A little bit of preparation goes a long way in the Outback – Ensure you have a good map and plan ahead. It’s a good idea to calculate travel times and distances between stops, even prepare alternative routes, especially when travelling during the Australian summer (Nov – Apr) when rain and storms can impede travel plans.
Along the Overlander’s Way fuel stops are rarely more than 200 kilometres apart so it should not be necessary to carry spare fuel. However, where you do see “no fuel” signs, it means exactly that. Ensure that your vehicle is mechanically sound, carry a first aid kit, ample water and spares such as tyres, radiator hoses and fanbelts, together with a good tool-kit. Ensure that your spare tyre is at the correct pressure.
Before setting out you should ensure you have adequate supplies of all personal medications. Although Julia Creek has a Hospital (07 4746 4000) and a Medical Centre (07 4746 7159), prescriptions can only be filled in Cloncurry or Mt Isa. Please note that in many country towns, Chemists do not open on weekends, so make sure you call prior to making a trip to find out opening hours and to ensure that they have your medication in stock.
North West Queensland summers are hot but much less humid than on the coast and more bearable. Most facilities and transport are air-conditioned. Storms and heavy rains can occur during summer and minor flooding can cause some towns to become cut off for a few days, but this is all part of the adventure of the Outback. The most temperate weather occurs between the beginning of April and the end of October. Wearing a broad brimmed hat and sunscreen is recommended for all seasons.
Heavy Vehicles/ Road Trains
Care should be taken when passing and overtaking road trains and heavy vehicles, including; other caravans. Ensure you have a clear line of sight, allow plenty of room and be prepared for vehicles to move a little from side to side as you overtake. If a road train is approaching to overtake you, move as far to the left as possible and stop if necessary to allow it to overtake safely.
Single Lane Driving
When meeting road trains and heavy vehicles on single lane roads, slow right down and move off the road to the left, if it is safe to do so move of the road entirely and stop to avoid driving into any obstacles on the verge. In wet conditions road verges tend to be soft and/or slippery, so when pulling off to the left you should always keep your right wheels on the bitumen and keep moving slowly to avoid getting bogged.
If you see stock or wild animals near the road, slow down; don’t swerve as this may cause your vehicle to roll. Be patient of stock and wary of kangaroos and emus, it pays to be vigilant when driving in the Outback. Most incidents with vehicles and animals occur between 5.30pm and 7.00am. A general rule of thumb is to start driving at 7.30 am and pull up and set up between 4.30 and 5.00pm. These also ensures that you are fully rested each night.
Water crossings should not be attempted if you are uncertain of your vehicles capabilities. Walk through the crossing first – test the depth and current and try to detect any underwater obstacles by using your feet or a stick. Engage 4×4 low and drive through in second or third gear, keeping the momentum up.
You may see many dirt roads or driveways at the side of the main highway. These are usually gated and in most cases, belong to private owned stations or properties. Please refrain from entering these properties unless you have good reason to. Camping is also not permitted in these areas. If you do happen to have cause to enter properties, please ensure that you leave the gates in the same way you found them.
Depending on how you drive, you can be a welcome visitor or someone who causes careless damage to roads and wildlife. Follow these tips for low impact driving.
• Stay on existing roads and tracks.
• Give way to animals. Parks and forests are for their protection.
• If you get stuck, try not to use trees for winching. If you have no choice, use tree protectors.
• Wash your vehicle thoroughly before and after trips to prevent the spread of weeds.
Both Telstra Next G and Optus networks are available in Julia Creek, Telstra network at McKinlay – servicing a 20km radius of town, but service is limited in Kynuna and Nelia. Service availability fluctuates for different brands of mobile phones, however tests have suggested that Samsung and HTC phones receive better reception. Public phones are available in all towns.
There are some very important things to remember regarding rest stops and pull over bays. The majority of rest stops were created for heavy vehicles for the purpose of minimising fatigue. Feel free to pull in and use the rest area for a brief stop, toilet stop or bite to eat and a stretch if you need. However please DO NOT camp in these areas as there will not be the room for the trucks and road trains to pull over for their sleep break. If you are wanting to free camp, please check your free copy of the Queensland Road Maps (available at all Qld Information Centres) which list all rest stops for cars and those designated only to trucks. By doing this, you can help minimise accidents on the long stretches of road in our Queensland Outback. Truck drivers are not permitted to travel over a set amount of time, whereas car drivers are not limited to set hours.
McKinlay Shire Council owns and maintains the local road network to service properties within McKinlay Shire. McKinlay Shire Council is the maintenance contractor for all state controlled roads in the Shire. Please report any major washouts or other severe road damage on 07 47467 166 or 0417 721 271.
Please go to www.mckinlay.qld.gov.au and click on the Roads tab on the left hand side.
If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact the Julia Creek Visitor Information Centre on 07 4746 7690 or McKinlay Shire Council Office on 07 4746 7166 during office hours (8:30am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday).
For full information on road closures, traffic hazards, flooded roads and more, click Qld Traffic List and select the area you’re looking at travelling.
Qld Traffic also offers a number of Twitter feeds covering different areas of Queensland. Please note that these accounts are not monitored for the purpose of receiving requests for assistance, feedback or enquiries. If you have any feedback or enquiries about the site or about traffic and travel information in Queensland, please contact Qld Traffic.
@QLDTrafficCWNW – This account covers the Central West and North West areas, from North to Dunbar on the western side of Cape York Peninsula, east to the Burra Range near Torrens Creek, south to Kynuna and west to the Queensland/Northern Territory border.
@QLDTrafficDDSW – This account covers the Darling Downs and South West areas extending from Goondiwindi on the Queensland-New South Wales border to Toowoomba in the east, through to Miles in the west and Wandoan in the north.
@QLDTrafficFNNQ – This account covers the Far North and Northern Queensland areas extending from Ayr and Charters Towers, west to Croydon and north to include the islands of the Torres Strait.
Stay on Track Outback
For a great Queensland Outback Web Site with lots of useful information and great reading, visit: Stay On Track Outback
Qld Travel Distances
To find the travelling distances from and to towns in Queensland, please click on this link: QLD Travel Distances
For assistance with planning your trip, checking distances, ensuring your road assistance is up to date before you travel, please visit the RACQ web site. RACQ
Accredited Visitor Information Centres
For all the fully accredited Visitor Information Centres in Queensland, please click on this link: QVICS zoom in and click on the shape with the VIC name and it will bring up all the contact details for that centre.
Accredited Visitor Information Centres are Government owned and operated, are easily identified by the yellow i on the blue background (as shown in the photo above) and have to abide by strict guidelines, staff to be fully trained in giving you accurate information and assistance. VIC or VICs is the abbreviation for Visitor Information Centre/s.