THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
DRIVING IN AUSTRALIA
- The most important driving tip we can share with travellers: STAY LEFT.
- Australia is very strict on the use of seat belts, with the onus on the driver to make sure every passenger is wearing a seatbelt or restraint.
- It is illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving, also applying to when the vehicle is stationary.
- Drivers are strictly policed, with zero tolerance for those driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The blood alcohol limit is 0.05% for full licence holders. Learner and provisional drivers must not drive after they have consumed any alcoholic drinks or foods containing alcohol.
- Police conduct Random Drug and Alcohol (RBT) roadside testing in NSW. Every police car is a mobile RBT.
- Some motorways, bridges and tunnels in Sydney require payment of tolls, which can only be paid electronically with an eTag.
- Make sure you keep your eyes out for SCHOOL ZONES, operating from Monday to Friday, 8am-9:30am and 2:30pm-4pm, where drivers strictly must travel 40km/hr.
- There are two types of speed limit signs – regulatory and advisory speed signs:
- Speed sign showing ‘50’ inside a red circle
- Regulatory speed limit signs have a white background with the speed limit shown inside a red circle.
- Advisory speed signs have a yellow background. These signs indicate the recommended maximum speed in good driving conditions for the average car. These signs are generally placed before curves, bends and crests
- It is illegal to drive faster than the posted speed limit.
- The default urban speed limit is 50 km/hour. Some major roads have limits of 60, 70 or 80 km/hour.
- A local traffic area is an area of local streets that have a speed limit of 40 km/hour.
- For major roads outside city areas and major freeways, the default speed limit is 100/110 km/hour.
- When entering a roundabout, give way to cars coming from the right.
- At two way stop signs, you must come to a complete stop.
- Remember that pedestrians ALWAYS have right of way, so always stay alert to avoid an accident.
- As an international visitor, you can drive in Australia with your foreign licence if it is in English. If not, you will need to attain an International Drivers Permit from your home country.
ETAGS AND TOLLS ON SYDNEY ROADS
All of Sydney’s toll roads are fully cashless now and that means you need to pay with an electronic tag or pass. There is a range of electronic tag and pass products available through different providers. Each provider may apply different charges, deposits and top-up amounts.
All drivers in Sydney are required to pay tolls on certain roads and these rates sometimes differ depending on the time. Hire cars will often be fitted with ETags and if not the car registration is photographed and
a fine is sent to the owner of the vehicle plus an additional admin fee.
The various ETag companies have different solutions for temporary visitors to Sydney and NSW.
Transurban Linkt offers a Tagless account for occasional visitors to pay Sydney and other Australian state tolls. This Tagless account lets you use the toll roads with no tag, no up-front credit, no expiry and you simply pay-as-you-go. To open a Tagless account or for more info go to: www.linkt.com.au. Or call 13 76 26, 8am-8pm, 7 days
Roam Visitor’s e-PASS is for short term travel and is valid for up to 30 days only. Again no tag is required and you are charged a matching fee or $0.75 per trip. Start up fees are as little as $1.50. You have the flexibility of unlimited travel within 30 days and payments are automatically debited from your credit card. For more information visit: www.roam.com.au/before-you-travel/visitors-e-pass. Or call 13 86 55, 8am-8pm, 7 days
eMU Pass is a casual pass to pay for travel on Sydney toll roads for up to 30 days. Like the Roam Visitor’s e-PASS you have unlimited travel in 30 days with a video processing fee of $0.75 per trip. You can extend your pass stay and payments are made on your nominated credit card. For more information visit: www.myrta.com. Or 13 18 65, 8am-5pm Monday-Friday / 8am-12pm Saturday
As you travel through a toll point, your electronic tag will make a beeping noise so you know the trip has been recorded. Different electronic tag products make different noises. If the tag fails to beep as you pass through the toll point, you may have a problem and should contact your provider for more information.
The ocean and harbour beaches are a major draw bringing people to Manly and the surrounding area. The water is the number one recreational venue but it is essential everyone takes care and follows rules to stay safe and respect the water, marine life and other water users AT ALL TIMES.
Here are some essential guidelines to make sure you enjoy your time at the beach or harbour.
