For those who love traveling, the Outback is definitely one place that should be on their bucket list. From amazing cities, fun beaches, or rich nature, Australia has it all. Exploring Down Under won’t be complete without exploring the great outdoors.
What better way to do so than through off-roading in Australia? You get the chance to see wildlife while immersing yourself in the majesty of nature. It’s more than driving around the outback; it’s experiencing the thrill and doing it with style.
The Outback is often dangerous, making it feel out of reach for many. With proper planning, off-roading in Australia is a breeze. With a 4WD vehicle, it definitely isn’t as farfetched.
Make the most out of your Australian Outback adventure. Here’s everything you need to know to plan the perfect off-roading vacation in Australia.
Plan Your Routes
It’s always important to plan your trips. It might be easy to wing a spontaneous vacation in the main cities of Australia. However, this doesn’t apply to the Outback!
Australia is large, but the Outback has a sparse population. What’s worse is many of its visitors underestimate it. The last thing you want is to get lost hours away from civilization with no one within a hundred miles of you.
This could ruin your trip and prove life-threatening. This is why you need to plan your routes always to know where the nearest road is. Getting the most fun out of off-roading in Australia means you’ll be taking roads that are far from freeways.
It’s important to keep tabs on where they are. Most beginners fail to anticipate how large of a stretch the Outback is. Use a GPS to keep track of your route and your location.
Always mark how far the nearest places of importance and landmarks are. You should pay attention to the route and the distance as it relates to time. Know roughly how long it takes to get to places and how long you’ve been driving in a particular direction.
This will help you avoid running out of fuel or daylight. Finally, don’t rely on GPS alone, as poor reception or battery life might cost you your life. Knowing where you are and where you are going at all times is crucial.
Where technology fails, analog excels. Bring maps and a compass as a fallback.
Check Your Car and Equipment
Never take a drive into the Outback unprepared. It won’t be a simple day trip, especially so for those new to off-roading. Make sure you have a well-equipped car and the right gear.
Before you even start exploring, keep in mind that only 4WD vehicles would do. Don’t push your luck with a front-wheel drive. Even then, take your 4WD for a check-up to make sure everything runs smooth.
To err on the safe side, make sure your vehicle battery is new and your engine is in tip-top shape. A missed problem now could cost you in the Outback later. Places like https://www.ozzytyres.com.au/news/4×4-mag-wheels-for-sale/ can help you find and equip your 4WD for the task at hand.
Apart from getting your vehicle checked out, you need other essential equipment. These include warm clothing during winter and a satellite phone. While Australia has some of the world’s hottest summers, it can also have harsh winters.
Note that Australia’s winters are when most of the world is in summer (June-August). If you’re heading Down Under for the first time, it’s important to remember this.
Off-roading during the start of winter might give you cooler temperatures. However, temperatures can also drop below zero. Having something to keep you warm might save your life.
The Outback has zones with little to no reception at all. This is where a satellite phone comes in handy. For those looking to camp for a day or more, a small portable generator would also be a good investment.
It’ll let you extend the battery life of your communication and navigation devices.
Make Regular Pit Stops and Check-Ins
Don’t only plan your routes; you also have to note where the nearest population centers are. Better yet, stop by them on the regular to check your fuel and water. Those new to the Outback underestimate how much fuel and travel time they need.
The last thing you want is your car stalling and people being unable to locate you. So fill up your gas tank. It’s also not a bad idea to update your coordinates to let people know your most recent location.
Doing this means emergency services can locate you fast. In case something goes wrong, you don’t want to stay exposed to the elements. That said, before you go on your adventure, set a timeframe of how long you’ll be gone.
Ask them to have authorities check on you if they don’t hear from you after a certain time. It’s not uncommon to have people stranded for days in the Outback. You might want to go off the grid and maximize your off-roading experience.
However, don’t forget that your safety is the top priority. Having regular pit stops and check-ins will make your off-roading in Australia much safer. It also will give your family and loved one’s peace of mind.
Pack Enough Food and Water
Some choose to discover the Outback on a day trip. However, that doesn’t always mean your drive and trip will only take a few hours. Besides, Australia is jokingly referred to as “the country where anything can kill you”.
The Outback is no exception, and anything can happen. If you get stuck in the middle of nowhere, your off-road adventure in Australia could end in tragedy. Don’t let this happen by having enough essential supplies for your survival.
Carry enough food supply and water. Make sure you have enough to sustain yourself for a few days. Rescue operations can take a while in the Outback, especially if no one knows where you are.
