Communicating is essential, whether it be for an emergency, to book your next place of stay or to simply torment family and friends with news of your day to day excitement on the road. Below are a few different forms of communication to consider.
When deciding which form of communications you need, you will find your everyday mobile phone will be sufficient to travel Australia with.
Technology is jumping ahead in leaps and bounds, with mobile phones that access the internet, allow texting, download music, plays Foxtel, takes photos and video footage, and provides Sensis search, GPS and even maps! Wow! Whatever happened to a phone that simply went "ring.....ring"?
The latest 3G network boasts covering most of the Australian population. Please don’t confuse this with most of the actual country. There will be stretches of road and remote towns where there will be little or no coverage. However, you will need to check with your service provider to see what selected regional areas they do cover. To date, we have stuck with Telstra because they cover 2 million square kilometres and approximately 90% of Australia's population, making it more than twice as large as any of their competitors' 3G networks.
There is the satellite phone option, however higher rates occur. This will be up to the individual depending on how often they plan to be in an extremely remote situation.
Email has become a very popular means of communicating. Connect your laptop to wireless internet or prepaid wireless internet, and have access to everything you need including emails, internet browsing, internet banking, bill paying, games, updating Facebook or Twitter, listening to music and storing precious videos and photography. Once again, check with your service provider to determine where they offer coverage. There is also the option of using internet cafes, convenient and perfect for browsing the internet or catching up with mates via webmail.
This system utilises 40 channels in the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) range. CB’s use Frequency Modulation (FM), are affordable and have become quite popular. Since the signals travel in a straight line, the transmission will vary from 3kms to 20kms depending on the surrounding terrain. They generally provide 30 hours operating time on a fully charged battery. A good quality set of 2 handsets, complete with charger, are available for around $100.00. For a small outlay they are handy for the following situations:
Simply to eavesdrop on other conversations, warning you of what may be ahead. When arriving in a town, ask for directions or where the cheapest fuel may be. Two handheld CB’s also allows husband and wife teams to communicate without the various confusing hand signals when reversing into a camping site. They are also great for tag-alongs. Overall, CB’s can be as diverse or restricting as you wish them to be with no extra charge for usage.
Did you know that UHF CB channel 5 is the primary emergency channel and channel 35 is also a government allocated emergency channel? Operating on these channels, unless it is an emergency, is illegal and penalties can apply.
18 - Caravan, campers and 4WD road channel
29 - Truckies channel between Sydney and Brisbane on the Pacific Highway only
40 - Australia wide Truckies channel (excluding Pacific Hwy Sydney - Brisbane)
HF, meaning High Frequency radios, are extensively used for medium and long range radio communication. However, suitability of this portion of the spectrum for such communication varies greatly with a complex combination of factors such as sunlight or darkness at site of transmission, transmitter/receiver proximity to terminator, season, sunspot cycle and solar activity. When all factors are at their optimum, worldwide communication is possible on HF. At many other times it is possible to make contact across and between continents or oceans. Therefore, HF radio is highly recommended if you plan to spend large amounts of time in remote areas of the outback. For example, the RFDS use HF frequencies. You will need an Outpost Non-assigned Radio Licence to transmit using an HF Radio.
AM and FM Radio
For local information, advertising, gossip and general entertainment, AM and FM radio stations will keep you amused and informed while touring both populated and outback areas of Australia.
Postcards are a very effective way to inform friends and family of your latest adventures at a cost usually less than $2. And that even includes the postage stamp! Usually sporting a picturesque photo on the front with minimal space to write on the back, the postcard is an effective way to briefly update friends and family of your latest news and adventures. Also bought as a souvenir, postcards are often kept as memorabilia by those travelling.