I met a traveler in Norseman who was so thankful that her trip was nearly over. She had just left Perth that morning 650k's away. I asked her where she was heading. Oh to Sydney she replied. I hated to disillusion her, but I had to inform her that she had not even covered a quarter of her trip. That in fact it would actually take her four or five more days of doing what they did that day. For some reason she did not believe me.
If you intend to travel, everyone needs to research your trip before leaving home. Without carrying the necessary water supplies, and food and blankets in case of breakdowns you could find yourself in terrible trouble. The Nullabor gets very hot during the day and extremely cold at night.
Once you leave Norseman, you will be traveling around 2000k's without towns. Yes there are roadhouses sprinkled across the Nullabor plains approximately every 150 -180k's. These have essential services like fuel and food, water is in short supply. There are no shopping centers to wander through.
If you breakdown, you will need to contact someone to arrange for a tow truck to come and tow you with luck to one of the roadhouses. This roadhouse may not have mechanics; yes you are a long way from the normal help found in bigger towns.
There are emergency telephones sprinkled across this sparse plain. Although quite often they cannot hear what you are telling them, as the wind causes problems. And if you are between two of these, it could be a long walk to get to the nearest phone. There is an upside to this; other travelers are usually very helpful if they see you are in trouble.
Why use UHF Two way Radios
This is where UHF two way radios come into their element. If you breakdown, you can talk to other travelers explain the circumstances of your problems and they may be able to help. Channel 40 is the truckers channel and these can be very helpful.
Reasons to use UHF Radios
Â· If for instance you are coming into a new town and do not know where the cheapest fuel is, you can simply push the button and ask the question. Most times there will be someone listening and ready to help you out with the correct answer. Never use this channel to chat on all the time as other people may have questions to ask.
Â· You may be lost and cannot find which road to take because some bright spark thought it would be funny to either turn the street sign around or remove it all together. Instead of traveling hundreds of kilometers in the wrong direction, ask someone for help.
Â· Emergencies â you or someone else may have had an accident, you could call the emergency services for help. Channel 5 is the one to use for this.
Â· The road may be blocked, through an accident, sudden storms or fires. This is a great way to warn others of the potential dangers ahead of them. We were traveling up in the North West, and the supermarket burnt down at Fitzroy Crossing. We were told on the two way radio and stocked up on food before continuing through that town.
Â· How often have you tried to use your mobile phone and there is no network when you desperately need it most.
Brands of UHF Radios
Two way radio dealers-The most popular brand names of radio transceivers are GME, and Uniden, although there are many more. Cheap or expensive does not necessarily mean the best or worst. Do your research; ask many different suppliers, dealers, and travelers which ones they would use.
Buy the best two way radio suited to your needs and type of travel. A UHF radio will provide a clearer communication with less interference from the noisy atmosphere or power lines.
You can set up your UHF to either scan the channels or set it for a particular channel. Never use channel 5 to chat, this is for emergencies only. In good weather conditions you may be able to receive transmission from someone 20- 30k's away, if near repeater stations you could get a better reception. In some areas you may only have a 10k transmission because of interference.
Type of aerial is important
Choose your aerial with careful consideration. Installation of the aerial onto your vehicle is also very important, if placed wrong it will affect your transmission and reception. A larger aerial will provide you with a more superior communication.
Vibrations can cause problems with most antennas or aerials. If you intend to go outback on corrugated roads then a fiberglass whip aerial on a medium spring may suit the 4 wheel driving enthusiast. These are best fitted to the roof or bull bar of the vehicle.
Once you have purchased and installed you UHF Radio. To check that it is working turn it onto channel 40 and ask if someone could give you a radio check please. If they can hear you they will say ok.
Never leave home to venture out into the outback without some sort of communication in case of emergencies. We think we have done everything possible to ensure a safe trip, although the best laid plans can and often do go astray.
We have seen brand new vehicles in trouble on the side of the road, so there are no guarantees with traveling where a motor car is involved.