How Safe in the Outback

Submitted: Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 22:12
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G'day all, A friend of mine in Sydney asked how safe it was to drive the outback alone. He said he was to travel through Qld, NT and WA returning via SA and VIC.
I said I was not sure if I would do it alone, I would prefer to have some in the car with me.
What are your thoughts on this.

Damien.
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Reply By: Ian & Sue - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 22:24

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 22:24
It depends on whether he intends to really go bush or stay on the roads. If he stays on the roads and he is doing all the right things, carrying spares and water etc its no problem. We used to live in the Pilbara and I would often travel down to Perth on my own and I knew plenty of other women would did the same. I quite often will travel out to Tom Price via Newman and Karajini towing the van so that I can pick up my husband from work - saves him coming home when we are going that way anyway -= more days holiday!!

If you do strick a problem - flat tyre, car problem etc you usually dont have to wait long before someone asks if they can help. People are pretty good and I know I would always stop if I thought someone needed assistance.

When I camp out overnight on a long trip - I dont really think twice about it. I have a bit of a scan of who is around if others are camping and would move on if I was in doubt but that has never happened in the remote areas yet. Probably more of a worry nearer a city or large town.

Cheers

Sue
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Follow Up By: Ian & Sue - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 22:59

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 22:59
I should add that by suggesting he wasnt safe going off the track on his own I didnt mean anyone was going to "mug" him. I should have written that it isnt really safe to go into the actual bush alone in case he had a breakdown, an accident, snake bite etc etc - being alone in the bush he may not be able to access help easily.

Sue
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Reply By: Member - Josh (TAS) - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 22:25

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 22:25
I'm not saying I would do it by myself but there are precations you can take to stay safer. When we (me,wife and 2 kids) headed over west then up north we had heaps of people telling us how unsafe the nullarbor plain was to camp on. When we saw someone else pulled over we would camp near them (safety in numbers). Never had any trouble at all. Same up north, everyone told us how dangerous it was. We never felt unsafe but we were careful where and when we camped. Yes there is always the chance something might happen but that chance is everywhere. The only trouble we had in 3 yrs on the road was in a caravan park in a major town.

Josh
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Reply By: Member - Flynnie (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 23:04

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 23:04
Damien

I reckon its pretty safe. Never had any problems either by car or 4X4. The more remote the safer. Never had anything stolen or vandalised, not like in the cities.

If travelling alone I think there is an advantage to being in a trayback. Sort of gets assumed it is a work vehicle passing through and gets left alone.

Have had a few graziers check me out when camped but no problems at all.

Flynnie
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Reply By: Topcat - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 23:12

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 23:12
The main aspect of travelling Australia no matter if it in a populated area or remote is to inform someone (next of kin or a good friend) of your itinery, dates of places that you will be arriving at & most importantly is that if you deviate from this is to update your plans with that person.
If you plan to visit remote areas then the usual precautions such as good communications (HF radio/satphone ect), vehicle in good condition, & good supply of water & provisions incase of emergency.
There is an abundant of information on this forum with more detailed items when travelling in remote areas.l

Cheers

Topcat.
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Follow Up By: equinox - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 23:25

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 23:25
I left a small booklet made up of the following details with the people at home on my 2008 trip. I would sms the details through every night on the sat-phone.

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Looking for adventure.
In whatever comes our way.

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Reply By: Member - Robert R1 (SA) - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 23:26

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 23:26
Damien,

I travelled on my own for three months starting at the end of May last year. I travelled fromMount Gambier in SA up the middle to Katherine, across to Kununurra, The Gibb River Road, Mitchell Plateau, Cape Leveque back to Darwin, Alice Springs, Boulia, Birdsville Innamincka and home and never had a moments worry. I camped in free camps, bush camps wherever possible and met some wonderful people.

Regards,
Bob
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Reply By: Member - Campergirl (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 23:52

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 23:52
Hi Damien

read my Blog about my solo journey through the outback this year.

NSW QLD NT SA NSW

Didn't have any problems anywhere.

