As time has passed, cities have spread, and the world has seemingly got smaller. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is our desire to explore. To escape the pressure of everyday and just be. The search for the secluded beach, or empty river has seen adventurers head deeper into the unknown.
Once considered something for only the most seasoned and capable travellers, remote destinations are now atop of almost every off-road travellers bucket list.
And with the advancement in technology, vehicles and even infrastructure, it’s more achievable than ever before. You do still need to be prepared, but you may not need all the skills that pioneers once possessed.
As I gain more experience and knowledge, I have continually refined how we pack, what we pack and even how we drive. So below are a few of what I think are the most critical things to understand before you head away from suburbia.
One of the most well known tracks in Oz…Old Telegraph Track, Cape York, Australia
Take the time to have a look at the area you are planning to head to. What are you going to need to carry? How much fuel? How much water? How long is it between towns with supplies? If you don’t need 200L of fuel…don’t carry it.
You do need to carry spare food and water. For food, we make sure we always have a few tins of things in the kitchen and 1 days’ worth of extra meals, but for water we do always err on the side of caution. We have found that we need at least 7L/day for the 5 of us. So for example, if we are going for 5 days between supplies, then we’d carry 50L of drinking water. Our washing/cooking/etc water is always separate to this.
Maps are next. Paper or electronic? Well this is something that’s extremely personal. We use electronic maps (MudMaps). I have 2 main reasons. First, this app allows me to download for offline use all the maps in their catalogue for that area. This can be up to 3 or 4 different maps. Just make sure you have downloaded everything you’ll need though, otherwise once you’re out of data range they are useless. The second is that if your device is GPS enabled, then it shows where you are on the map (just beware – we have found this to be +/- a kilometre or so).
Paper maps are still incredibly useful, but you need to pay a lot more attention as you travel using these.
Now you’ve sorted your maps…look at your route. This is where I have to say that I do “wing it” a fair bit when we travel…but I always have a general idea of what roads we are planning to travel and then research the possible conditions before we leave. Social media, especially local government pages, are great for this. They always have regular updates, especially for closures.
The other reason you need to have a general idea, is to ensure you have the right passes and permits for access. A lot of the time you will need to have at least downloaded a copy of these, if not printed them.
“Once considered something for only the most seasoned and capable travellers, remote destinations are now atop of almost every off-road travellers bucket list.”
Take the time to ensure your vehicle is ready for your trip. It’s your lifeline so make sure it’s ready. If you can’t do it yourself (and I’m not a mechanic so I fall into this category) then take it to someone to get it checked over. Worst case…get it serviced before you head off.
Know your vehicles limitations and what you plan to do with it. Then build it for that purpose.
I built the cruiser to be an off-road tourer, not a rock hopping machine…so we have to sometimes modify our journeys to suit. And you should be no different.
If you’re planning on doing the endless kilometres on corrugations, then think about tailoring your suspension towards dealing with the fatigue created by those roads rather than lift and flex.
Now that it’s ready to travel…what could you break? What spares do you need to carry? You’re not going to be able to take everything, but with a bit of planning, and roadside ingenuity you should be able to at least get yourself to the next town. Get a workshop manual…no google where you’re going.
Tools are also worth mentioning. No point having the parts if you can’t put them in. Again…you can’t take them all so pick tools that can have multiple uses.
Another thing to consider is recovery gear. If it all turns bad, can we get out? Especially if you are travelling solo.
Still not too sure…check out the list of gear we carry when we are away.
Shock fade is really common with heavy loads and corrugations. Remote reservoir suspension allows for more oil, so better cooling. This reduces shock fade and increases control.
Embracing technology. For me this is the smartest option when it comes to remote communications.
We have the usual UHF radio in the truck, which for us is just standard day-to-day communication as we travel. We also have a Telstra mobile phone, boosted by a Cel-Fi Go unit. Why Telstra…well they do have better signal once you leave the capital cities. But, once you are more than a few kilometres from a remote town, they are pretty well useless.
So we carry 2 additional devices with us. The first being a Satellite Phone. Due to the amount of travel we do, we bought ours, but you certainly don’t need to outlay the money if it’s going to spend most of its life in a drawer. There are plenty of options available to hire these units for just the duration of your trip.
We also carry a PLB (Personal Location Beacon). This is our “emergency” only device. They are small and cheap considering what they bring to the table.
They are required to be registered with the AMSA, but this is free. It also allows you to detail your trip, so should you activate your beacon, it helps emergency teams know how many potential causalities they are dealing with, so they can dispatch the appropriate response team.
The link below has some really useful info in regards to these devices.
The next thing on my list is medical issues. Cuts, breaks, bites. How are we going to deal with these?
We are pretty lucky that my work means I have to stay current with first aid as well as CPR training, but for a lot of people this isn’t something they are exposed to. I strongly reccomend that if you’re going to travel, take the time before you leave to attend a First Aid course.
When it comes to first aid kits they are all so different. We travel with a pretty comprehensive kit. The kit has enough in it to cover all the general cuts and scratches, but it also contains the specific gear needed for the more serious events like burns and snake bites. Considering help can be a few hours away…I personally think this is one area you are better to be over prepared.
Next, look at medications. For us, this was pretty simple. We have the general pain and fever stuff for both adults and kids as well as the stronger stuff for emergencies, but we also carry antihistamines, as well as back up Ventolin.
If you need daily medication, make sure you carry at least a couple of weeks spare.
Finally, for me it is knowing that if something happened to us, that I am comfortable that the kids could get help for themselves. And for this we simply walk through what we’d do every trip.
We run through how to use all the devices, to stay with the car as long as it’s safe (Or if not to make sure to take the PLB and sat phone with them), even making sure they stay out of the sun and monitor their water usage. We’ve also talked through thinking about making a signal fire, but to consider if that will add more risk than benefit.
It might seem anal, and to some un-necessary, but for us, what’s the point of having everything to get you help if everyone in the vehicle doesn’t know how to use it?
The middle of the Nullarbor
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