There are thousands of kilometres of outback roads in Australia, each connecting towns and communities with vital supply routes, would you be able to survive a vehicle breakdown in the bush?

For many, travelling on these roads is a regular part of their working life. There are truck drivers, drive-in, drive-out workers and those who need to travel between job sites or towns as part of their employment.

Experiencing the Australian outback on a daily basis is an incredible experience for road users, but it can also be fraught with danger as the serenity can quickly turn to car breakdowns, road deaths or road trauma.

This doesn’t just occur in the form of accidents or collisions, a break down in the outback can also be a serious road safety concern.

If your vehicle breaks down and you have no mobile phone you find yourself in big trouble stranded in the outback  – especially if you are unprepared.

This is your guide to navigating the Australian outback by vehicle and ensuring you always return home at the end of your trip, safe and sound.


How to prepare to survive a vehicle breakdown in the outback

It is unlikely that you are reading this blog when your vehicle has already broken down in a remote area, on the side of the road and far from mobile reception.

So it is important to take the time to load up your work vehicle with all of the supplies you will need if the worst-case scenario happens.

Your vehicle should have the following items at a bare minimum every time you travel remotely for work (or for any other reason):

  • First aid kit
  • At least 20 litres of water plus an additional four litres for every passenger.
  • Paper maps (in case you lose mobile reception)
  • A charger for your mobile device (in case you do not lose mobile reception)
  • Non-perishable food items
  • Toilet paper
  • A toolkit including spares like fan belts, hoses and fuses
  • Two spare tyres
  • A tow rope
  • A shovel to assist if you get bogged
  • A compass and a GPS
  • A tarp for shelter
  • An Esky at the minimum, a fridge if you can manage it
  • Matches or a lighter for a fire at night time
  • Communication equipment that does not rely on a mobile network


Strategies to survive a vehicle breakdown for when you are stuck in the middle of the outback

If you find yourself in a position where your vehicle has broken down remotely and you have no signal and no supplies, patience is the key to survival.

Here are some tips on what you can do to stay safe while waiting for assistance to arrive:

  • Do not leave your vehicle: Under no circumstances should you wander off into the bush or start walking down the road to seek assistance. Any rescue attempts will be easily able to find you at your vehicle breakdown site but would have a dramatically lower likelihood of finding you if you have left the scene. There are also many hazards including getting lost, the heat of the day and the cold of the night and the many Australian flora and fauna dangers to be aware of if you leave the scene. Call roadside assistance and wait with your car.
  • Gather water: If you have not brought water with you (but please, always bring water with you) then you are going to need to procure it from your surroundings. If you have plastic bags, put them around a non-toxic tree and condensation will gather. Morning dew can be collected from plants and from your vehicle itself by using your clothing and wringing it into a drinking vessel.
  • Signal for help: There are a few ways you can do this. Remove your side mirrors and use them to reflect the sun at distant vehicles or aircraft to catch their attention. Toilet paper can act as a great makeshift sign-making material to SOS aircraft as well. You can also deflate and set your spare tyre on fire, attracting anyone in the immediate vicinity. The thick smoke and distinct smell will alert people from several kilometres away.
  • Ration your battery: If you can still use your vehicle’s radio and airconditioning, they will be a welcome relief during your wait. But resist the urge to use either for hours on end as that battery is not going to last forever.
  • Do not panic: Constantly remind yourself that you have done everything you can and that help will come. 


How Journey Management System can prevent you from ever being stuck in the outback

Employers can protect their staff and prevent them from ever being lost and alone in the Aussie outback with a journey management plan built into a simple app installed on their mobile devices.

Journey Management System tracks the entire journey of each staff member and sends alerts when they do not meet checkpoints or arrive at destinations that they are supposed to.

The journey planning app uses mobile network connections combined with GPS signals to ensure that each journey is monitored from start to finish, even in areas with limited reception.

So if your staff member breaks down, is involved in an accident or runs into any trouble in a remote location, emergency services will be close at hand.


To learn more, contact the team at JMS today.