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The Outback Emergency and Survival Kit Every Aussie Driver Needs

09 Mar 2021

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Having car problems and getting stranded in the middle of the Australian Outback is far more common than you think. Dramas depicting motorists coming to a spluttering stop, broken down and unprepared to spend a long hot day or chilly night in the elements are commonplace. And maybe it’s because of these movies that we figure “she’ll be right mate, that kind of stuff only happens on the big screen”... but it doesn’t.

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Every adventurer knows that you don’t have to be very far away from civilisation or deep into the bush to get yourself into a decent amount of trouble. Australia is vast, so it’s highly possible to get stranded for the night while driving through one of the many areas that have no cell reception. If you are doing a genuine Outback trip, you have to be prepared because retail stores are few and far in between if you’ve forgotten something important.

At the end of the day, the strangest accidents can happen in the most inconvenient places to even the most prepared people… so it’s probably best to get your ‘Plan B’ organised so you don’t become one of those stranded roadside statistics.

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What we would take on an outback 4WD adventure

1.  Water. Keep an emergency stash of water in your vehicle that you don’t normally drink from every day (ie. not your daily water bottle). The general rule of thumb; is the deeper you are going into the bush, the more water you will need. Keep 20 litres in the car for break down emergencies, and an extra 5 - 7 litres per person per day.

2.  Food. Enough non-perishable food for each person for two days.

3.  First Aid Kit. If you buy a pre-packaged one, inspect it for all the things you will need: band-aids, antiseptic cream, broad-spectrum antibiotic, insect repellant, pain killers, sunblock, triangle bandages, strapping tape, compression bandages.

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4.  Some electrolyte mix

5.  Supplies to start a fire (make sure you know the fire danger and restrictions in your area). A lighter, a box of matches and some firelighter blocks could make your night a lot more comfortable.

6.  A tarp for shade or a handy groundcover

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7.  A blanket

8.  Clothes: some spare clothes suitable for hot and cold environments. Insulated jacket, waterproof outer layer, a beanie, a peaked cap

9.  Toolkits: check your car toolkit to make sure you have everything you need to change a tyre and make sure you have some spare parts; fuses, spare globes, fan belt and assorted engine hoses. Also, bring some extra tools; wrench, screwdrivers, zip ties, hammer/mallet. Double check your spare tyre is inflated before embarking on your trip.

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10.  A large torch or headlamp

11.  A mini solar panel charging device

12.  A decent Leatherman / Swiss Army Knife

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13.  A long-handled shovel.

14.  A loud whistle

15.  Communications: consider a 2 way HF radio or a satellite phone if you are going into the remote outback. A large flare may also be handy (just be wary of the fire danger in your local area.) In some regions 2 way HF radios are compulsory, research the surrounding locations before travelling

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16.  Detailed maps and a compass.

17.  Fuel: A couple of 20-litre jerry cans of spare fuel would not go astray

18.  If traveling on sand you will need a sand flag

19.  Any travel permits for national parks you may enter.

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It’s always better to be overprepared than the person who made headlines for outback tomfoolery. Your outback emergency and survival kit will vary depending on your destination, how far away from townships you are travelling and how long you plan to be away - so make sure you do your homework before you go so you can be prepared for anything.

Some great sites with valuable information:

Royal Flying Doctor Service - https://www.flyingdoctor.org.au/qld/news/outback-survival-tips/

Australian Explorer - 

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service - https://blog.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/6-tips-for-surviving-in-the-outback/

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment - https://www.environment.gov.au/land/rangelands

Tourism Australia - https://www.australia.com/en-gb/things-to-do/nature-and-national-parks/outback-experiences.html