Couple's 'huge mistake' while driving through Australian Outback

With many similar journeys being made this Christmas, Aussies are being warned not to follow their lead.

An Aussie couple living in WA were road tripping to Sydney for the holidays when they made a "huge mistake" that left them fearing for their lives.

Sally and Ed Shaw were on their fourth day of travelling by campervan from the East Kimberly — where they work at a remote school in Kunnunurra — when they came across a short cut on Google Maps.

So naturally, anything that would shorten their 4500kms journey across several states sounded like a good thing.

A photo of Sally Shaw pointing to the long journey she made by car on a map. Another photo of Sally and Ed Shaw in front of their campervan.
A couple living in the East Kimberly, WA decided to take a shortcut on their long drive to Sydney when they got in a bit of pickle. Source: TikTok/Instagram

"We saw on Google Maps a shortcut that saved as two hours, which was great," Ms Shaw told Yahoo News Australia. "We turned on this really thin road that was only wide enough for one lane of traffic, but decided to go."

"About 50km later, it became a dirt road and we were like, 'if we turn back, then we've driven 100kms for no reason and we've still got to get to our end destination'. So we went on the dirt road. It wasn't smart, and it was fine for the first maybe 20km and then it just became sandy. Not even sandy, but corrugated."

When they realised they were in trouble

And to make things worse, the early childhood educator said they had "no phone reception and hadn't told anyone we had gone that way."

"We're like 'OMG, this is how Wolf Creek happened'," Ms Shaw said. "We're going to get kidnapped, something's going to happen and we're going to die."

"When we first turned on the tarmac road we saw maybe one or two people and a few cars but when we got on the dirt road we saw nothing."

They had told Ms Shaw's mum where they were going to arrive that day, however it was still about 11 hours from where they were travelling from.

"We left Longreach and were heading to Lighting Ridge and there's like 1000km between the two, so if we went missing, thats quite a long distance," she said.

Thankfully, the couple managed to get back on track, however the shortcut probably was longer than taking the original path they "should've gone".

"We thought, 'what do we do, do we turn around?' but on the map it didn't look like we had much further to go," she said. "Though when you're driving that slow, it does take you a really long time and it took maybe even longer to take the shortcut."

Warning for regional road trippers to stay safe

Besides wanting to take the journey to have a vehicle for six weeks in Sydney, as well as sell their campervan, Ms Shaw said travelling by plane was too expensive.

"We looked at the flight prices and for us to both fly was going to $3,500," she said. "Its really expensive to fly from regional parts of Australia." The car ride ended up being cheaper, costing the couple $2132.

With many regional people bound to make long road trips during the holidays, the Royal Automobile Club of WA (RAC) offered Yahoo News Australia their tips on road safety.

"We’re urging Western Australians with an upcoming regional road trip to plan ahead and ensure you and your vehicle are well prepared for the journey," RAC’s Will Golsby said.

“Please remember to travel safely — slow down, drive to the conditions, ditch all distractions and look out for each other on our roads.”

Other tips include planning your route so you know where you're going, checking where rest stops and petrol stations are along the way, taking a break every two hours if you feel tired, limiting driving to less than eight hours a day, and avoiding driving at night time.

As for the couple, Ms Shaw said they will be doing a few things differently for the journey back home.

"We're going to buy a four wheel drive for the way back and we're not going to take any shortcuts without looking at the road conditions and telling people were we're going," she said. "I'll also be sending mum a GPS tracker."

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