If you’re heading into Australia’s remote regions, you’d better be comfortable with a break from your phone.
It’s clear that mobile phones have come to play a key role in the way we organise our lives, so it’s often a shock — sometimes mildly panic inducing — to find ourselves outside of cellular range. In some strange way, the technology has allowed people to become more mobile than ever, yet resulted in more fear than ever of becoming untethered from city connectivity.
Communications are a major consideration when planning for any kind of adventure, and no matter what network you’re connected to, it’s never a wise idea to rely solely on a mobile phone for regional and remote touring.
Surely we’ve all experienced stretches of country driving where our phones have been rendered next to useless by their inability to reach a signal; therefore it’s hardly a surprise to be told that when you’re heading into Australia’s remote Outback, a mobile phone will be largely unusable (at least for communication).
This isn’t to say you should leave them at home. Indeed, more and more regional and rural communities are being connected to cellular networks with each passing week, and whenever you stop off in a town it’s good to be able to check in with the wider world.
Rather, it’s important to ensure there are other ways for you to contact others, especially in an emergency. It’s also a good idea to inform all of your loved ones how long you’re likely to be out of range and come up with a system for them to contact you should an important matter arise.
Furthermore, the Outback is a tough environment that’ll push the most durable gadgets to their limits. A careless slip of the fingers could easily result in a busted screen, and that desert bull-dust has a way of creeping into the tiniest crevices.
At the end of the day, modern-day mobile phones simply aren’t built for the Outback. You may consider a satellite phone if you want to be able to call and text as you normally would; otherwise there are UHF radios, PLBs and various other radio and satellite systems that can link you to civilisation when you’re out in the middle of nowhere. And of course, it’s nice to not be a slave to the smartphone for at least a few days in a row.