Victoria's compact size and diversity of landscapes makes it ideal for touring. Major roads between cities and country towns are well signposted.
If you're planning to drive to Melbourne, allow at least nine hours from Adelaide, 10 hours from Sydney, 20 hours from Brisbane and up to two days from Perth. If you've got extra time, the coast roads with their scenic beauty and quaint towns are a great option.
Melbourne city has wide thoroughfares set out on a simple grid plan. Melbourne's three major freeways: the West Gate, Monash and Tullamarine, are conveniently linked by the CityLink expressway.
Familiarise yourself with some basic road rules:
- In Australia cars travel on the left of the road and speed is in kilometres (km) per hour, not miles per hour.
- Speed limit in built up or residential areas is 50km/h but can be less. Look for signage.
- On the open road, the speed limit rises to 100km, and 110km on parts of major highways.
- Speeding is illegal and heavy fines apply if you are caught travelling above the limit by police or speed cameras.
- Seat belts are compulsory in front and back seats. Children must be harnessed in a safety restraint appropriate to their age.
- Using a mobile phone while driving is prohibited except if the phone is fixed to the vehicle in a specially designed holder, and can be operated by the driver without touching any part of the phone. All other functions, including video calls, text and email, are prohibited while driving.
- Pedestrians have right of way at crossings and intersections.
- There is a blood alcohol limit of 0.05. Random breath tests operate around the state in all metropolitan and country areas.
- Drivers are required to carry a licence at all times. International driving licences are acceptable for up to three months, however you will require a Victorian licence after this period.
For more information on licences and Victorian road rules, visit the Vicroads website.
The hook turn is a road rule specific to Melbourne. To ensure that trams get a clear run through some intersections, drivers turning right must do so from the left-hand lane. It will be signposted if the rule applies to an intersection.
To make a hook turn, simply move forward in the left-hand lane and wait to the far left-hand side of the road. When lights turn orange, and the road is cleared of oncoming traffic, make a wide turn to the right.
Trams share roads with cars, so drivers must take care. Trams stop frequently. When a tram comes to a halt and tram doors open, cars must stop immediately. Cars must always give way to passengers stepping on or getting off the tram. Failing to do so endangers passengers' lives and attracts a hefty fine.
Melbourne has plenty of parking meters and parking lots.
On street parking
Credit card operated meters are common and fines apply if you stay after the meter expires. Download the PayStay app to your phone for cashless payment when you reach your on street parking spot.
Parking lots commonly charge by the hour, often with a daily capped price. Some parking lots offer discounts to moviegoers and shoppers, so be sure to retain reciepts and barcodes from affiliated shops. It pays to plan your parking online in advance. Check online for 'early bird' rates and discounts for booking your parking space in advance.
Car and motorcycle hire
Local and international car rental firms operate in Melbourne and larger regional centres. They offer a variety of vehicle types and deals. Major rental companies in Melbourne include Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Thrifty.
The minimum age to rent a car in Victoria is generally 25 years old. Some outlets will hire cars to those under 25, although surcharges and restrictions may apply.
Perfect for everything from an extended family holiday to a short break with friends, campervans and motorhomes allow you to combine accommodation with your transport. Travel at your own pace through Victoria, stopping where you like, when you like. Most hire companies offer one-way vehicle hire. Discuss your specific needs (driver age, insurance) with these businesses.