Bush Road Rule No. 1: Red Sand
One of the first things to remember about the bush is that you will consume a large quantity of red sand. It will get into your eyes and your ears, your mouth, and your nose. All parts of your vehicle, interior and exterior, will be covered in a fine dusting of red powder that Australian Quarantine couldn't give two hoots about when exporting a vehicle from the country. (Three years later, we are still cleaning particles encrusted in various nooks and crannies of the Scnic.) For those who prefer to drive with the windows open, bring along a scarf to cover your face, or, while somewhat bulky, a ventilator mask. For a more pleasing option for your passengers who may not care for chronic eye, ear, and nose infections, drive with all windows sealed shut, ventilation on max and create a pressure in the cabin to keep all foreign material out.
Sand in the 4x4 usually equals sand under the 4x4 as well. In places, it runs deep. Shovels, metal plates, wooden boards, and winches are useful, though keep in mind the latter might be of limited use with so few trees around. Another option: Carry a hand winch. That way you can bury one or two tires as deep as you can in the sand to support the weight of the vehicle with the winch attached. Then crank away.
Bush Road Rule No. 2: Road Trains
If the sand hasn't stopped you, there is the issue of road trains. These enormous trucks, pulling anywhere from three to five trailers, drive at approximately 60 mph and hog the road. Don't get in their way-it takes them more than a mile to stop. Luckily, you can spot them, usually 5 to 6 miles away on the horizon like a giant "Pig Pen," a huge cloud of dust tumbling your way. If they're approaching from behind, you have several choices: Try to outrun them (but only if you enjoy the heat of a metal monster breathing down your neck); trail them, but be prepared to put tip No. 1 into action with no visibility; or pull over and wait. It normally takes 30 minutes for the dust to settle in a no-wind condition. If approaching from the front, best to pull over and wait for them to pass.
Bush Road Rule No. 3: Kangaroos
The growth in ranching and viticulture in Australia has led to an increase in available sources of potable water in the Outback. As a result, kangaroos have multiplied like rabbits and can be seen day and night, hopping across the bush. There is an overpopulation problem in places (the current population is estimated as high as 20 million), and various methods are used to control their numbers. Bait can be laid out to kill them, since they are considered as pestilent as rats. Sometimes professional kangaroo hunters are employed to reduce their numbers. It is said a good hunter can kill up to 250 kangaroos in one night, and this meat goes to the dogs, literally. (Much of it ends up in cans of pet food.) For the driver, kangaroos are a nuisance. Hit one, and this animal that's the size of a man can seriously damage your vehicle.
Of greater concern is if the kangaroo breaks through the windshield. As the animal is not always killed by the impact, stories abound of kangaroos kicking uncontrollably, trying to get out of such a confined space and either killing the driver or the passengers inside. For this reason you will hardly see any vehicle in the bush without a grille of some sort on the windshield, or at least a front 'roo guard (aka bullbar) to deflect these potential hazards. Word of advice: Drive cautiously, and especially at night. If caught in your headlights, the kangaroos stop immediately, entranced. Hitting one at 60 mph would not be a pretty sight.