The big trip. Choosing an appropriate, reliable 4x4 and tow.

Hi y'all!

I've just bought a good book on travelling Oz with great maps and advice that shows many options on tow.

The thing I'm mainly unsure of is the type of 4x4 we will need to get us on the road and keep us there.

At the minute, I'm thinking of travelling with a caravan or camper trailer, but not sure how large, We don't like spending big prices for cars and will be purchasing s/h. What is a good reliable model for long distance Australia and also off road camping? My biggest fear is breaking down in the middle of nowhere.

Thanks guys.
 
Diesel 4WDs are generally more reliable than petrol models. Although diesel fuel is a little bit more expensive than petrol, a liter of diesel will give you more mileage than a liter of petrol or LPG.

Toyota Landcruisers are often seen as being the best when it comes to reliability. Problem is they are often overpriced and everyone seems to bid for them at auctions. I've always dreamed of having one.

I have three 4WDs. One is a Mercedes Benz, runs on petrol - its a showpony and I wouldn't dream of using it offroad. I also have a Mitsubishi Pajero (diesel) with 350,000km on the clock which is great for offroad stuff. The best is a 25 year old Toyota Fourunner Ute which I use for bush bashing on the farm - its a diesel and has been lifted so i can drive over bushes etc.

If you are travelling around Australia and want a cheapie, I'd recommend a Ssangyong Musso - its engine and gearbox are made by Mercedes Benz and it represents good value for its price. You'd pick up something reliable and not too old for around $7000. Again, I suggest diesel over petrol and recommend that you buy a raised model so that you can do serious offroad stuff with it,.
 
http://www.carsales.com.au/all-cars...ing|0||pCar_Model_String|0&keywords=&__N=1216 1247 1252 1282 4294964895 4294964836 937&SearchAction=N&silo=1011&seot=1&tsrc=allcarhome&__Nne=15&trecs=55&__sid=1280C83DEF7C

I don't know your budget, but the mainstream Landcruisers, pajeros etc, late model in diesel, low kms are very pricey.
Have a look at the pre 2008 Kia Sorento, the model just superseded. This is a fair dinkum 4wd, not a soft roader. Strong diesel engine, very good economy. Will probably still be in warranty too. Late model, almost new, decent 4wd for the same price as a very, very used Landcruiser.
 
I would go with a Toyota. You'll pay a bit more but they have a large rural dealer network in case you get in the poo.

If you are towing might pay to put some airbags in the springs and this will be cheaper to do on a coil sprung vehicle.
 
My mum and dad have a Prado, which they swear by. They've been all over Australia with it, including very remote places and they love it.
 
Thanks for all the answers so far guys, much appreciated.
The trip is for two people and we honestly don't know how long it will be for.
Chances are we won't return to Darwin, we might also end up on the road for more than 1 year, might love it so much that we stay there.

I really can't bring myself to look at Kia's, I've had friends who own them and constantly breaking down.

I was leaning towards a Landcruiser, most Territorian's swear by them and they're the flagship of all 4wd's up here. We have some of the toughest roads and conditions so if the locals swear by them, hard to go wrong I guess.

I'd also feel comfortable looking into the Pajero's and Prado.

How old and how many kms should I be looking at? What year? Obdviously I don't want to spend too much on a new model, but still want the piece of mind and comfort of a nice vehicle.
Will most 4wd's sit right, angle wise on a caravan tow?

With the caravan, I'm new to all of this and don't have much of an idea when it comes to 12v stuff. We need to have light and would 'like' TV at night also when in places with no power.
Apparently, most vans have a 'house battery' that is charged by the vehicles alternator. Is this true? Where is it located? How long does the charge last?
How long would a fridge and satellite TV last on a single charge? 10 minutes? 2 days?
Will a normal 240v TV also run on the 12v power source?

I hear you can get gas fridges, Obdviously we'd be looking at a gas cooktop.
Not sure about toilet and shower facilities, they would be nice, but will check on how much extra these are to have on-board.
 
Hi y'all!

I've just bought a good book on travelling Oz with great maps and advice that shows many options on tow.

The thing I'm mainly unsure of is the type of 4x4 we will need to get us on the road and keep us there.

