UK Overlanders planning 10 day trip in hired 4x4 looking for advice.

Submitted: Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 05:24
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My wife and I are visiting family for 6 weeks (from UK) and thinking of hiring a 4x4 with roof tent for around 10 days from 7th March (i.e. just the 2 of us).

We have a 94 Landcrusier with roof tent fridge etc. which we drove to Mongolia (from UK) in 2011 and are planning to drive from Baltimore to the to of Alasaka, then down to the bottom of South America and back round to Columbia to ship back. Starting June this year, and cannot resist the urge to do a bit of off roaad in Australia.

We will be based in Port Maquarie and will probaly hire from Sydney, but would be prepared to travel to another location to hire if we can get a better 4x4 experience in 10 or 11 days.

I would really appreciate any advice on where and what company to hire from. I have checked out a few on the net (Britz, Wicked and TCC) and so far TCC appears to be the best value for money and includes recovery gear etc. Does anyone have any views or advice.

There are a few routes in NSW shown on this web site, but have no idea what is acheivable in the time scale. Any advice would be welcome and would love to hook up with anyone planning something similar.
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Reply By: Member - John - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 07:48

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 07:48
What sort of scenery do you like/want to look at etc?

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Reply By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 09:48

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 09:48
You could spend several days just in the state forests & National Parks behind Port Macquarie, up to Walcha, across to Armidale , Grafton, Coffs Harbour and back to Port Macquarie alone. Probably only 800km round trip, but speak to "local Aussies", not fellow tourists & European backpackers.
Alternatively you could spend that 11 days basically driving 10 hours each day with 3 days at Uluru/ Ayres Rock-Olgas (no time for Alice Springs) all on bitumen and not speak to any locals
You could head to beautiful Fraser Island and spend a few days there, or head towards the Simpson desert (that & Uluru in March depends on your tolerance for continual 35-40C days)

As stated above you need to state what you want to do/ see. Desert scenery, sub tropical and temperate rainforests, savannah type plains with roos & emus and large sheep/cattle stations, the sand driving at Fraser, or to the Barrier Reef further north.
Or do you just want to get some serious four wheel driving.

You need to decide what you want to see, if you want any local resident interaction and how much you want to drive each day.
You are obviously accustomed to a lot of driving, but that still doesn't tell us how long you want to spend behind the wheel each day or what you want to see.

Give those details and you will get some really good answers on this web site
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Follow Up By: workhorse - Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 20:39

Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 20:39
Have to agree here. if you've only got so few days you have to decide between seeing what's in from tot you or seeing what's rushing past you. Im up in the Comboyne plateau and from here I can be on the beach, up along forestry trails, big waterfalls, up the higher country of New England.
Ive been here all my life and still finding spots.

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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 10:13

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 10:13
If you are looking for a uniquely Australian desert experience, start in Adelaide and go north via the Flinders Ranges, Oodnadatta Track, Coober Pedy..........
10 days is a bit too short though.

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Follow Up By: Member - John - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 13:38

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 13:38
and bloody hot at that time of the year quiet possibly.............
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Reply By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 10:46

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 10:46
Hi I-10 mins, if you start from Sydney all the decent 4WD is locked up for a 150 km radius - and rightly so as its drinking water catchment and NP's. Of the few remaining tracks little would need any low range at all. Try camping at Old Ford Reserve in the Blue Mountains - its 15 km from Blackheath. Do day trips to the Lost City and Glow worm Tunnel, Jenolan Caves, Kanangra Walls, low range into Dingo Dell. And you have the fabulous Blue Mtns NP at your doorstep. There's even the Dryridge winery a few km from the reserve.....W

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Reply By: AMack - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 13:05

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 13:05
Pick up Brisbane> Fraser island 3days (reduce tyre press.contrary to any hirers advice) Carnarvon NP, Barcaldine / Longreach / Lark quarry, (Diamantina NP? haven't actually been there yet) Bedourie Pub, Birdsville out and back to big red, Windorah, Charleville (night sky observatory) Roma, Brisbane (10days abit rushed but 2 weeks?). Great outback driving and experience.
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Reply By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 13:56

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 13:56
I think some of these outback suggestions are a bit ambitious - even though you are clearly no stranger to long distances it would be a bit frenzied.

