Many trucks, 4WDs, caravans, campervans and emergency service vehicles carry UHF CB radios. They offer a handy alternative to mobile phones for communication or if you need emergency assistance.
UHF CB Radios do not require a licence to own or use, and there are no call charges. The range will vary with the power of the device and the antenna used. A hand-held unit may only work over 1 - 2 km, enough to keep in contact with a travelling group, while a vehicle mounted one can work much further.
UHF CB Radios use set frequencies called channels, to talk to each other. Conversations are not private and anyone within range and on the same channel, can listen in or join the conversation. Some people welcome new conversations, some don't. Many channels have a specific purpose, such as being for emergency calls only.
Calling Channel - 11
Channel 11 is used to contact other UHF CB users before moving to a free Chat Channel to continue your conversation. You can meet nearby people here, but be polite and move the conversation to another channel.
General Chat Channels - 9, 12-17, 19-21, 24-28, 30, 49-60, 64-70, 79-80
These channels can be used for general chatting. Move your conversation here after meeting someone on the Calling Channel. Remember that conversations are not private and can be heard by anyone within range. Others may also join in unexpectedly.
4WD Clubs and Convoys, National Parks Channel - 10
Channel 10 is used by 4WD groups and clubs to stay in touch with each other. Use this channel if part of the group, otherwise use the general chat channels.
Caravan and Camper Convoy Channel - 18
Channel 18 is used by travelling groups of caravans or campervans to stay in touch. If you're not part of the group, you may be able to introduce yourself if you're like-minded or have something to add to the conversation. It's a great way to meet other groups travelling nearby.
Road Safety Channel - 40
Channel 40 is used Australia-wide by truck drivers, pilot vehicles and oversized loads to let each other know about special road conditions. Many travellers monitor this channel.
Repeater Channels - 1-8, 31-38, 41-48, 71-78
Repeaters relay your voice over a large area for long distance communication, but this also prevents other people using the same channels. Do not use these for general chat.
Special Purpose Channels - 22, 23, 61-63
These channels are reserved and not available for voice chat. They are often disabled on your radio.
Emergency Channels - 5 & 35
Channels 5 & 35 are for emergency calls only. If you have a real emergency use these to call for help, as you would by dialling 000 on a phone. Volunteers, police and emergency services monitor these channels and will respond. There are heavy penalties for misusing the emergency channels.
UHF Channel Signs
Often you will see a caravan or camper with a UHF Channel number on it. These people often happy to chat with locals or fellow travellers nearby. Introduce yourself!
Article updated 16/06/2017.