At the minute, I'm thinking of travelling with a caravan or camper trailer, but not sure how large, We don't like spending big prices for cars and will be purchasing s/h. What is a good reliable model for long distance Australia and also off road camping? My biggest fear is breaking down in the middle of nowhere.

Thanks guys.

Stop scaring me!!!!

How long have you lived in the territory? If you have lived there for any length of time, you will know that the "middle of nowhere starts not very far out of Darwin and keeps going for a very long distance in all directions. The middle of nowhere is also very unforgiving and will have no mercy on those that does not respect it.

So, where am I going with this?? What I am trying to do is put the ****s up you enough to make sure that you set off on what could be the best experience of your life or the worst nightmare.

If you take the time to educate yourself, practice on some short runs to try things out to make sure all your arrangements work, you learn to become a proficient 4wdr in all sorts of situations, including towing on the bituman as well as the boondocks, you will always remember your jouney with pleasure. If you do not, you will not get very far into it before you give up and go home and that, sir, would be a crying shame!!!!

Don't get me wrong, you can travel around this great big country of ours and visit a lot of tourist spots and josstle with the tourist busses for a camping spot but it would be a bit like taking a round the world cruise in 6 weeks and fooling yourself into the belief that you have seen the world.

So, do you want to be a tourist or a traveller in this land. You mention 'off road camping' so I will assume that you want to spend some real time in the non tourist spots. They are so only because the tour busses cannot get to them and the only people you will come accross are those of a similar mind to your own. The majority of them will have been there before and need to revisit because it is not possible to take it all in the first time and it acts like a magnet to bring them back. These people will be fully self sufficient as far as food, water, fuel, power, tools, recovery equipment, spare fan belts, radiater and heater hoses, shock absorbers etc. etc. because the middle of nowhere is a hell of long way from anywhere and you need these things to stay out of the manure.

How then do you get prepared. Well, I would suggest that you take the next year and get ready for the best time of your life.

1. Pick your vehicle. It needs to be reliable (what is your life worth) Do not try and get away with a bunky it could cost you dearly. Toyota and Nissan parts are very easy to find in the outback. Even from abandoned vehicles along the road. So buy the best you can afford.

2. Join an offroad and/or 4wd club that is into camping and traveling. Not much use joining one that concentrates on rock climbing and bush bashing. Who knows, you may meet some others with the same intetions as yours and I have regularly come across groups of 4wds traveling together. (Safety in numbers etc.)

3. As for you accommodation, I suggest you go with a camper trailer. These things will follow you anywhere you can take your vehicle. You do not need a $40K Kimberley camper. Go for something you are able to afford, is solid and built for off roading. (Coil springs). Do some weekend trips and sort it to your liking.

TV............what the hell for. You will not need it. You will have awe overload every night. By the time you have set up camp, prepared the meal and ate it, done the dishes and poured the night cap, you will only have time to sit back and admire the myriad of stars, talk about the day and wonder about what tommorrow will bring before hitting the sack. Forget and get away from bad news, "The Days Of other People's Lives" and suck up some real life.

What gives me the right to try and advise you??

During the past 30 years I have circumnavigated and criss crossed this country numerous times. I have "done" the Birdsville track, the Strezlecki Track, The Gunbarrell, the Tanami,the Gibb River road, Cape Levique, One Arm Point, The Mitchell Plateau/Falls, Kalumburu, etc. I have guided 4wd tag along safaries from Kalgoorlie to the Great Australian Bight via Balladonia, Point Culver, Irealite Bay and ont Perth. I drive a 10 year old Toyota decked out for this work.

Please do it for you will never regret it if you do it right.

Happy camping.

Chrisv
 
We bought our latest 100 Series Landcruiser from Darwin for $25K last year with about 170K on the clock. Stock standard diesel, duel tanks, vinyl floors (AWESOME with kids, dirt, dust, dogs, mud, etc). If you want something with all the "fruit", you're going to pay more in Darwin (like with everything up our way) - ie built in drop down DVD player, electric windows, cruise control, sat nav. Have a think about your "needs" as opposed to your "wants". There's a premium. We've had a few & saved a fortune not going for something with all the gadgets, which may be normal for most city cowboys (no offense!), but out here in the bush, you don't need it.

