The Huge Distances
Knowing we’re on the world’s largest island is one thing, but chasing the half-way point to Broken Hill, six hours out from Sydney, is to understand. Experienced Aussie travellers come to respect these distances, instinctively knowing when to establish camp, and when to pass around the Minties and press on. Afterall, sustainability is the key to the long haul!
Maintaining roads across vast distances through sparsely populated regions has its challenges, especially when you consider our weather extremes. The truth is, most outback roads are either unsealed or simply single-lane bitumen, but those among us wise to the woes of corrugations know to build in contingencies into our schedules.
It’s hard to believe it until you’ve encountered one, but a multi-carriage road train will muster great speeds on the open plains, with their sheer power and volume rocking you to the core. Make no mistake, even the steeliest among us take heed when we sense one of these monsters thundering down the line; your best bet is to pull over and give it with a wide berth.
Many of us who have spent any time out on the open road have experienced close-calls with wildlife. Roos and emus, in particular, are known to dart in front of on-coming vehicles without hesitation. Experience tells us travelling during the day minimises the risk, or in the very least, slowing down at dusk and dawn.
Outback conditions are tough but life persists, evidenced by the wildflowers that paint our ‘moonscapes’ at the mere hint of rain. Then there’s the flora that springs to life after decades waiting for the optimal conditions, delighting even the most seasoned nomads.
Many of us respect weather extremes, but the pace at which conditions change can catch inexperienced travellers off guard. Take the outback, it’s not uncommon for intense 40-degree highs to plummet to sub-zero temperatures after dark. Sudden downpours can wreak havoc, too, especially when you consider the make-up of our soils, which is why most overlanders think twice before establishing camp on a dry creek bed.