Touring in a 2WD

Submitted: Monday, Sep 23, 2013 at 21:30
ThreadID: 104453 Views:2893 Replies:5 FollowUps:9
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Hi everyone,
We are based in Melbourne, have a 2012 2wd Volkswagen passat diesel wagon and are looking at doing some touring to some of the more remote places. We camp in tents towing a lock up trailer. We are self sufficient with power, toilet & shower, jerry cans for water and a back up 140 watt solar system to compliment the 75 ah thumper
So far, we have done the black top through the centre to Kings Canyon, Uluru, Darwin, Kakadu, Litchfield, across to the east coast and up to Cape Trib and back to Melbourne.
Heading up to Menindee lakes in November for a week via Broken hill.
What is the trip like back along the Darling river into. Wentworth?
We are looking for some good trips suitable for a 2wd in some of the more historic and remote places. Don't mind a bit of dirt / gravel but remember that we are 2wd with low ground clearance.
Any places that come to mind greatly appreciated.
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Reply By: KevinE - Monday, Sep 23, 2013 at 22:48

Monday, Sep 23, 2013 at 22:48
Hi Phantom,

We've done Bunyaroo & Brachina gorges in a Falcon Ute, Parachilna gorge in flood in a KJ Laser (just walked the river crossings in front of the car to ensure it was OK), East & West McDonnell ranges in several 2WD's, including the Laser. We also did Beltana - Sliding Rock in a Falcon SW.

Until the Eyre Hwy & Stuart Hwy were sealed, nearly everyone did the trip in 2WD's, including buses & those 2 roads were horrible compared to most modern gravel roads lol!

Some other roads I would have no hesitation of doing in a 2WD in dry weather are:

* Oodnadatta track.

* Mereenie Loop Road.

* Gibb River Road (as long as its late in the dry & the water crossings are low) We were up there when the NSW Variety Bash came through in 2011 - saw HEAPS of old 2WD's come through & never encountered anyone stuck anywhere! Even met 2 girls driving a Yank Tank at Adcock gorge. They must have gone through a fairly high water crossing on the way in & still had no issues.

* Painted Desert.

* Birdsville Track.

* Most of the roads in Channel/corner country.

In fact, its probably easier to list the roads a 2WD shouldn't go down, there are less of them lol!

Cheers! :=)

AnswerID: 518667

Follow Up By: Member - phantom - Monday, Sep 23, 2013 at 22:54

Monday, Sep 23, 2013 at 22:54
Thanks Kevin,
Some food for thought. Would like to do Birdsville and oodnadatta track. I gues it is just driving to the conditions.
FollowupID: 798582

Reply By: Member - Tony H (touring oz) - Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 07:41

Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 07:41
Hi Rob,
That's correct.... Drive to the conditions & all should be OK..... Enjoy!
AnswerID: 518675

Follow Up By: Ozhumvee - Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 08:22

Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 08:22
I've not had anything to do with Passat's so know nothing about them but if it has uncommon size low profile tyres then that might be the biggest problem.
We have friends with a late model Golf and as we live in a small country town an hour from a regional centre it was a big problem sourcing replacement tyres for it after wrecking a couple of low profile ones on potholes. They had to be sent from Sydney in the end, would be a huge problem outback.
Does the Passat have a full size spare? those little emergency tyres and wheels don't last long on gravel roads.
FollowupID: 798585

Follow Up By: Member - phantom - Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 08:32

Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 08:32
Hi Ozhumvee,
Does have low profile tyres similar to a Golf but does have full size alloy spare.
FollowupID: 798586

Follow Up By: redgp - Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 10:18

Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 10:18
Yes tyres are the problem.

Came across a couple in a late model Golf on the Oodnadatta, they had had a puncture (destroyed the tyre) and had now developed a slow leak in another tyre, they had been trying everywhere they had been including Coober Pedy to purchase a new replacement for the blown tyre. The slow leak was getting worse and required them to use the small compressor (they purchased along the way after not being able to get a replacement tyre) every hour or so.

In my opinion taking any vehicle on these type of roads (even when driving to the conditions) without two spares is asking for a heap of trouble. Even then the tyre size and basic type must be a commonly available type. We camped near them that night and ripped of the wheel and repaired the slow leaking tyre (with plugs - not very good to rely on)

In examining the tyre that night, I couldn't believe how soft the side walls are and how little side wall there is between the rim and road compared to our off road tyres (285/75/16 AT's)

The little Golf had had a few hits underneath but it had a lot of standard belly pans that were getting scratched up but nothing that would have stopped them BUT tyres were defiantly its Achilles heel.

PS they were so happy with my plug repair that they set off the next morning to try for a new suitable at Marree and Lyndhurst (Ha Ha) and then they said they would try at Birdsville. I just shook my head and said a little prayer.

