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A little bit of preparation goes a long way in the Outback- ensure you have a good map and plan ahead. It's wise to calculate travel times and distances between stops; even prepare alternative routes, especially when travelling during the Australian Summer (November to April) when rain and storms can impede travel plans.
On major highways fuel stops are rarely more than 200km apart so it should not be necessary to carry spare fuel. However, when you see "No Fuel" signs , it means exactly that. Ensure your vehicle is mechanically sound and carry a first aid kit, ample water and spares such as tyres, radiator hoses and fanbelts, together with a good tool kit. Ensure your spare tyre is at the correct pressure.
Before setting out ensure that you have adequate supplies of all personal medications. While medical facilities are avaliable in most towns, it is not always possible to obtain prescriptions for some medications, or there may be a delay in the arrival of the prescriptions as they have to come from a neighbouring community.
Outback summers are hot but much less humid than on the coast and more bearable. Most facilities and transport are air-conditioned. Storms and heavy rains can occur during summer with minor flooding, sometimes causing towns to become cut off for a few days, but this is all part of your adventure in the Outback. The most temperate weather occurs between the beginning of April and the end of October. A broad-brimmed hat and sunscreen are recommended for all seasons.
MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE
Longreach, Mount Isa, Charleville and Birdsville have coverage from Telstra and Optus Networks. Outside of these towns only Telstra 3G network is avaliable, usually within a 20km radius of towns. There is limited mobile phone coverage in the far South West corner of the region, west of Quilpie to Bedourie. Public phones are recommended for extended travel in this area.
HEAVY VEHICLES / ROAD TRAINS
Care should be taken when passing and overtaking road trains and heavy vehicles, including caravans. Ensure you have a clear line of sight, allow plenty of room and be prepared for vehicles to move a little from side to side as you overtake. If a road train is approaching to overtake you, move as far to the left as possible and stop if necessary to allow it to overtake safely.
SINGLE LANE DRIVING
When meeting Road Trains and heavy vehicles on single lane roads, slow right down and move off the road to the left. If it is safe to do so move off the road entirely and stop to avoid any obstacles on the verge. In wet conditions verges tend to be soft and/or slippery, so you should always keep your right wheels on the bitumen and keep moving slowly to avoid getting bogged.
If you see stock or wild animals near the road, slow down; don't swerve or your vehicle may roll. Be patient with stock and wary of kangaroos and emus. It pays to be vigilant when driving in the Outback, especially either side of sunrise or sunset when kangaroos tend to be at their most active and the poor light conditions makes seeing them more difficult.
Many roads are gated across station property. The rules of the Outback is to leave gates in the same way that you find them, ie. if the gate is closed when you get to it, close it again after you go through or, if the gate is open when you arrive, leave it open.
Always check the road and weather conditions before travelling into remote areas. Advise the police or some other responsible person of your intended itinerary and report back on your arrival. Two-Way radios or satellite phones are recommended as normal mobile phones do not work in remote areas. Spare fuel should be carried outside the passenger compartment and always guage your requirements/supplies, overloaded vehicles invariably get into trouble. If you break down, stay with the vehicle until help arrives.
Depending on how you drive, you can be a welcome visitor or someone who causes careless damage to roads and wildlife. Follow these tips for low impact driving:- Stay on existing roads and tracks- Give way to animals. Parks and forests are for their protection.- If you get stuck, try not to use trees for winching. If you have no choice use tree protectors. Wash your vehicle thoroughly before and after trips to prevent the spead of weeds.
Most roads run through private property or national parks and open fires should never be lit. Use only designated fireplaces.
Help us keep the Outback clean for future visitors by properly disposing of your rubbish.
Always use accredited Visitor Information Centres to obtain local and regional information.
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