When travelling on the road, ways of communication becomes very important. Not only will it gives a peace of mind to your families and friends, but will save your life in a case of emergency.
We have equipped ourselves with the followings so that we can keep contact with the outside world, even when we will be camping in the bush.
In car UHF Radio
We have a Uniden 5 watts UHF radio installed to our vehicle. It is very important as we can use it to communicate with other road users, especially when travelling on highways.
It is also essential to use in case of emergency, as there are designated rescue channels. With the correct antenna installed, it can have a range up to 5-10 kilometres.
Hand held UHF Radio
We also have a pair of hand held UHF radios, to be used when one of us go bush walking, fishing or running errands, while the other person stay at base camp.
However, these have a much shorter communication range.
Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)
This device can save your life and should ONLY be used as a last resort. Once you have paid a lump sum cost to purchase a device, you can register it on the government website with you and your vehicle details. Once activated, it will notified the emergency services to rescue you.
There are a few types of PLBs out there, mainly without GPS, with GPS and for marine use. We have purchased the one with GPS, which can reduced the position accuracy from 5 km to 50 m!
Mobile phones are essential for day to day communication, especially in towns. We chose to use Telstra network providers, as it has the biggest mobile network coverage in Australia.
However, even with the most coverage, it would still only be concentrated on the East Coast of Australia and mainly in towns. Once we leave towns, there will still be no reliable network, so we have to make sure to make all the necessary calls before we leave town.
Whenever we travel to places that has no mobile network coverage, a satellite phone would be very helpful to keep in contact.
However, they are not cheap! Not only the unit itself is expensive, the call rates also.
Given we are on a tight budget, we would only consider hiring one when we start travelling to more remote places or states that has far less mobile coverage, such as NT and WA.
Inmarsat and Iridium are your common types of satellite phones in Australia, they operate on different satellite systems.
Never underestimate the power of going back to the basics. Imagine when you are at a beautiful remote camp site all by yourself, with no crowd, no noise and no mobile network coverage. Although it is peaceful and relaxing, but how are you going to find out about the news and weather forecast? Apart from by the newspapers from the nearest town, your best bet would be a good old analog AM/FM Radio. Not a digital one, as they only work in metro areas, once you leave the main city or town, they can hardly pick up any signals!
Therefore, your car radio or a portable radio unit would be your best friend. As you can always tune to pick up the national broadcasting channels via AM signals, or your local town FM radio stations. This will give us a peace of mind of what kind of weather is expected, and more importantly, whether we needed to evacuate from the camp site at the earliest possible time.