It's pretty much inevitable that you'll be spending many hours on the road if you're journeying around Western Australia. Driving your way around is incredibly rewarding and means you can control your itinerary and journey. However, visitors to Western Australia often underestimate the vast distances between towns in regional areas, so please be familiar with the following before you head out to tackle the outback!
In Australia vehicles travel on the left-hand side of the road and are right-hand drive. Petrol stations are plentiful in Perth, many open 24 hours. In rural areas major roads have trading stops at regular intervals. It is very important to plan your refuelling, as the outback is a pretty harsh place to run out of petrol. Check out some recommended itineraries that will help make the most of your visit.
Overseas driver's licence holders must carry their licence with them when they drive. Seat belts must, by law, be worn by all persons travelling in a motor vehicle. Posted speed limits must be adhered to. The speed limit in suburban areas is 50km/hr unless otherwise signed; major arterial roads are generally 60km/hr and the upper limit in country areas is 110km/hr. Speed cameras are used throughout the state. Western Australia has drink driving laws which limit the amount of alcohol a person can consume before driving a vehicle. These laws are rigidly enforced by an efficient police force equipped with modern, sophisticated radar devices and mobile alcohol and drug detection facilities. The blood alcohol limit in WA is .05. Further information on road rules can be obtained from www.transport.wa.gov.au
Rental vehicles are available from numerous locations throughout the state including air and rail terminals. Cost is determined by the location, the type of car and the rental period required. Compulsory third party insurance is included. Minimum rental age is 21 and a premium may be charged for drivers under 25. 4-wheel drive (off-road) vehicles and fully-equipped caravans and motorhomes are also available for hire.
All distance signs in Australia indicate distance in kilometres. Green and gold route markers indicate roads which are part of the National Highway System, showing the most direct routes between Perth and Adelaide or Darwin. Look for the white-on-brown tourist road signs which indicate areas of significant historic or scenic interest.
When planning a route through isolated outback areas make sure you carry plenty of water (at least 5 litres of water per person per day) and adequate food and fuel supplies. Advise someone of your route, destination and expected arrival time. If you have a breakdown do not leave the vehicle under any circumstances. Wildlife can be a hazard to drivers, particularly around dawn and dusk. Road trains (large trucks towing up to 3 trailers) can be over 50 metres long and 2.5 metres wide so extra care should be taken when overtaking; allow for at least a kilometre of clear road ahead.
Drivers are most at risk of fatigue between midnight and 6am when alertness is at its lowest point. Tiredness can affect you on short journeys as well as on long, straight country roads. So if you feel yourself getting tired, stop and take a break. At participating roadhouses throughout Western Australia you'll find coffee stops where drivers receive a free cup of coffee. During peak travel periods such as Christmas and school holidays Driver Reviver stations around the state offer refreshments to encourage drivers to stop, revive and survive.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN PERTH
Perth’s city and suburbs are well connected by buses and trains. You must have a valid ticket to travel; a SmartRider card is a cash-free way to use public transport, providing cheaper fares on buses and trains. Information on SmartRiders, bus and train routes and timetables can be obtained from major bus and train stations, or contact Transperth on 13 62 13 for information. To use the Transperth journey planner to find the best route, visit www.transperth.wa.gov.au
VISITORS WITH DISABILITIES
Transperth staff are available to assist wheelchair users to access trains. All CAT and CircleRoute buses are accessible, as are any buses displaying the blue wheelchair symbol. For further information, call Transperth on 13 62 13. Taxi services catering for wheelchairs can be booked, phone 13 62 94. While access requirements vary according to the individual, most major public buildings in the city are considered accessible; most streets have kerb ramps and tactile indicators and audible crossing signals are in place at most major intersections.
Perth is one of the best capital cities in the world for cycling, with relatively few hills and great weather. The Perth bicycle network offers great opportunities for bike riding all over the city, and dedicated cycleways and shared paths throughout Kings Park, Fremantle and the northern suburbs offer fantastic views of the Swan River and stunning Sunset Coast beaches. Whether you’re commuting or sightseeing, biking is a great way to get around Perth while enjoying our great weather. Perth bicycle paths are designated with signs with directional pointers and distances to various attractions. You can take your bike onto Transperth trains for no charge (restrictions apply during peak times) and see the outer areas of Perth without exhausting yourself totally. A fantastic day out is a ride around the Swan River, with a meal in Fremantle or up at Guildford, then catch the train back to the city. More information can be obtained at www.transport.wa.gov.au/cycling