A little bit of preparation goes a long way in the Outback – ensure you have a good map and plan ahead. It’s a good idea to calculate travel times and distances between stops, even preparing alternative routes, especially when travelling during the Australian summer (Nov – Apr) when rain and storms can impede travel plans.
On major highways fuel stops are rarely more than 200km apart so it should not be necessary to carry spare fuel. However, where you do see “no fuel” signs, it means exactly that. Ensure that your vehicle is mechanically sound, carry a first aid kit, ample water and spares such as tyres, radiator hoses and fanbelts, together with a good tool-kit. Ensure that your spare tyre is at the correct pressure.
Before setting out you should ensure you have adequate supplies of all personal medications. While medical facilities are available in most towns, these facilities are not necessarily provisioned to complete prescriptions for your regular medications.
Contact the local Visitor Information Centre in the town that you are visiting, or visit the Queensland Government Traffic and Travel Information Website www.131940.qld.gov.au, or call 131 940 for current road conditions.
Outback summers are hot but much less humid than on the coast and more bearable. Most facilities and transport are air-conditioned. Storms and heavy rains can occur during summer and minor flooding can cause some towns to become cut off for a few days, but this is all part of the adventure of the Outback. The most temperate weather occurs between the beginning of April and the end of October. Wearing a broad brimmed hat and sunscreen is recommended for all seasons.
Longreach, Mount Isa, Charleville and Birdsville have coverage from Telstra and Optus networks. Outside of these towns only the Telstra Next G network is available, usually within a 20km radius of towns. There is limited mobile phone coverage in the far South West corner of the region, west of Quilpie to Bedourie. Public phones are available in all towns, and satellite phones are recommended for extended travel in this area.
Care should be taken when passing and overtaking road trains and heavy vehicles, including other caravans. Ensure you have a clear line of sight, allow plenty of room and be prepared for vehicles to move a little from side to side as you overtake. If a road train is approaching to overtake you, move as far to the left as possible and stop if necessary to allow it to overtake safely.
When meeting road trains and heavy vehicles on single lane roads, slow right down and move off the road to the left. If it is safe to do so, move off the road entirely and stop to avoid driving into any obstacles on the verge. In wet conditions road verges tend to be soft and/or slippery, so then pulling off to the left you should always keep your right wheels on the bitumen and keep moving slowly to avoid getting bogged.
If you see stock or wild animals near the road, slow down; don’t swerve as this may cause your vehicle to roll. Be patient of stock and wary of kangaroos and emus. It pays to be vigilant when driving in the Outback, especially either side of sunrise or sunset, when kangaroos tend to be at their most active and the light more difficult.
Many roads are gated and cross station properties. The rule of the Outback is to leave gates in the same way that you find them, ie. if the gate is closed when you get there, close it again after you drive through or, if the gate is open when you arrive, leave it open.
Always check road and weather conditions before travelling into remote areas. Advise the police or some other responsible person of your intended itinerary and report back on your arrival.
Two-way radios or satellite phones are recommended as normal mobile phones do not work in remote areas. Spare fuel should be carried outside the passenger compartment and always gauge your requirements – overladen vehicles invariably get into trouble. If you break down, stay with the vehicle until help arrives.
Depending on how you drive, you can be a welcome visitor or someone who causes careless damage to roads and wildlife. Follow these tips for low impact driving:
Water crossings are not recommended and should not be attempted if you are uncertain of your vehicle’s capabilities. Walk through the crossing first – test the depth and current and try to detect any underwater obstacles by using your feet or a stick. Engage Low 4×4 and drive
through in second or third gear, keeping the momentum up.
Most roads run through private property or national parks and open fires should never be lit. Use only designated fireplaces.
Help us keep the Outback clean for future visitors by properly disposing of your rubbish.
Always use accredited Visitor Information Centres to obtain local and regional information.