Information For Travellers – Roads & Safe Driving

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To check road conditions or for assistance while travelling along the Savannah Way contact the following:

While driving in Northern Australia offers a unique experience, it also presents unique driving conditions that should be considered:

  • Road conditions regularly vary from multi-lane bitumen and single lane bitumen to gravel and dirt. Some unsealed creek crossings take months to recover from a big wet. Be careful of soft edges and narrow roads.
  • On unsealed roads fine dust can conceal deep potholes and reduce visibility, so slow down and keep your headlights on.
  • Staying in contact in the outback is vital. While mobile phones will work in many towns, staying in contact by radio, satellite phone or carrying an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) is advisable.

Animals

Animals often feed beside outback roads, be especially careful at night, sunrise and sunset.

Emus will often run beside a vehicle and swerve at the last minute. Kangaroos are unpredictable, if one does jump in front of you, don’t over react. An animal impact may be less harmful than attempting to swerve.

Driving in Wet Conditions

Be sure you have good tyres and drive below the speed limit in the wet. Check road conditions with the appropriate body and postpone your trip on unsealed roads if required.

Localised rain can make rivers rise and fall rapidly. Don’t attempt to cross flooded bridges or causeways unless you are sure of the depth and the road’s condition.

Crossing should not be attempted if the water is fast-flowing or at a greater depth than the height of the middle of the wheel.Beware, crocodiles inhabit waterholes and creeks across Northern Australia.

Large Vehicles

Huge trucks, known as road trains, traverse Northern Australia. These can be up to the length of 10 cars.

Allow plenty of room before you overtake these vehicles – be prepared for them to sway as you overtake.

If a large vehicle is approaching you, make sure you allow plenty of room to pass. This will also help to avoid windscreen damage.

Driving Conditions

When the sun is low on the horizon it makes clear vision impossible. If you are driving west plan to reach your destination by 4pm.

Avoid night driving as this is the time when most accidents occur. Animals, especially cattle, are difficult to see at night even in the middle of the road.

Towing

Towing requires more skills and effort than normal driving. Schedule extra rest stops and shorter travelling days to avoid fatigue.

Remember the extra length, width and stopping distance required and apply the accelerator and brakes smoothly to avoid trailer sway. If the trailer begins to sway, don’t brake quickly. If the trailer is fitted with brakes apply them gently and continue at a steady speed or accelerate slightly until the swaying stops.

Cycling

The Savannah Way is a cycling challenge and intrepid adventurers have completed various sectors and the entire route. One reported their journey here. Cyclists should be aware of the remoteness of many sections of the route and consult with bike shops in Cairns or Darwin for specialised preparation and equipment. A popular way to cycle the Savannah Way is the Cairns to Karumba Bike Ride, held each June.