Are you travelling or camping in Australia’s Outback for the first time? If you answer yes, we’ve listed a handful of tips here that can help in planning the journey of a lifetime. We also hope to set your expectations before setting off on this adventure.
So, we’ve divided this article into three sections:
- How to plan a safe trip to the Outback;
- Safety rules when you’re in the vast bushland;
- the best time to visit the Outback and how to call out during emergency situations;
Ready to prep? Let’s start!
Planning a Safe Trip to the Outback
Use updated maps to write down an itinerary and DON’T FORGET TO BRING THE MAP WITH YOU. Throw in a compass in your gear, while you’re at it. Maps and a compass and a written down itinerary may be old-school, but cell phone reception is often reliable in the outback. Online maps and navigation tools won’t be much help.
Plan an itinerary
Allow for a few days between destinations. Avoid setting your schedule too tight, in case something happens that would require you to stay in one place for a day or two. When you’re in the Outback heavy rains can cause road closures for at least one day, which can put a damper on your set schedule. Having at least a day between activities allow you to relax and explore the area you’re currently stuck in.
Minimise, if not entirely avoid, driving around the Outback at night. This is for the safety of the local wildlife as much as it is yours. Emus and Kangaroos jump across roads and it’s difficult to spot them in time in the dark. Do your best to arrive at your destination in the early afternoon so you can relax and enjoy the Outback’s world-famous sunsets.
Inform family or friends
If you’re camping in very remote areas, leave a copy of your itinerary to a friend or family member. When possible, set a time to call to let them know you’re alright. If they do not hear from you after your agreed time, they can alert authorities to start looking for you.
Check for conditions
Learn as much as you can about weather and road conditions before heading out. Go online for a list of helpful phone numbers you can call. Ask what to expect (weather conditions, road closures, etc.) during your travel dates.
Don’t attempt to drive on closed roads. There are good reasons why unexpected road closures are implemented on the Outback. There is also a good chance that you will experience this during your trip. When this happens, just adjust your activities for the day. Keep in mind that apart from safety risks, you’d end up paying heavy fines when caught driving on closed roads.
Apply for driving/camping permits where necessary. Driving permits are required in certain areas on the Outback. Make sure all required paperwork is in order before you leave. Same goes if you’re camping in national parks where permits are required.
Safety Rules in the Australian Outback
Bushfires (unfortunately)are common in Australia, especially in the bushland. For the love of God, don’t do anything that would start one. Be very careful about starting campfires. If you smoke cigarettes, make sure you put them out completely and dispose of the butts properly. Check when total fire bans are implemented so you can adjust your camping gear accordingly. Fire bans are implemented in many areas in the Outback during summer season (November to February). Avoid bush walking during total fire ban days, too.
Bring lots of water when you’re camping or really – doing anything in the Outback. Temperatures can be unforgiving so be sure you bring the recommended 4 to 5 litres of water per day per person. Bring non-perishable food, too.
If you experience car problems, don’t leave your vehicle. Remember you’re in a famous tourist destination. Someone will come along to either help you fix your car or notify rescuers in the nearest town.
The Best Time to Visit the Outback
During the summer, it can get extremely hot in the Australian Outback. Temperatures often go over 40°C. So, avoid travelling in the region during November to February – the height of summer. Also, almost no one travels in the Outback during this time. If you run into any problems, there won’t be anyone around to help you out. Make sure that you have sufficeint equipment as well as solar panels for camping, for all your needs.
Spring (March to May) and Winter (June to August) are the best times of the year to visit. Although you want to pack more warm clothing as the nights can get very cold.
How to Call for Help During an Emergency
Mobile phones are next to useless in the Outback. You might get a signal when you’re in one of the small towns, but you’d hardy get a signal when you’re out in the desert. Therefore, it’s important to have contingencies.
CB Radios are useful when you’re driving in convoy. Depending on the terrain, the range can be a much as 40 kilometres. Okay that may not be much, but it’s quite helpful when you need to call out fellow travellers for assistance.
Satellite Phones are highly recommended in the Outback. They are reliable in terms of signal strength and allows you to call just about anywhere.
High Frequency Radios work over great distances. Signal strength isn’t dependent on terrain, which makes them the most recommended for emergency situations.
The Australian Outback is one of the most magnificent destinations in the world.
Traveling in the region memorable and we hope these tips can help make it safer for you, too.