Slip, Slop, Slap! Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat, Slip, Slop, Slap! This Cancer Council message stands today. The sun is strong, especially in the summer months. People are advised to stay off the beach between 11am and 3pm and to wear hats and rashies for sun protection. Better still, just don’t spend too long at the beach in the heat of the day. You know the saying about Mad dogs and Englishmen… make sure you don’t follow that example. High factor sunscreen should be used and reapplied regularly.
SWIM BETWEEN THE FLAGS
No water is entirely safe but when it comes to a beach you do not know, then the dangers are far greater.
For safety in the surf, you should only swim between the red and yellow flags which mark the safest swimming areas. Manly's beaches are patrolled all year round by lifeguards. Surf Life Saving offers the lifeguards top tips:
- Always swim between the red and yellow flags. These flags mean there is currently a lifesaving service operating on that beach.
- Be sure to read the safety signs. This will ensure you are aware of any warnings or dangers on the beach.
- Ask a lifeguard for safety advice.
- Swim with a friend and look out for each other.
- If you are not feeling comfortable in the water get help before you get tired. If you require a lifeguard’s assistance to get back to shore, stay calm, raise your arm in the air and wave it from side to side.
Rip currents are strong currents of water that flow away from shore through the surf zone. Visitors are not the only ones to be caught out by rips. In fact, young men aged
15-39 years are most likely to die in rips. They are the number one hazard on Australian beaches.
The best way to avoid a rip is to swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags.
Spotting a rip is not always easy. The things to look for are deeper, dark-coloured water; fewer breaking waves; a rippled surface surrounded by smooth waters; and anything floating out to sea or foamy, discoloured, sandy, water flowing out beyond the waves.
If you do find yourself caught in a rip, stay calm and MOVE with the current at an easy pace to conserve energy.
If you are near others, signal for help by waving one arm and call for help.
Don’t waste energy swimming against the water flow but try to swim parallel to the shore or use the breaking waves to help you to shore.
Warning signs A yellow background, and include simple symbols to communicate what you should be aware of.
Regulatory signs These signs inform you about prohibited activities at the beach. These are red circles, with diagonal lines across a black symbol.
Information signs Provide information about features or activities which may be present on the beach.
Safety signs Used to indicate the safety provisions or provide safety advice such as emergency beacons, public rescue equipment or first aid.
Exclusion zones A black and white quartered flags on each side of the red and yellow flags. This indicates the surfcraft exclusion zone - that is finned surfboards and motorised crafts. So if you’re surfing, steer clear of the red and yellow flags.
Bluebottles are a common and unwelcome visitor to the Northern Beaches. They are floaters and are blown into our favourite swimming spots and often wash up on the shore. While not deadly to humans, Bluebottles can deliver a very painful sting. Apply warm water if available, if not use an icepack.
The Blue-ringed Octopus can be found on the Northern Beaches in shallow
rock pools, hiding in crevices or empty shells of other marine animals. Their venom can be deadly and there is no anti-venom available. If you get bitten, call an ambulance immediately.
Red-bellied Black Snakes
Snakes are prevalent on the Northern Beaches. They eat rats, mice, frogs, lizards and birds as well as fish and eels. They shelter in thick grass clumps, logs, burrows and under large rocks. While they are dangerously venomous, their venom is not deadly to humans. If you get bitten, call an ambulance.
There are about 170 species of sharks living in Australian seas. The chance of encountering a shark in the water are still quite rare but it pays to be vigilant when swimming or surfing, even on the Northern Beaches.
Funnel Web Spider
The Funnel Web lives in open coastal forest, tall open forest and upland forest. They build retreats on the ground under rocks and fallen branches. Funnel web bites are highly toxic and can potentially result in death. If you’re bitten, call an ambulance immediately.
The Redback Spider is instantly recognisable from the vivid red marking found on the back of the female of the species. This highly venomous spider usually makes its home in sheltered, out-of-the-way areas, and is only dangerous if provoked. Only the female Redback bites. A bite from a Redback can potentially be fatal, particularly for the very young or for the elderly. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, pain and muscle spasms, fever and sweating, and restlessness. Seek medical attention promptly as there is an effective anti-venom. There have been no deaths in Australia from a confirmed spider bite since 1979, and none from a Redback Spider since the anti-venom was introduced in 1956.