Hire a 4WD or 2WD vehicle for the Australian desert for an ultimate Outback experience
Plan your refueling stops. There are enough roadhouses available, but you should not miss any of them along the way
If you don't have a fresh water tank in the car, take 10 litres for emergencies so you don’t get thirsty in the desert. You will also be able to brush your teeth and wash your face with it.
You will need additional 2-3 litres of drinking water per day
Take a day’s worth of snacks / food in case you don't find any food shops along the way. Make sure you bring foods that don't spoil quickly, such as canned food, bread, fruit, biscuits, etc.
Before you drive into the desert, make sure you have a full tank as you never know when you will reach the next petrol station.
Never leave your 4WD or 2WD car in the event of a breakdown. It's easier to find a car than a person in the Aussie Outback. Just wait in the car until another car passes by so they can drive you to the nearest auto repair shop and arrange for towing. This may take a few hours, but the roads are completely passable
A spare wheel will save you from the most common breakdown: a flat tyre
Check the road conditions before going off-road driving on the so-called "Dirt Roads". When it rains, the roads might get closed. (see website link)
Ask about the current road conditions and road safety at a roadhouse (King's Canyon Resort for the Red Centre Way / Mereenie Valley). But don’t feel intimidated by the answers you get as many tourists who drive through this area will give you an "answer that fits all". To be on the safe side, always ask the Australians.
4x4 driving tips for the Outback Australia: You will mainly drive on sandy roads, but the sand is not too deep. It feels a bit like driving on snow (especially when skidding), except you can brake faster on sand. You can often drive 70-80 km / h. You will also drive over stones often. Try to avoid driving over sharp stones and larger pieces, which can cause damage to your car.
Driving at night is no problem at all, even if people advise against it. It’s a good idea as you can make most of the time you have in the Outback. There isn't much you can do after the sunset in the Outback so driving isn't such a bad idea after all.
If you’re going to drive at night, just keep your speed down and watch out for kangaroos, horses, cattle, and camels. We recommend that you keep your speed on the highway and off-road at 90 km/h, (off-road depends on the road conditions). Don’t start off by driving slowly at 90 km/h and if you don’t see any animals for a couple of hours you raise your speed to 110 km/h. Never take that chance as animals can turn up on the road at any time; so to be on the safe side, always drive slow.
At sunrise and sunset, always keep your speed between 80-90 km/h without exception. These are the times wildlife is most active and there will definitely be animals on the road.
If you want to feel totally safe, take a two-way radio with you. Although this won’t be necessary as by the next day or within 3-4 hours, a tourist will pass by. What’s more, you will only have mobile phone signal in cities and rest stops and only through the mobile operator, Telstra.
4x4 Off Road Driving Tips
Turn your car’s air vent ON when driving on dusty roads, otherwise you will have all the dust particles in the car
For oncoming vehicles drive slowly at 70 km/h because of falling rocks and make sure you close the window
For road trains, it's best to pull up at a corner and leave plenty of room for them to pass. These huge transporters take a long time to pass and throw a lot of stones around so make sure you close your car’s windows
When overtaking, close the window and make sure you hoot your horn or flash your lights so the other driver sees you. Keep your distance from the other car upon overtaking
Falling rocks: possible danger for you and the other vehicle as you overtake. Make sure you leave enough space before making a left turn again.
The car's oil should be checked every 1000 km, even if the car rental provider doesn't tell you to do this. After all, the last thing you want to happen during your driving experience is a breakdown.
Checklist for 4WD Cars
Shovel on board for the bush toilet and fire
Rope and bucket for getting water
Lighter and BBQ fire lighters (you can always cook using firewood, especially during the dry season)
Enough drinking water
Fresh water and filled up gas cylinder
Find out what the longest route without a petrol station is and whether you have enough fuel for the car. The best way is to ask about the car’s fuel consumption from the car hire provider. Best to take a spare fuel canister with you just to be on the safe side.
A spare tyre is important
Tire Pressure Gauge: 20PSI is the ideal tyre pressure to drive in sand. Therefore you may have to slightly deflate your tyres with the help of a special device.
The hire car should be selected according to the number of passengers. Just because the car hire provider specifies a maximum number of people, it does not mean they are right. A vehicle that can accommodate, for example, up to 6 people, is much more comfortable with just 4 people; otherwise it can feel compact, especially with the luggage that each passenger brings with him/her.
If you have an additional sub-tank, do not forget to fill it with some gas before embarking on your Outback adventures and return it empty at the end. As a rule, only the main tank needs to be fully filled up when hiring a car.
You may use the emergency personal locator that sends signal via satellite (from GME AccuSat Pocket Series, for example). When activated, your location will be sent through satellite and help will be provided. Use only in life-threatening situations.
You may bring a walkie-talkie radio with you
Get a Hema 4WD map for your offroad 4x4 car driving route. This app contains the Australian Outback map as well as Australia's other maps including all the relevant information, main attractions, petrol stations with diesel and unleaded, their opening times, water, shops, camping sites, electricity, etc.