to explore Australia, children under seven years old must be restrained in a car seat or booster seat. Children aged six months up to four years must use rear-facing or forward-facing car seats with an inbuilt harness. If needed, you can hire booster seats when you book your Maui campervan hire.

Travelling in a campervan with children can be challenging, especially if you’re driving long distances. It can be helpful to have a few distractions on hand to keep them entertained. A movie on a device or games like eye spy or car bingo are all good options. Don’t forget to pack a few snacks, a pillow, and a favourite toy to make the journey more comfortable.

Be aware of hazards

Just like any other country, Australia has a few hazards to be aware of when you’re driving. A few of these include:

  • Wildlife: Keep an eye out for signs that indicate that wildlife is in the vicinity. It’s not unusual to see a kangaroo hopping across the road in country areas! Enjoy them but remember they can be a hazard when driving. If you do hit a native animal, contact the wildlife authorities in the state you’re in if possible.
  • Unsealed roads: Road conditions can vary greatly in Australia. It’s not uncommon to have to travel on gravel or dirt country roads. Remember to slow down and take your time. It’s best to avoid driving on gravel roads at night where possible.
  • Weather: It’s a good idea to always check the weather forecast before you head off on the next leg of your Australian road trip. Being caught in heavy rain on unfamiliar roads can be dangerous. It’s worth waiting for a clear spell – and much more enjoyable to drive in!
  • Know the signs: Take the time to get familiar with the traffic signs around Australia. This helpful quiz is a good starting point.

Know where you are allowed to park your motorhome

As you travel around Australia, you’ll come across lots of beautiful beaches, parks, and reserves that might look like ideal spots to park up for the night. But it pays to be aware that you’re not able to park your campervan anywhere that takes your fancy.

One of the safest and most convenient places to stay over is at a holiday or caravan park. These campgrounds have excellent campsite facilities and make for a comfortable spot to stay. Another great option is to spend a few nights in one of our great national parks. There are over 600 national parks in Australia offering a mix of free camping and low-cost camping options, depending on the location.

Free camping is the best way to venture off the beaten path. Freedom camping sites can include roadside stops, some commercial car parks, as well as designated free camping sites. These aren’t always the most scenic, but they are great for a cheap (often free) and convenient place to park up for the night.

MORE INFO: Learn more about the laws and regulations relating to caravan parks and camping grounds.

TOP TIP: Check out 20 of Australia’s best secret camping spots!

Take regular breaks

Driver fatigue is a common cause of campervan crashes. When driving long distances as you explore Australia, plan your trip to stop and rest every two hours. Plan your route beforehand so you don’t end up driving long into the night by mistake

If you’re feeling tired, pull your campervan over and rest. Alternatively, you can swap driving responsibilities with one of your travel companions.

Don’t drink and drive

Enjoying a G&T or a glass of wine as you park up for the night is one of the niceties of travelling by campervan! But remember that it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.05. So, if you’re driving, it’s best not to consume any alcohol beforehand. That’s not to say that you can enjoy one of Australia’s great wine tours or drinks with lunch. Just be sure to organise a sober driver or Uber beforehand.

Be aware of toll roads in Australia

Road toll fees apply on some roads in Australia. You will likely encounter toll roads if you are driving through Metropolitan New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria.

You are responsible for paying road toll fees when driving a Maui rental campervan. Toll roads in Australia are electronically tolled. That means you will not be able to stop and pay cash. Any unpaid tolls will incur an administration fee from Maui in addition to the fee owed to the tolling company.

You will need to set up a visitor's e-PASS once you have picked up your Maui campervan. A visitor e-PASS can be set up before or within 48 hours of your first trip to cover travel on all Australian toll roads.​ For more information please refer to the Toll Road Guide.

Plan your next summer road trip with maui

Now that you’ve got all the key information on driving a motorhome in Australia, it’s time to make it happen! Start planning the campervan holiday of a lifetime – take the first step by booking your maui motorhome online. You can book to pick up and drop off your campervan from any one of maui’s nationwide branches.

We’ve got a campervan or motorhome to suit every budget and travel style. And if you’re looking for some Australian travel inspiration, be sure to check out our travel guides and blogs.