The Big Red by Van - Planning is Key For your Stuart Highway Adventure

Traversing the Stuart Highway, also known as ‘Explorers Highway,’ is on many travellers’ bucket list. Although beautiful, it can be dangerous if you don't respect it and take precautions. With stretches of up to 250km of straight road and a total length of 2,720km, proper planning can lead to an unforgettable adventure in the Australian Outback.

Precautions to Take Before You Go

Before setting out on your adventure, there are a few precautions you should take first:

  • Ensure your vehicle and caravan are in 100% tip-top shape. Once a mechanic has given the thumbs up, check you have the correct tools, tow rope, first aid kit and spare parts that may be required to get yourself or others out of trouble.
  • Stock up on water and food supplies for at least a week and medicine for up to a fortnight.
  • Plan to drive during daylight hours. Night-time brings out the wildlife, from kangaroos, emus and dingoes to deer, camels, donkey cattle and horses.
  • Give a copy of your itinerary to a friend or family member so that they know where you are for safety and emergencies. Keep in regular contact with this person so they know to send a search party if they have not heard from you as expected.

Stop Where Petrol and Supplies are Available

Stop and fill your tank at every opportunity. While there are fuel stops approximately every 200km, not all service stations are open 24/7, and your planned fill-up point could have an unforeseen issue. The longest stretch without a fill-up point is 250km between Glendambo and Coober Pedy, so don’t attempt this stretch without ensuring you have adequate fuel.

This is especially important when pulling a caravan, as wind, rain, and weather can negatively affect your fuel economy and consumption.

Where You Should (and Shouldn't) Go Off-road

If you are planning a road trip along the Stuart Highway, having a sturdy, off-road caravan is the perfect rig to tackle your off-road adventures with style.

There are many safe and known areas to go off-road, such as the Oodnadata track, which is advised as 4WD access but is very beginner-friendly and oft-travelled.

Places to stop along the well-graded Oodnadatta track, like Anna Creek Station, Coward Springs, Mount Batterbee Lookout at sunset and the beautiful Painted Dessert.

Be aware of the track of the Halligan Bay turnoff; it is highly corrugated and rarely travelled. The unprepared have perished on this track, as evidenced by the sombre memorial to a German tourist who passed away from dehydration in 1998.

Jim Jim Falls is a beautiful spot to visit if you have a 4WD but leave the caravan behind and make this a day trip.

What to Do if Something Goes Wrong Off-Road

Stay in your car and caravan if you find yourself lost or stuck. Emergency services will start a search by air in these open areas, and locating a car and caravan is far easier than spotting a single person. Stay with your shelter, supplies and prominent place of safety. Typically, those who wander off and get lost have the worst outcome. Don't do it!