:-)



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Follow Up By: Member - Timbo - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 13:55

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 13:55
I'll second that - my first trip was solo and you can also read about that in my blog (though probably not quite as entertaining to read).

It depends where you are planning to go (I mostly stayed on the major routes) and when you are planning to travel (should you need assistance there are more people around during the cooler months but in the height of summer, the only people you're likely to encounter in some areas are backpackers - most likely in greater need of assistance than you!).

I also travelled with at least a week's worth of food and water so if anything did go wrong I knew I had plenty of time to fix it or wait for help. A bit of mechanical know-how (and good tool kit, spare bits, etc.) is also essential IMHO.

Communications are also essential (mobile phones won't work away from major cities/towns) - carry as a minimum UHF (and I also have a hand-held which I take on hikes) but probably should also consider Sat-phone or at least EPIRB (emergency distress transmitter) or HF. UHF radios can be bought reasonably cheaply as can EPIRBS - HF, Sat-phones and EPIRBS can also be hired.

In the "articles" section of this site there is a lot of introductory type of information to get you started...
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Reply By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 00:32

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 00:32
The only problems i can envisage would be breakdowns in remote areas. Will your friend carry a satellite phone for such emergencies? If it is a road with some traffic , everyone will stop and offer help when in a remote area.

We have camped along the Nullabor 'on our own' - however nobody would know if there was one or two people in a caravan or camper anyway. Overnight stopping places have included near the cliffs and in clear view from the road (not in one of the viewing parking bays which usually have some campers in them) as well as back from the road a little way almost hidden in the bushes. On the WA section, we were usually not alone, but well away from other campers in some of the larger rest areas - the ones with tracks running back being our preference. We were never disturbed.

We know a lady whose marriage broke up last year so she purchased a small motor home van and she and her little dog went off. She had no experience of this type of travel at all, and is not young. A couple of days ago she called in briefly, almost home, to say "I did it - I drove right around Australia in seven months".

Motherhen
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Reply By: Mick O - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 01:04

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 01:04
Damien,

we are fortunate to live in one of the friendliest countries on earth. Travel by its very nature will always be a mixture of the planned and the unexpected. Thankfully, because we live in Oz, the unexpected is usually benign or easily managed. Like most things common sense plays a key role. In the middle of the Canning I once met a man who frightened me. It was a concern but a situation that was managed one analysed and grog identified as the culprit. What do they say on the ads these days...be alert....not alarmed. When travelling you are sharing the road with a lot of like minded individuals be they 19 year old back packers or Grey nomads with a 19 year old mind set. You will always meet good people and you will always learn a heap. Best to get out and do it.


Mick.
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trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Reply By: Richard W (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 06:36

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 06:36
Damien,

In really remote areas I travel with at least one other vehicle or give it a miss. In not so remote areas I have travelled alone on many occasions and have not had any dramas.
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Reply By: Bob of KAOS - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 08:09

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 08:09
Damien

I haven't had any safety issues due to dangerous people (other than those in my party ;-). Plenty of times we have been lucky to have had more than one vehicle in very remote situations due to incidents, failures etc.

I'd never go really remote solo. Sure I could radio or phone for help, but how embarrassing and expensive?

Perhaps your friend should watch Wolf Creek, read up on Joe Falconio, and Ivan Milat, just to get him in the right frame of mind.

If he stuck to the main drags he should be fine.
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Follow Up By: Fab72 - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 10:03

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 10:03
Nothing like a bit of sensationalisim Bob. How does this compare to the number of people who get killed or are victims of attempted murders, muggings and bashings everyday in the regional areas?

PETER Falconio (not Joe)= 1 dead, 1 attempted.
Wolf Creek - Fictitionous story loosely based to actual events.
Ivan Milat - Although bodies were taken to the Belangalo State Forrest, most of the actual victims were collected from regional centres or the Hume Highway...hardly outback territory.


You failed to mention Martin Bryant ....... that wasn't exactly in the outback either.

I feel safer in the outback than I do in my home town of Adelaide.
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Follow Up By: Bob of KAOS - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 12:33

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 12:33
Fab72

Are you serious about Wolf Creek being fictitious? I am so relieved if you are right.

