Remember that driving around a “Road Closed” sign anywhere can result in a very large fine being imposed. Many local government entities in outback Australia
have adopted a very aggressive approach to road closures. As soon as it starts to rain, if there is any prospect of the rain being heavy and/or prolonged, then almost inevitably up go the “road closed” signs on many dirt roads and tracks. In general, it is cost considerations that are the guiding factors. Using a dirt road, when the surface is extremely wet and muddy, results in the surface being seriously damaged with deep wheel tracks and very seriously eroded sections. To make such roads reasonably smooth and passable again requires grading which is a very costly undertaking. So, to preserve the road surfaces and to save money on maintenance, many local Government entities simply close the roads till they dry out.
Other reasons for closure can be the dangers presented by water across the road, flooded creeks or rivers, washed out or washed away sections, prospects of vehicles being bogged or stranded, etc. In some situations the flooding may have occurred a very long way, in fact a hundred kilometres or more, up the road.
If you are in a town, and the roads have been closed due to rain, or you are travelling on a track, and come to another which you intended to take and find that it has been closed, then it is always worthwhile contacting the local police or council, or the local Roads Authority. In many such situations, the road may be closed to heavy vehicles, caravans and say, two wheel drive vehicles. However, it may be open, with care, to 4WD vehicles not towing a caravan or camper. We have experienced that exact situation on a number of occasions. Equally, we have experienced situations where a particular road was closed, however that road gave access to another track which had not been closed. Access was being allowed up the closed road, but only to the turn off to the other open track. So it is always worthwhile having a talk to one of the responsible organisations to ascertain the actual situation.
Other interpretations of Road Closed and Emergency Access:
Be very sure also that both you and the person with whom you are discussing the “road closed” situation are talking about the same thing. We recently had an experience where we had made an enquiry about a road that was closed due to wet weather. We were informed that we needed a “permit” to drive the road. Not unnaturally, we assumed this meant a permit from an aboriginal Land Council and asked why, when no such “permit” had ever been required in the past. It transpired that the person to whom we were talking had assumed that we had a real need to drive the particular road, and was informing us that the local Shire Council could actually issue a “permit” to drive a “closed road” in an emergency situation where the closure was due to wet weather. So, if you are ever facing a situation where a true emergency exists for you to actually get access to a road that has been closed due to wet weather, then bear in mind that the local Shire Council may well have a power to grant a “permit” to drive it, provided of course that they are satisfied with the reasons put forward.