I reckon if you started from Brissie and spent 5 days on Fraser Island and 5 days around Condamine Gorge (Brissie/Gold Coast hinterland) would be perfect. Fraser is magnificent as are those mountains with clear riverside camps.

A shame you are a month or so early; you could've got a cheap flight to Cairns or Darwin and done the Cape or Top End.

If you are starting from Pt MacQ. you have Point Plomer and Kylie's Beach on your doorstep as I'm sure your hosts will verify. Depends on your interests
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 14:10

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 14:10
I agree with you Steve re some of the ambitious outback suggestions for a 10 day trek.
And a good thing about the Condamine Gorge track is that you can safely walk the crossings if you wish........ there are very few crocodiles! LOL

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Reply By: Danna - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 14:29

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 14:29
there is one very important thing to know if you hire any off-road vehicle (4WD).
You must know where exactly you want go, as not many hire company's let you go with their vehicles everywhere! Ask, before hiring ..... it is about type of vehicle and it's reliability , equipment. Do not forget it is also about insurance. Well set-up vehicle can be very easily worth AU$ 100.000 or more. But if you after serious 4WD travel, you will need serious vehicle.
It is very well documented, that even vehicle you traveled from UK to Mongolia and what ever else, will not have suspension suited to Australia's tough off-road 4Wdrinvig.
It really depends where you exactly want to go.
The suggestions I read up to now, do not really take you out of civilization. Some of them are even on bitumen or just common dirt roads (Flinders Ranges, Oodnadatta Track, Coober Pedy and other places).
Also 10days in Australia is like 5days in UK .... like I have been there, but I wish .....

Anyway coast of Kimberly is where you really, really want to go! You can fly there from almost any bigger airport.
Check highest tide of a particular month to see Stairs to moon from Roebuck Bay caravan park order beforehand flight-land- speedboat travel on The Horizontal Waterfalls, Hire vehicle or go with tour to Bungle Bungle (Purnululu NP), Cape Leveque, Wolfe Creek Crate and lot, lot more. There in Kimberly region is so much to see, and to Australian distances things are "close by"....sot-of...
One thing is must if you are in Broome, and that is Pearl Luggers museum and show. It is real eye opener.
Link to what I mean:


Cheers Dana
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Follow Up By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 21:11

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 21:11
In March? Possible, but really.........
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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 14:38

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 14:38
Clearly, Sydney is your most convenient hire point and there are many option from there without long boring bitumen travel. Google "4WD from Sydney" for a host of references.

A good book on this subject is "4WD Treks Close to Sydney" available from the Bookshop on this ExplorOz site.

I would also suggest that early March can still pretty be hot in our Outback and can also still be wet and impassable in some northern areas. Also, to fly somewhere to start and finish your trek will consume two of your available 10 days apart from the additional costs.

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Follow Up By: Intrepidfor10minutes - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 23:24

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 23:24
Thanks Alan. We will need to travel from Port M to Sydney to hire a vehicle as it looks like we can only hire one with roof tent from the major cities. However, Brisbane could be an option and maybe use '4wd close to Brisbane'? Which would you recomend of the two, for the time of year?

This is just a taster, my wife and I (60 and 62) have just retired to go traveling, the Amercas for the next couple of years, but we will almost certainly come for longer in the future, possibly bring our own vehicle overland as China and India are definitley on the cards.

