A touch of 4wd history

Submitted: Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:02
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My memories only, others might disagree.

In the "old days", things were much harder but simpler.
You bought the 4wd you wanted, s/h of course. Nobody worried about its km. Putting tyres on it was a trip down to the tyre shop. Probably s/h light truck tyres. All were on a split rim, of course.

Clubs and training facilities were few and far between, so you had to find some self training space where you could make your mistakes relatively close to home. Then you ventured a bit further away.

Very few pulled anything, tents were the go. Swags were for swag men, or the hairy chested brigade; and the dome tent didn't exist.

It was unusual to see a winch on a vehicle, the hi lift jack would do the trick we thought. Snatch straps consisted of a bit of rope.

Hf radio and sat phones were either too expensive or in the realms of science fiction.You called home as you found a phone.

Fuel didn't form a huge expense, so you could go when you found the time.

There were few stickers around because there were few 4wd shops around. Air compressors were best if operated by foot or hand. Camping gear was bought at a camping or disposals shop.They often sold the same things, most of it ex army. Tarps were made of canvas, heavy and expensive.

Food came out of a tin. And tins were heavy to carry, but expensive to buy in the bush.

The speed limit was 100K/h almost everywhere. Few vehicles could exceed it comfortably. Trucks...you couldn't pass them uphill, and couldn't catch them downhill.

There were still a few people travelling but not the numbers we have today. Some would go to the Birdsville races and many other places in 2wds.

Free camping was the norm as camp grounds cost money and often weren't terrific. We camped in cattle dung at a camp ground in Fitzroy crossing...the smell and spider webs in the laundry are still fresh in my mind.

Almost nobody took their kids, in fact it was rare to see many females travelling and solo women were almost unheard of.

There were 4wd mags around, but you had to look for them or subscribe. They were a great way of keeping up with what was on offer and how much it cost, but mainly they offered a gateway to dreaming about future trips.

People in outback towns treated you with the suspicion that all strangers were lumbered with. They wanted your money, but after that it was all downhill.(some places seem to still be that way :(
The pub was usually the only source of dubious local knowledge. There were no tourist facilities in most places, nor were the locals interested in providing any.

Now we have 4wds that cost the earth pulling their motels behind.

What were once horror tracks are now often tarred or graded in many places. Many now toddle off to the Kimberly or the CSR without a worry in the world, and in comfort and style. 12volt microwaves and electric beds for heavens sake!

Country towns now welcome tourists and proudly advertise their local attractions.

Free camping is now often a matter of getting in before the hoards.

Almost everyone seems to exceed the speed limit, and they often drive with little patience.
The locals are often more friendly other travellers!

Vehicles break down less frequently I suspect, but the outback mechanics might disagree.

To my mind there are three things that have changed outback travel in very positive ways. Air con, fridges and instant communication.
These days I'd find it hard to exist without them, and wonder how I ever did in the "old days".







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Reply By: Member - Doug T (FNQ) - Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:09

Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:09
Who was your favorite Farrier.


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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:11

Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:11
LOL very good Doug :-))
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Follow Up By: Footloose - Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:12

Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:12
Why do you ask ?
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Reply By: Member - Bill F (VIC) - Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:18

Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:18
Hi Footloose but not fancy free

What do you call the "old days"?

Unmade Nullarbor when as you approached the dirt and the traveller coming toward you jumps out of the vehicle and kisses the bitumem

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Follow Up By: Footloose - Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:23

Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:23
I almost did the same thing when I got to the Tanami a couple of years ago!
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Follow Up By: Gramps (NSW) - Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:23

Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:23
LOL yep had that on the Stuart Hwy in SA. NT section was all sealed, well, a lane and a bit anyway :))))

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Follow Up By: Footloose - Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:27

Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:27
Gramps, remember that bit well. I had to take my hands off the steering wheel across the corros. Got to NT, first pull in had bits of vehicles everywhere and the sign said something like you are now entering the NT. Some wag had written "Thank God".
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Reply By: pop2jocem - Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:24

Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:24
When I read stories about treks that were done when the automobile was in its infancy such as a bunch of guys taking what today are considered veteran cars from I think Peking to Moscow across roads that are to this day challenging for modern 4wd,s I think we may be just a tad spoilt HMMMMM ;-)))

Cheers Pop
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Follow Up By: Footloose - Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:30

Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:30
Few of us would attempt it these days...certainly not without a backup crew.
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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:48

Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:48
Your right Footy but if you could organise it what an excelent trip and experience it would be!
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Follow Up By: Footloose - Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:50

Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:50
It would be the trip of a lifetime. But I still think from experience that I'd still return here to the best country on earth.
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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:56

Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:56
Spot on there mate.

