Off road maps are essential for trails, hiking and 4×4 adventures in Australia

If you are planning on going on a hiking or 4×4 adventure in Australia, the first item you will require is an off road map. If you are using a 4×4 you need to ensure your vehicle is in sound running order by carting out a complete check. Make sure the tires including the spare are well inflated, make sure there are no mechanical problems or leaks and that your fluids are topped up. Make sure your brakes and steering are sound and before leaving home, all necessary repairs should be completed. When lading your vehicle, all items should be distributed evenly as heavy loads behind the rear axle will cause the vehicle to sag, which in turn will limit your clearance and angle. Weight also needs to be distributed properly on your roof rack as the centre of gravity will change with excessive loads and cause the vehicle to become unstable.

Once you have decided where you are going, you need to plot out the routes you intend following, and allow yourself enough safe traveling time, and when out riding or hiking follow the rules as off road maps may make the trip look easy and short although in real time may take many hours of driving or hiking. You also need to be aware of any environmental damage you and your vehicle can cause and when driving or hiking on trails stay on the established path and do not blaze a new trail. By going off the trail there is a chance of getting lost and the chances of not being found. Bear in mind that a heavy 4×4 will leave ruts and cause damage to the embankments and ground which will in turn erode and deepen every time it rains. By going off the trail you will also damage the surrounding animal and plant life in the area and can also damage your 4×4. There are rules and regulations pertaining to the Australian National Parks and Outback and should these rules not be adhered to you could face a serious fine. Do not throw litter or cigarettes butts out as this is detrimental to the environment and animal life.

Many birds are inclined to pick up cigarette butts and chew on them and in turn die from nicotine poisoning as well as many other animals that eat litter papers can suffer painful deaths. There is nothing more pleasurable than traveling through a clean un-littered National Park, keep it that way. Should you get stuck do not spin your tires as this tears up the soil and cuts the surface crust and when it rains will lead to soil erosion.

Oliver Ethan is a technical author. He provides useful advice through his articles on off road maps, latest gadgets, topographic maps and mobile apps.