Bob
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Follow Up By: Fab72 - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 12:55

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 12:55
Bob...very much so. My mate worked on the production team (assistant director). The story was loosely based around the events of the Ivan Milat murders with a bit of the Peter Falconio stuff thrown in for better dramatisation.

It was basically two seperate events blended together to make it appear worse and more grusome than it was. For example, the finger cutting scene was all fabriacted. There is no evidence that such tortures were involved with either of the events.

To the best of my knowledge (and I read a lot of non-fiction crime stories), Peter Falconio was murdered at the scene and Ivan Milat's victims were murdered after being taken into the forrest, but not by means of torture.

FYI...the actual correct spelling of the place is WOLFE Creek with an E. The WOLF in the title is another fabrication.

Furthermore, most of the filming was done in SA north of Port Augusta. The Milat murders were in Vic. Falconio was in NT and Wolfe Creek is in WA.

I hope this helps you sleep better tonight.

P.S.
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Follow Up By: Fab72 - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 12:57

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 12:57
Ooops...Milat murders were in NSW. Milat was born in Vic. Sorry to all the Victorians on here.
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Follow Up By: Fab72 - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 13:06

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 13:06
Oooops again. Milat was from Guilford NSW...some of his victims came from Vic.
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Follow Up By: ob - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 14:10

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 14:10
Shame Bob shame you should be ashamed of yourself LOL


(:-))

Cheers ob
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Follow Up By: fugwurgin - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 14:33

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 14:33
The suggestion of watching wolf creek and reading up on those other jokers was a good idea to put someone in "the right frame of mind" ie. to be cautious and alert. the facts of the other info is pretty redundant to the question. its also not helpful to compare the amount of murders in regional areas to those of outback australia. its i different set of circumstances, different opportunities etc for crime.
like others have said, be alert not alarmed!


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Follow Up By: get outmore - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 15:50

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 15:50
Wolfe creek is so fictitious in fact it was not filmed even in the same state

for many iof the scenes they just drove back and forwards over the causeway at pt augusta
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Reply By: Member - Damien L (Cairns) - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 09:32

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 09:32
G'day all, I have emailed John to read all this information. Thanks for all your replies. Wolf Crk was one of his concerns. He will be carrying a sat phone and will only be going off track a little bit. He said he has travelled a bit throughout NSW.
I myself will be doing the big trip in 2012 with a friend, not all states but across the top half of Oz.
Thanks again all for your good advice, one can always expect from this Group.

Damien
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Reply By: Wilk0 - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 10:26

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 10:26
Hi Damien,

IMHO you are safe as houses when your in the outback. I personally dont camp closer then 10 kms from a town but that more to do with lights interfering with the view of the stars then worrying bout someone mugging me.

I know some people worry a bit but You are a lot more likely to run into trouble in the city then out in the outback.

Just relax and enjoy the best country in the world.

Cheers Wilko
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Reply By: clasta - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 11:33

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 11:33
Damien
I am a lone female traveller and earlier this year completed a 18 week trip from Sydney to Melbourne, Broken Hill, Adelaide then up the centre to Ayers Rock, The Alice then on to Darwin. From Darwin I went across the top to WA, down the coast and around the south of WA, across the Nullarbor and home via the Eyre Peninsula, Great Ocean Rd and back to Sydney.
I traveled in a campervan, did a bit of free camping in the north of WA, it was too wet in the south. At no time did I feel any concern about being on my own but I am used to traveling on my own.
I did not have any trouble not even a flat tyre so consider I was lucky. My only complaint is that I wish I had unlimited time but work called
Clare
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Follow Up By: clasta - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 12:19

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 12:19
Should read last year I completed a 18 week trip. Forgot we are in a new year Senior Moment
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Follow Up By: Fab72 - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 13:00

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 13:00
Clasta and I thought you did your trip in a DeLorean (alla Back to the Future).
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Reply By: HappyCamper - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 14:01

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 14:01
Having someone along with you can be a PITA because you have to consider what the other person wants to see/do rather than just do your own thing, you also need to know the person 'very' well and have similar wants/needs/expectations from such a trip. I've camped around the entire Aussie coastline (with the exception of the bit from Roper River Bar to Lawn Hill Gorge because the 4 letter 'W' word got in the way), then through the centre, and lots of NSW and Vic, and half a dozen trips to Cape York and never consider taking anyone. Sure it would be nice to have company 'sometimes' but many times on my trips I've met people who took along a 'best' friend as a travel companion and they had a falling out and one departed for home from the nearest airport/coach terminal/etc.