Are you "going bush" or doing the caravan parks? You might even consider just keeping your car if it'll tow a caravan and hire a 4WD if you want to do certain tracks (Gibb River Road, Bungle Bungles etc). Instead of the camper or caravan, have you considered a 4x4 Landcruiser campervan with a pull out awning / annex for privacy?

What about tyres, safety gear, winch, shovel, snatch-n-strap, roof rack, lift kit? Are you going to be camping aswell so need room for swags, camping gear / boxes, fishing gear, gas bottles? Travelling with a dog? Do you need a cargo barrier? Carrying an Engel?

Which way you headed? East or West? I've done alot of travelling, lived in a 40 foot motorhome towing a 4WD aswell and currently live fairly remote so these are just thoughts from my experience. Drop in on your way past if you're headed West
 
Stop scaring me!!!!

How long have you lived in the territory? If you have lived there for any length of time, you will know that the "middle of nowhere starts not very far out of Darwin and keeps going for a very long distance in all directions. The middle of nowhere is also very unforgiving and will have no mercy on those that does not respect it.

So, where am I going with this?? What I am trying to do is put the ****s up you enough to make sure that you set off on what could be the best experience of your life or the worst nightmare.

TV............what the hell for

Great post chrisv
 
I agree! Well done Chris.

Well thats what I'm here for. Good to hear the truth straight up. I just thought we'd 'like' to have some sort of creature comfort in TV. But you make a valid point.
We're leaning towards a caravan because its no nonsense and ready to rock n roll without packing up. It also allows one of us to sleep in while the other goes surfing etc. Some time doing our own thing.

We've considered an off road camper, but we can just camp from the 4wd, leaving the caravan behind for a few days or so.

We went and had a brief look at some Landcruiser prices this morning. They are expensive, even for a 97 we looked at which was beat up and stunk of mould the owner wanted $22,000. This one had the snorkel. Had done 170,000. If the clock hadn't stopped that is.

I liked the 03 GLX which had 200,000 on the clock for the same price.

I've been out Tanami track way before and Nex-G network had coverage, plus, I hear that 000 works pretty well anywhere in emergencies. But I need to investigate this further.
 
I've never done a trip like that, but know a few who have.

Go with technology for emergencies - invest in a satellite phone (don't trust the mobile networks) and an EPIRB and you won't end up a statistic.

Good luck!
Marg
 
agree with Chris's post.
My Mum and dad have criss crossed the country for the last 30 odd years too.

They have done it in a variety of vehicles.

They started with a converted 24ft school bus but gave it up pretty quickly as they found it was a opain to have no vehicle to "sightsee"without packing everything up everydy. 2nd trip äround the block" was in the bus and towing a trailer with a Niki!:eek: (it took MONTHS to wash the bulldust out of the Niki)

Then came a procession of caravans and Ford falcons.....before finally they now have a van and a Mitsi Pajero.

BEFORE they did their first trip...they joined a caravan club (which they are still involved with) The club guys are a wealth of knowledge and tips.

From stories that Mum and Dad have told us...any car/4wd is OK BUT if you stick to Falcon/Comodore/Land Cruiser/Nissan Patrol/Mits paj there are parts easily available. Another tip is to have the same wheels/tyre size on both van and vehicle...makes for multiple spare tyres for flats.

Oh..the other thing to consider is to get the TOP roadside assisitance "thing"in your state. (in Qld, Dad has RACQ Gold.. it gives them lots of benefits if something goes wrong on the road )

Most of all HAVE FUN!!!!
 
having spent a bit of time out bush proper in areas with no tracks or roads, the vehicles the exploration cos use are invariably Tojos or the occasional nissan, almost always diesel.

Did a solo vehicle crossing of the French line in the simpson in the days b4 it was like Pitt St :).

And a Telegraph track run to the Cape Y, with a self built off road camper

Would not contemplate those in any soft roader..........

Much depends on what u are wanting to do though

U dont need a proper 4wd for most of ur travels, and indeed a RTV Falcon Ute might do 98 % of what you want.

