Tourist baffled by simple road sign 'miles from nearest airport'

Authorities say foreign drivers are involved in too many crashes on Australian roads, prompting the use of a surprisingly simple road sign.

It may seem the most obvious road rule to Australians, but authorities have spent thousands in ensuring tourists Down Under don't forget it. One Brit however couldn't believe visitors were being reminded they needed to drive on the left hand side of the road more than 250km from the nearest international airport on the Gold Coast.

"I kept on thinking about this sign all day - what are the chances of an oblivious foreigner driving all the way to Stanthorpe on the right side of the road and having to be reminded in that particular location?" the puzzled tourist explained online.

"It would have been quite an achievement to make it there on the wrong side of the road to begin with What’s the point of it being miles away from the nearest airport in Australia?"

The sign near Stanthorpe (left) and a similar sign in the Northern Territory (right). Source: Facebook/ Getty
The sign near Stanthorpe (left) and a similar sign in the Northern Territory (right). Source: Facebook/ Getty

The man was quickly informed the region around the NSW and Queensland border has a high population of backpackers performing regional work on farms.

Stanthorpe Police Sergeant Daniel O’Dea previously told the Stanthorpe Border Post authorities were spending more on education programs to safeguard local roads with the community "concerned" over the presence of international drivers.

"The major difference between international drivers to locals is failing to keep left, this error can be the most lethal," he said. In 2022, four Korean backpackers in their 20s were killed in a crash as they made their way home from a day's work in a packing shed. And while that crash did not involve their vehicle o nthe wrong side of the road, authorities are continuously concerned by the high proportion of backpackers involved in road crashes in the area.

One local supporting the road signs said he'd seen drivers ending up on the wrong side of the road by mistake. "I've witnessed first hand farm vehicles leave a property and start driving in the right lane in a 100km zone," he said.

In a bid to crack down on bad overseas drivers, the NSW government recently closed a loophole that allowed foreign drivers to accumulate endless demerit points without losing the right to drive on the state's roads.

Residents create their own road signs for tourists

Similar signage is present across Australia, with other states and territories erecting permanent or temporary reminders. Residents in high-risk areas have also resorted to putting up their own traffic signs, and often in different languages for foreign visitors to read.

One resident near Victoria's Great Ocean Road, a scenic stretch popular with foreign tourists who rent hire cars, put up a Stop sign in Mandarin to ensure people were stopping at what she called a "notorious" junction.

“We always get a lot of visitors in the region and the signs needed to be in Chinese," she told Yahoo in 2019. “I’ve told people you’ve got everything but a brass band playing to tell you to stop at that intersection. It’s been the scene of so many accidents.”

Unofficial road signs which are designed to influence drivers' behaviour are in fact illegal.

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.