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A holiday treat for motorists: Petrol prices in Australia dropped across most cities over Christmas

6 min read
17 Dec 2019
  • Most major cities passed the top of their petrol cycle and dropped over the holidays, except for Adelaide and Perth
  • Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane fuel prices in early December were at their highest in two years
  • Adelaide petrol prices peaked in the final week of December

In good news for Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane motorists out on the roads following the Christmas break, unleaded petrol prices dropped over the festive season, after peaking in these cities in early December.

Adelaide prices rose, while Perth and Canberra prices remained largely unchanged.

Aussies hitting the road at any point of the year can compare petrol prices in Australia with our easy-to-use app Simples Fuel (available through iOS and Android) in order to get the lowest price at the bowser.

Petrol prices across Australia’s major cities

Analysing the average cents per litre (cpl) of unleaded petrol in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra over the December quarter revealed:

  • where prices were in their cycles in each city in the December quarter; and
  • whether they were set to drop or rise just before Christmas and into the holidays.[1]

Our resident finance and household savings expert, Rod Attrill, noted: ‘In the December quarter, motorists were paying an average of 149cpl – 6cpl more than the previous quarter.’

When it came to the highest price, Brisbane residents were feeling the pinch.

‘Fuel in Brisbane was the highest in the country, with a quarterly price average of 152cpl, while Perth motorists paid the least, at 145cpl,’ said Attrill.

‘Most major cities passed the top of their petrol cycles before Christmas, which was a huge relief for motorists filling up at the bowser during the festive season.’


Aerial view of Sydney traffic

Sydney’s petrol price cycle reached its peak on Friday 13 December, where the average price was 164cpl. This is the highest petrol has been in two years[2], and prices could continue to creep up higher than in previous cycles. On the morning of Monday 16 December, the cheapest petrol was found in Kurmond, in western Sydney, at 133cpl.


Just as in Sydney, Melbourne’s petrol price cycle reached its peak on 13 December. The average price at peak in Melbourne was higher than in Sydney, at 167cpl – the highest in two years[3] – and eased into Christmas.

In the December quarter, motorists in Melbourne paid some of the highest prices – an average of 151cpl. The cheapest petrol over the quarter was in Maribyrnong, at 147cpl, while motorists in Bayside were paying the most, at 159cpl. As of the morning of Monday 16 December, Frankston South had the lowest fuel prices, at 134cpl.


Petrol prices in Brisbane peaked on Thursday 12 December, with an average price of 171cpl. Brisbane motorists paid the most for fuel in the December quarter, averaging 152cpl – eight cents per litre higher than the previous quarter. Ipswich had the lowest petrol prices (150cpl), while the inner city had the highest prices (154cpl).

On the morning of Monday 16 December, the cheapest suburbs for petrol were Kilcoy, Laidley and Forest Hill – all averaging 146cpl. Brisbane motorists were encouraged to wait as late as possible to fill up their cars, as they could save each day they delayed filling up.


Traffic outside St Peter's Cathedral in Adelaide

Fuel prices in Adelaide were an average of five cents per litre more in the December quarter (at 150cpl) compared with the September quarter. The bottom of Adelaide’s petrol price cycle was Thursday 12 December (where prices were an average of 137cpl). Given that the peaks of previous Adelaide cycles were the highest they have been in two years, at 171cpl, motorists were advised to fill up their cars as soon as possible, as prices were set to rise in Adelaide across the New Year.

In the December quarter, Adelaide’s cheapest petrol was West Adelaide (149cpl), while South Adelaide had the most expensive petrol, averaging 151cpl. Green Fields, north of the CBD, had the lowest average price (127cpl) on the morning of Monday 16 December.


Over the quarter, Perth had the cheapest prices for fuel in the country, averaging 145cpl. On Monday 16 December, prices were at the bottom of their cycle – with the cheapest in Neerabup (132cpl).


Canberra motorists enjoyed the second-lowest average petrol price in the country (148cpl) over the December quarter – and an average of five cents per litre more than the previous quarter. Canberra fuel prices have been stable since the end of September, only falling slightly. Though prices started to drop further over Christmas and New Year’s, Attrill states, ‘it wasn’t enough to change petrol purchase schedules’.

On the morning of Monday 16 December, the cheapest suburb or fuel was Majura, at 139cpl, on average.

Quarterly average price for ULP in major capital cities between 2 July to 30 September 2019(Q3), compared with 17 September to 16 December (Q4)

CitySept qtr 2019 (Q3)Dec qtr 2019 (Q4)Difference between Q3 and Q4 2019 (cpl)

Sub-regions with the lowest ULP average between 17 September to 16 December 2019

CitySub-region with lowest petrol priceDec qtr ULP average (cpl)
SydneyInner South West Sydney144
AdelaideWest Adelaide149
PerthSouth West Perth145

Sub-regions with the highest ULP average between 17 September to 16 December 2019

CitySub-region with highest petrol priceDec qtr ULP average (cpl)
SydneyNorth Sydney and Hornsby155
BrisbaneBrisbane Inner City154
AdelaideSouth Adelaide151
PerthInner Perth147

Suburbs with the lowest average ULP price on Monday morning 16 December 2019

CitySuburb with lowest petrol priceULP average price Monday morning (cpl)
MelbourneFrankston South134


Forest Hill

AdelaideGreen Fields127

Suburbs with the highest average ULP price on Monday morning 16 December 2019

CitySuburb with highest petrol priceULP average price Monday morning (cpl)

McGraths Hill






Bligh Park

MelbourneYarra Glen177


Woody Point


PerthSouth Yunderup165









* All figures contained in this release have been taken from original data supplied by OPIS

[1] This commentary is speculative given petrol prices for the future are subject to various factors beyond our control.
[2] Fuel trends and analysis provided by OPIS – Dec 2019
[3] Fuel trends and analysis provided by OPIS – Dec 2019

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