Some of the signs you see on a road trip are obvious, it seems in Australia we have more than our fair share of animals that can run out or leap in front of you in the vast stretches of open country we have to travel. And soon enough, now that you know what to look out for, you will probaly spot what you’ve been warned about.
Some other signs I’ve encountered show that apparently not all road users approach long distance travelling the same way. It always pays to have your wits about you and travelling at dawn and dusk are the most hazardous times, with animals being harder to spot and more likely to be on the move.
Australia is so vast, that to really see the best of everything it has to offer, eventually you have to plan a road trip to get to some regions. There are a number of road signs that cater for overseas travellers. Timely reminders on long journeys, when your mind can sometimes wander.
Even for experienced road tourers there are always seasonal issues that crop up, Australia’s weather is notorious for being harsh and unforgiving. It truly is a land of droughts and flooding rains as was so eloquently put by Dorothea Mackellar in her poem “My Country”. It always pays to keep up with weather and road conditions for the region you are heading to. There are national and local radio stations to keep up with forecast weather conditions and plenty of great websites and apps to give you warnings and up to the minute details of conditions where you are travelling.
Inland roads have the hazards of wandering stock and red dirt that creates a wall of bulldust making visibility nil. There are gravel roads that have your car and occupants shaking and rattling. Sudden or heavy rain events can cause flash flooding or rivers further upstream to send huge amounts of water down. The seemingly endless plains are great for native animals, breeding and living on the land but can be a tiring monotony for travellers inexperienced in driving the long straight roads with little change in the landscape.
Coastal areas and waterways have signs warning of hazards of a different kind. We are blessed with a spectacular coastline and the good part about that is that you can be on your own in a lot of places. The down side is that you can be on your own in a lot of places! The signs are there for a very good reason. Picturesque tempting blue seas can belie all sorts of hazards. It pays to check with local visitor centres which beaches are safe for swimming and if there are any known hazards around such as jellyfish or stingers that may cause a problem. Better still is to be up to date with your first aid procedures and carry vinegar in your car first aid kit for relieving stings.
Then there are the downright scary signs you’ll see. Don’t be fooled by some that are merely walking track markers. While others make their point blatantly clear and leave you in no doubt of what to do or not to do.
Thankfully though there is not usually a time whether you are walking or driving in Australia, when you are left questioning. Places, distances, sights, hazards and help are signposted along the way and it’s nice to know that someone has helped pave the way to safe and happy travels.