Preparing for an outback roadtrip 

29 August 2023

Got your sights set on an outback adventure? Preparation can help you face Australia’s rugged terrain and isolated roads, so you can relax and enjoy the journey.

Planning your route

Researching road conditions and closures

This is one of the most crucial aspects of an outback road trip. Use official government websites to research the regions you’re travelling through. Phone and internet reception can be patchy, so you can’t always rely on your mobile’s GPS. Packing a good old-fashioned paper map is essential.

Planning for fuel stops

You’ll find petrol stations or roadhouses in almost every town on the major highways, but most operate during standard business hours – that is, roughly between 9 am to 5 pm. In more out-of-the-way places, they may be closed on the weekends.

In remote areas, diesel may be more readily available than petrol. To be on the safe side, you should travel with extra fuel in an approved container.

Considering weather and climate

The outback weather conditions are harsh. Some challenges you might find are:

  • dust storms
  • rainstorms, and
  • intense heat.

Before you set out for your next destination, check weather conditions on official websites.

Find more weather and climate information at:

  • tourist information centres
  • police stations, and
  • local rangers.

Tips for choosing the right vehicle

Factors to consider 

You can probably explore dry, flat and fully sealed roads driving a regular car. But if you’re going offroad and into muddy creeks, a 4WD is more appropriate.

Get your car insured

Preparing your vehicle for the trip

Visit your local mechanic a few weeks before you head off to ensure you have enough time to get any repairs done.

You should also conduct your own inspection. Make sure you:

  • check the oil
  • charge the battery
  • look over the suspension, and
  • tighten any loose screws or bolts.

Essential gear for an outback road trip

Tools and spare parts

To help determine what spare parts to take on your trip, consider the age of your vehicle and what has or hasn’t been changed recently. It’s also important to factor in the weight your car can carry.

Some tools that may be helpful are:

  • spanners
  • sockets
  • wrenches
  • screwdrivers, and
  • pliers.

Spare parts to consider taking:

  • a second spare wheel and tyre
  • fan belts
  • fuel filter
  • oil and oil filter
  • radiator hoses, and
  • duct tape and zip ties.

Clothing and footwear

The outback is full of contrasts, so be ready for extreme heat but also freezing cold. Items you may consider packing include:

  • a broad brimmed hat
  • lightweight and warm layers
  • a fly net, if travelling during warm months.

Essential food and water

Food delivery isn’t as common in the outback as it is in the cities, so be prepared.

  • Pack freeze-dried fruits and non-perishable and canned food to keep you going for a few days.
  • Have at least 20 litres of emergency water in case of a breakdown.
  • For your daily travels, bring five to seven litres of water per person per day.

Preparing for emergencies on the road

Planning for breakdown and repairs

  • If you car breaks down, you should stay with your vehicle.
  • Ensure you have a way to contact someone in an emergency.
  • Bring your toolkit and spare parts.
  • Don't panic; cars break down. You’ll also probably have people stopping to offer you help.

Carrying a first aid kit

First aid kits are essential when you’re hours away from the nearest town. Your kit can help treat injuries until you get proper help.

Understanding the importance of communication

Mobile phone coverage in the outback is limited. Satellite phones are probably the most reliable way of communicating in the bush. They are available for hire if you don’t want to purchase one.

UHF radio is a good option for general road communications, but you can’t rely on them in remote areas.

Staying safe in remote areas

Being aware of local wildlife

  • Respect the local animals by keeping a safe distance and not interfering with their natural behaviour.
  • Read signs and take precautions. For example, avoid camping near water sources that attract crocodiles or snakes.
  • Be aware of the risks of driving at night. Animals such as kangaroos and wallabies are more active during this time and are a significant road hazard.

Understanding basic survival skills

  • If you don’t know, learn to navigate using a map.
  • Knowing how to build a shelter can help you stay warm and dry.
  • Knowing how to build a fire can help keep you warm and cook food.
  • Learning how to signal for help using a mirror or whistle can help rescuers locate you more quickly in case you need it.

Don’t forget to insure your car

When you’re in the great outdoors, it’s crucial to be prepared for the unexpected. Before you hit the road, explore GIO’s Car Insurance to find an option that suit your needs. Be mindful that there are some circumstances where you may not be covered – like if an incident occurs while driving off-road. For full coverage details, please refer to the relevant Product Disclosure Statement.

Explore GIO Car Insurance

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Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as GIO. Read the Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance. The Target Market Determination is also available.This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.

The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.