Ready for the off
The preparations for our trip to the Channel Country and Far West and Central West Queensland have been more extensive – and more expensive – than for any other trip.
What the Aussies don't know about trips of this nature isn't worth knowing, so it's best to listen to their advice and follow their recommendations. We have spent a number of hours at ARB, whose 4x4 accessories are 'designed tough to withstand the harsh condition of the Australian Outback'. They advised us about fridge-freezers, maps and two-way radios, among other essentials.
Months ago, we debated about fitting bull bars, but decided against it for fear of compromising certain safety features on the car, although the jury may still be out on that, I think. Also, if you watched Kangaroo Dundee, you'll appreciate how the affable Aussie character who rescues joeys from their road-killed mothers' pouches probably tipped the balance against bars on the car. Call me a softie pommie if you will, but I'd rather drive for longer hours at slower speeds than have to deal with roo remains. Land Rover UK rather unhelpfully didn't respond to our questions. Instead we are fitting sonic animal guards, devices that emit high-frequency sound waves to warn animals away from moving vehicles. I suspect we will only know for sure if they don't work.
The absence of roo bars and the fact that the bonnet (hood) of the car folds over the wings meant fitting an aerial to increase the range of our UHF CB radio was something of a challenge. We now have one, but I promise you a fishing rod holder will not be next on our accessories wish list.
We have a lot more paraphernalia accumulating than usual before a road trip. There is a boys' bag, containing torch, a tool roll, rope, ratchet straps, WD-40, spare batteries and bulbs, electric cable, spare gas canister, catapult and jar of small stones! We have acquired a 22-litre jerrycan, an 'adventure' (gas) lantern, a high-performance gas stove and aluminium kettle. So, if we get stranded or lost, at least we can have tea while attempting to ward off unwelcome critters*.
We've had the driving-in-sand tuition, and a few weeks ago ventured into Landcruiser Mountain Park (top), serious off-road territory. But you can never be sure you've covered all eventualities. I have to check Bulloo Shire road condition updates as late as possible before departure on Saturday. We're hoping to use a few minor tracks to reduce daily distances and free up more time for exploration, but they'll be out of the question following heavy rain. This region isn't called the Channel Country for no good reason.
We have 1:250,000 topographic maps of the whole of Australia installed on our iPad. And we have a GPS receiver. My friend has set up EOTrackMe online so friends and family can locate our destinations and see how far we've progressed – or not. A Brisbane pal has a list of all accommodations from which I will check in, technology permitting, upon arrival.
Just to add a frisson of concern during the few days prior to departure, we ordered a number of spare parts a little late and they still haven't arrived from Europe**. If they get here in time, there'll be another bag in the back of the car for fan belt, radiator hoses, air filter, tyre repair kit, bulbs and fuses, break oil, power steering oil and radiator coolant. Three more sleeps...
I think we've done most of the things you're supposed to do to avoid mishap in remote regions. However, no amount of preparation will save us from obscurity if we happen too closely upon the Min Min lights. And if you don't know what they are, then you'll just have to read my Outback posts over the next few weeks.
* I think that's what the catapult and small stones are for.
** They have now!
This post was last updated on 7 June 20113