7 Things You Need To Know If You're Planning A Melbourne Road Trip

8:37 PM

With CNY coming around, the past two weeks at work have been crazy, so much so that I barely have enough time to myself, much less blog. The last weekend was a good respite though, when I roped in Victor and Trisha to help me with baking Han's 21st birthday cake! The oreo cake turned out amazing hehe.

Also, I've been receiving quite the number of emails/FB messages since my NZ story was published on TripZilla, so I really hope that my travel stories (like the Melbourne one I'm working on now) would help others with their itineraries or what not. :)

It's been a month since my trip to Melbourne so I thought I should really, seriously get this post out before my memory of the trip starts to fade hahah.

It was my second road trip to Australia that year (2016), and during the time on the road with my fellow travel companion(s), we came face to face with quite a number of unexpected situations. Circumstances that other travelers on Australian road trips also frequently face, but are not often talked about.

And so I thought to write about it for any Singaporean who might happen to chance upon this page while planning for their Aussie trip on the road, or anyone actually.
This tip list is not exhaustive and I may not be the best spokesperson since I am but a twenty year old who's been in Aussie only twice, but you know just my two cents. Australia is a such a beautiful place and I'm definitely paying it a visit again sometime (hopefully) this year. Maybe then I'll have more stuff to add to this post but for now:

7 Things You Need To Know If You're Planning A Melbourne Road Trip

1. Car Rental Age Limit 

Although the minimum age to be able to acquire a driving license in Australia is 17, the minimum age to rent out a car in Aussie is 21. So if you're aged between 18 to 20 with a Singapore driver's license, it's going to be tough luck trying to get a rented car. Australia seems super strict about this because during my trip to Perth, many companies turned us down even though we were technically just a few months away to turning 21 lol.

However, Ace's minimum age for drivers is only 18! It states 20 on the website, but my friend who was 19 when we visited Perth back then successfully made a booking when we gave them a call. I think the age limit depends on which city you're renting it from. But yes, if you're a young driver below the age of 21, Ace may just be your (only) hope.

2. Young Driver Surcharges & Insurance

If you're older than 25, then lucky you. You can skip this whole point entirely cause it would be totally irrelevant to your planning when it comes to renting a car for your trip. However, if you're aged 18 to 25, this will affect you a lot more so read on.

As most of us would know, renting out a car in other countries aside from Singapore is comparatively cheaper. Most car rental sites/third party booking platforms has their Toyota Camry/Corolla cars rented out at $20-$30/day. Wow, right? However, it's not that cheap if you're a young driver. Simply because there's a young driver fee imposed on drivers below the age of 25, regardless of how many years of driving experience you have. They are pretty strict about this.

In Australia, depending on which company you decide you to loan your car from, the fee imposed is approximately $16AUD to $28AUD per day. Well that's not too bad, until you multiply it by the number of days you're renting the car, and add in the total base rental fee. It could easily be another $100 if your booking is for a week. So one week booking would cost you about $300? That's not too bad... But it doesn't end there.

It's mandatory for all young drivers to get insured under whatever insurance the company provides, whether or not you have other travel insurance plans that has got you covered. Call it a money-making gimmick or extra safety precaution by the car company, either way, you have to pay. That's about another $20 to $30 PER DAY. Which easily sets you back by another $100.
Feeling cheated? Yeap, that's how I felt too when I settled the car rental booking for Melbourne this time. Especially since I'm a cheapo twenty year old who pays every penny of the trip through my own pocket (which I work so hard to earn btw), I would scrimp even on $8 worth of parking fees so all these extra costs was a pain.

Alternatively, there are also Aussie private car rental sites that work a little like Airbnb. Owners list their cars on the platform and for buyers to rent, at a relatively cheap rate + low insurance fee. During my planning, I found DriveMyCar to be the best (based on reviews, pricing etc), with pretty neat/sexy cars at affordable rates!! The respective car owners, however, will set their preferred minimum driver's age (which is typically 21 or 25) so, not the platform for you if you're still "underaged" like me and my group of friends lol. If you're above 21 though, go for it!

3. Confusing Parking in the City

Took us about two days to fully understand how their parking system works, with the help of the Internet and random forums. Even though two days is a pretty short time, it just took us 24 hours into Melbourne to get our first parking fine :')

While I was in Perth, the dudes handled the parking so I didn't bothered so much about the parking signs... But we got fined $120AUD then too. This time, it was just me and my boyfriend in Melbourne so I had to help out with deciphering their parking signs, which I suppose I didn't really do a good job and had to learn it the hard way... LOL. The fine was $93AUD this time sigh.

Find out more about what each sign means before you park in a space that is seemingly available. 1P and 2P basically means free parking for an hour and two hours respectively. However, if there's a ticket below the 1P/2P, you have to pay for parking from a ticketing machine. There will also be a time frame indicated on the bottom of these boards, which indicates the time in which you have to pay for the parking. Anything out of that time frame is free for parking. Well, you can search up more on Google.

