Petrol prices set to peak about $1.90 after Christmas, as motorists urged to shop around

Australia's peak automotive group is accused of running a campaign against strong pollution limits.

Australia's peak automotive group is accused of running a campaign against strong pollution limits. Photo: TND

Australian motorists are being urged to do their research before filling up this Christmas, as fast-rising petrol prices threaten to squeeze motorists heading on holidays across major capitals.

Average petrol prices across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane have risen about 7.5 cents per litre (cpl) to $1.76 since December 12 and are set to continue rising until the end of the year.

But NRMA (National Roads and Motorists Association) spokesperson Peter Khoury said there are still bargains available at some service stations, but motorists need to do some research before buying.

Mr Khoury expects Sydney’s average bowser prices to peak at about $1.90 by Boxing Day – the current level is $1.80, according to the latest figures from MotorMouth.

By comparison, petrol prices are currently averaging $1.74 across Melbourne and Brisbane.

“We think petrol prices will get to around $1.90, perhaps not that high because oil prices are coming off a bit,” Mr Khoury said.

“That will be the peak before it starts to come down again, but the cycle has a very long tail.

“We don’t think [prices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane] will start falling again before Boxing Day.”

Petrol prices are rising because Australia’s east coast fuel markets are in the upswing stage of their regular price cycles.

Unfortunately, it’s coinciding with the holiday rush.

Fill timing crucial

Mr Khoury said families heading out of the major cities on holiday might be able to save by filling up on the front or back end of their holiday, depending on when they’ve timed their road trips.

For example, petrol prices are still falling right now across many regional areas, which means that motorists could be better off trying to buy most of their petrol once they get out of the city.

But be careful, because petrol prices are generally far higher in regional areas to begin with.

Regardless, it’s always best to research multiple petrol stations in your area to determine which has the cheapest prices at any given time, Mr Khoury said.

“You are still seeing competitive prices in the city, so as the average [prices] go up … it will get to a point where Sydney will be the highest [priced] state,” he said.

“At that point you’re better off filling up outside Sydney.”

But because petrol prices in Sydney are set to peak after Christmas and begin falling, those who are going on holiday in the New Year could end up saving more filling up across Sydney.

Mr Khoury said that prices should start falling soon after Boxing Day but that decreases would be slow, meaning that families filling up in the New Year will still pay the higher prices.

“It will take a couple of weeks as they head down to around $1.60 (on average), we expect,” he said.

Some capitals still cheap

Petrol prices in smaller capitals, including Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin are already cheaper than the biggest cities and are actually falling now.

Bowser prices have fallen from $1.89 per litre to $1.78 per litre in Darwin this month, and from $1.88 per litre in Canberra to $1.78 per litre.

Petrol prices in Adelaide have bounced around more but are currently $1.66 per litre on average across the city, down from $1.94 a litre a week ago.

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