PETROL PAIN: Karen Stephens, of Byron Bay, now plans her driving trips to save on petrol. Picture: Cathy Adams
PETROL PAIN: Karen Stephens, of Byron Bay, now plans her driving trips to save on petrol. Picture: Cathy Adams

Drivers feel pain of petrol price hikes

By MARY MANN

KAREN STEPHENS says recent spikes in petrol prices on the Northern Rivers mean there is no longer such a thing as 'just ducking out to the shops'.

Every time she gets in her car to drive somewhere, it is strategically planned.

That way the Byron Bay woman can get a handful of errands done in the one trip, meaning she is driving less and spending less on petrol.

"I make every trip worthwhile," Ms Stephens said.

Around our region, unleaded petrol prices have shot up by about 15 cents a litre in the past month or so.

It is not good timing, right when people are dashing to the shops to spend up big for Christmas.

But according to Ron Bowden, CEO of the Service Station Association, the world market is to blame.

He said about three weeks ago wholesale prices had peaked, forcing retail prices to rise as well.

"But wholesale prices have been sliding down since then, and I expect that to slowly filter through to the retail market over the next couple of weeks," Mr Bowden said.

That might sound good, but with Christmas approaching, expect prices to rise again.

If you are planning to take off on a summer holiday in the couple of days after Christmas, don't leave filling up to the last minute.

Mr Bowden said it was likely prices would be cheaper on the Sunday and Monday before Christmas Day than they would be after it.

"It's not because of the holidays, it's just a reflection of the world market cycle," he said.

The NRMA Petrol Watch website lists most regional centre fuel prices above 136 cents.

Yesterday, Grafton was listed as the cheapest, at 136.1 cents a litre. Lismore came in as fourth-cheapest, at 137.8.

The most expensive on the list were Mudgee and Orange, at 145.9 cents a litre.

You can check it out yourself at www.mynrma.com.au



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