With plenty of wild mountains, deserts, rain forests and coastline Australia is the perfect destination to put your four-wheel drive to work. The sheer size of this country means that on Australian 4×4 adventures offer variety, excitement and challenges. To help keep you safe we’ve put together top tips for off-road driving in Australia.
If your idea of an adventure is exploring out of the way places and pushing your driving skills to the limit, then Australia is the destination for you. Although, in a nation where the scenery changes so dramatically, it is necessary to do a little bit of research before you hit the road – or in this case dirt track.
Perhaps you want to explore the arid interior around Uluru (Ayers Rock) and the Olgas visiting famous sites such as King Canyon and the Devil’s Marbles. Or you want to find hidden breaks along the wave bashed coastline of Western Australia, heading of surfing in Margaret River through Perth and Exmouth and on to Broome.
Alternatively you may be interested in getting off-road in the Blue or Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australian Alps of Victoria or the Southern Mountains in Tasmania. Perhaps forest is more your thing, and you’d like to drive through the rainforest of Cape Tribulation, or explore the backroads from Cairns to Darwin.
On Australian 4×4 adventures the world – or in this case country – is your oyster, you can head deep into national parks on the unpaved ‘corrugated’ roads and find sites other visitors miss.
It can include everything from famous trips such as Fraser Island in Queensland or following the backpacker trail – with plenty of off-road side trips of course! – up the east coast. To a real adventure driving off-road from one side of the country to the other.
With so many options fun is pretty much guaranteed. So here is a list of tips for off-road driving in Australia to help you stay safe.
Before you venture off the tarmac, ensure that you have got a good mental image of the underside of your car in your head. Pay particular attention to fragile parts, in particular the fuel tank, gearbox and engine sump. When you know where things are, you will know what to avoid and are less likely to damage the vehicle.
It’s also worth knowing how high the roof rack is. We know that it’s boring but it is advisable to read the manual, that way you will know everything the car is capable of and how to get maximum enjoyment from the experience.
It should go without saying – but we’ll say it anyway – your vehicle should be in good condition before heading off-road. Some states require a Certificate of Roadworthiness (RWC) to drive in Australia, but rules vary and ultimately it is down to you to ensure your vehicle is fit for purpose if heading off-road.
In particular if your Australian 4×4 adventures are not that frequent the battery could go flat. So one of the top tips for off-road driving in Australia is to use an automotive battery charger to ensure it is in good shape. As you don’t want a flat battery while hundreds of miles from civilisation.
If you can, for a second, forget that you hate asking for directions and chat to locals with in-depth knowledge of the area. They will be able to tell you what to expect, what to avoid and what should not be missed.
It is also absolutely essential that you tell someone your route and travel plans. So if you break down there will be someone who will know that they should be expecting you and where they are likely to find you.
It is necessary to have permits to drive in all of Australia’s national parks and any travel across Aboriginal land requires permission. The permit process varies from state to state and they can take up to six weeks to obtain so it’s vital that you plan ahead.
One of the most important tips for overlanding in Australia is to avoid travelling at night. Australia’s wildlife is unfortunately attracted by headlights and a collision with one of the larger species could result in serious damage to your vehicle.
Although the adventure starts when you get off-road, you should be prepared for inevitable encounters with colossal road trains which are particularly common in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia.
These multi-trailer trucks can be up to 50m long. When overtaking, allow at least 1.5km of open road ahead of you and allow plenty of space between you when you pass as displaced air can cause serious buffering.
Its common sense not to head across a desert without any water or to set off on a five day journey into the wild without any food. But every year people die during Australia 4×4 trips because they are unprepared.
So one of the best tips for off-road driving in Australia is to always have an emergency stash of fuel, water and food on top of what you need for your planned activities. Having spare parts for the vehicle and knowing how to fit them is also key to staying safe if things go wrong.
Remember to drive as slowly as possible and as fast as necessary. Avoid gear changes when negotiating difficult terrain and be prepared to admit defeat, back off and try a different route. By driving safely within your and the vehicles limits will help you to avoid accidents.
Follow this advice and your Australian 4×4 adventures should be both fun and safe. Enjoy!
Be sure to check out our overlanding discounts as you could save a fortune on an off-road adventure.