Australian Outback travel is nowhere near as difficult or dangerous as you might think...and the Bulloo Shire is the ideal place to take your first outback adventure.
However, such a drive needs some preparation, but nothing that a little thought and common sense will not fix. Most of the roads that go THROUGH the Bulloo Shire are bitumen, and the notes here will help you enjoy these roads. If you plan on tackling some of the gravel roads, then a little more preparation may be required.
Fuel, Food and Phones: On all our main roads and highways you will find places where you can buy fuel, have a meal and get accommodation. They may not all be open all of the time, but their owners are friendly and helpful. Generally, the furthest between any of our communities (and hence fuel, water and phone service) is about 200 km, which will take up to 3 hours to travel comfortably with allowance made for photo stops and tea breaks, so always make sure you have enough fuel and water to make it to the next one.
Many of these ‘towns' will show on your map looking like any other country town near the coast, but you will often only find a couple of buildings, a few bowsers, several cabins and a small caravan park. Best to make a few phone calls, or speak to someone before you leave one community to make sure you don't get stuck for fuel.
Phone service can be patchy between towns and at the time of writing, Telstra Next G is the only functioning network in the Shire.
Make sure that your car is up to the drive: You won't get stuck without help, all the highways see plenty of traffic. But plenty is relative. Yes, someone will stop and offer help, this is a friendly country. In the Bulloo Shire, helping each other is still important, so we all do it. Because next time it might be us who need that help.
Make sure your car is reliable, and carry at least one good spare tyre. Learn how to change it, and check it before you leave, both pressure and condition.
Have frequent breaks, swap drivers, don't just push on.
Driving at dusk and dawn: is particularly risky, but not impossible if you are prepared to reduce your speed as low as 60 km per hour.
Many roads lead through cattle or sheep stations and are unfenced. Sheep and cattle wander out on the road, and so do kangaroos, emus, goats, pigs and sometimes horses.
Treat the wildlife like pedestrians - Assume they have right of way.
Find out from locals before you leave each town what the prevailing road conditions are, it could save you a lot of heartache or frustration.
If you come across a small floodway, and there are plenty, you will usually see markers at the side of the road indicating the depth. The Bulloo Shire takes crossing safety seriously and will close the roads once they are aware of an issue, but if you're not sure how deep it is, get out of your car and check. If you cant walk through it with the water below your knees, don't attempt to drive through it. Chances are the water level will drop just as quickly as it came up. and you will be on your way after a short wait.
Remember, Road Trains and other trucks have right of way, even if technically they don't… they are very big, very heavy and hard to manouver at speed. If you see a truck coming toward you and you are on less than 2 lanes of good bitumen, slow down to walking pace and pull your vehicle right off the road. Stop if necessary. It will potentially save your windscreen, paintwork, your sanity and more.
Department of Main Roads Queensland – Road Safety
Department of Main Roads – Driving Safely in the Outback
Department of Main Roads – Survive the Drive – Driving Safely in the Outback