to survive and even enjoy a holiday in Australia.
and loading your 4 WD
assume you've found a suitable vehicle by now. Arriving from overseas
by plane, you'll hardly own that shed full of suitable equipment. Even
the author doesn't, but I'm working on it.
you read these Australian 4 WD guides and the advice in so many ranger
offices, you will be surprised how much they think fits in your 4WD. Of
course, it's safer to carry food and water for 3 weeks and all imaginable
spares for your vehicle plus the tools, a first aid kit and all sorts
of radios - there always is the small matter of space and money.
who is sailing a lot, said that on a boat there should be nothing which
can't be used for at least two purposes. As your 4x4 is even smaller than
a yacht, the same applies for a lone 4 WD in the desert. So let me list
the things you really need (no excuse) and why.
Baseball caps only if they come with a neck flap.
You can't stand the desert without it
- Sun protection
15+ till you get used to the sun.
- A gas
barbecue or large cooker. The flame should be easily accessible for
soldering, too. Bottles should be Australian standard, so they can be
unbreakable cooking gear (billy, pot and LARGE pan), plates and some
supplies: Count the days you might have to wait for help x persons x
8 litres + content of your radiator. If in doubt about the 'traffic'
ask the locals. That's just for drinking and topping up the radiator
in an emergency, no waste like washing. A balloon or jiggler pump for
food as much as you can stand, calculated as above. Muesli is just not
the thing for the desert, but the ants love it. Tins contain lots of
a truck bottle jack is the minimum, it has to come with a metal foot
plate and some woodblocks.
and spade are the essentials to dig yourself out of the deep sand or
mud. You should also take a spade to your bush-toilet to bury the obvious.
- 2 spare
tyres and wrench. You will need at least one.
- a towing
rope or snatch-strap. If you don't need it for towing, you can use it
for 100 other purposes
- a two
way radio. Your mobile won't do on the Gunbarrel.
tape and crimps, large hoseclamps, some lengths of fencing wire and
a tin of bolts. Murphy's law for corrugated tracks: Everything
that isn't rusted solid will rattle off.
- a steel
tube at least 1 m long, large enough to fit your ratchet. It can also
come handy to lever your diff over a rock!
- a funnel.
- Two lighters
at least, cause they vanish in the sand. I don't tell that to the smokers
engine oil for one change.
maps and compass, better a GPS.
- a good
of rubber straps to keep your gear in place.
(insect) protection (Aerogard or Rid)
with sleeping bags or tent and foam mattresses. A swag is easier to
unpack and airier in summer! If you've got a roofrack, you can stay
clear from ants and snakes, too.
Swags are something unique to Australia. In the
last century, itinerant workers would roll all their belongings and a blanket to keep warm in a large canvas sheet they
called a swag. These days swags come with a fine waterproof canvas, a thick foam mattress and enough space for
two and your sleeping bags and linens. Two belts hold them together, so they're unpacked in a second. If you don't want
them to get too grimy on the roofrack, roll a tarpo around it. A swag is a long term investment, so they aren't exactly
cheap, but good quality. It's one of the best Australian souvenirs I could imagine.
If you would
like a swag just in time, try Ken
Major Pty 25 Pinn Street, St. Marys, SA 5042 Fax +61 82763558 (You
can't order at their website)
A Sar Major
Double Deluxe swag fits nicely into the back of a 109/110 hardtop!
come handy if you have any space left:
or esky, 30 litres minimum. Esky ice lasts only two days in the desert.
operated winch, if none is fitted to the car.
anchor or an L- or T profile 1m fencepost for winching in sand.
lift jack, only suitable for sturdy vehicles, though.
gun and grease if you intend to travel in sand or water.
- Axe and
hammer. Not only for chopping wood - that's not done where trees are
or your favourite for loosening bolts, getting the grime off your hands
and fighting ants.
leads, just in case you did forget to switch off the fridge.
parks guide, Gregory's 4WD escapes or another 4 WD guide
I prefer my barbie sauce with onions instead of flies
tyre pump or foot pump. This is a must if you intend to go for the dunes.
- a tyre
pressure gauge. See above
- 2 or
three big tarpaulins. After all, it does rain in Central Australia.
and folding chairs
- 4 or
6 litre drink cooler. Fill it with cold tea, a bit of sugar and lemon.
Thus you can drink and drive and it's even legal.
Manual of your vehicle
filter. A favourite with Canadians.
unless you have a permit.
mobile. If it's not a satellite, no chance.
clothes. They won't stay that way.
check before you leave, don't believe it has been checked
operation, is the aerial fitted or in the vehicle?
filled with hydraulic fluid ?
of spare tyres
- if oil change isn't guaranteed, do it now.
The same applies for a greaesup. If in doubt, ask where all these nipples are.
- Gas bottles
filled, working and showing proof label for the current year
: check level and operation
pump and gauge working
or barbie hoses
- Do a
test drive to check brakes and acceleration, engage 4WD and low at least
- if you
loaded you roofrack, drive over a couple of bumps and check whether
the stuff is still where you strapped it
by Annette Flottwell