FollowupID: 798588

Follow Up By: Ozhumvee - Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 10:35

Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 10:35
Our friends with the Golf ended up selling it and buying another model that had "normal" tyres after being stranded with two flats on a couple of occasions.
FollowupID: 798589

Follow Up By: outback epicurean - Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 12:02

Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 12:02
Apart from tyres, your BIGGEST problem on all the roads suggested as possible in 2WD will be ground clearance and corugations. We have come across several cars/utes on outback road who have come to grief with fuel lines or other underneath component damaged by stones, sticks, roots etc. Many of these roads have a distinct hump in the middle and 2 wheel ruts. A heavily loaded, unmodified 2WD will easily bottom on this hump and damage can occur. The greatest need for outback travel in NOT 4WD, its raised suspension, good shockers and strong types!
FollowupID: 798592

Follow Up By: Member - phantom - Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 21:15

Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 21:15
Thanks for all the follow up.
Agree that the 17 inch low profile tyres and lack of ground clearance has it's issues.
I am after suggestions on places that may be suitable for what we have, bearing in mind that I don't want to jeopardise either my family or car.
FollowupID: 798609

Reply By: CSeaJay - Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 12:25

Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 12:25
Rob, Kim & Will

I would advise against.
Yes, absolutely and as many has replied, it can be done and has been done by a 2WD.
And yes as many implied you don't need 4 wheel drive to get by

The main reason for advising against the Passat is that it simply is not made to withstand the conditions that you will come across, at the frequency that you will come across it, and the relatively long time you will spend in these conditions.
4WD cars have the advantage of
1) ability to put reasonable tyres on
2) availability of those tyre size and construction in remote areas
3) it has clearance
4) it is more sturdy, has better (stronger more reliable) running gear
5) the suspension will better handle the weight that you have to carry
6) overall more reliable for all these reasons (important in remote areas)
7) and as a bonus, is a 4WD

To put it into perspective; on Exploroz and other forums, sometimes when debating different 4WD cars, the comment is made to stick with well known brands (say Toyota, Nissan, etc) as they are a tad more reliable but more importantly better supported in remote areas. Something as simple as a batch of bad fuel will stop any diesel, but parts and know-how will get the common brand 4WD back into action in remote areas. Not wanting to start a new topic but even the Amarok is proving to be stranded in some areas as VW support and parts are not available.
I would personally not do it in a Passat

Cheers, and I must say I am quite jealous of you being able to do a trip like this
AnswerID: 518684

Follow Up By: Member - phantom - Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 21:12

Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 21:12
Some good Info CSeaJay,
I understand the limitations of our rig and am really looking for any trips suitable for what we have.
Agree that ground clearance is an issue as i have to jack it up just to get underneath and the low profile 17" tyres have their limitations. Taking a second spare is no issue but........

Looking for easier trips to some great locations that would suit what we have. Would love to do the tanami and a trip up to the cape but know that we are not capable with what we have.
Don't want to put ourselves in at risk or trash the car and trailer, just looking for some nice places to camp.
Either for long weekends or the odd week or 2 here and there.
We are planning a 2 month trip over to the West coast in late 2014 and up to Broome way. Mainly on the black top.
FollowupID: 798608

Reply By: Dave B ( BHQ NSW) - Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 14:10

Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 14:10
Rob, as others have said, tyres would be the main concern.
Depends on what size you have on your Passat.
I have a Golf with 15 inch wheels and I think they would be OK , but I would be a bit doubtful if you have 17, and wouldn't try it with 18 inch.
The Menindee road to Wentworth via Pooncarie is dirt and varies a lot due to weather and the road is maintained by 2 different councils, so one half could be OK and the other half maybe rough. Sometimes it is good all the way.
Pooncarie to Wentworth is sealed.

'Wouldn't be dead for quids'

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AnswerID: 518688

Reply By: exmouth1 - Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 21:14

Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 21:14
G, day phantom,
Good to see a lot of negativity from some of the replies. I think you will not have many probs if you have good tyres and a second spare or carcass.
I was a ringer on a large station near Finke in the 60s. The station vehicles were a falcon gs Ute and a sedan of the same era. The roads were very basic at this time and I remember that some of the river xings had to be attempted at speed just get to the other side, my memory of the Stuart highway was bulldust holes and corrugations for miles and all of this in 2 wheel drives. I remember my parents doing an out back trip in a Pontiac Parisienne and having no problems other than it ingressing a lot of red dust. The other station vehicles were VW buggies that were used for bore runs as they were very capable in the dune country and very fast on the bore runs. I remember they purchased a couple of landover diesels and they were that slow that you had to use 4wdrive as momentum was a non issue
Good luck with your travels
AnswerID: 518702

Follow Up By: Member - phantom - Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 21:22

Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 21:22
Thanks John,
Some good points to mull over. Will definitely look into a second spare, plugs and maybe a carcass if we go down this track.
Am concerned with the ground clearance though.
30 years ago, I went up to cape trib with a couple of river crossings and out back Qld in an old Dodge van with slant 6 motor with no issues BUT it had a heap of ground clearance.
FollowupID: 798611

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