Are you thinking of hitting the road this summer, you need to read this.
COVID has changed our lives in so many ways and one of these is the closure of international borders. This has meant that many people who would normally take their yearly trip to Bali or Thailand or jump on a relaxing cruise no longer have this luxury and are looking for alternatives for their family holidays.
This leaves no other option than to travel Australia, something we have been doing for years! There is a whole wave of new people buying 4wd’s and caravans and travelling this great country of ours. From our friends and contacts within the 4WD and camping industry we can tell you that they are all busier than ever trying to keep up with the demand.
Whilst this is all new and exciting for people, travelling remotely is very different to rocking up to a resort and having everything within arms reach.
Travelling remotely within Australia is something you do need to be prepared for, there are safety precautions to be aware of and you need to do your research and have an idea of what you may be in for … what will the road be like, will there be phone reception, will there be shops, how much fuel do I need, do I have enough water, how will I power my devices … these are all questions you should be asking yourself (and having an answer to!).
It’s a very different world out there, you can’t just pop round the corner to the next servo if the fuel is too expensive. Quite often places can run out of fuel and you’ll be stranded there for a few days until the tanker can make it into town. Bad weather can close a road for days or even weeks at a time, meaning not only you could get stuck, but supply trucks and fuel trucks are also stuck. What if there is no internet or ATM? Do you carry enough cash to cover a tank of fuel or some groceries? There are plenty of things to think about that you wouldn’t need to worry about in the big cities. Of course if you’ve never experienced this before you wouldn’t even think of it being an issue, but this is why you need to do some research.
Now this certainly isn’t the case with everyone, but there are a portion of people who think that it’s as simple as buying a 4WD and caravan, hooking it up and hitting the road – it’s not, and this thought process could lead to disaster. Obviously you always hope that things will go to plan, but you always need to prepare for the worst possible scenario.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
- Check road conditions of where you are travelling. If you are travelling on an outback corrugated dirt road you need to know that your vehicle/caravan/trailer are set up for this.
- Does your vehicle have the towing capacity for the caravan/camper you wish to tow?
- Do you have appropriate tyres for where you are visiting? Do you have enough tread left for your journey? Are you carrying spares in case of a flat (and the tools to change it!)
- Can you carry enough fuel to get you from A to B? (remember, fuel can be pretty scarce once out of the big cities)
- Are you carrying water? Again, plan for the worst. What if you break down or get bogged?
- Do you have a satellite phone or emergency device? Australia is a big place and there certainly isn’t phone reception everywhere, you may not be able to just jump on google or call someone for help. Maybe consider a SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger. A UHF/CB in your vehicle is also essential for outback travel.
- Do you have a rough itinerary or idea of where you are headed? Always leave this with someone back at home and check in every few days. This way, if you fail to turn up as expected or fail to make contact, emergency services will have some idea of where to start looking for you.
- Carry cash with you. Not everywhere has internet or EFTPOS or ATM’s and even if they do, they are quite often not working.
- Carry adequate food – like the water, always plan for the worst case scenario.
- Know the times of the year to travel, eg you wouldn’t head into the desert in Summer as it’s far too hot, the top half of Australia is cut off during the wet season.
- Other Costs – Be prepared as food is more expensive in remote areas due to costs involved in freight etc and keep in mind that items like bread and milk are quite often sold frozen to prolong shelf-life. Of course, you don’t have the same variety as back in the big cities, so please don’t take it out on the staff in store if you can’t find everything you would normally purchase at home .
- Road Trains are everywhere, do you know what to do if you come across one? These can reach over 53 metres in length and the dirt kicked up when you pass one is unbelievable, you need to be prepared for this or it can end in disaster.
- Don’t rely solely on a map or GPS – Maps may be showing there is accommodation or a service station nearby, but these can quite often be closed permanently or only open for certain hours of the day.
- Always carry a basic First Aid Kit and a Snake Bite Kit – should something happen, help can often be hours away and your first aid kit could potentially mean the difference between life or death.
- If you do break down, ALWAYS stay with your vehicle – it’s much easier to find someone from the air if they are with something large like a vehicle, than individual people wandering around the bush. Remember temperatures in outback Australia can reach well over 40°C so you don’t want to be wandering around in the heat of the day.
Hope all of that gives you an idea of what you need to be prepared for. It’s ok if you don’t have off-road experience, we all started somewhere. You do need to do a little research though and see what you may be in for … ask questions of family or friends who have done this before, visit our site or ask people like us who have been doing it for years, maybe even consider doing a towing course or join a 4WD club, there are plenty of ways you can find help.
But above all, get out there and enjoy what our big amazing country has to offer, there is so much more than most people could ever begin to imagine!
Note that this blog post contains links that will take you through to an external third party company. If you do click through and ultimately make a purchase we will earn a small commission on the sale. Note that, although we may receive a commission, this is at no additional cost to you. Ie, you would pay the same amount if you went direct to the product provider.
We are George & Shelly, a married couple from Sydney, Australia, who love 4WDing, camping and travelling this great country of ours. We love sharing our adventures and hope to inspire others to travel as well. Join us on our journeys around Australia!
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