4WDing The Australian Outback - The Ultimate Adventure

By Byron Jonas

Of all the adventure trips in the world, 4WDing the Australian Outback must be the one that offers the most experiences. With over 70% of Australia's land area lying in areas designated as Outback and/or desert, there are incredible rock formations, meteor impact sites, desert rivers, deep gorges and more. Covering an area of approximately 2.5 million square miles it's a big place to get lost in.

Because it covers such a wide area, it is host to a great variety of wildlife, including most of the world's most venomous snakes and poisonous spiders. Finding out how to deal with bites from them could be a useful thing to do.

It is also useful to learn about maps and compasses, even if you are normally reliant on your SatNav. With only about 3% of the population living in the outback, you could be hundreds of miles from the next human.

Go-it-alone adventuring may sound fantastic, but it is the most dangerous way to explore the Outback. Unless you have had plenty of experience of driving in all kinds of desert conditions, can repair any problems with a vehicle, deal with any kind of medical emergency and have a big enough vehicle to carry a full range of spares and other necessary equipment it's probably not a good idea to try it.

With the exception of a few highways that criss cross the continent (e. G., Adelaide Darwin, 'The Stuart Highway' or Adelaide Perth, 'The Eyre Highway'), most outback roads are unmetalled and can only be attempted with a 4WD vehicle. Most car hire companies specifically exclude the use of the vehicle on unmetalled roads.

Luckily for would-be adventurers there are many tourist agencies offering a variety of experiences. They range from total packages, where everything is included and all details taken care of by the agency. All you have to do is bring your personal belongings, sit back and relax. For those who prefer a more 'hands-on' approach there are what are called 'tag-along' tours, where you can bring your own vehicle and 'tag' onto the back of an organized tour.

Accommodation provided by tour organizers varies from hotels to camping or staying in shearer's quarters. Generally the 'softer' the tour, the better the accommodation. Tag-along tours provide the most authentic Outback experience, with foraging for bush-tucker, preparing and eating it, as well as visits to aboriginal villages.

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