You'r not planning anything local yourself by any chance? It could be good to hook up for a few days.
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Reply By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 16:40

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 16:40
I agree with those saying avoid central Australia at that time of the year. Not many travel those areas at that time. The distances are huge, the areas isolated and the temperatures can still be extreme at that time. I might do it but only in a vehicle that I really knew well, not a hire vehicle. And I would want lots of extra gear and communications stuff and water.
Sticking closer to the coast or the southern high country looks much wiser and you will enjoy it better.
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Reply By: allein m - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 16:43

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 16:43
OK I found this by accident it it a 3 part series short video from ray mears look at it and listen well it is a sad tale of a number of mistakes by a couple of tourists in the out back and one pay dearly for the mistake

it tell you that many hire companies do not tell you any thing about what sort of problems you may get into traveling in the Australian out back and the lack of equipment provided by many companies for a trip in to the out backout back help

Now I live in Broken Hill on the edge of the outback Australia and we are already into our 2 session of over 5 days over 110 in your terms it is a dry dry heat now it will not be like that when you come here but many towns out this way are having water problems and you will have to carry double what you may normally need

there is also a huge increase of wild life after a several good wet seasons but again we are in drought

have a look at the video and see what it is really like out this way

the out back has a way of just when you think all is well it will turn around and bite you on the bum and things will turn pear shape and go down hill quick

so please do come out this way we need tourists but we want you to go home as well enjoying a good trip so you can tell your friends so they will come
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Follow Up By: allein m - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 17:23

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 17:23
O yes mobil phone coverage is not that good once you leave the major citys Telstra is the only phone service that people like my self who live and work out this way

I get what is called a blue tick phone that allows me to connect a external aerial for better reception but there is vast tracks of land with no coverage

but some sales people will say any thing for a sale

A friend decided to moved from Albury toPerth and well ran into problems
well she broken down 60 ks out of Broken hill and it was 3 am and yes no phone service the provider does not provide coverage out this way and at that time not much traffic after 2 hours a car did come by she gave them my number and they rang me I went out fixed the car simple thing radiator hose . when she finally got here and she rang the company who did not care and said basically stiff poo

she bought a 2nd phone telstra with a external antenna which I fitted for her

now the guy said we cover all over Australia and you do not need to go buy a external antenna that is annoying that sales people can get away with that this could have been a life or death situation car accident ect
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 17:47

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 17:47
March will be much too hot to venture very far west from Port Macquarie, and the distances are too great to really see any of the more remote areas in your timeframe. However March is a perfect time to see the beautiful coast and ranges and a bit of the country west from the tablelands. You could hire a 4WD from Port Macquarie and spend 10 days using the following route as a guide.

Port Macquarie to Walcha (taking in national parks with big waterfalls and rainforest), Bendemeer, Manilla, Boggabri, Narrabri (Mt Kaputar NP), Bingara, Inverell (Copeton Dam) Glen Innes to Grafton via the Old Glen Innes road (wonderful campsite at the Mann River Reserve), detour from Grafton along the lower Clarence R to Maclean and Brooms Head,
then from Grafton down the coast to Port M. via the beautiful beaches around Coffs Harbour and Nambucca Heads.

That route would include some gravel road at least (and you can probably find a few tracks to explore as well) but will give you a variety of things to see.


J and V
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Reply By: Member - Outback Gazz - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 18:29

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 18:29

Looks like a bit of bad planning on your behalf !

You should have got here a few months ago when the Ashes were on - you could have travelled from cricket ground to cricket ground all over the country !! LOL

Enjoy your stay

Happy and safe travelling


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Follow Up By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 21:15

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 21:15
He probably had enough ashes the last series, and then there was the rugby.......not that he's likely to be interested. Most poms watch football.
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Follow Up By: Intrepidfor10minutes - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 22:00

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 22:00
I imagine that being English following the ashes would be dismal if you liked cricket, personaly I would prefer to sit in my garden and watch the grass grow (when it is not raining of course). I am not really interested in Football either, but I do like to watch International Rugby, Union and League. My passion is motor sport, 2 or 4 wheels and I am also into road and off road cycling - which would be a thought for Aus, but my wife would not join me (but hopefully I can aquire a bike in Port M for a bit of 2 wheel exploring).
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Reply By: Intrepidfor10minutes - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 21:48

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 21:48
Thanks to all for the replies, and the replies to replies. I suppose I have limited experience of 4x4 tracks as such, a few trips to North Waes and a more recent trip to Portugal, each time with a group of experienced off roaders.

