Touring the harsh environment of the Australian Outback is best done in a robust vehicle designed for the job.
Mind you, in days long gone people travelled the Australian Outback in old Model T Fords…
Our vehicle is a LandroverDefender 130 Twin Cab manufactured in 1995, and completely rebuilt from scratch in 2006. Up until the time we purchased the vehicle it had been used as a farm vehicle in the wine growing region of the Hunter Valley just to the north of Sydney. We reconfigured it for long-range travel and it can cover a distance of around 1,800 kilometres without the need to refuel.
Strewth, that would be 1,100 miles…
We intentionally chose an older vehicle so we didn’t have to deal with a “computer failure” disabling the vehicle in the middle of no-where. A rare occurrence mind you, but it is a long walk from the middle of no-where in the Australian Outback!
It uses solar panels for power management and has a High-Frequency Radio for long-range communication that enables us to stay in contact even in the most remote parts of Australia.
And it can carry 100 litres of water in a specially designed stainless steel water tank.
Inside the canopy we carry an inflatable boat and outboard motor for touring the creeks and billabongs we come across in our travels, has a 60 litre fridge, and we carry a comprehensive range of spare parts, tools and tyre repair equipment.
After all, in the event of a break-down help can be hundred’s of kilometres away. We also carry a substantial medical kit.
And to enable it to cope with the harsh environment we travel in, it has specialist suspension.
The camper-trailer, a Track T-Van, is every bit as tough as the vehicle and was designed by a company that makes trailer equipment for the Australian army. It doesn’t come on all our trips, but crikey, we need to find a good reason not to take it, as it makes for a very comfortable night’s sleep.
Quite a change to a bivvy bag and sleeping bag on the side of an alpine mountain in the freezing cold!
Anyway, make sure you give us a wave if you see “The Landy” Out and About.
Landrovers, I love ‘em so much that I’ve got two (Janet rolls eyes 😉 )
I’m sure much can be said and written about someone who has two Landrover Defenders, and I’ve had a good chuckle at the usual Landy jokes that frequently come my way!
But after my Defender 130 Twin Cab, ‘The Landy’, was overhauled and configured for long-range remote touring in 2006 my attention turned to another project. I was actually in need of a vehicle to drive to work, so I decided, much to the consternation of Mrs. Landy, to buy a Defender 110 in need of work, but adequate for the job until I got around to it.
In 2007 I settled on a 1994 Defender 200 TDi that was in reasonable working order, and over a period of time simply drove it to find out what needed to be done and what I wanted to do with it. This was the three door Panel Van style Defender, as distinct from the usual five door Station Wagon format; it had three seats in the front and not one piece of computer controlled equipment!
The rear is cavernous and consequently Red Rover spent many weekends over the past four years transporting garden rubbish to the local refuse point, an important fallback point for both vehicle and myself when the time came to discuss finances for the overhaul…
Now Mrs. Landy quite enjoys driving ‘The Landy’ and does so frequently, however when it came to ‘Red Rover’ she suggested that driving a tank would be easier and would save having to do strength-training just to enable her to depress the clutch, or wearing ear muffs to stave off the early onset of deafness. I was tempted to point out the onset of deafness had indeed commenced as whenever we discussed ‘the overhaul’ it appeared to fall on deaf-ears, however not being one to push my luck I settled on highlighting an overhaul would fix all those issues…
Fast-forwarding to 2011, the time had come to ‘update’ Red Rover and after giving it much thought and putting aside many of the ‘ideas’ I had for it, I settled on keeping it as original as practical. So it was off to Bruce Davis Performance Landy’s, Sydney, for a complete ‘going-over’ and check-up.
As with ‘The Landy’ the brief was simple, ‘Red Rover’ had to be at a standard that you would be happy to take to any of the remote areas in Australia, with confidence…
The running gear and drive-line was overhauled, new Tough-Dog shock absorbers and maxi-drive axles were fitted to replace the standard issue. All hoses were replaced, the radiator overhauled, a Safari Snorkel and front bash-plate added and two new seats to replace the ones that were falling apart. The centre seat was not replaced.
The engine was in good condition, and apart from fitting a new head-gasket late in 2010, little else has been done to it despite having over 330,000 kilometres on it today.
After getting the mechanical ‘nod’ of approval it was off for the cosmetic work, which included a respray, new door seals so I no longer need to wear wet weather gear when driving in the rain, and an interior make-over supervised by Norm from the Department of Interior, Sydney.
For those not familiar with this model Defender the only trim it came with was a hood lining in the front seating compartment, other than that it was very ‘rural’. The middle seat has been replaced by a custom made console that also houses a GME 4400 TXUHF Radio, and an across the windscreen shelf roof console inserted along with map reading lights.
The rear was kept very simple; a floor put in across the wheel arches, with an under floor access section fashioned into it at the front. This was done to provide ease of access due to the depth of the rear area and the whole panel has been covered in marine carpet. The roof has also been lined providing some much needed insulation in winter.
A near new set of Cooper ATRs were fitted along with TPMS tyre pressure monitors. We have trialled the TPMS monitors on ‘The Landy’ for some time and are very happy with the product. And it even got a new set of LED taillights.
It has been pleasing to take the vehicle from its previous condition to something that presents well, and is capable of doing any tracks or touring we might throw at it (Anne Beadell 2012?). And I did suggest to Mrs. Landy that it could play ‘wingman’ to our Defender 130 (The Landy) on our trip to the Gulf Savannah that commences in late June. However, whilst casting an eye of approval over the final result, she did quip that whilst it no longer sounds or rides like you’re in a tank she thought it best to leave it at home, and with a wink quickly added it was far too early to expose it to the risk of getting a ‘scratch’…….
You can’t miss it on the road, fire-engine Red so be sure to give it the ‘Landy Wave’ if you’re passing!