Take the unknown out of ‘off the beaten track’ by following the Outback Pathways on your next WA road trip. Explore the best of the Gascoyne-Murchison Region along the three ruggedly beautiful and fascinating itineraries; The Wool Wagon Pathway, Miners Pathway and Kingsford Smith Mailrun. With so much history and culture, you will experience the warmest welcome at a station stay on some of the oldest rocks on Earth. Venturing into the outback needn’t be daunting with these handy tips.
Mapping out your road trip
Google Maps is great in the city, but with patchy mobile reception in the outback you’ll want a paper map with you. Besides, a good paper map is more than just a navigation aid, it can be the inspiration for your journey.
A quick look over a map and you might find a permanent pool to stop for lunch, or a lookout worth checking out. Knowing all there is to see along the way and seeing the distances will give you a better idea of travel times than any online map. You can pick up the HEMA Mid West WA Map at most service stations or post offices, or here online. There is also a HEMA app that will track your location even with no mobile service. Just make sure you have downloaded the correct region map to your device before you leave home.
How much food and water to take
Aside from the road trip nibbles, it’s a good idea to carry spare food and water in the car for those ‘just in case’ scenarios. A good rule of thumb is 5-7 litres of water per person per day but increase that if you plan to do any hiking or strenuous activity. TIP: buy a water jerry can with a tap from the hardware store and refill it at the designated water points in towns along the way.
Essential outback gear
Whether it’s a beanie or an akubra, you’ll definitely need a hat, probably both. Although hot during the day, the desert can pretty chilly at night so don’t forget some warm clothes. Slathering on a high factor sunscreen will help protect you from any sore sunburn. Where to top up fuel The Outback Pathway trails take you the best of the Gascoyne-Murchison Region and includes fuel stops. You can check the Outback Pathways website ( https://www.outbackpathways.com ) or your map to know in advance how far it is between fuel stops. The biggest stretches are up to 530km. Plan how far you can drive on one tank and remember you will use more fuel on unsealed roads or station tracks. Top Tip: carry a jerry can or two of spare fuel
Check the weather and road conditions – drive to conditions
Witnessing a storm in the desert is a pretty epic experience but can also fill the floodways. Many unsealed roads are closed during rain and even sealed roads can get damaged by severe weather. If there is a chance of heavy rain it might be best to adjust your itinerary or reschedule your trip.
Bureau of Meteorology forecast:
Murchison Region http://www.bom.gov.au/wa/forecasts/murchison.shtml
Gascoyne Region http://www.bom.gov.au/wa/forecasts/gascoyne-junction.shtml
Prepare your vehicle
You can comfortably drive much of the Outback Pathway trails in a 2WD car, but for more extensive exploring a 4WD is best. If you hire a car for your trip check that the vehicle and insurance are appropriate. Before heading off ensure you have appropriate tyres and book your car in for a service.
Livestock and wildlife
Wildlife is a big attraction in the outback, but it also presents a hazard. Keep an eye out for kangaroos, emus and cattle on the road, especially at dawn and dusk. If you go through a gate on a station, leave it how you found it.
Choose photo stops wisely You are going to want to stop for photos… a lot. Just remember when you do to pull right off the road so you are not in the way of other road users.
Respect other road users
You are unlikely to meet any large road trails along the Wool Wagon Pathway but if you do it is good practice to sit far enough back that the driver can see you in his mirrors. If towing a caravan sit back and enjoy the view until you reach a safe place. To help plan your road trip along the Outback Pathways you can buy the book at most visitor centres or the website.
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Follow the pathways
The 178-page full colour guidebook paints a colourful picture of the region - its history, nature and its charismatic characters following three self-drive trails through the Gascoyne-Murchison - the Wool Wagon Pathway, Miners Pathway and the Kingsford Smith Mail Run.