My SIL is one such example and contacted me from the west coast some years ago for help in getting home to the east coast because she and her friend had a huge disagreement about travel plans and all sorts of things. A short notice flight from Perth to Sydney and beyond cost her heaps. These two ladies had been friends for many years and had done quite a few caravan trips together in the past but on this trip it all hit the fan and they still don't speak to each other, years later!! Sad eh??

To be honest I feel the outback is safer than being in suburbia as the only people out there are other campers doing the same as you. A few times I've met lovely people along the way and travelled in convoy with them for a few days but am always pleased to revert to solo travel.

Having said all of the above, when I get a chance to do the CSR I will have to travel with a group because I'm not so stupid as to attempt somewhere this remote, as a solo traveller in a solo vehicle.

A satellite phone has been suggested but I've never bothered. If he is so inclined, he can set up his mobile phone for Google tracker....make sure his plan will cover it.

Bronwyn ;-)

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 15:59

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 15:59
Hi Bronwyn

Can you clarify "Google Tracker" please?

Motherhen
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Follow Up By: Pete Jackman (SA) - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 14:52

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 14:52
I haven't heard of Google Tracker but he might mean Google Latitude which will show the location of a mobile based on which towers it is talking to.

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 14:59

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 14:59
So how could it work in an area you need sat phone coverage? I'm sure others will be interested so hope Bronwyn comes back soon.

Mh
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Follow Up By: Pete Jackman (SA) - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 16:57

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 16:57
It wouldn't, mobile coverage for your network only, but it is free and fairly accurate.

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 17:00

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 17:00
So you mean Pete that it can tell you where you are lost if lost in a Next G area? My GPS can do that.

Mh
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Follow Up By: Pete Jackman (SA) - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 17:44

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 17:44
"So you mean Pete that it can tell you where you are lost if lost in a Next G area? My GPS can do that"

So can my GPS, but I dont carry my GPS on my waist and if I did it would only tell me where I am. With latitude you can see on your phone if friends are nearby:

Google Latitude

Also my wife and friends can log into google and see where I am - this is a screen shot from google a minute ago:

Image Could Not Be Found

Without GPS it is usually good to 300- 500 metres but can get better - the small light blue circle just under my baby pic above is the pool of errors and you can see it is pretty small from my Nokia E63. My blackberry (in for repairs) has a GPS and it is as accurate as my Garmin. It will also pull down a satellite pic of the area if you choose that.

I am out of the office a lot and my clerk uses it to track where I am. The bush princess checks it out mid afternoon to see if I am up the other side of town and will be late home for dinner - or to drop in on my for lunch if we are both in the same location.

And who cares who good or limited it is - it is free if you have a compatible phone.

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 18:41

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 18:41
Hi Pete

Wonderful! Now that sounds like something wives have always wanted - track him down at the pub or his mates when he said he was coming straight home from work. The boss could track all the workers who aren't exactly where they should be. Great for finding what your teenagers are up to. Not a system to be used by those who value their privacy.

Sounds like not that useful outback though.

My GPS and Next G phone both reside in car cradles, but can both be removed to take walking if thought necessary (i know which one would be of no use to me on most walks). The sat phone is a bit heavy for walks but in remote areas where we are unlikely to see many others we really should take it.


Mh
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Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 21:21

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 21:21
Wouldnt be much good in an awful lot of the north and west.

We have spent days without phone coverage so effectively would be off the radar so to speak.

Also across the Nullabor Hours and hours with out any signal.


