Whether you’re an experienced driver or you’re new to the roads, navigating Melbourne’s inner-city streets can be a daunting task – particularly when heavy traffic, trams and pedestrians come into play. Knowing what to expect before you arrive is an easy way to safeguard against on-road stress, leaving you more time to enjoy your time away from home.
Heading to Melbourne for your next holiday? Get up to speed with our beginner’s guide to driving in the city’s CBD.
Choose your car carefully
While there are a number of truck, van and car hires available in Melbourne, choosing a vehicle that best suits your trip is the first step to stress-free driving. If you’re planning to stick close to the CBD, opt for a smaller-sized car to make navigating tight car parks and narrow laneways a breeze.
Plan your route
Before you start your journey, make a mental map of how you’ll reach your destination or opt to chart your path using a navigational aid. Not only will you save yourself the hassle of surprise detours and congested roadways, you’ll also avoid the uncertainty that can come with driving in an unfamiliar area.
Be mindful of tolls
When you’re mapping your itinerary, be sure to take note of any toll roads that you might encounter along the way. Melbourne is notorious for its pay-per-use roadways and, if you fail to organise payment within three days of travel, you’ll likely find a tariff in your post box once your holiday is through. To avoid a nasty surprise, contact CityLink and play your dues before you depart.
Keep an eye out for trams
Along with busses, cyclists and pedestrians, Melbourne’s extensive tram network opens up an entirely new host of challenges. If you follow the rules of the road, however, these city-bound street cars pose no problems at all. When sharing the road with a tram, remember to stay clear of their designated lanes, give way at all roundabouts and only overtake on the left side when dotted lines permit.
Know how to hook-turn
If you find yourself at an intersection with a tram, knowing how to properly execute a hook-turn is critical to keeping the flow of traffic moving. A manoeuvre unique to cities that operate street cars, this driving tactic involves entering the far left side of the intersection in order to make a right turn, allowing trams to pass freely around vehicles.
If you’re in doubt, keep a close eye on the city’s signage – all intersections in which trams operate are clearly marked, as well as those that allow hook-turns. Check out this helpful advice and video from Vic Roads for more information.
Give the right of way
A final word of advice when it comes to tram etiquette: give pedestrians the right of way. Open tram doors are equivalent to a stop sign in Melbourne, allowing commuters to get to and from the street car safely. When approaching a stationary tram, slow your speed and take extra precautions to avoid an unnecessary accident or fine.
Be patient with parking
Like most major cities, on-street parking in Melbourne’s CBD is a rare commodity. Moreover, many of the signs that mark designated parking zones can be hard to decode, making paid, undercover parking the most desirable option. If you do decide to scour the streets for a spot, however, be patient – you may need to take a couple of trips around the block before you find a park to call your own.
Ready to hit the road? Pick up a car rental in Melbourne and explore the city’s streets like a local.