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Driving & Public Transport in QLD

Queensland is an incredibly diverse state, from major cities & metropolitan areas, to bustling regional centres, outback deserts, steep mountains, national parks, wetlands and tropical islands.

While there are plenty of perfectly good major roads and highways, there are also roads you need to prepare for, and different road rules you may need to familiarise yourself with before setting out.

If you’re planning a road trip through this great state you’re bound to see some wonderful sights and meet a few really interesting people. But don’t get stuck in the middle of nowhere because you were unprepared. Check out our guide to Queensland transport to steer you in the right direction.

Queensland Road Rules & Licencing

There are a number of road rules in Queensland that may be quite different to where you come from.  It may seem pointless having different rules from state to state, but so is receiving a fine for something simple like a U-turn when a little prior knowledge could have prevented it.

Here’s a list of some of Queensland’s road rules that may differ to other states;

  • You cannot U-turn at a set of lights unless there’s a sign saying you can.
  • Give way to the right at unsigned intersections.
  • A "STOP" sign means all wheels of your vehicle must come to a complete stop.
  • When the speed limit is over 90km/h you can only drive in the right lane if you are overtaking, turning right, avoiding an obstacle or driving in congested traffic. Otherwise driving in the right lane is an offence.
  • On an unbroken centre line you can turn right but you cannot U-turn.
  • You are required to signal left before exiting a roundabout. 
  • You cannot use a mobile phone while driving – touching it can result in a fine (this includes while you are stopped at the lights). You can use a hands-free kit so long as you are not a provisional or learner driver.
  • It is an offence to ride in the back of a ute (utility vehicle).
  • Your handbrake must be on when you leave your vehicle.
  • You can only drive in Queensland with an interstate licence for 3 months. After this time you are expected to have changed your licence over to a Queensland licence.

Driving in Queensland with an Interstate Licence

You can drive in Queensland with an interstate or even a foreign licence so long as it is valid and you adhere to the vehicle class it entitles you to drive. If your foreign licence is in another language you are required to keep an approved translation with you. For approved translators contact NAATI.

Restrictions on driving in Queensland with an interstate licence are the same as the restrictions for the state of issue. You cannot drive if your licence is suspended or you are deemed medically unfit.

You can only use an interstate licence in Queensland for a period of 3 months. If you have resided here longer than this you need to transfer you licence over to a Queensland licence at a Department of Transport and Main Roads service centre. 

Driving in Queensland

Queensland is a massive state – larger than most European countries – so before you go on a long trip make sure you have up to date maps, your vehicle is in good working order and you know where you’ll stop for fuel. There are long stretches of road with no fuel stations so you’ll need to be prepared for this.

In regional areas the roads can differ to that of built up areas, with gravel and even dirt roads. If possible you’re better off with a four wheel drive in these areas. Be aware of potholes, soft edges, narrow bridges and dusty roads. If the road is covered with water proceed slowly and in the middle of the road so long as the surface is firm. And of course, obey road closure signs.

In some areas you will come across road trains, which are extremely large trucks with up to 10 trailers attached. If you have to overtake them and you have the straight road to do so, be prepared for them to sway as you pass, as well as the wind rush that can pull you towards the train. If it seems too risky, just don’t do it.

Air and Rail

There are international airports in Brisbane, Cairns and the Gold Coast, as well as a number of domestic and regional airports spread throughout the state. Depending on the distance it’s often cheaper to fly across Queensland than it is to drive.

The main airlines operating through the major centres are Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar, though you’ll also find some smaller and charter airlines dealing with your more remote locations.

For a unique travel experience, hop on a train and enjoy the spectacular scenery of this great land. The Sunlander runs between Brisbane and Cairns with a range of seating and accommodation levels to suit all budgets. There is even the Queenslander Class; ideal for the indulgent traveller wanting to experience the scenery in the comfort of their own sleeping berth.

The Tilt Train offers a quicker, state-of-the-art choice for the same coastal stretch. In fact, the Tilt Train is Australia’s fastest train, reaching speeds of 160km per hour.

For travel to the western “outback” areas of Queensland there are services that specifically deal with these inland regions. The Spirit of the Outback ventures through the heritage towns of central Queensland before finishing at Longreach, home of the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame.

The Inlander explores the inland region of north Queensland while the Westlander, as the name suggests, heads west from the Great Dividing Range and through south west Queensland.

Buses & Coach

Anywhere the trains don’t go, you’ll be able to find a bus or coach service to get you there. Whether it’s an airport connection to your accommodation, a trip between cities, coastal journey or a holiday in one of our more remote, regional areas, there’s a service offering comfortable, air-conditioned comfort for you travels.

For the major coach services check out these sites;

Public Transport

In most populated areas of Queensland there are public transport options to make sure you can get where you need to go, be it by bus, train, air or even ferry.

For any public transport journeys in south east Queensland head to TransLink and use their online journey planner. You can input your destination and preferred time of arrival and you’ll be given all the public transport options that will get you there on time, spanning across buses, trains and ferry services.

For the rest of Queensland you can use the new qconnect site from the Department of Transport and Main Roads. The Queensland Government initiative aims to provide improved public transport for people throughout regional, rural and remote Queensland locations. You can search for transport options by location or service, including bus services, long distance coaches, taxis and air services, as well as browse the available concessions.