Driving Tips for the Outback

Posted by on September 26, 2013

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With sweeping sunsets, masses of kangaroos, and aboriginal art etched onto its sandstone rock formations, Australia’s Outback is a top travel destination. As one of the world’s most epic locations for a road trip, the Outback also presents its own unique challenges. Most travellers can travel through this region on the main highways, such as the Stuart Highway in the Red Centre or the Eyre Highway crossing the Nullarbor. Yet part of the pleasure of exploring this remote area is getting off the beaten path, which is where you may run into unsealed roads, blockages, or other challenges for motorists. By keeping the following tips in mind, you’ll be able to navigate the Outback freely and safely.

Driving

Road and Weather Conditions

The majority of unsealed streets are well maintained gravel roads, particularly if they lead to famous tourist attractions. Yet you will encounter some corrugated roads, which are marked by ridges that can be quite hard on your car. You’ll need to approach corrugated roads with slower speeds to avoid doing too much damage to the car. Another type of challenging road you may face is a narrow, one-lane country road. These are common in less populated areas, and can be problematic when you are facing oncoming trucks. You will need to slow down and even drive off of the road to let the truck pass. In less travelled areas, roads may not be as well maintained and could have numerous potholes or soft edges, which could flip your car over if you approach them too quickly.

The weather can also do a number on otherwise safe roads. Heavy rains can lead to flooding, washed out roads, and deep bog holes. Always check the forecast in advance, and when in doubt you can ask at the local tourist centres or local rest areas for driving advice.

Finding a Suitable Vehicle

Some of the more unstable roads will only be accessible by 4X4. It’s a good idea to check in advance and plan your route according to the type of car you plan to drive. The wide open highways of the Outback can be particularly fun to travel by motorcycle, so you might want to look for a used Kawasaki or KTM on bikesales.com.au for your journey. These are often available at low prices comparable to renting a 4X4, if you’re looking for a real adventure with the wind in your hair. No matter what type of car or bike you plan to ride, you’ll want to have it looked over and serviced before you embark on your journey. It’s also best to have a travel companion or companion vehicle to accompany you on the road trip, particularly when visiting more remote areas. If you do travel alone, be sure to give a trusted friend your itinerary and check in once you’ve arrived.

Contending with Wildlife

One of the pleasures of driving in the Outback is the native wildlife you’ll encounter, including wallabies, emus, and kangaroos. However, this can also cause road hazards at times. From cattle to kangaroos, slow down if you see any animals near the road. They may turn around and head towards the road at the last minute so you’ll need time to stop if necessary. Locusts can also be an issue during the dry season, clogging up radiators.

By planning ahead, taking it slow, and stocking your vehicle with emergency supplies, you’ll be sure to have an exciting yet safe journey through one of the world’s most beautiful regions.

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