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Driving in Australia, Driving the Outback 

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Driving in Australia

If you’re taking a vehicle for a little outback camping then you need to take into account a number of key points before setting out. Obviously the supplies you need to take and the precautions you need to think about change greatly depending on your type and length of trip.

If you’re going to be driving on the bitumen all the way then it’s simply a case of making sure you’ve enough supplies, enough fuel, and your car is in decent working order. Fuel, Oil and Water need to be properly thought about, as petrol can be difficult to find in the further apart places in Australia. When crossing the nullarbor, petrol stations are over 300kms apart so you have to be very careful.

If you’re going onto the dirt roads, then it’s a whole different kettle of fish. Whilst the majority of tracks are passable by two wheel drive vehicles, it only takes a bit of rain and matters change dramatically, and even 4wds can find the going tough. Creeks can flood, surfaces become mud baths, and driving becomes slow, dangerous and difficult. Even when the surfaces are in decent condition, ruts in the road can shake bits off your car, and drive you to distraction so careful driving is a must.

Check your fuel
Fuel can be very hard to find, make sure you’ve ample backup supplies should you run out. Driving on the dirt is far more thirsty than driving on the bitumen. Expect to use 50% more fuel than normal.

Make sure your tires are in good condition, and it’s generally accepted that it’s a good idea to lower the tyre pressures right down, 15 psi is about right, possibly lower in a 2wd, as it softens the ride, and because of the wider surface area of the tire touching the ground, it gives more grip and makes for a much safer journey. It’s a good idea to take a quality compressor pump so you can adjust the type pressures without having to rely on a handy filling station as they are often a long way off.

Take plenty of fresh drinking water and keep it stashed for emergencies only. If you split a hose then that water may get you somewhere it can be fixed. Or if you break down somewhere remote you may need it to drink!

Driving at night
If you’re away from the major busy roads it’s a very good idea not to travel at night if you can help it, particularly on the dirt. Kangaroos are very bad at avoiding traffic and will often jump into the road instead of away from it. Hitting a big red kangaroo can kill it and you quite easily so if you do have to drive at night, reduce you’re speed and make sure you keep watch.

Importantly if a roo does jump out in front of you, hit the breaks but don’t swerve, if you hit it you hit it. If you swerve then you’ll head into the other lane or off the road and then you’re putting yourselves and other people in danger.

Roadside assistance.
Get roadside assistance from the RAC or a similar organisation. They operate in all the states, and you can get national coverage for a small fee of around $200 or so. This is vital as they will come and get you from just about anywhere, it could cost you far more if you need assistance and you’re not covered.

4wd driving
If you’re really going into some serious 4wd action, then there are lots of other aspects you need to think about, such as winches, hooks, ropes and other aspects. Overlander is a good site that deals with some of the key aspects of 4wd driving.

Basically you just need to make sure that you’re prepared for all eventualities, be it overheating, breaking down, hitting a roo, or many other problems. You need to be able to sit it out for a good while in comfort, you don’t want to be caught out in 40 degrees without a drink, it soon goes from uncomfortable to dangerous if you’re un prepared.
Travel Tips
Discovery Campervans have prepared a useful travel tips ebook - you can find it by clicking here.