21 Tips For Exploring The Australian Outback By Road

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How dangerous is outback travel? How hot is the Australian outback? Is all of the Australian outback hot or does the climate vary? These and more questions are asked by travelers to Australia. We can’t answer everything but here are some valuable tips for exploring the Australian outback.

  1. Watch out for salties: Look for warning signs at waterways. Saltwater crocs are as fast as lightening and can hide just below the water’s surface and stalk their victims.
  2. Don’t swim in Northern Australia ocean waters during the wet season. This is the season of the Box Jellyfish or Stingers. Swim only if there’s a netted area that’s set aside for swimming.
  3. Wear sturdy shoes when bushwalking. A scorpion or centipede sting can be very painful. Be sure to shake your sleeping bag before getting into it. Don’t pick up a scorpion if it is still, thinking it’s dead.
  4. Take both light and heavy clothing when you travel through the desert. Desert climates are extreme – the days will be extremely hot and the nights freezing. Be sure to carry a warm sleeping bag.
  5. Take plenty of sunblock. As you get close to summer months, Australia can get very hot. Use plenty of sunblock, especially between 12 noon till 3 P.M., when the UV recitation is at its highest.
  6. Be sure to carry plenty of water when you travel. Though rivers and waterways are plenty, you might not be able to use the water. Keep drinking water to keep dehydration at bay.
  7. Driving distances are huge in Outback Australia. Carry snacks, pans and pots for cooking. Be self-sufficient; there are stores and people in the outback but 100s of kilometers apart.
  8. It’s best to drive a car with air-conditioning. Turn off the AC and keep the windows down in the evenings to catch cool desert and ocean breezes.
  9. Rains are unpredictable in northern Australia during summer. Be sure to check the weather conditions if you plan on getting off the beaten track as roads can be impassable for weeks due to the rains.
  10. Drive through the outback during the dry season from April/May to September/October. Days are pleasant and nights are mild. The flip side is that this is the tourist season and the prices will be high.
  11. Avoid traveling during the wet season, as it can be extremely hot and humid. There’ll be frequent thunderstorms, cyclones and extended flooding.
  12. If you are game for the wet season, be sure to pitch a camp to watch the dramatic skies and the lightning show during tropical thunderstorms. It’s a great opportunity for the nature lover and the photographer in you.
  13. On all major highways, there are roadhouses that provide fuel, food and accommodation. Be sure to mark them on an outback map; some of them are small town communities.
  14. If you’re driving your own car, make sure it’s up for the drive. If your car breaks down, some friendly outbacker might stop to help, but if there’s no one you’ll be stranded. Take care of all repairs beforehand and carry a spare tire and basic repair tools.
  15. The best option is to rent a car from a good rental company.Australian car rental companies have to strictly adhere to car safety regulations; you’ll get the best quality, mileage and 24/7 service on the road, even in the outback.
  16. If you’re driving at dawn or at dusk, watch out for cattle on the roads. Cattle stations are aplenty. Apart from cattle, you’ll find kangaroos also on the roads. Unless you’ve got 20-20 eyesight, drive when it’s light.
  17. If it’s rained heavily recently, roads may not be open and rivers might be flooding. Make sure you talk to the locals at roadhouse communities before you go on. Your caution may save you camping by the side of a swollen river or clogged road for days before things are better.
  18. If you’re going to camp on your journey, get one of the big camping guide books to know where to camp every night. Some spots are free – be sure to mark those out beforehand.
  19. Before camping at a site, check if the area is owned by a cattle station. A great deal of outback land is owned by cattle stations. You can camp by the side of beautiful waterfalls, creeks, gorges and swimming holes if you ask nicely.
  20. Don’t litter in the outback. The only things you can leave behind are your footprints. Don’t use soap and detergents in streams and creeks. Use wood sparingly and there’s not much of it in the outback.
  21. Take a gas stove or camping stove for your cooking. Don’t light fires in the bush to cook your meal. Look for fire ban signs and comply with them, especially in the dry season.

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