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Travelling in the Outback

Carry plenty of water (2-3 litres/person/day), food and fuel (allowing for 30-50% extra for sandy areas) plus enough food and water for an additional week just in case. You must plan to be totally self-sufficient when venturing away from towns.

Avoid travelling during or just after wet weather as dirt roads will quickly become impassable and can take weeks to dry out. Driving on wet unsealed roads causes damage which takes thousands of dollars to fix. Check with local authorities on road closures and road conditions or you could be facing a large fine.

Make sure your vehicle is in first class mechanical condition and carry a good kit of tools, essential spare parts (hoses and belts), two spare tyres and a tyre repair kit. Know how to check your vehicle over and make basic repairs. Learn how to bush weld using two car batteries in series.

Don't drive at dawn, dusk or night because this is when stock and wildlife are most active.

Take everything you brought in, out. Don't bury rubbish because it may not stay buried. Don't use cleaning agents or other pollutants in or near waterways or water stores and make sure your toilet is as far away as possible.

Respect the rights of Aboriginals, pastoralists and other landholders. Though a road or track may be marked on the map, it doesn't mean you have automatic access. Obtain the necessary permits and contact pastoralists prior to your trip or as soon as you enter their property. Leave gates, bores, windmills and tanks as you find them.

Summer temperatures can be scorching and even midday in winter can be hot enough. Always drink plenty of water and wear a hat and sunscreen to avoid dehydration and sunburn.

In the event of a breakdown, stay with your vehicle. A vehicle is easier to find than a person and can offer more shelter than the desert scrub.

Do an accredited first aid course and carry a comprehensive first aid kit which is easy to access. Learn some survival skills such as how to contact the RFDS and police using your radio, bush navigation, and collecting water.

Driving on rough roads makes you especially vulnerable to driver fatigue. Take regular breaks and swap drivers a couple of times a day if possible.

It's imperative that you have a backup system involving a person at "home base" who you regularly contact and advise of your travel plans. Give them a map of the area where you are going and a phone number list and instructions as to what to do and who to contact if you stop calling.

Constantly be aware of where you are. Don't always rely on a GPS to tell you your position. A simple power failure shouldn't be the difference between knowing your position and being absolutely lost.

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