DESTINATIONS - PLANNING & PACKING
Every year, we hear horror stories of people caught on Wet Season roads, innocently following advice from car and phone navigation apps. The only safe mapping options outside metro areas are dedicated bush-mapping apps.
Queensland Police photo
Vehicle makers don’t make 4WDs specifically for Australian conditions, which is why most vehicles are fitted with modifications and accessories. It’s the same with on-line mapping apps that use satellite images to suggest routes. What looks good on an aerial photo doesn’t necessarily look all that flash at road level.
Remote-area mapping apps are produced by people who actually know what the road conditions are like and many of these maps are dotted with warnings about weather hazards, permit conditions and other relevant info. You don’t get that with normal navigation apps.
A favourite ‘alternative shocker’ is Highway One, that circumnavigates Australia. This road is often suggested as an alternative to the all-bitumen A2 that runs through western Queensland, or it’s the desired route of people who want to ‘drive around Australia’.
If you look at common road navigation apps, or even some paper maps, you could be forgiven for thinking that Highway One is a sealed, all-weather road around Australia, but, of course, it’s not.
Much of the Queensland section of Highway One is unsealed and even the bitumen sections are often flood-affected or closed during The Wet.
Between Normanton and Borroloola, Highway One is not fit for travel by cars – especially if they’re towing a van. Some softroaders can manage this section, if the surface is dry, but they’ll get into trouble if there’s water over the road, or if they venture off the middle of the gravel surface.
Low ground clearance vehicles also risk serious damage when they cross the rocky creek fords on this route. There are few bridges and most creek crossings are very rough.
If you’re planning to travel on Highway One, make sure you have proper bush mapping and a suitable 4WD vehicle, with high ground clearance.
Other roads that look tempting include the Great Central Road, the Tanami Road, the Gibb River Road and the Plenty and Sandover Highways.
One year, we encountered a RAV4 driver in Wiluna, asking if he’d be able to drive up the Canning Stock Route!