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How to be the best outback traveller

12 November 2021

How to be the best outback traveller

Discovering the Australian outback is an exciting adventure. Here are 7 tips to ensure you have the best outback experience.

More Australians are choosing to explore their own backyard rather than head overseas for holidays. While discovering Australia’s rugged interior is an exciting adventure, it helps to be considerate of the locals and prepared for the unexpected. Here are our tips for making your Australian travel unforgettable, in a good way.  

Before you leave 

Make loved ones aware of your travel plans, including the route you intend to take, and approximate dates of when you expect to arrive at certain destinations. Then be sure to check in with those people, to let them know you’ve arrived safely. This way if you miss a destination, family and friends can alert authorities quickly and let them know the roads you were planning to drive. Remember also that GPS isn’t always accessible and maps can be difficult to read. So take care when planning your route and be prepared for extended periods when the outside world is uncontactable. 

Respect the locals 

Many destinations in Australia are far off the beaten track, and along with the stunning location and end-of-the-world feel comes an absence of modern conveniences that road trippers might have come to take for granted. Wifi and mobile phone coverage aren’t available everywhere – even at some roadhouses – and it’s important to respect locals and how hard they work to provide what they can. Questions like why a service station isn’t open 24 hours a day, when staffing can be a major logistical challenge in these areas, aren’t helpful. Life in extremely remote locations couldn’t be more different from the city, so adopting an accommodating attitude is an opportunity to embrace a different experience. A bit of planning ahead will reduce the impact of challenges like this, and make for a better holiday. 

Be prepared for a shortage of fresh food in remote locations 

Trucking fresh fruit and veg to remote shops makes biting into that juicy apple harder to do… and more expensive. Deliveries to far-flung locations might only happen once a week, and when they sell out, that’s it until their next delivery. Stock up when and where you can, and make sure you have enough freeze-dried and canned food to get you through at least a few days if you arrive at a grocery store and the shelves are bare. Remember to be patient with shopkeepers as being huffy won’t make the fresh delivery get there any faster.

Know your vehicle 

Michael McCulkin from Broken Hill has years of experience driving dirt roads and runs an academy to teach people the basics of safe off-road travel. He says taking the time to get to know your vehicle is invaluable. This includes making sure your tyres are in good condition before you depart the relative security of home. An understanding of what pressure your tyres operate best at, and how to change a flat if you need to, is essential. 

Road research 

Dirt roads can quickly turn to mud in wet conditions, and driving on muddy roads can be dangerous. Rainfall might be heavier in other parts of Australia, but a small rainfall (say 15mm) in outback areas can cause road closures for more than a day. 

Do your research and check for road closures before heading to out-of-the-way places. And if a road is closed, don’t try to cross it: water can move more swiftly than it looks and be deeper than you might anticipate. Just because the locals are able to drive through moving water, it doesn’t mean you should give it a try. Make sure you know your limits.

Carry safety equipment 

A well-stocked first aid kit, quality jack, jump leads, tow ropes and plenty of water are a good start. Make sure you have clothing for hot, cold, wet and dry conditions too. It never hurts to have a few common spare car parts as well such as fuses, light bulbs and a fan belt. If you’re planning to take the road less travelled, consider hiring a satellite phone for emergencies. 

Stay with your vehicle if things go wrong 

If you’re in a remote location and you break down, whatever you do, don't leave your vehicle. If you follow our advice, you will have enough food and water to last at least a few days until another car comes past. 

Likewise, if you come across another traveller in trouble, you should stop and see if you can assist. Be prepared to share some water and give them a lift, or at least check that they have help on the way.

The Australian outback is a breathtaking and sometimes inhospitable place. With the right kind of preparation and a good, respectful attitude you can set yourself up for the adventure of a lifetime. 

Before you head to your road trip, whether it’s to South Australia or Western Australia, make sure you have Comprehensive Car Insurance


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