What you definitely need to pack. Important rules when driving on Aussie roads. We have compiled some valuable tips for your tour in Australia:
To be on the safe side book the car of choice well in advance. This way you will have more choice, as the range of vehicles available is wider. If you book late, you run the risk of not being able to book a one-way hire car for the desired route. Apart from avoiding disappointment, you can also save money, as often the prices go up for last minute rentals in view of the limited number of free vehicles remaining.
I’ll pack my backpack and grab ...... whatever you do only take the most essential items, because stowage space is limited. Of course, it does depend on whether you are hiring a car or camper. On camper trips, don’t forget it can get a bit nippy at night in the outback. Make sure you have some warm clothing and sleeping bag on your check list. Remember to pack only what is essential. We recommend taking a big backpack with plenty of side pockets. A hard-shell suitcase is not advisable. In addition to the usual items of clothing and utensils, consider taking the following:
- Good shoes – for walkabouts in the outback ankle-high boots are best – good against snake bites!
- Good camera with spare batteries and memory cards
- A USB car charger for camera and phone
- Comprehensive first-aid kit
- Copies of all important travel papers and identity documents
- LED flashlight or headlamp (most camping sites have no lighting at night)
- Adapter for Australian power sockets
Simply setting off whenever you want with no destination in mind. Enjoying absolute freedom. That’s all well and good. But you should have a rough plan of the route you want to take. Otherwise you might end up getting lost in the wilderness and lose precious time driving around aimlessly. The signage in cities (as in Europe) can sometimes be very unhelpful. We recommend using a navigation device. Decide on the must-sees for the trip before you leave. And allow good time to see the sights you don’t want to miss.
Take enough time when picking up the vehicle to thoroughly check that the engine and the equipment are in proper working order. Make sure you are given a spare wheel and the appropriate tools for changing a wheel. If in doubt, ask for a demonstration on how to change a wheel. At the local car rental office ask for the 24-hour emergency hotline – this is part of the TUI Cars package. Have a clerk enter all visible defects and dents on the pre-rental vehicle condition report sheet and take a signed copy of the sheet with you.
Have you got enough drinking water? Is there enough fuel in the tank for the route ahead? Is the fridge full? Before heading off for an epic overland trip through the endless outback, it is crucial to check reserves. Never ever venture into the outback without plenty of water and a full tank. Sometimes the next service station or supermarket is hundreds of miles away.
Use each stop to restock essentials. The big supermarkets in towns are much cheaper than small shops outside towns – it is better to stock up generously than run the risk of running out. Also remember, there is no mobile phone reception in the middle of nowhere. In an emergency a satellite phone will work, so it might be a good idea to hire a satellite phone for the trip. Australia's emergency call service number is 000.
As soon as the sun sets and it gets pitch black, if you are outside town, find a good place to park up for the night. Wildlife gets active at night, and you can encounter animals on the road at any time. Accidents happen much more frequently at night. That is why some insurance policies are voided if you have an accident at night.
Stop and sleep when and where the whim the takes you. Unfortunately, officially wild camping is not allowed. The solution: the Wikicamps app. With the app’s GPS function you can find free camping sites, sights, weather forecasts and lots more. The app is free for the first 14 days.
Definitely stick to the speed limits – expect speed checks in built up areas and the fines are high. Speed checks are most frequent in the mornings. The police can log your speed in real time. It’s almost impossible to spot a police car in good time to slow down – wham, you’re already forking out for your first fine.
On unmetalled roads it is best to dial down the speed. This helps prevent damage to the vehicle caused by potholes and kicking up stones. In general, in the outback keep an eye open for wild animals and drive at a reasonable speed. Kangaroos can suddenly hop over the road.
Locals are a mine of information. Speak with Aussies – they are friendly – to find out what to see and do in the area. Simply enjoy Aussie repartee. Their sense of humour is renowned.