4 Top Tips for Driving Across Australia
Australia is a totally unique country; it is home to some of the most breathtaking natural landscapes to be found across the entirety of the Earth’s surface, it also contains an iconic range of wildlife. Animals such as kangaroos, wallabies, and kookaburras are recognizable the world over but aren’t found anywhere outside of the Australian continent. The country’s pristine beaches, bordered by impressive cliff edges, are some of the most spectacular coastlines in the world.
It is no surprise that so many people, both visitors, and residents, plan their own journeys across this great nation. Driving across Australia is a fulfilling, exciting, and challenging experience, but it is one that anyone hoping to undertake needs to make sure that they are fully prepared for. It is by no means a simple undertaking, and it is certainly not without risk. However, those who do prepare and who approach the task with the appropriate level of care will find it to be an incredible experience.
This guide will tell you everything that you need to know about Australia, and the journey across it by car. Before you start seriously planning your journey, make sure that you consider everything contained in this guide.
1. Australia is Big, REALLY Big
The world maps which we are all used to seeing are designed to allow the entire globe to be seen on a flat plane; in order to make this possible, the relative sizes of the countries have to be distorted. Looking at these maps it is easy to see Australia as being a big island, but nothing outstanding. Well, Australia is actually really big. Driving from one end of Australia to the other is the same as driving from London to Moscow! The journey from Sydney, along with the South-East coast, to Darwin, on the North coast, is the equivalent of the distance from the southern coast of Turkey up to the West coast of Sweden.
Australia’s size is part of the reason that it is such an awe-inspiring place, and explains how it can play host to such a diverse range of wildlife and terrain types. However, for intrepid explorers who are looking to take in as much as the country as possible, it’s size throws up some practical and safety considerations that cannot be overlooked.
It is essential that you have access to a physical map for one thing, yes yes, we all have GPS on our phones now, but relying on electronic devices always introduces its own element of risk. Portable generators and battery packs are common. However they won’t help you if the device suffers serious damage, or even becomes lost, so always have a physical map in your car.
2. Be Prepared for All Terrain
Australia is an advanced, industrialized nation and as such its urban environments are served by the kind of modern infrastructure that you would find in Europe or the United States. However, owing to the geography and climate of much of the country, these urban environments are located along the coasts, while the bulk of the land is given over to the arid outback terrain. While much of the outback is served by concrete roads, there is no guarantee. In some areas, these roads are less well maintained, and some are little more than dirt tracks.
These types of road, the ones that are poorly maintained, represent both challenge and opportunity. They can be a challenge if your vehicle struggles with off-road conditions, but they can also be a great opportunity to get out of the car and go exploring. If you are heading away from the urban environment, then you should consider investing in a bike rack. In particular, the bike racks that can be fitted to a towbar, as this makes carrying them with your car much easier.
3. Check Your Car
You will want to be absolutely sure that the vehicle you choose to drive across the country is well maintained and that you aren’t going to get any nasty surprises. To that end, you need to ensure that the tires are kept pumped up, that you are regularly checking your fuel gauge, and that you always have a plan for reaching the next petrol station.
The weather in the Aussie outback is harsh at the best of times and can often change with little to no warning. Make sure that you stay up to date with weather forecasts and prepare yourself, and your vehicle, accordingly. Remember that some of the less well-maintained roads are particularly susceptible to erosion and damage from the elements.
4. What to do in an Emergency
As long as you take the appropriate time to plan and prepare for your trip, the chances of you running into any serious problems are small. However, there is no way of eliminating the possibility of damage completely, and you should, therefore, set off with a plan of what to do should things go wrong.
The first thing to remember does not panic! There is an old saying that calm people live, while panicking people die, and this is very true. In an emergency, the most important thing you can do is to make sure that you keep it together and that you think calmly and rationally about your situation.
If you become stranded, then you should find, or if necessary, create some shelter. The shelter is just as much about keeping the often very bright sun off of you as it is about keeping you safe from rain and wind. You can dig a hole and then move your car over it in order to keep food and drinks cool.
If it starts to get cold, or night is setting in, then building a small fire will keep you warm and will also act as a beacon to alert any passers-by, or flyers over, of your location.
Driving across Australia isn’t something that you should rush into. Make sure that you take the time to prepare for your trip though and you should be fine.