Travelling in the Outback

Setting off on an outback adventure is very exciting but travelling in remote areas can come with risks and challenges so it is important to be prepared and take caution to ensure a safe and fun road trip.

Planning Routes 

  • Check driving distances between each town to ensure you have enough fuel and supplies for each leg of your journey. It is a good idea to call ahead to petrol service stations to check if they have the fuel you need.
  • Make sure you have a good map that lists which roads are sealed or unsealed, and distances.
  • Conditions on dirt roads can change very quickly with just a little rain, so make sure you stay aware of forecasted rain and plan alternate routes if needed.
  • Talk to other travellers you meet on the way or ring the local visitor information centre for up-to-date details on dirt roads. Fifty kilometres of dirt may not seem much, but if the road is badly corrugated, you could be in for a slow bumpy ride.

Before You Leave 

  • Have your car serviced and check that your spare tyre is in useable condition.
  • Pack a first aid kit and some handy tools.
  • Take a decent map and preloaded music, as lots of places will have no radio or phone reception, so you won’t be able to access online maps or music. The static radio station will drive you crazy!
  • Always carry extra water and food, enough for each person and any pets on board. Pack some paper towel, toilet paper or rags, they will not go astray.
  • Ensure you have adequate prescription medication with you, as outback pharmacies may not stock all medications and it may take a couple of days for medications to be delivered to town.

Road Trains 

  • Road trains aren’t actually trains but large trucks that can tow up to four trailers and can be over 50 metres long. Like trains though, these heavy vehicles need plenty of warning and space to be able to stop safely, be mindful of this when driving in front of a road train.
  • If you have a UHF/CB radio, tune in to channel 40, the Australia-wide highway channel, for any information or instructions from the driver.
  • On a narrow road when approaching an oncoming road train it’s best to slow down and pull off the road. Be aware that the road shoulder may be uneven ground or soft after recent rain.
  • When following a road train it’s best to keep some distance back, unless overtaking. This will avoid rocks being thrown up at your windscreen from a rough surface or having the lovely aroma of cattle wafting through your car.
  • Most road trains travel at decent speeds in the outback, but if you do have to pass one here are a few tips to keep you safe. 
    • Be aware of the truck's length, some road trains can be over 50 metres long, so you will need to leave enough clear road space ahead.
    • Only overtake when you are confident you can safely do so.
    • When overtaking, move out and pass quickly but sensibly.
    • Don’t move back in until you see both the road train’s headlights in your mirrors and don’t slow down.

Animals on the Road 

  • There are often cattle and other wildlife on the roads, they have a habit of dashing in front of you at the last minute. Avoid driving at dusk or dawn if you can, as native wildlife is most active at these times.
  • Respect our graziers and their stock, please slow down when you see cattle on the road. Hitting a beast is a loss for both parties.
  • Also be aware of large birds feeding on carcasses. It takes time for them to become airborne and high enough to clear your vehicle. If you see birds ahead, sound the horn and slow down to allow them time to get out of your way.

Station Properties 

  • When driving on private property (i.e. stations), remember that it is someone's home and should be treated as such. It is crucial to leave gates as they were found, so as to not impact livestock. Open gates should be left open and closed gates should be closed, after you have passed through them.