You improve your chances a lot by keeping yourself hydrated in the heat. Make sure to bring plenty of water and to conserve it.
Always Have Spare Gas and Tires
The Australian Outback is as beautiful as it is unforgiving. Its rough terrain does a number to any car. This is why you have to make sure you have the correct tires for off-roading.
However, even with the right tires, the best 4WD vehicles will run out of gas. Apart from carrying spares for tires, an extra container (or two) of gas is a good idea. Depending on how long you plan on staying and how far you’re looking to discover, have extra will serve you well.
While having car mechanic skills is another good thing to have, it’s not necessary. Although if you make off-roading in Australia a hobby, you’re sure to develop this skill. It’s generally a good idea to know how to do basic maintenance and repairs on your vehicle.
Replacing tires is the easiest, so make sure you at least know how to do this before your trip. You might hit a jagged rock or protruding tree root and burst a tire. Being able to replace one will save you the stress, not to mention the costly payment of a rescue service.
Consider Off-roading Tours
One of the safest ways to experience off-roading in the outback is with a guided tour. Your guides will have the knowledge and experience you may lack as a beginner. Most of all, they can teach you the ropes before you give it a try yourself.
Off-roading tours also take away the stress. There is much to consider for your trip, like planning your route and bringing your own equipment. Even if you’re the forgetful type, the tour will have you covered.
It’s still a good idea to come prepared and do your research. Don’t be over-reliant on the tour company. Take a quick look at the routes and safety precautions offered.
Most reputable tour companies will have a detailed checklist. This ensures that you’re able to plan for every possibility. Be cautious of fly-by-night tour agencies.
Many tour agencies and companies are taking advantage of the world opening up again. While you might have overwhelming enthusiasm to travel, be wary. There have been tours where the guide seems to be winging it and overcharging.
Check also to see if the driver is using a popular off-road vehicle in Australia. Off-road vehicles made in Australia provide exceptional performance. You can be sure they’ll stand up to the challenges of the outback.
Go With a Friend
It’s not difficult to see why many fall in love with the Outback. Even the locals from all over Australia have started vacationing here. It’s one of those places where you might find yourself.
It’s not uncommon for many solo travelers to visit it. Despite this, going with a friend is both more enjoyable and safer. There’s nothing more special than being able to share a treasured memory with someone.
More so, you’ll have a second pair of eyes and another head to help spot and address potential issues. Involve your friend in the planning and organization. You’ll be less likely to miss something.
The experience and skills of your travel companion are also something to consider. If possible, find a friend familiar with the area, or who would be helpful if you run into car trouble. If one or both of you knows first aid or has survival skills, that can help you get through sticky situations.
However, if you do choose to go with a friend, make sure you pack enough supplies and equipment for both of you. If you end up lost or stuck in the Outback do not split up! If you do not know where you are, stay in your vehicle and wait for rescue.
They say two heads are better than one, but make sure you use both of them.
Be Ready For Sudden Weather Changes
Something few first-timers know about the Outback is that its weather can be volatile. Contrary to popular belief, the Outback isn’t scorching hot all year round – it can actually freeze! Depending on where you go there are significant regional variations.
In the Outback, it isn’t uncommon to have cold months or a decent amount of rain. There are even risks of flooding, which can catch even the seasoned traveler off-guard. It is important that you take weather into account.
Know the usual weather patterns of the regions you plan to off-road in. Both winter and summer will produce different weather with their own dangers. If you plan to drive through regions known for their sudden coolness, pack warm clothes.
In some parts of the Outback it can get as low as -7 degrees Celsius. You may find yourself stuck in such weather, especially with night approaching. Having a warm sleeping bag, or some thermals can make all the difference.
For sudden flooding, consult with weather advisories. Take even the slightest warnings seriously and plan around them. If you decide you still want to off-road in a potential flood zone, keep your eyes out for some high ground.
Regardless of the weather, it’s always worthwhile to pack an emergency go-bag. Plan for the unexpected – like if you have to abandon your vehicle at a moment’s notice. Being able to grab food, water, and other emergency gear is life-saving.
Especially if you include communication devices, a flare-gun, and proper clothing.
Prepare Yourself Before Off-Roading in Australia
It’s important before doing any off-roading in Australia that you plan ahead. The Outback can be dangerous for the uninitiated and the veteran alike, so it’s best not to take chances. By following these tips and prioritizing safety and preparedness, you’re sure to enjoy your adventure.
One of the most important things is to make sure your 4WD vehicle has the right tires and that you pack the right equipment. In search of even more advice? Our travel blog has loads of info to keep you safe and ready while exploring the Outback.