Driving in the outback has a lot in common with driving anywhere else ... until
something goes wrong. It is easy to forget how vulnerable you are as you
drive along, cocooned in air-conditioned luxury. It's as well to remember that
people die in the outback when their cars break down.
Aboriginals whose ancestors roamed the lands have died of thirst on their
way home from a trip into town. Workers on cattle ranches have got lost and
died of exposure. If they are vulnerable, think of what could happen to you
as a tourist in a strange land.
For the average traveller in an average vehicle:
1 Keep to the bitumen (tarmac sealed roads) whenever possible. There
aren't many and they carry a fair amount of traffic so you shouldn't have to
wait too long in the event of a breakdown or accident.
2 Carry lots of spare water. I use 2-litre plastic milk bottles, which are easy
to pack amongst luggage.
3 Take a mobile phone but don't count on reception everywhere. Better still:
take a satellite phone.
4 Take spare fanbelts, spare radiator hoses and jump leads.
5 Make sure you have enough petrol to get betwee n filling stations. Don't
assume you will come to one before your tank is empty. And bear in mind
that the filling station might be out of your sort of fuel. If that happens go to
the local police station and seek advice. On two occasions, Iâ€™ve had my tank
filled by a man in police uniform with a key to emergency supplies.
6 Never drive off the highway.
7 If you do breakdown, stay with the vehicle unless you are one hundred
percent certain that help is nearby and you can safely walk to it.
8 Don't attempt to walk anywhere in the heat of a hot summer's day.
9 Bear in mind that accommodation is not as easy to find in the outback as
in the more densely populated parts of the country. In some places you have
to provide your own in the form of tent, cara van etc. Plan your outback travel