June 4

Navigation Tips for the Australian Outback


Wild and rugged, the Australian Outback still retains the feeling of a true frontier destination. Taking the road less travelled has its advantages; you can sit back and admire the sights at your own pace, getting in touch with nature and drinking in the spectacular views. However, there’s a potential downside to getting off the beaten path in this type of remote wilderness. If the car breaks down, you’ll be far from service stations. It’s imperative to choose a suitable vehicle, stock up on supplies, and study your routes carefully before you attempt to navigate the Outback.

australian outback

Image Source: Gazjo/Wikimedia Commons

Choosing a Route

One of the primary challenges is selecting a route. There are long stretches between towns and outposts, so calculate driving distances ahead of time. A recent study showed that trying to locate a destination in unfamiliar territory is a major challenge for Australian motorists. Find out more about forms of navigation assistance as you draw up an itinerary. One of the most iconic routes is the Outback Way, traversing from Kalgoorie to Uluru over a span of five days. It passes through both the Great Victoria and Gibson Deserts, offering stunning views of the Olgas and Uluru. Those in search of a greater challenge may wish to attempt the Canning Stock route, which covers 2,000 kilometres of rather rough terrain. However, drivers are rewarded with ancient rock art and abundant wildlife. The Gunbarrel Highway is suitable for off-roading, taking motorists on a bumpy ride through flood plains, rocky tracks, and corrugated road.

Before you Depart

After choosing a destination, you’ll need to choose a vehicle appropriate for the terrain. If touring along the Canning Stock route or Gunbarrel Highway, be sure to choose a car with 4WD and a high ground clearance. You’ll need to have your car serviced, checking the lights, battery, oil, fuel, and tyres carefully. Stock up on extra food and water, as temperatures can soar and you could be stranded for a couple of days should you break down. Electronic navigation devices are handy, but you could lose service in remote areas or run out of batteries. Always bring a backup paper map and learn how to use it.

Road and Safety Tips

Another factor to consider in terms of navigation is the diversity of road conditions in the Outback. There are rough, corrugated roads as well as those composed of dirt and plenty of hidden potholes. Take it slow, and watch where you’re going. Wildlife is one of the primary reasons to take a road trip through this scenic region, but drivers must be on guard for kangaroos bounding across the road or massive flocks of sheep. Pay special attention at dawn or dusk, which is when wildlife can be active and visibility reduced.

When driving long distance in the desert, the road can appear monotonous to drivers and lead to driver fatigue. By working out an itinerary in advance, mapping out your route carefully, and keeping an eye out for crumbling roads, you can navigate the Outback safely.


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