We compare a huge range of one-way and return car hire deals from over 20 leading rental companies
In the land of long drives and big adventures, if you want to really explore Australia, you need a hire car. Meander through Margaret River wine country, zip up the Queensland Coast, drive the Great Ocean Road – there's an amazing road trip waiting in every corner of this vast nation.
There is a good range of car hire options at all Australia's major airports, including the popular gateways of Sydney Airport (SYD), Brisbane Airport (BNE) and Melbourne Airport (MEL). Rental firms usually have desks in the arrivals halls, and driving times to the city centres tend to be short – traffic permitting, it is just 20 minutes from SYD to the heart of Sydney, and you can be in the Blue Mountains in just over an hour.
Big car hire firms active in Australia include Avis, Hertz, Europcar, Budget and Thrifty, all of which are represented at Sydney and Melbourne airports. You'll also find them in city centres. Local companies offer good deals too, so compare before you travel to find the cheapest 2022 prices.
Most British drivers settle into Australia quite easily. Drivers travel on the left hand side of the road, and rules for giving way and overtaking are the same as the UK. While cities and towns get congested in commuting hours, they tend to be easy to navigate – particularly if you're used to centuries-old street layouts in European cities.
Road surfaces in urban areas and on main highways are normally in excellent condition, and signposting across the country is generally good, although it inevitably drops off the further you get from the cities and towns. If you're heading into the outback, pack a satnav (or download your route on a smartphone to use offline) and a paper map, and research your journey ahead of time. Take a wrong turn and you could be well off track before you even realise it.
Outback travel also presents unusual hazards, including unpaved roads and local wildlife. If you're planning on going off the beaten track, hire an appropriate vehicle with good ground clearance and four-wheel drive.
Bear in mind, too, that some car hire companies do not permit travel on unpaved roads, and that your insurance might not cover you for it. Read the small print and compare car hire policies carefully before booking.
If you want to make the most of Australia’s legendary beaches, Queensland's Gold Coast is a good place to start. The city's metro area spreads along the coast for 70km (43 miles), offering long golden beaches ideal for swimming, sunbathing and surfing. Surfer’s Paradise is the area’s most famous stretch, and it's an easy to reach from the city centre. There are some world-class theme parks here too, including Warner Bros. Movie World.
Kakadu National Park
This Northern Territory reserve is Australia's largest national park, and gives you a taste of the outback without taking you too far from civilisation. Located about two hours' drive from Darwin, it is brimming with outdoor activities, from spotting wild crocodiles and turtles to cooling off in spectacular waterfalls. There are some fascinating aboriginal rock art sites too – Burrungkuy and Ubirr are the big ones.
Cosmopolitan Melbourne demands a visit in its own right – it has a great aboriginal art collection at the National Gallery of Victoria, arguably the country's best craft beer scene, and some vibey neighbourhoods that are catnip for backpackers (hello Acland Street and Brunswick Street). But the city is also a gateway to some superb road trips. Explore the Yarra Valley vineyards, or hit the legendary Great Ocean Road, which starts around an hour away in Torquay, and runs for 244km (152 miles) along the spectacular Victoria coast.
Electronic tags (known as e-TAGs) are used on major toll roads in Australia. Most of the big car hire brands, including Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz and Thrifty, provide cars with e-TAGs already fitted. If you're using another company or have any doubts, ask before you drive away.
Kangaroos can pose quite a danger to drivers, especially at night. Try to minimise driving after sunset in rural areas, and if you do drive after dark, proceed with caution.
If you’re travelling somewhere remote, stock up on petrol, and bring plenty of food and water. Many towns and cities are hundreds of miles apart, and if you do break down, it could be a long time before help reaches you.
All rental deals compared on TravelSupermarket include mandatory fees (for example, one-way and young driver surcharges) in your rental quote at the time of booking, meaning you’ll know the full price of your car hire upfront.
What age do I need to be to hire a vehicle in Australia?
The minimum age to rent a vehicle in Australia varies by car hire company but usually you need to be 21 and have held a full driving licence for at least 12 months.
What do I need to hire a vehicle in Australia?
You will need a full and valid driving licence, a photo ID – such as a passport – and a credit card. You will also need an International Driving Permit, which you can usually get at the Post Office.
Do I need car hire excess insurance in Australia?
No. There is no legal requirement to purchase car hire excess insurance when renting a car, but this additional cover is recommended for peace of mind. Car hire excess insurance will minimise your financial exposure should you be involved in an accident while driving a hire car. It’s advisable to compare insurance policies, including those offered by standalone third parties, in advance of your trip.
Can I rent a car with a debit card in Australia?
The rules relating to debit cards vary from company to company. Some car hire providers will accept debit cards, but only in certain locations. When hiring a car in Australia, it’s normal to be asked to provide a credit card in your name for security purposes.
Which rental companies are available at Sydney Airport?
There are six car hire companies to choose from at Sydney Airport. They are Avis, Budget, Hertz, Enterprise, Europcar and Thrifty. The car hire desks are located in the T1 International arrivals hall.
Which rental companies are available at Melbourne Airport?
Six car hire companies operate at Melbourne Airport. They are Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz and Thrifty. You can find the booking desks directly opposite Terminal T2.
Is it cheaper to rent a car at the airport or off site in Australia?
A premium location fee typically applies to rentals at the airport – on that basis, off site hire is generally cheaper. Nevertheless, you can frequently get a good deal by comparing different car hire providers online and booking in advance.
Can you rent a car in one Australian city and drop it off in another?
Yes. Due to the country’s vast size, one-way rentals are very common in Australia. A one-way rental fee may apply. In some instances, providers may offer cheaper ‘one-way relocation rentals’ to help them move cars from one branch to another.
Can you rent a car the same day in Australia?
Yes, you can typically rent a car on the same day in Australia by contacting a car hire company or visiting a booking office, either at the airport or off-site. Note that at peak times, vehicle choice may be more limited.
Can I hire a vehicle at 21 years of age in Australia?
Yes, you can hire a car at 21 years of age in Australia. However, you need to have held your driving licence for at least a year in advance of the booking. As you’re under 25, you may be limited in your choice of cars and a ‘young driver fee’ may apply.