Also, you would want to avoid those "secured parking" multi-storey carparks because their charges are more than just overpriced. Those multi-storey carparks can cost up to $8AUD every 30mins. That is more than the cost of my Mac meal lol.

4. Sufficient Camping Sites for Your Car

If you're planning on road tripping a few days out on the road, there is usually at least one camping spot available for you to camp out the night with facilities on site. So, you don't have to worry about not having a place to rest if you're totally new to the whole camping out thing. 

For one, I have not had the chance to camp out in the tent yet (although I would love to do so sometime soon) so having a camping site with toilets and a barbeque space available for us to shower and cook was handy! The camping site I was at also provided charging points at an extra cost of $5 (which I needed to charge up my cameras and other equipment). Most camping sites would provide the basics, and are perfect rest stops for the night if you've been driving for long hours. 

Just remember to stock up on some groceries or snacks in the small town before you settle down at the camp site! Also, it can get relatively cold when it's dark out so remember to layer up or prepare some blankets.

5. Annoying Flies on the road

Okay, this probably isn't a vital point that you must know, but I thought it would help if you're warned beforehand.

If you are going on a roadtrip in Summer, you (and your car) will often be pestered by houseflies and tiny, pesky Australian bush flies. I don't mean two or three flies, I mean literally a whole bunch of them would settle on your car while you're out sight seeing within that short few minutes. It was alright for the first couple of hours... Until they started trying to get into our noses/mouths/ears and made it hard for us to even drink water.

I remember my boyfriend getting so frustrated because they just wouldn't stop flying to his face and invading his ear every few minutes. They won't cause you any harm, but they'll annoy the hell out of you. You can google more about Aussie's fly situation. From what I've read, not every part of Australia is affected by this epidemic. However, if you're visiting Melbourne (Victoria) or going on the Great Ocean Road Trip, then... Maybe you'll wanna prepare some sort of repellent beforehand to buzz them off.

I promise you, they are incredibly irritating.

He got so irritated he rather reveal his botak head to use his cap as a fly swatter hahaha.

6. The Sun Will Burn You

If you didn't know, Australia is listed as the skin cancer capital of the world, simply because of its proximity to the hole in the ozone layer that helps to filter the harmful UV rays from the sun (wew funfact). That also means that the chances of you getting easily burnt while you're out in the sun in Australia is significantly higher, and it also poses more health risks.

I didn't know this prior to my trip, until I had a terrible sunburn that gave me lobster skin that hurts like crazy. The aftermath of my peeling shoulders wasn't pretty either. The thing is, I was barely out in the sun for long (maybe one or two hours at most?) and I am not one to get sunburnt easily even in Singapore, so I wasn't prepared. Also, the weather was pretty cool at about 20 degrees so I really didn't see the burn coming. I found all these out after I consulted Google sensei in hopes to figure out how I could have gotten myself such a terrible burn under those circumstances.

Prepare sunblock or cover up more skin if you're going to be under direct sunlight, which I presume you will if you're road tripping. Save yourself and your skin from the horrible burns. It may seem like a pretty trivial thing, but permanent skin damage is a souvenir you can choose not to take home.

7. Weathers are unpredictable

Although I visited Melbourne in the early summer/shoulder season in December, when temperatures are forecasted to be about 24 degrees in the day, there were still some days where it hit as low as 14 degrees while the sun was out. And then, it could go up as high as 30 degrees the next day. I'm not sure if it's just the month I was travelling (December), so you might wanna read up on that. Pack enough to keep you cool and warm at the same time.

Also, Melbourne's daytime in December was incredibly long. The sun rises at about 630AM and sets only at about 8-9PM. That also meant that I could do more while it was still bright out! Definitely not what I'm used to but, I like that my days seem longer.

Hopefully these 7 things were helpful in the planning of your road trip to Australia, or more specifically, Melbourne.

We spent a week indulging in the cafe culture and natural beauties that Melbourne has to offer. Seven days were hardly enough!!! Melbourne is famous for their cafe scene and it really doesn't disappoint. It was a little costly, but I definitely have no regrets because their coffee and brunches are just. so. good!!!

Anyway, I'll talk more about our itinerary for Melbourne's city in the next post! I'll try to get it out sometime next week. Till then.

Check out my other posts on Melbourne:
▶ 7 Things you need to know if you're planning a Melbourne Roadtrip
▶ Melbourne Roadtrip (part 1) - Melbourne City
▶ Melbourne Roadtrip (part 2) - Great Ocean Road
▶ Melbourne Roadtrip (part 3) - Yaara & Healesville Sanctuary
▶ 5 Cafes in Melbourne to feed your camera and tastebuds
▶ Melbourne Roadtrip - Great Ocean Road (Video)

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