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So you want to go out there and experience the thrill and isolation of travelling and camping in remote areas. Well you won’t find too many sealed roads out there, and there won’t be too many bridges over creeks and rivers. Also, if you break down you won’t find the experienced help and supply you find in the cities and bigger towns. So you need to be well prepared and you need to be sensible about your approach to travel in remote areas. The following is a list of suggestions for your preparation. The list is by no means conclusive so complement it with the many other resources out there in Internet world.
The first thing to do is make sure that you and your vehicle are fit and reliable enough to face the rigours of the outback – you are both going to be sorely tested. Make sure you are going to be able to handle lifting and pushing and extended periods of driving and concentration on rough roads. Make sure your vehicle is fit for the trip too. Have it thoroughly inspected by a 4WD specialist and fix up all worn or suspect parts before you leave on your trip. Parts for attention include tyres, batteries, suspension components, fan belts, radiator and heater hoses, etc.
You still have no guarantee that nothing’s going to break, so you need to assemble a pack of common spares such as tyres, hoses, belts, filters and the like. Don’t forget things like auto fuses and light bulbs. One option is to replace hoses and belts with new, and use the old ones as spares. The preference is to take along the new set as spares. To complement your identified spares take a selection of nuts and bolts, hose clips, shackles, duct tape; and of course a broad selection of tools – and a fair sized tarp will come in handy for all sorts of uses.
Remember that the really important parts of your vehicle when driving in hostile environments are your tyres and vehicle suspension. Don’t cut corners on tyres. Worn or inferior quality tyres have no place in rough conditions on corrugated roads and tracks.
Shocks and springs are of course going to take a lot of punishment on outback roads so make sure they are in top condition. If you are towing, then consider some rear suspension air bags. They will help with minimising rear tyre and suspension wear. Of course you should always carry two spare tyres or wheels and the tools and know-how to replace them when necessary.
Other items of interest depending on your circumstances are:
A sturdy but light roof rack. However, store the lighter items on the roof and keep them to a minimum to minimise the risk of roll over. Make sure all items are strapped down securely.
Solid, rated tow hooks front and rear to assist with recovery. Include a heavy duty recovery strap suited to your vehicle. Add a manual or electric winch if you suspect rough and heavy going. Don’t forget the axe and shovel – they should sit in pride of place with a good high lift jack.
Satellite phone and/or UHF radio. There are no mobile phones in the outback and you need some way to make contact in an emergency or even to communicate with other travellers, trucks, and roadhouses over short distances.
There are then some essential items for your well-being:
Be sure to carry a good first aid kit and know how to use it. Your local community will point you in the direction of basic first aid training.
The body cannot survive without water so make sure you carry plenty of it – at least 4 liters per person per day. For emergency food rations carry some high energy sweets and high carbohydrate snacks at least.
Similarly, your vehicle won’t get far without fuel, so top up at every fuel stop and try to carry extra supplies in safe jerry cans.
So that is my take on it – not complete by any means but hopefully a good starter to get you thinking. Safe and happy travels.
All photographs courtesy of Bruce Marshall.
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