The outback can be a truly beautiful place to visit, with sights that you just won’t find anywhere else in the world. But, despite that beauty, there’s no denying that the outback is often a dangerous place, and there are some precautions that you should take before heading out into the sun and the heat. To help you out a little, I’ve put together this blog with a few useful tips for when you’re out in the outback.
Take More Than Enough Water
More than anything else, water can be the deciding factor in how well you are going to do when you’re in the outback. To be very frank, if you go out there without enough water then the chances of you coming back in good shape (or at all) are slim.
You might find various sources recommending 2 litres of water per person, per day, but the reality of the heat and direct sunlight of the outback means that you’d be better off using 10 litres as a baseline. There really is no such thing as too much water, so you should take as much as you can easily transport. You’ll be glad of it if something goes wrong.
Taking the time to plan out your trip to the outback in advance is really important. You should plan to be out there at the coolest point of the day when the sun is still a little forgiving. This will help you to enjoy your time more and reduce the risk of things like heat stroke. I’d also recommend picking up some specialised gear, especially a fly head net – you have no idea how maddening Australian flies can be when they start congregating in massive swarms around your head.
Before heading out, you should stick to the basic rule of travelling in potentially dangerous locations – let someone know exactly where you are going, your route and when you expect to be back. This is important, because if no one knows you’re missing, then no one is going to come looking when something goes wrong!
Speak to Locals and Get Accurate Maps
Once you’ve decided on where you’d like to go, and you’ve done all the usual preparation for time in the outback, you should invest in some really high-quality maps of the area. Don’t skimp on the cost to save a few dollars, you’ll want to be able to tell exactly where you are and how best to get to different places – especially how close you are to the nearest civilisation. These maps will also show the types of roads you’ll be driving on so that you can make sure that you’re in an appropriate vehicle and don’t try to go down a dirt track in a Ford Fiesta.
In addition to getting some accurate maps, it is well worth speaking to some locals of the area before heading out into the wilderness. Road conditions can change pretty drastically, and there is no way of guaranteeing how well maintained a road will be, by just looking at a map. Speaking to locals will give you a better indication of the exact conditions that you can expect and will also prepare you for any particularities about that area.
Know What To Do When Things Go Wrong
Proper preparation and planning will help you to avoid potential problems, but sometimes things will just go wrong, and it’s important that you know what to do when they do. You should return to your vehicle and stay as close to it as possible at all times – it’s much easier to spot a vehicle than a person and it has the added benefit of giving you some shade from the sun. Someone should know when to expect you back, so you should have a good idea of when you can expect to get help. Your priorities should be on looking after yourself until that time.
Preserve your water, but make sure that you are still drinking enough. Don’t exert yourself during the hot hours of the day. Create a signal if possible in the form of a fire, bright stones or lift the bonnet of your vehicle to show that you’re in need of help. Surviving in the outback is all about knowing how to wait until help arrives, try to resist the urge to walk back to civilisation – this is how most people get lost and you will burn through your supplies much faster (you can’t exactly carry more than a few litres of water when you’re walking either).
The possibility of something going wrong might worry you, but that is a good thing! Being worried means that you are more likely to prepare yourself properly and that is the key to prevention and survival. I recommend reading a few specialised outback survival guides for more useful tips.
The outback is certainly dangerous, but its beauty is unrivalled, and you won’t regret a moment of the time that you spend out there.