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Record high petrol prices starting to drop into Christmas and the New Year across most cities

6 min read
18 Dec 2018

Good news for Aussies hitting the road these holidays, as the latest quarterly petrol analysis from comparethemarket.com.au reveals petrol prices should continue to ease into the lead up to Christmas compared with the higher prices motorists were paying in October.

The free comparison website, which updates its petrol price data three times daily across all major Australian cities, analysed the average cents per litre (cpl) of unleaded petrol from 17 September to 16 December 2018. The data was sourced across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra, to gauge which parts of the country were the cheapest for petrol, and where prices are sitting in the price cycle ahead of the Christmas break[1].

Petrol prices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide peaked in their cycle in early December and are expected to ease further leading up to Christmas. However, changes in Sydney’s and Brisbane’s petrol cycles means prices are taking longer to fall from the peak. Prices in Canberra have fallen 10cpl since the end of November, while prices in Perth are expected to be at their lowest in the cycle on Christmas Eve.

Abigail Koch, household savings expert at comparethemarket.com.au said: “Average petrol prices over the last few months hit highs of 169.2cpl in Brisbane, 167.3 in Melbourne and 164.3cpl in Sydney, thanks to crude oil costs and a lower Aussie dollar. On average, Aussies were paying 149.5cpl over the last quarter, 15.3cpl more than this quarter last year. At Christmas, the petrol price cycles in most cities will be on their downward trajectory, excluding Canberra, where prices do not cycle. With many families planning to hit the road this Christmas, we strongly urge motorists to check prices before filling up.”

Petrol prices in Sydney were the lowest of any capital city over the last quarter, sitting at an average of 144.7cpl. Sydney’s petrol price cycle has lengthened to almost two months, and it now takes longer for prices to fall from the most expensive point in the cycle. Having hit this peak on 10 December, prices will start to slowly ease downwards in the lead up to Christmas, but motorists are encouraged to shop around before they fill up. The Eastern suburbs recorded the highest prices over the quarter, at 153cpl, while prices were 10.9cpl lower in the Fairfield and Liverpool region. As of early this week, the cheapest petrol in Sydney could be found at Fairfield, at 118.9cpl.

Melbourne’s average price is starting to ease after peaking on 7 December. Prices over the last quarter were an average of 148.1cpl – the most expensive in the country behind Canberra. The best sub-region to fill up the tank was Altona and Williamstown, where prices were around 145.3cpl. Motorists in the city and South Melbourne sub-region were being slugged 150cpl.

Brisbane’s petrol price cycle peaked on 4 December, and prices are starting to make their way back down. Like Sydney, Brisbane’s cycle has extended, meaning prices are taking longer to fall. Motorists in south Brisbane were lucky enough to have the city’s lowest quarterly average price of 145.6cpl, while those in Bayside were filling up the tank at an average price of 148.4cpl. People heading out on the road this Christmas should shop around as there are significant price discrepancies between outlets. For instance, prices in Milton were 27.2cpl higher than in Coopers Plains as of early this week.

Motorists in Adelaide were paying an average of 147.6cpl at the bowser over the quarter. Like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Adelaide petrol prices peaked early this month on 11 December and should ease off slightly but not reach their lowest point in the cycle for some time. People may be able to find better prices in the Western and Beach suburbs, where prices were the lowest over the quarter, at 145.1cpl. As of early in the week, petrol prices were as low as 119.5cpl in Blair Athol and as high as 133.9cpl in Stepney.

Perth’s motorists can welcome an early Christmas present, with petrol prices forecasted to be at their lowest point in Perth’s seven-day petrol cycle on Christmas Eve. There was little variance in prices across the city over the quarter with the North region sitting at 148.1cpl, while prices in the East region were slightly lower at 147.4cpl. Before filling up, motorists are being advised to check free fuel price apps, as petrol costs are 20.4cpl cheaper in Southern River compared to Karragullen.

Petrol prices in the nation’s capital were the most expensive in Australia over the quarter, averaging 161.2cpl. This was 7.2cpl higher than the previous quarter. Towards the end of November, prices started to ease off and have now dropped more than 10cpl, on the back of lower wholesale costs. As of early this week, most suburbs were averaging 149.9cpl.

“With prices in most of the capital cities only recently reaching their peak, prices should continue to ease into the holiday season. Crude oil prices have dropped from record highs in October, which is welcome news for all motorists heading on a Christmas road trip. Before filling up the tank, we encourage all Aussies to check free fuel price comparison apps, such as comparethemarket.com.au, to find the best deals at the bowser,” said Abigail Koch.

Quarterly average price for ULP in major capital cities between 17 September and 16 December 2018 (Q4), compared with 17 June 2018 to 16 September 2018 (Q3)

City3 month ULP average (cpl) – Q3 20183 month ULP average (cpl) – Q4 2018Difference between Q3 and Q4 2018


Sub-regions with the lowest ULP average between 17 September and 16 December 2018

CitySub-region3 month ULP average (cpl)
BrisbaneSouth Brisbane145.6
AdelaideWestern & Beach Suburbs145.1
PerthEast Region147.4

Sub-regions with the highest ULP average between 17 September and 16 December 2018

CitySub-region3 month ULP average (cpl)
SydneyEastern Suburbs153.0
MelbourneCity/South Melbourne150.0
AdelaideEastern Suburbs149.3
PerthNorth Region148.1


Suburbs with the lowest average ULP price on Sunday evening 16 December 2018

CitySuburbULP average price Sunday evening (cpl)
BrisbaneCoopers Plains121.2
AdelaideBlair Athol119.5
PerthSouthern River113.5


Suburbs with the highest average ULP price on Sunday evening 16 December 2018

CitySuburbULP average price Sunday evening (cpl)
MelbourneAvondale Heights143.9


* Original data supplied by MotorMouth Pty Ltd


About comparethemarket.com.au
Comparethemarket.com.au is an online comparison service that takes the hard work out of shopping around. We help Australians to quickly and easily compare and buy products from a wide range of providers. Our easy-to-use comparison tool enables consumers to find a product that best suits their needs and their back pocket. We’re also in the business of comparing personal finance products, utilities and can help find the lowest fuel prices in your area. Whether it’s car, health, travel or home & contents insurance, we provide a completely free service, that empowers Australians to make buying decisions with greater trust, knowledge and savings. We’ve got your back, simples.

[1] This commentary is speculative given petrol prices for the future are subject to various factors beyond CTM’s control

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avatar of author: Hannah Twiggs

Written by Hannah Twiggs

Hannah (or Twiggs as she's known by most of her colleagues) is a non-stop talker, avid snack eater, dog lover and passionate writer. When she's not chatting to journalists or writing up new story angles, Hannah enjoys a good Netflix binge, going away camping with friends and big brunches - preferably with extra bacon.

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