Fill up now – NRMA

Petrol prices in Wollongong are much cheaper than in Christmas holiday hotspots on the South Coast. Picture: Robert Peet

Petrol prices in Wollongong are much cheaper than in Christmas holiday hotspots on the South Coast. Picture: Robert Peet

Illawarra motorists heading south for the Christmas break should fill their cars’ petrol tanks before they leave town, said the NRMA.

That’s because you’ll pay more if you fill up at holiday hotspots like Nowra, Batemans Bay and Culburra.

As of Wednesday petrol stations in Wollongong were selling E10 for around 121.9 cents a litre, while some places in Nowra were charging as much as 133.9 cents.

Prices at Batemans Bay were around 127 cents per litre while Culburra was pumping E10 at 132.9 cents.

The NRMA’s Peter Khoury said holidaymakers should fill up before they leave home.

“Wollongong is actually a bit cheaper [than Sydney] and the prices are falling, albeit slowly,” Mr Khoury said.

“Between now and Christmas we’re not expecting prices to jump in the Illawarra, we’re hoping they don’t.

“What you’re seeing in the Illawarra, [prices] might get a little better but shouldn’t get worse, so fill up now.”

Mr Khoury said petrol in towns on the South Coast were traditionally higher than those in the Illawarra due to a lack of competition.

With fewer stations in smaller South Coast towns, there is no real need to cut prices to draw in customers.

Also, Mr Khoury said some petrol station owners on the South Coast saw the summer holiday period as a great time to make some money.

“The reality is Nowra and [other areas] are going to be consistently more expensive than the Illawarra because there’s less competition in those areas,” Mr Khoury said.

“Also the fact that they’re on the South Coast at Christmas might have something to do with it because you expect traffic volumes to increase over the holiday period.”

Mr Khoury said it was “absolutely” the case that petrol prices tended to be artificially high over the Christmas break, when more people were on the road.

“We’ve been focusing on the prices in Sydney and what we know is there have been 16 price cycles in Sydney,” Mr Khoury said.

“On the 17th cycle, the one leading up to Christmas, they’ve put the brakes on just as it’s hit the high point and prices have barely moved for seven or eight days.

“It’s the first time all year that’s happened and the fact that it’s happened just before Christmas is no coincidence.

“We analyse these prices very carefully and we were expecting prices by the end of this week to be around $1.16 –  they’re 10 cents higher than that.”