While most roads and highways in Australia are safe, well-maintained and meet high quality standards, Australia is a very large country, and outside of the main cities is a vast area, much of which is remote outback, with variable road conditions.
Firstly, you really do not want to be stranded in a remote region of Australia, unprepared. If you are going into the outback, we would suggest taking some basic items with you, just in case:
- Detailed and current maps of the area
- A compass, matches and fire-lighter blocks
- As much water as possible
- Enough food for each person for two days
- Two changes of clothes – one for hot conditions and one for cold conditions
- Medicine/first-aid kit
- A complete set of tools. It is advisable to take two jacks and two spare tyres (correctly inflated of course).
- A radio, or preferably a 2-way HF radio with Flying and Telstra frequencies, as mobile phone signal coverage is limited in these areas. You may want to rent a satellite phone.
- A loud whistle.
Once you are fully prepared and on the road, look out for the following hazards in order to avoid an unnecessary accident:
- Getting your wheels caught in soft edges or verges of a gravel or dirt road. You need to slow down on roads like these, and try not to drive on these roads at night. Resist swerving and losing control, and if you happen to hit a verge, take your foot off the accelerator so that you can gently slow down while directing the wheels back onto the road. Remember that on a gravel road it will take longer for your car to stop, so slow down and make allowances for a longer stopping distance than normal.
- Rain after a long period of dry will create a slippery surface which can be similar to black ice when driving. If you travel too fast on the road you could end up losing traction and skating across the road.
- Wildlife and animals on country roads, especially at dusk. Driver more slowly and keep your headlights on high beam if there is no oncoming traffic. If you do experience an animal jumping out in front of you – brake, hoot and flash your lights to hopefully make it move away quickly.
- Flooded roads – avoid these and do not cross a flooded road or causeway, especially if the water is moving. It takes a surprisingly small depth of fast- moving water to sweep your car way.
There is no better way of exploring Australia than getting out of the city – and if you are prepared and cautious you can be sure to enjoy the experience!