Tony Allsop — 21 November 2012

Caravan World editor Max Taylor’s comments about almost running out of fuel on the way back from Yulara (in the Northern Territory) to Erldunda in his story ‘Northern Lights’ (Caravan World #507) had me thinking about this subject. There are still several long stretches in this vast land where it pays to fill up regularly and maybe carry a 20 litre spare can of fuel. One such stretch is the one mentioned by Max.

The road from Port Augusta to Coober Pedy climbs uphill, and is often into a strong headwind. We have seen vehicles towing vans stranded there because they did not want to pay the high fuel prices at the Glendambo Roadhouse and underestimated their fuel consumption.

Another area is the Barkly Highway, from Tennant Creek through to Camooweal. This is often subject to strong headwinds, particularly heading east. One of our friends entertained us with the story of a very stressful trip with a dropping fuel gauge, wishing he had re-fuelled at the high-priced Barkly Homestead. He ran out of diesel near the bridge just west of Camooweal and barely got his Pajero and heavy van off the road before the walk into town.

Another trouble spot is on the west coast, where the highway from Broome south to Eighty Mile Beach is notorious for strong winds, and the only servo is at Sandfire Flats.

Yet another trouble spot is Halls Creek. I noticed both fuel stations here were out of diesel during both our last two trips, something which could result in an unexpected overnight stay in town if you hadn’t filled up at the last servo.

One year we were counting on obtaining fuel at a roadhouse west of Broken Hill, only to find the place had closed. Fortunately we made it to the next one, but only just.

Crossing the Barkly last year, we came across a 4WD in an off-road stop, filling up from 20 litre containers. He had about six of them on his roof rack. This, I feel is going too far. If he had an accident there could be a real inferno.

This year, even though our maps showed fuel was available at Middleton Hotel between Boulia (Qld) and Winton, I phoned to check before we left. “We no longer sell petrol or diesel, as our pumps have broken down, and are not being fixed,” I was told! So yes, it pays to check. In this case, I filled up a 20 litre container before leaving, just in case.

In my travel stories, I always advise filling up well before fuel is needed, as you never know if the next servo will be closed or out of fuel.

SHARE YOUR STORIES: Have you ever run out of fuel on a trip? What precautions do you take?


blog rv's caravans camper trailer campertrailer low fuel fuel