Good travels

Cheers Pop
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Reply By: Eric Experience - Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:28

Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:28
Footloose.
Agree with most of it but when I started you had only Land rovers Internationals and Jeeps none had split rims and you had to be good at repairing tyres or you died. Eric
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Follow Up By: Footloose - Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:32

Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 22:32
Eric, I agree. And they were a bugger to change :))
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Reply By: Bonz (Vic) - Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 23:08

Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 23:08
I was just saying today Footie when talking about airing down for sand etc that the tracks wer air down for now I did in 1980 in a HZ Holden Ute alone and didnt care two hoots, didnt get stuck either, bulletproof younguns eh?

I remember the Wonnangatta in a Series 2 Landrover, Turbo 4 cyl with a fairey overdrive and it went everywhere it needed to go.

Camping is more convenient now, and so we are softere I reckon cest la vie
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Reply By: Crackles - Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 23:18

Monday, Jan 21, 2008 at 23:18
Ahh the "good ol days". When you could camp by the Sacred Pool at Ayres Rock and the locals didn't mind. When if you wanted a snorkel on your Hilux you'd need to plumb a piece of exhaust pipe into the front gaurd. When we used to 4 wheel drive all day in the High Country & now we drive all day to find some 4 wheel driving :-)
Cheers Craig.............
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Reply By: Willem - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 00:01

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 00:01
Footy

I started this camping caper with a 2wd in 1963 and finally progressed to a 4x4 in 1977. Camping was pretty basic way back then and we keep it still pretty basic now. We might have just a few mod cons although if you look at my Rig Pic you would say I carry too much stuff.....lol

We have gone the full circle from airmattresses to camp beds to swags to a variety of tents to self inflating mattresses and sleeping inside the vehicle quite comfortably.

There are still thousands of free camps, without the hordes, around this country and all you have to do is take a punt and go there. In fact we found a lovely camp site in the Southern Highlands of NSW and we were the only people there and that was on 29th December 2007!!!

Some tracks may have been graded now or bitumenised but there are still plenty of places way off the beaten track where one can find a bit of adventure away from the crowds.


Cheers
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Follow Up By: troopyman - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 07:53

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 07:53
Please keep that list up . You may not realise that a lot of people might use that list as a guide for themselves . Or i could just use Jack Absaloms book . Do you burn your tyres when broken down Willem ?
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Follow Up By: troopyman - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 07:57

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 07:57
Hey Willem , you left out the most important item

Book
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Follow Up By: Willem - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 08:05

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 08:05
We've been laughing about the Burn your tyres theory for years.

Poor old Jack. He got a tad excited. I went to his gallery once in Broken Hill. Had to retreat by walking backwards out the door 'cos he never stopped yakking. Can't remember what I asked him.....lol
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Follow Up By: troopyman - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 08:10

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 08:10
Hahahaha
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Reply By: Member - Dick (Int) - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 01:05

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 01:05
Footloose, your post brings back a lot of memories.

My first 4WD was an ex U.S. Army Jeep in the late 50's then in the early 60's a Dodge Weapons Carrier which was much more sturdy than the Jeep. Then followed a Land Rover which in its day was the best available.

I drove the Land Rover across the Simpson Desert twice in 1968 and never let the tyres down as it was such an ordeal to pump them up again. Just carried a tool box and a few basic spares, a 44 gal drum of fuel was the aux tank and a 12 gal drum was the water tank. Never ever had a winch and managed ok without it. I did have a 5 channel HF Transceiver from an aircraft which enabled us to communicate with the various bases.

Which means that all the gear we load up with now to do a trip is not really necessary. It just makes life more comfortable.

Dick

Cheers
Dick







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Reply By: Member - Davoe (Yalgoo) - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 01:57

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 01:57
yep and rubish was left where you chucked it- its now called an historic campsite
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Follow Up By: Gramps (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 07:28

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 07:28
LOL just when I was getting all misty :)))

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Reply By: troopyman - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 07:45

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 07:45
Thats why i bought a troopy . I love the good old days .
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Reply By: Member - Andrew (QLD) - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 10:04

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 10:04
God, how did you old farts survive back then?

What, no DVD player in the vehicle seats to entertain the kids?......it must have been a nightmare!

Andrew
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Follow Up By: Footloose - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 10:43

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 10:43
Kids ? We didn't take KIDS LOL
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