Driving Outback Australia
Safe Outback Travel
The New South Wales Outback is easily accessible and a safe place to travel. Like any journey, correct planning, preparation and common sense will ensure a memorable and wonderful experience.
Safe outback travel is about common sense and potential dangers come from the hot & dry summers and distances between towns & services.
Outback New South Wales experiences very hot and dry summers. Travel is safer and more enjoyable March – October.
The best advice for any traveller is.. “it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it”
Some signs in the outback may seem peculiar to the uninitiated but most are there for a very good reason and must be abided by:
- TOTAL FIRE BANS: Our country is precious and fires can easily get out of hand (especially in National Parks). If fires are prohibited or Fire Bans are in place, this applies to all people.
- FRUIT FLY Exclusion Zone: necessary for the protection of crops in the area. Please dispose of fruit and vegetables before entering the Zone.
- ROAD CLOSED: Sometimes unsealed roads are closed after rain. This is for personal safety and to prevent the roads from being damaged. Fines apply if driving on Closed Roads and car insurance will void if something happens to your car on closed roads.
Things to consider if travelling to Outback New South Wales:
- Plan and research where and when to go (Google search and maps, VICS)
- Talk to others who have travelled the area (Online forums like ExplorOz)
- Organise contacts/accommodation details before leaving.
- Determine if your vehicle is appropriate for the intended journey.
- Ensure your vehicle is fully serviced before embarking on your holiday.
- Take spare parts that may be needed. (Fuses, tyre, belts etc)
- Carry spare fuel.
- Buy a first aid kit (and pack it so it is easily accessible)
- Do not overload your car – especially if using roof racks
- Water – carry a large container of water. (20+)
- Communications – Mobile coverage: Determine the coverage of your mobile and if a necessary upgrade for maximum coverage for your trip. For more remote travel, consider VHF/UHF and EPIRB device.
- Remember the adage about ‘the journey and the destination’. Plan to stop and explorer the areas you are travelling through. This will break the trip up and keep you fresh. Plan to do this every 2-3 hours.
- Be aware when approaching livestock as they will not necessarily keep off the road and can cross when you least expect it.
- Try avoiding driving at sunrise and sunset as many native animals (Roos and Emus) will be active then and will be attracted to your headlights and can jump in front of your vehicle – and cause serious damage.
- If you wish to overtake trucks, a quick flash of your lights is often appreciated.
- Road trains (double semi-trailers) are long and will take twice as long to overtake than a normal truck. Plan to overtake with caution.
- Drive at a safe speed (10-20kms less) as conditions on unsealed roads can change quickly.
- If approaching another vehicle, slow down and move to the left as this will reduce stone damage (windscreen and paint) and reduce dust which may inhibit vision to what is behind their vehicle and yours.
- Slow when approaching cattle grids as some may be raised or dropped and can be hazardous if crossing at speed.
- Don’t drive on closed gravel roads.
- If stopping for some reason, pull over and don’t stop in the middle of the road. If venturing off the main road, take care as the side drain may look dry but maybe wet underneath.
- Approach creek crossing with caution… they may be washed out and can cause serious damage to your car.
If for some reason your vehicle breaks down or gets stuck. STAY WITH YOUR VEHICLE. Someone will always come by.
- Country people are renowned for their hospitality but remember that their property is their home and livelihood and not all are amenable to random access of their properties; in the same way, you would not be at your home or office.
- Always leave gates as you find them not as you think they should be.
- Ask permission for camping at the homestead. Check with the station owner before camping and let them nominate a place for you.
River and creeks can be great for a refreshing swim on a hot day. BUT be cautious as there can be steep slippery banks, undertows and submerged trees.