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Driving in Sydney promises to be one of the most relaxing and enjoyable adventure to do. Australia is such a vast country that in order for one to truly enjoy all the sights and scenery, driving is probably the best option.
However, those who prefer public transport and tours should not be disappointed. Sydney has one of the world's most advance transport system, from the Light Rail right to the monorail. As for tours, there are coach tours that operate on a daily basis which can take you up to the Blue Mountains or down to Australia's capital city, Canberra. There are also cruises that sail as far as Hobart so you will never have to worry about driving.
Left side of the road
If you are planning on driving in Australia, there are a few rules you need to be aware of. First of all, since Australia is a member of the Commonwealth Nations and has strong links to England, you can expect to drive to the left hand side of the road. The slower lane is positioned in the extreme left or the outside lane. Note that there are horse drawn vehicles and cyclists who use the road and must be considered as vehicles as they have a right to the road.
The laws regarding driving is very strict and if you do get caught speeding, you can loose your licence or spend up to $1000. (this varies from state to state) The speed limit is 60km/h but you can go up to 120km/h when the sign indicate so. (usually on a freeway or highway) Speed detection takes the form of radar cameras. Some are mounted onto the top of traffic lights that also monitors cars who speed through yellow or red lights (there are more of these in the cities and increasingly in suburbs) and some are done by policemen in various spot. (so if you see a lone policeman sitting with a strange looking device ahead of you, it pays to slow down!) Another thing to watch out is when going through any tunnels as there are cameras that check for rave drivers. (a word of caution: the roads in the Harbour Tunnel are quite smooth so don't be surprise if you find the speedometer suddenly climbing without you pushing the accelerator. Simply slow down and adjust your speed.)
Don't Drink and Drive
Sydney is not idle when it comes to drinking. Also known as the Great Beer Drinking Nation, it is not surprising to find a lot of drivers drunk at the wheels. The police are targeting drunk drivers at every possible venue. The alcohol level is 0.02 which means no more than one mug of beer. If you wish to drink more, use your common sense; either get a ride home from a friend, call a taxis or wait one or two hour later for the effects to dissolve into the bloodstream.
The roads in Sydney are quite well laid out but it can get a little tricky if you are not used to it. For example, the roads leading towards the Sydney Harbour Bridge merge quite easily so you need to be on the look out whether it leads to the east, west, the tunnel or the airport. Road side parking is available at various time of the day and they are strictly enforced in the city. Do not park on an unbroken line as this means no parking whatsoever. There are parking lots within the city, most notably at the Sydney Entertainment Centre and other places.
What are the other drivers like? It really depends on where you go. For example, you are likely to get more rage drivers if you get closer to the city. As you go closer to the more quieter suburbs, you tend to find drivers are more relaxed and easy going. Drivers consider changing lanes without signalling or switching lanes at the last moment very annoying and will horn you if you do. If you signal early, they will usually let you in.
Be aware of roundabouts. There are many roundabouts in Sydney and some can be quite tricky to use. For example, the roundabout in Windsor has two major lanes and traffic lights. The rule when driving is ALWAYS GIVE WAY TO THE RIGHT. When entering a roundabout, you should stop and wait to see if there is any car entering on your right. Wait until the car has finish its round before you attempt the roundabout. If you approach a two lanes roundabout you need to be a little more careful. If you wish to go either straight or left, keep to the outer lane. To go right or straight, use the inner lane.
A final word...
For more information on the use of the roads, you should drop into any of the Road Transport Authority (RTA) branch and pick up a driver learner's book. Even if you are an experienced driver, it is a good idea to read about the road rules because they do vary from countries to countries and it could save your life.