Outback Queensland is road trip country – think wide open roads, big blue skies, and stations so big that you won’t be able to see their borders with the naked eye.
Whether you’re a seasoned outback adventurer or a first-time traveller, check out these tips to help you have a safe road trip in Outback Queensland.
1.Pack all the essentials
Music – tick. Snacks – tick. First aid kit, spare tyre, map, water – tick, tick, tick, tick. You’ll want to make sure you’ve got more ticks than an A+ student, when it comes to your outback essentials packing list.
When there are hundreds of kilometres between towns (and petrol stations), the only person you’ll want to rely on for supplies is yourself. We recommend packing your car with road trip essentials, to ensure you’re prepared for anything. Take it from the police, the words ‘better safe than sorry’ gain new meaning when you’re west of the Great Dividing Range.
2. Telephone Communications & Download the Emergency + App
Be ready for anything – and prepare yourself for everything by downloading the Emergency + App for Australia.
This free app provides users with information on who to call in an emergency. It also utilises GPS location to assist emergency services to determine where you are, should you be caught in an emergency situation.
We also receommend that you check all your communications channels in advance of departure. If you are heading to more remote regions a satellite phone is recommended; and to be extra safe have an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) device with you – which can be activated in emergency situations.
NOTE: check your phone provider’s reception ability in the regions you are travelling to. Some telephone service providers do not provide coverage in Outback regions. Telstra currently has the best coverage in the Outback and is recommended for travellers.
3. Check for road closures, road works, and accidents
You know you’re in for a long ride when the echidna crawling along on the side of the road is travelling faster than you.
Plan your route wisely and check for road closures and road works to avoid unnecessary delays. Be sure to check for updates along the way too in case there has been a sudden change in road conditions.
NOTE: many unsealed Outback roads get closed after rain to avoid damage to the roads, and also to avoid people getting bogged. Make sure you check roads are open for use after rain; and don’t travel on unsealed roads if the road is noted as closed. The locals in particular get very annoyed when their roads are ruined by cars driving on muddy roads when they shouldn’t be.
4. Check the weather before you hit the road
You may have packed your bathing suit, but flood waters don’t exactly provide the best swimming holes. Check for up to date weather conditions from the Bureau of Meteorology in case of rain. Finding alternative routes or deferring your trip an extra day may save you time in the long run.
5. Watch out for wildlife
From kangaroos and emus to rabbits, camels and echidnas, there is no shortage of wildlife in Outback Queensland.
Most active at dawn and dusk, these Aussie animals enjoy grazing on the edges of the roads, and often wander across them in front of unsuspecting cars. Where possible, time your drive to the middle of the day, and if you must drive at dawn or dusk, please take extra caution and drive slower, watching the edges of the road carefully for wildlife.
NOTE: you can often find sheep or cattle grazing or moving along the roads in the Outback – make sure you slow right down and give them right-of-way, and wait for them to cross the road. Don’t scare them by beeping your horn.
6. Sharing is caring
Road trains, wide loads, and heavy vehicles are common sightings on outback roads, and here’s betting your 4×4 is a tad smaller than a semi-trailer.
The best way to share the road with these big rigs? By moving as far left as possible or even better, we recommend you pull over and stop on the side of the road until they pass to avoid any small rocks flying your way and cracking your windscreen. If you have a radio, listen to UHF 40 for any extra information or instructions from one drive to another. Copy that?
Also, road trains have several trailers, so extra care and distance is required to ensure you can overtake safely. Make sure you allow for this, especially if you are towing a caravan.
7. Watch the road
Contrary to what most people think about driving out west, Outback Queensland roads have a lot of variety to them.
Expect road surface changes between driving in sand, gravel, undulating roads, potholes and perfectly graded tarmac, which can change in the click of a kilometre. Being cautious, reducing speed when necessary, and avoiding heavy braking are our top tips for Outback road conditions.
8.Take regular breaks
As with any long road trip, regular breaks are essential.
With vast landscapes, seemingly endless horizons and the odd mirage to contend with, the journey can be just as exciting as the destination. We recommend not travelling too far in one day, stopping as soon as you become tired, and taking the time to make pit stops for meals, refueling and exploring. As a rule of thumb, take breaks every couple of hours to ensure you stay alert for possible obstacles.
9. Allow for extra time to explore
Ever had a mud bath outside? Canoed down a lush outback sandstone oasis? Or enjoyed a beer in a town with a population of just 12 people?
The outback is filled with natural beauties, local characters and one-of-a kind towns that you may have never seen or heard about before. Whatever you do, make time to discover the Outback’s hidden charms. Adding an extra day or two to your road trip will allow for impromptu adventures and also relieve the time pressure to arrive at your destination in a hurry. Oh, and if you’re headed west for the trip of a lifetime, don’t forget to share your adventures with #outbackqueensland. We can’t wait to see what things your discover in Outback Queensland.
Have you been on an outback road trip? Let us know some of your safety tips in the comments below!