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Keeping Hydrated in the Australian Outback

staying hydrated in the outback
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Australia is huge. Most inhabitants live within an hour of the coast because of the restricted water supplies the further in towards the centre you go. But don’t let this put you off the barren Northern Territory: a drive through the Outback shouldn’t be missed on a trip to Australia; you just need to listen to a few words of advice.

Be prepared

Cairns, Australia, is a popular starting point for anyone exploring the Australian Outback. It’s often the last stop before venturing across the barren land of the Northern Territory where water is a treat. So before you leave the relative comfort of the Cairns hotels make sure you’ve got all the water and snacks you need for your journey.

The current recommended daily intake of water is to drink 8 x 8oz glasses a day – around 1.9 litres. The climate in the Australian Outback is a lot drier than most places so you should aim to try and double this.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service says that if you’re not used to the dry atmosphere in the Outback it’s possible you’ll need a litre of water every hour to quench your thirst; so bare that in mind when you prepare for your tour or pack up your car.

Of course you need good maps, a clear idea of where the gas stations are, spare food, a first aid kit and an HF Radio and the right clothing too.

Motorway services?

It can take more than 40 hours to make the journey from Cairns to Darwin and that’s with no breaks. Of course there are homesteads on the way where you can buy beers, soft drinks and water, but there’ll be no superstores or motorway services along the way to fill up so carry all you can.

If you’re going on a long journey the chances are you won’t want all this fluid in your system, but it’s more important than ever. The sun in the Australian Outback is ferocious and can drain you really quickly, so make sure you take plenty of fluids on the journey.

Beware of a breakdown

When you’re travelling through isolated areas like the Australian Outback you also need to bear in mind the chance that you could breakdown along the way. It can take at least a few hours for someone to get to you and this is when you’ll be most grateful of a car full of fluid.

Don’t rely on waterholes, dams, bores, mills, tanks or troughs.

Top water tips

Use several small containers rather than one big one and check them all for leaks before you leave.

If you’re planning on getting out of the vehicle and exploring the Outback on foot then keep in mind that you’ll need even more water. The Royal Flying Doctor Service says that you shouldn’t wait to feel thirsty before you drink, but just make sure you do it at regular intervals.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/61520356@N07/6509976333 and http://www.flickr.com/photos/61520356@N07/6866872250

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{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Christy April 27, 2012, 12:15 pm

    16 glasses of water a day?! I know I could never drink that much. Great tips. I would love to go back to OZ to explore this area.

  • Roy Marvelous May 3, 2012, 9:52 pm

    Ugh. I always make the mistake of waiting until I’m thirsty before I go to drink water! Good tips.

  • Sasha May 7, 2012, 3:01 am

    Umm… there are a few things that are REALLY wrong with this post:

    1. Cairns in NOT in the outback. It’s on the coast, in the tropical north Queensland. It is a city.

    2. Cairns is also NOT the place that most people start travelling to the outback. That would be from Melbourne, Sydney or Adelaide, and then via the Stuart Highway from Port Augusta OR by flying to Alice Springs or Ayers Rock.

    3. The Northern Territory has 3 distinct climatic zones. It is NOT barren. How can you say that Darwin, with an annual rainfall close to 3 metres is barren? It’s in the tropics and is subject to annual monsoons. There are vast forests, wetlands and rivers all around Darwin. Furthermore, most of Central Australia is covered in savannah and woodlands – how is that ‘barren’?. It is not true desert as the rainfall is too high (over 250mm per year). Australia has no ‘true’ deserts.

    Please check your facts and rewrite this post.

    I live in Darwin and I really take offence at what you’ve written here.

    As for 16 glasses of water per day, have you heard of hyper-hydration? This infomation is incorrect and dangerous.

    • phil May 7, 2012, 4:46 am

      Hi Sasha,

      This was a guest post so I will contact the author and ask him to rewrite some of this.

      As for some of your points, I don’t think he meant to say that Cairns is in the outback, just that it is where you can start a trip there. Also, he didn’t say it’s the place where most people start, just that it’s a popular starting point. Take it how you will. I will ask him about that as well. My own trip to the outback in 2003 actually started there. First with a parting visit to mungalli falls and then to the outback itself.

      I will ask him to be more specific about what parts of the Northern Territory and I will ask him to cite the water amount.

      Thanks for your comment.

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