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Driving in Cairns

Driving around Cairns is a great way to get a real feel for the City and the surrounding areas. North Queensland is an extremely attractive place with winding drives through dense rainforest and along coastal roads that have often been rated some of the best in the world. The drive from Cairns to Port Douglas is approximately 70 kilometres and without a doubt it is a truly memorable experience.

Parking is easy in Cairns. All parking is sign posted and in the heart of town there are parking meters where you pay about $1 for 2 hours. It is a good idea not to leave any valuables in the car if you are leaving it for any extended period of time. In the hot summer months from November to March the interior of a car can become incredibly hot, to the point where CD's and tapes will melt so take this into consideration.

Cars of all shapes and sizes can be hired in Cairns. Once again it is definitely recommended that you prebook a vehicle especially if travelling in the peak tourism season from July to December.

Cairns like the rest of Australia has right hand drive cars and all vehicles must drive on the left hand side of the road. Compared to larger cities the traffic is very light. Streets are well sign posted and virtually all intersections either have stop signs, give way signs or traffic lights. Police are strict on Cairns roads and the following tips will help prepare you for driving in North Queensland:

The speed limit in most residential areas is 60km per hour. On the open highways it is generally 100km per hour. Speed limits are well sign posted and not seeing a speed limit sign is no excuse. Recently speed cameras have been introduced throughout Queensland. These are set up in random locations. The flash from the camera is generally the first and only sign that you have been caught speeding. If you are in hire car the fine will be deducted from your credit card security in a few months.

Drink Driving
Queensland has a 0.05 percent alcohol blood level limit. It is generally considered that two standard drinks could put you over the limit. Roadside random breath testing units are common in Cairns. If pulled over and you fail the random breath test you will be taken to a police station and given a blood test. If you fail this you will be arrested and charged regardless of whether you are local or a tourist.

Give Way to the Right
This is an old traffic rule from a bygone era. Unfortunately some intersections still require knowledge of this rule. If you come to an intersection with no "Give Way" or "Stop" signs you must give way to the vehicles on your right.

Cane Trains
During the year Cane Trains can be seen throughout North Queensland. They travel on their own train lines hauling sugar cane to the various mills. When they cross main roads there are normally signals. On the back roads there are only "Give Way" signs. Be aware that you must give way to them (after all who wants to argue with a train).

Animals on the road
At night be careful when driving in isolated areas as animals such as kangaroos, bandicoots and pigs often stray onto roads. Be cautious. Hitting an animal can not only be distressing but also dangerous. This is only really a problem in the country areas outside of Cairns itself.

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