Sat or Hf is the only guaranteed communication.

Or maybe Spot Messenger.




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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Friday, Jan 15, 2010 at 01:00

Friday, Jan 15, 2010 at 01:00
Absolutely Graham. We were out of Next G phone range for up to two weeks or so (over three weeks when in the Kimberley) at a time up until we got towards the east coast. If there was a hold up could at least phone home on the satellite phone to let the family know we were still alive and would be in touch with them all when we could. They also knew they could get through to us if they had an emergency.

We also needed it when we had a breakdown 200 kms from the nearest roadhouse, where we organised to have parts sent. We needed to know when they were there before driving that distance. Wen they went astray in transit, I used the phone daily to find out what was happening, eventually getting a duplicate order sent to us. Without a sat phone we may have been there forever! Any other time we have been able to improvise and get ourselves out of trouble, but even without using it, knowing we had a sat phone stopped the panic.

It is wonderful wide land out there to see, and most of the good stuff outside of Next G phone range. I love the system Pete described - not for travelling, but i wish I'd been able to pin something like that on my brood when they were teenagers.

Mh
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Follow Up By: Pete Jackman (SA) - Friday, Jan 15, 2010 at 11:29

Friday, Jan 15, 2010 at 11:29
I agree it is usless outside 3G reception - I did say above that it only works where there is "mobile coverage for your network only"

That is why I carry HF radio.

My teenager has it on his phone, but you can turn it off or restrict the shared location to city level only or even choose a spot to be recorded at:

Image Could Not Be Found
(That's 10 Downing Street)

Cheers

Pete
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Reply By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 16:01

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 16:01
The only "man eaters" we have in Australia are crocodiles - so careful camping and walking, and absolutely no swimming in croc country.

Cities are where all the nasty stuff happens.

Mh
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Follow Up By: Sir Kev & Darkie - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 16:06

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 16:06
Mh,

What about all those "Drop Bears" ;)


Cheers Kev
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He was presented with a difficult decision: push on into the stretching deserts, or return home to his wife.

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 16:12

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 16:12
Only if you are a young Swedish lady Kev
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Reply By: 2000 Red Rodeo - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 18:30

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 18:30
As long as you stay clear of Melbourne you should be safe.

Personally the further I am to Melbourne the safer I feel
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Reply By: howesy - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 18:04

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 18:04
Generally as safe as houses unless your talking breakdown related issues off the track.

But give him a copy of wolf creek anyway .
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Reply By: Member - Russnic [NZ] - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 20:59

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 20:59
Safer than you would be in a city.
the sooner I get the wheels rolled out and away from the coast the safer I feel, get away from the black top idiots the safer it gets.
I do take precautions though carrying ample fuel, water, food, you know all the common sense sense stuff. Just in case I have UHF HF (VKS 737) and also keep in touch with family with Email when available. Carry an old Sat Phone as well.
Never had to use any of it for help yet.
If there may be snakes, crocks and them other things that might jump up and bite you in the leg I take care, not so sure about muggers and idiots on the road though.
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Follow Up By: Member - Russnic [NZ] - Friday, Jan 15, 2010 at 09:30

Friday, Jan 15, 2010 at 09:30
I also carry a GPS with OZ streets & tracks use NZ version as well, I need it to get out of the city's, I use the bit between the ears as well and don't take the info as the Gospel, just in case have two or three compass's one on the watch and also the old fashioned type and maps to suit.
PLB
The Southern Cross can usually be seen at night just to remind which way is up,or down.
Survival kit, a little different that I would carry in the Bush here. Snake bite bandages etc.
Get about 3 days away from the city's the nicer the people become regardless of colour, all the locals say GIDDAY,
Get out of the way of the Road Trains.
If a little fluffy bunny pops across the road don't swerve to dodge it, run the pest over, I try to avoid goannas, snakes, Cattle, feathery and hoppy things, if you can't avoid then you are travelling to fast for the conditions anyway.
Apart from that it is pretty safe out there,
More Aussies die or get injured in our Bush and Mountains than people die of misadventure Out there
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