A moderately priced option is one of the vehicles we have today, a D22 navara Dual Cab diesel. Cheapish to buy at 20 k or so with 100 k on the clock, it will do most things

ta
rof
 
With the caravan, I'm new to all of this and don't have much of an idea when it comes to 12v stuff. We need to have light and would 'like' TV at night also when in places with no power.
Apparently, most vans have a 'house battery' that is charged by the vehicles alternator. Is this true? Where is it located? How long does the charge last?
How long would a fridge and satellite TV last on a single charge? 10 minutes? 2 days?
Will a normal 240v TV also run on the 12v power source?

Mate, send me a PM and i will be happy to start chatting for HOURS on end about power management for campers/caravans.

Basically, at the front of the caravan/camper, there is usually a "utility" compartment. This houses the house battery(s) and all the fuses and electronics to power the caravan.

Many modern caravans have a 240Vac as well as a 12Vdc system... so that when you park in a caravan park, you can plug into a powered site and use your TV, kettle, aircon (yes, campers/caravans have aircon now!!), etc etc all of the site power.

As for when you leave the powered camp site, many carvans have a large battery bank and a power inverter, to convert the 12Vdc caravan power into 240Vac. How long the batteries will last depends on how much capacity they have (usually rated in AMP-HOURS), and what appliances you are running and for how long.

When you are driving around, yes there is usually a power lead from the car to the trailer, so that the 4WD alternator is charging the house battery in the caravan as well.
Often, modern caravans also have an AC powered battery charger, so that when you plug into a powered campsite, your batteries are also charged.
Many people also fit solar panels as well, so that they can charge their batteries even further with available sunlight.

As for how to manage all this power.... well this is when you get something called an "inverter-charger"..... What this does is when you are plugged into a powered campsite, it passes the power thru to all your 240Vac loads directly from the campsite power, and also charges up the house batteries. When you unplug from the campsite, it instantaneously switches on the power inverter to provide 240Vac power to those AC loads, by converting the 12Vdc from the house batteries to 240Vac.

If you are in Darwin, drop into the Jaycar Electronics store in Coconut Grove.... all the bits you need for your power management are there - solar panels, chargers, inverter-chargers, batteries, cables, connectors, etc etc.

Alternatively..... send me a PM :)

I hear you can get gas fridges, Obdviously we'd be looking at a gas cooktop.
Im not so sure how efficient gas fridges are.... but normal 240Vac fridges are fine to use if you have a suitable inverter to power them.
 
This do?..
 

Attachments

  • caravan.jpg
    caravan.jpg
    44.2 KB · Views: 391
W2BW, I will be Darwin from the 15th of June playing around with one my IP's.

I will have time to catch up for a chat. Like some of the other members have crossed back wards and forwards across the country, mainly in troop carriers but have also driven a lada from east to west coast across the centre on off road tracks and taken quite a few Delicas along the Tanami and Warburton Hwy etc.

A good option instead of towing a camper is a troop carrier with either a pop top tent or high roof. I've got a pop top which was one of those $55K versions that came out in 1988 and used by rental companies like Britz.

You can find reasonable ones for around 20K. Start with something like this first and then if you need more space go the camper trailer later.

This new camper trailer just sold for under 8K.

http://cgi.ebay.com.au/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=170490816289&hc=1&hm=um.riae`t736

If you are confident mechanically wise then the make of vehicle may not be to important but if you have to realy on workshops or dealers then Toyota, Nissan or Mitsubishi vehicles main choice.

Important thing is recovery gear and what type to take. Most of my troopies have pto winches but I also carry a small tirfor. Have only used them once for myself but many times helping others.

You can have a look at my troopy for an idea of what they are like with a pop top. I've gutted the inside and taken out all the cupboards and bed etc and now just have rear side seats. One big advantage of the pop top troopy is you can take the roof off during the dry season and excellent for driving around or getting photos of animals up close.

Have pm you.
 
Last edited:
Oh, and also Whitzl.

You say many 'modern' vans have 12v, does this mean that 12v is rare on older models? In which case we may have to 'gene' it?

Thanks mate.
 
Top