But my wife and I (62 qnd 60) have travelled 000's of miles on our own on 'normal' roads of dirt, sand, rock and mud, with a few river crossings thrown in. The difference is that all these roads are travelled by overloaded trucks and cars, willing to help when things go wrong. In our case it was more us helping others (except once when we sunk to the axles in Mongolia and had to wait 2 hours for another cruiser to pull us out). Some of the best roads were in Kyrgyzstan and TaJikistan, good quality dirt roads over the mountains, with amazing views, (a little narrow in some places, with no guard rails and huge drops and then odd dodgy bridge) in fact the tarmac roads were worst as most were riddled with pot holes. We also crossed the Gobi Dessert (up to 50c in places) with another vehicle.
It is difficult to know exactly what I will get when I hire a 4x4, but TCC say that all vehicles have a winch, plus a kit including high lift jack, snatch strap etc. but I have no wish to undertake any risks to the vehicle or ourselves, at least not on our own. I have no idea what the tracks in Australia are really like, but dirt tracks that are easy to follow (once you are on them), with the odd challenge, is our sort of road, preferably with some mountain scenery thrown in, starting in Sydney or Brisbane.

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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 22:11

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 22:11
The 4wd Treks close to Sydney book would be perfect for you. Plenty of great scenery, all dirt tracks, not too challenging but some harder bits if you want. Plenty of variation from mountains to beach sand dunes and the weather will be spot on perfect at that time of year. I've done all the trips in the book and you can string them together one after the other quite easily. You will never be more than 2-3 hours from Sydney but you will feel like you are in the middle of wilderness on some of them. And you will be camping with kangaroos and wombats etc at many of the sites. I highly recommend it.
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Follow Up By: Intrepidfor10minutes - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 23:04

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 23:04
Hi Mike

4WD Treks close to Sydney or Brisbane are both within reach, which would be best for treks and weather at the time of year? We would like it nice and warm (coming from cold and wet UK) but over 30 might be too warm.

I have also seen a few comments on 'High Country 4wd and Camping in Victoria' and would guess this covers the route on your blog, which looks amazing and looks like the sort of thing we would be looking for and should be capable by a hired land cruiser. but this book does not appear to be available at the moment.
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Follow Up By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 23:17

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 23:17
If you have to start in a capital city, Brisbane would be my pick as you can get 4WD tracks much closer to Brisbane, plus you have Fraser Island.
There are some beautiful places around Sydney, but to me it gets a higher profile than it deserves compared to many other places simply because of the 5+ million people between Wollongong, Sydney and Newcastle.
From the scenic volcanic rim at Mt Warning 90 minutes south of Brisbane to Fraser Island 3 hours north. SE Qld temperatures near the coast will be high 20's during the day, probably 4-5C warmer than near Sydney.
Your vehicle sounds like it will be kitted out with more gear than you will ever need for the places you intend to travel.

