When travelling through the Outback, water is vital: with few exceptions, lakes and waterways are dry or highly saline, and most Outback deaths are related to dehydration or heatstroke – bikers seem particularly prone. As always, stay with your vehicle if you break down. Summer temperatures can be lethally hot, and winters pleasant during the day and subzero at night; rain can fall at any time of year, but is most likely to do so between January and May. Many roadhouses and fuel pumps take credit and/or debit cards, but it’s essential to carry cash as well.

To find out about road conditions in the Outback, call 1300 361 033 or visit the South Australia Transport website (transport.sa.gov.au). If you’re not driving, it is possible to travel through the region by bus services run by Greyhound (greyhound.com.au) and Premier Stateliner (premierstateliner.com.au). Flying can save you a lot of time and energy; Regional Express (rex.com.au) is the most useful carrier in the area.

Maps

RAA road maps are good but lack topographical information, so if you’re spending any time in the north, pick up the excellent Westprint Heritage maps and the Gregory’s 4WD maps. Hikers traversing the Flinders on the Heysen Trail need topographic maps of each section and advice from the nearest DENR office. Conditions of minor roads are so variable that maps seldom do more than indicate the surface type; local police and roadhouses will have current information.

Permits

A Desert Parks Pass is required for legal entry into Innamincka Regional Reserve, Lake Eyre National Park, Witjira National Park and the Simpson Desert: $150 per vehicle allows unlimited access and use of campsites for twelve months, with copies of the detailed DENR Desert Parks Handbook and a map thrown in. Passes are available from agencies throughout the north, can be purchased online (environment.sa.gov.au/parks; allow 7 days), or bought at the Port Augusta visitor centre.

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