How to look out for our locals while driving in Outback Queensland
Nothing quite says Australia, like Outback Queensland. This is a place of sweeping arid plains, open spaces that seem to stretch on forever, burnt sunsets, skies blanketed by stars and the velvety glow of the Milky Way, where it’s not uncommon to find entire towns whose population is outnumbered by the local wildlife.
Sure, it can be a long way between towns, but it’s more than worth it for the spirit of exploration, characters you’ll meet along the way, and the wildlife you’ll encounter as you venture west. This is why, in true-blue-Aussie spirit, it’s important for you to keep an eye out and take care of our local wildlife while driving through Outback Queensland.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to care for our locals – big, small, furry, scaled and flightless – on your Outback adventures.
AVOID DRIVING AT DAWN AND DUSK
Most active at dawn and dusk, our local wildlife tend to graze near the edge of roads, and far-too-often they do wander, hop or fly in the path of unsuspecting cars. Where possible, avoid driving before 7am and between 4pm and 5pm, and time your drive to the middle of the day.
No driving? No worries. Sunrise and sunset is where the magic happens, in all its golden hour glory. So find somewhere to soak up a quintessential Outback sunset you’ll never forget.
If you do find yourself needing to drive at night – we would recommend avoiding this unless absolutely necessary – please do take extra caution, slow down and use your high-beams to give you more visibility over the road ahead. Please note: animals can be dazed by the lights and may not move off the road. When you do spot wildlife, dim your headlights, slow down, and use your horn when needed.
But, let’s be real… why stay on the road when there’s plenty of places to keep you entertained in the Outback at night? Spinning a yarn with the locals over a brew is about as Outback as you can get, and you can bet you’ll leave well watered and fed, with some great stories under your belt.
TAKE REGULAR BREAKS
Road tripping through the Outback is all about planning and preparation to ensure your own safety, the safety of others, and our wildlife. You know the drill… take regular breaks (15 mins every two hours), don’t trust your tired self behind the wheel and plan out your pit stops along the way.
Have you downloaded the Pit Stop Planner app? You should. This is a great way to map out your journey, keep the crew snack happy (and tick off some iconic outback feeds along the way), and uncover the do-my-eyes-deceive-me detours that make Outback Queensland a road-tripper’s oasis.
Ever been SUP-ing between towering sandstone cliffs 135 million years in the making, had a soak in artesian mud bath that’s rich with 20 million years worth of magnesium, potassium and calcium, or kicked back for a beer in a town of just three people? Trust us, Outback Queensland is packed with wondrous natural beauty and locals who could charm the skin off a snake, so you’ll find no shortage of pit-stop pearlers. To start you off, here’s 100 things to tick of your bucket list in Outback Queensland.
WATCH FOR WANDERING STOCK
It’s not just wildlife you’ll want to keep an eye on, be on the lookout for wandering stock as well. If you do come across sheep and cattle on the road, slow down to avoid spooking them, bring the car to a stop and be patient as they make their way along the road.
Kick back, relax and snag a photo, it’s all part of the experience.
If you do find yourself driving when visibility isn’t great – where scrub and bushland fringe the road, you’re cruising along a dusty unsealed road, or where wildlife is known to roam – do take caution and back off the speed a little.
With kilometres of untamed wilderness waiting to be explored in our big red backyard, it’s no surprise that Outback Queensland is a haven for all walks of (wild)life, so slow down a little and you’ll have no trouble spotting some of Australia’s most iconic creatures. We’re talking everything from kangaroos and wallabies, to the largest bird in the Outback – the emu – as well as echidnas grazing on the side of roads, magnificent flocks of brolgas frolicking in swamps, serious camel country as you get close to the Simpson, and everything else in between.
Please note: Your own safety is paramount, and must come first. While it may be instinct to swerve when you see wildlife, please just slow down if possible, and only where it’s safe to do so. Swerving can put you, your passengers, and other motorists in danger, so please ensure you’re in control of your vehicle at all times, keep an eye on the comings and goings of wildlife on Outback roads, and be aware that sometimes hitting an animal is unavoidable.
If you find a sick or injured wild animal during your Outback adventure, the best way you can look after our wildlife is with a little preparation and knowing what to.
Here’s what you’ll want packed in your car before you hit the road:
- Cardboard box or cat carrier with towel to cover
- Soft bedding
- Pillow Case
- First Aid Kit
- List of phone numbers to call, and where to find help
- RSPCA QUEENSLAND: 1300-ANIMAL (264 625)
- Wildcare Australia: 07 5527 2444
- Ask the locals: Before you leave each town enquire about where the nearest vet, hospital or wildlife carer is and note down their contact details and location.
If you come across an injured, sick or orphaned wild animal, follow these simple steps from the RSPCA:
STEP 1: SAFETY FIRST
- Before you handle the animal, check that the environment is safe (remember to move wildlife well away from the road), and ensure you can safely handle the animal. Do not handle snakes or bats.
- If you are not sure of or how to handle the animal, call 1300-ANIMAL (264 625) for help. Remember your own safety is paramount.
STEP 2: KEEPING WILDLIFE SAFE
- If possible, place the injured animal in a covered box or cat carrier. Provide soft bedding and place container in a cool quiet place.
- Try to reduce stress by minimising handling, movement, light and noise.
- Never remove a baby marsupial from a teat – it is best, if possible, to keep the mother with the baby still in the pouch even if the mother is dead, until assessed by veterinarian or experienced wildlife carer.
STEP 3: GET HELP
- Take the injured animal directly to the nearest veterinarian or wildlife hospital. If unsure call the RSPCA, Wildcare Australia or the nearest hospital.
- If you cannot get the animal to a hospital immediately, contact 1300-ANIMAL for advice.
- Please remember, if you take in an injured, sick or orphaned wildlife, you have a legal duty of care to do what is reasonable to assist it. This means making calls to the local hospital or the RSPCA. Please note: you are not permitted by law to keep wildlife, or care for wildlife unless you are a registered wildlife carer.
GOOD NEWS STORY
Not all heroes wear capes. Some, like Jess O’Dea (@outback_snapshot), just happen to rescue and care for kangaroo joeys in Queensland’s most remote town. Over the past year or so, Jess has been working as a remote nurse in Birdsville, capturing the bucolic charm and untamed wilderness of Outback Queensland, rescuing roos, and… trying not to pick favourites!
Jess raises the joeys until they’re about nine months old at which point they’re transferred to a different carer that readies them for being released back into the wild. While it’s always tough on Jess to see them go, she describes it as, “hard but rewarding, it’s always nice to know they’re going back out to the wild”.
When you’re in the Outback, taking the time to check on sick or injured wildlife can make all the difference for our furry locals. Joeys can survive for up to three days even after their mum has passed, so please be mindful of this and when you can, stop to check the pouch of kangaroos and wallabies. This only takes five minutes, but you could give a little ‘roo a second chance at life.
Remember to leave nothing but boot-prints, and take nothing but memories. Keep wildlife wild by ensuring their habitat is left clean, and don’t feed any animals.