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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Sunday, Feb 02, 2014 at 01:57

Sunday, Feb 02, 2014 at 01:57
The Vic High Country is a great trip but is definately harder than the tracks in the Sydney book. It's also a 7 hour drive from Sydney before you start. The other considerations are that it is likely to be cooler and you can get stuck quite easily if it rains as a lot of the tracks are super steep. If you are not really experienced and without a properly set up car, then not a good idea on your own. It's best done with the company of others.
I've done trips around Brisbane and up to Fraser and you can't really go wrong with that suggestion either. The reason I put forward the Sydney book is the crystal clear routing information, the interesting trek notes and the generally more moderate degree of difficulty. Don't get me wrong, you can't do quite a few of the tracks without low range. The nights will be a little cooler Brisbane on the Sydney trip as most of the treks are in or around the Blue Mountains area out west, but nothing like the chill of the UK though :-)
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Reply By: rumpig - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 23:28

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 23:28
being you're not going to want to clock up the bigger klms to get outback and back again in 10 days, i'd suggest getting out of Sydney ASAP and head to some of the spots Val mentioned earlier.
head up towards Coffs Harbour, go inland along the Waterfall Way around Dorrigo etc, Copeton Dam is a beaut spot to camp by the water, be sure and drive / camp on the Old Grafton - Glen Innes Rd, and i'd head a touch further North to climb Bald Rock at Bald Rock National Park, and then go to Girraween National Park and climb The Pyramid...the views a top both locations are spectacular and worth the work out to the legs.
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Feb 02, 2014 at 08:37

Sunday, Feb 02, 2014 at 08:37
Thanks rumpig. Not sure why the OP needs a RTT, especially if that is the only reason to go to either Sydney or Brisbane. Hiring a 4x4 in Port M. where they will be based and picking up a few necessary items in K Mart (dome tent, sleeping gear etc) would probably saver both time and $$$ - especially not wasting 2 crucial days getting in and out of a major city. That central NSW part of the country and the places you mentioned offer great variety; a bit of rain and the old Grafton Road can be pretty exciting.


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Follow Up By: Intrepidfor10minutes - Sunday, Feb 02, 2014 at 22:19

Sunday, Feb 02, 2014 at 22:19
I have not been able to find anything suitable to hire from Port M on the net, other than Toyotas in the luxury car class from Hertz. Budget appeared to offer 4x4's for off road use, but the only vehicle in the 4x4/truck section was a moving lorry. Also, local enquires have resulted in nothing. Do you have any ideas of where I might find a suitable 4x4 for hire more locally?

The specilalist companies provide a winch, recovery gear and roof tent, plus camping stove fridge etc., admitedly if we hired locally we could borrow some of these things.

We used to camp all the time, but in latter years we have used a caravan in the UK and the roof tent was the only way my wife would agree to travel to Mongolia. Having said that we have now spent close on 200 nights in our Howling Moon roof tent and is almost as comfortable as our bed at home. We would never have managed to travel so far and for so long without it.

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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Feb 02, 2014 at 22:48

Sunday, Feb 02, 2014 at 22:48
A quick google seemed to show a number of companies with 4wds for hire from Port Macquarie - though I fully accept that when you get into the fine print things may be different with conditions like no going off bitumen. Having said that I doubt that the route outlined would require recovery gear of any sort let alone a winch - and much of it could be done in a sedan. But Im still not clear about what sort of things you want to see so I will leave it at that.

Hope you enjoy your trip, wherever it takes you.


J and V
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Reply By: lkyphl - Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 10:31

Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 10:31
As you're visiting in March, I wouldn't rule out spending the entire ten days in Tasmania ; quiet, relaxed, terrific scenery, lots of historical stuff, good fishing if that's your thing, any amount of walking ; it's simply a great place to visit,

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Reply By: Krooznalong - Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 14:40

Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 14:40
G'day Mate
Have you considered giving the rooftop tent idea away and just staying at B&Bs, cabins, on-site vans etc. Might be cheaper/easier/more comfortable.

For that length of time I'd recommend the New England and Granite Belt areas as suitable. Some really nice stuff up in those areas. Some good 4WDing, lots of National Parks and State Forests. Plenty of waterfalls, mountain scenery, beautiful countryside, bush walking etc.

Weather will be nice during day and nippy at night.

Sorry - can't comment on who to hire from.

Perhaps if you were more specific regarding what you'd like to see we could be more specifc in our advice.
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