Tips for a safe Australian road trip

Image of a road curving down a hill

Australia Is The Best Place For A Road Trip

Australia is the home of the road trip, our tips will ensure you have a safe and enjoyable Australian road trip.

The great Australian road trip is almost a tradition in this beautiful sunburnt country. Escaping the major cities to explore Australia’s unique destinations is just part of the way of life.

Many Australians don’t blink an eye at doing a huge cross-country road trips. A full day of driving is not unusual to reach some of these beautiful destinations.

Our Australian road trip tips will ensure you have fun and safe journey.

 

Animals

Tourists come from all around the world to Australia, hoping to see some of the iconic Australian animals.

Kangaroos, Wombats and Echidnas are great to see when out hiking or visiting a wildlife sanctuary but they can cause a great deal of damage if they collide with your car.

These animals tend to blend into the landscape due to their color, making them hard to see while stationary.

While driving, scan the sides of the road in the distance and watch for any signs of movement that could be an animal on the move and slow down if necessary.

Avoid driving at dusk and dawn as animals are often active during these times and due to the low light conditions, extremely difficult to see.

Watch out for the street signs advising you’re in a high risk area and be extra alert in these areas.

Image of a pademelon wallaby

Animals Are Dangerous! Watch Out For Them!

 

Regular Breaks/Fatigue

Every two hours, pull over and get out of your vehicle and stretch your legs.

Use this time to have a drink, a bite to eat, splash some cold water on your face and have a walk around.
It’s surprising how much this can refresh and keep you focused on the road.

Major highways and country roads have well signed rest stop areas. These areas allow you a safe area to stop and recharge away from the busy highway.

Even the smallest of country towns will have a rest stop area with public toilet facilities. Many of these towns will have parks or playgrounds, keep an eye out for them if you are travelling with children.

Avoid driving while fatigued. Fatigue is one of the number one causes of road accidents and fatigued related accidents are more likely to be fatal. Avoid driving at night as your body is naturally geared to be asleep at these times. Stop and rest for the night if you begin to feel fatigued. Signs of fatigue include drowsiness, aching muscles, moodiness and blurry vision and many more.

Image of a cars headlights streaking through the night

Avoid Driving During Sleep Cycles Periods

 

Staying Cool And Hydrated

Australia is hot, often exceeding 40° degrees, a few hours of driving in these conditions can really dry you out and leave you feeling fatigued.

Make sure to keep a large supply of cool water to stay hydrated.

I often drive with my 3 litre hydration bladder, as bottled water can be expensive in some outback petrol stations.

The hose is long enough that you can reach it and take a drink, without taking your eyes off the road.

It stores enough water for all the family to share.  Fill with ice cubes or freeze the night before to keep it cold during a long road trip.

 

Staying Fueled

The Australian outback is huge, the distance between petrol stations can be lengthy, often hundreds of kilometers apart. Topping up your fuel regularly is a great option, always keep the fuel tank full and enjoy a stress free road trip.

Image of a road following a picket fence

Country Roads Offer Some Great Scenery

 

Petrol Prices

Outback petrol stations can be hundreds of kilometers from anything.  Fuel prices can rapidly rise compared to major cities and suburbs. Be aware of this and budget your fuel costs accordingly. 20 to 50 cents per liter higher is possible.

If you plan to shop and cook your own food during your road trip, consider the shop a docket scheme. Most major grocery stores have an affiliated fuel chain which gives discounted fuel when you show the voucher printed on the docket. You are required to spend over a specific amount from the grocery store, which varies from store to store. Generally this will save around 4 to 6 cents per litre and can quickly save you money if you a doing a large road trip.

 

Lights On

On long stretches of country roads, vehicles tend to blend into the distance, making them hard to see, even during the day. Driving with the parking lights on at all times can increase the long-range visibility of your vehicle.

Oncoming vehicles are easily able to see and identify you from a distance. Being identified from a distance is important as it stops oncoming traffic from pulling into your lane to overtake slower vehicles in front of them.

Image of a road corner covered in trees

Windy Roads

 

Dirty Vehicles

Visibility is important, before leaving on your road trip, give your car a good wash.
Ensure the wiper fluid container is full. You’re car, of course, will be dusty and dirty by the time you finish your road trip.

 

Road Types/Conditions

While most of Australian roads are bitumen sealed and reasonable safe to drive. Certain types/conditions of road types can be dangerous. The following roads types/conditions should be taken slow and steady:

 

Corrugations

These form on dirt roads and are usually pretty visible to the naked eye. These closely spaced high and low troughs can bounce a car so regularly and cause a hydroplane effect. Particularly dangerous on front wheel drive vehicles as the hydroplane affect will remove the ability to steer the vehicle.

 

Black Ice

This virtually invisible form of ice that can be found on roads in the colder or mountainous areas of Australia. Risks include skidding and loss of traction. Avoid driving early morning and night.

 

Clay

Some country roads are nothing more that graded dirt and sometimes contain high clay content. While generally fine to drive on, wet clay can be slick and cause slipping and loss of traction.

Image of a yellow slippery when frosty sign

Slippery

 

Pulling Into Traffic

You’ll no doubt want to pull over and photograph some of the beautiful Australia scenery while on your road trip. No road trip would be complete without some amazing photos to add to your travel photo collection.

Once you’ve got that perfect shot and it’s time to hit the road again, be sure to check traffic before pulling back onto the highway. The highway speed limit often exceeds 100 km/h, it’s safer to allow oncoming traffic to pass and ensure the road is clear before pulling out.

My rule of thumb is that if you can’t pull out and get up to the speed limit before the on coming traffic, without having them slow down, wait. Huge road trains weighing hundreds of tonnes can take a huge distance to come to a stop, it is much safer to allow them to pass before continuing your road trip.

 

Tyre Pressure And Condition

Before leaving on your road trip, perform a visual check on the tyres for wear and tear. Ensure all tyres are  inflated to the manufacturer’s recommendations. You never know when you may need to perform some emergency braking to avoid a road obstacle.

 

Using Trucks

Animals collisions can be a concern when driving in animal dense areas. Finding and driving a safe distance behind a semi-truck can increase your safety. These huge road trains are equipped with large bull bars that can reduce the risk of animal impacts.

 

The “Aussie Salute”

One of the great parts about getting out into the Australian Outback is how friendly the locals are. Every passing car will more than likely give the “Australian Salute”. A quick way of saying hello. Act like a local and give the one fingered steering wheel salute.

Image of a raised finger on a steering wheel

Aussie Salute

 

Got any road trip tips to share?

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