4WD Driving Skills & Rules Feedback

I'm thinking of driving on roads and tracks, including the Oodnadatta Track, which I have travelled before, but as a passenger. I want to do it in four or five years time when I retire aged 65. Some off track driving might be required, to get to Lake Eyre for example. Would I be too old to do it? I'm only of average fitness. I don't just want to drive from town to town. I WOULDN'T be driving into the deserts where other vehicles hadn't been before. I also envisage doing the trips alone.
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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 07:19

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 07:19
Its unlikely that your health will degenerate significantly in 4 years. Pretty easy to improve your fitness.

Lake Eyre has multiple maintained access roads, so you are unlikely to be driving off-track.
AnswerID: 303383

Follow Up By: Dickyboy - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 07:52

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 07:52
I went on a 10 day 4x4 trip with 8 others + Driver/leader. All 20 year olds except me, I'm 60. It bloody near killed me! I decided to come off 4 days into it at Coober Pedy. Mind you I did bring a very good chest infection with me from the UK. The one place I wanted to see was Oodnadatta, but I never got that far. :o( Might be easier to do it at my own pace methinks. I didn't want to get into real trouble when they got deeper into the outback so decided to bail out early.
I loved what I saw of the outback though, especially the open space and clean air.
Better give up the ciggies then :o(
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Reply By: Member - Jason - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 07:35

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 07:35
Hi Dickyboy,

Mate, sounds like your getting old before your time. All you need is to have confidence in yourself. My dad is 68 & still riding his harley.
A bit off 'can do' attitude & some common sense is all it takes & as Phil said, the roads are pretty well maintained these days along with the fact that most of the major outback roads are busy so being isolated won't be a problem.

Get out & do it I say.

Cheers & stay healthy.
Jason

AnswerID: 303384

Follow Up By: Dickyboy - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 07:59

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 07:59
Hi Jason (And Phil )
Naa, not old before my time really, but my head told me I was 20, my body reminded me of my true age. There's a lot of Oz I'd like to see, so long as it's not too much like hard work. I'd like to do it at my own pace.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (SA) - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 09:11

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 09:11
Dickyboy
Like Jason and Phil said, it come down to you. My dad is now 78 and my mum is 75 and blind. Two years ago after much nagging from me, I talked my dad to do one trip that he has always wanted to do, the Birdsville track. They had a ball.
They took there time and he would love to do it again.
I have one of those famous sports shoes sayings, "Just do It."

Cheers

Stephen
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Follow Up By: Dickyboy - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 09:47

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 09:47
Hi Stephen
The Birdsville Track branches off, or continues from the Oodnadatta Track doesn't it?
I'm having to wait a few years before I go down under again, I can't get sufficient leave in one go to go before I retire. I'd go down tomorrow if I could.
Hope you didn't let your mum or dad drive :o))
Cheers!
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (SA) - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 12:57

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 12:57
Hi Dickyboy
The Oodnadatta Track Branches west from Marree, and the Birdsville track Heads North from Marree.
My dad is a very young 78 year old dad, and yes mum and dad did the drive by themselves. I gave them a run down on what to expect, gave then a lot of my recovers gear as backup. Proving that you have got the health, you are only as old as you want to be.
I kept in daily contact with then on the HF radio.
Another Old chap that I knew when living in Clare was Montie Scobie, a legend of the Birdsville Track. He drove by himself up that way 3 times a year at the ripe age of 84.

Let age be no barrier.

Cheers

Stephen
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Reply By: Vivid Adventures - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 07:35

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 07:35
Usual considerations:

1. keep reasonably fit
2. be well prepared
3. check with your doctor
4. tell someone responsible where you're going and when you'll be back
5. take emergency communications
6. avoid travelling in the hottest periods of the year.

Age should not be a consideration.

But people (youngish Germans, for instance) have come to grief going out to Lake Eyre, even telling someone they thought was responsible, but wasn't.
AnswerID: 303385

Follow Up By: Dickyboy - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 08:06

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 08:06
Thanks for the advice, I'll take all of it.
I read about the Germans, pays not to argue when travelling, or broken down I guess.
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Follow Up By: Vivid Adventures - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 08:21

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 08:21
no - not arguing - bogged.

She decided to walk. She died.

He stayed with the car because he was unable to walk that far. He survived.

Unfortunately the William Creek pub didn't pay attention to the traveller's intentions book they had... now the cops do it.
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Follow Up By: Dickyboy - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 09:14

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 09:14
I thought they argued as to whether to stay or go one stayed and one went, and died :o(
As I recall their entry in the travellers intentions book was the last entry in the old book, and a new book was used for the next entry, and that was the book that was used when checking up on the Germans. Someone didn't realise there were current entries in the old book.
I could well be thinking of another incident though, it was some time ago.
It was mentioned in a TV documentary in the UK.
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Follow Up By: Vivid Adventures - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 10:44

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 10:44
No - just bogged.

No - the book was just not checked by the duty manager - the son of the owner of the pub.

The coroner's findings are available here
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Follow Up By: Dickyboy - Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 02:10

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 02:10
Seems to be the same incident that they showed on our TV, though my memory didn't serve me too well.
I hope lessons were learned and acted upon, I'm sure they were, as the coroner recommended it. One thing I noticed was that the bloke seemed to have plenty of water, yet didn't seem to use much of it. Not much point in saving water for a rainy day is there?
It shows me how dangerous the place can be if things go wrong.
Cheers!
Dickyboy
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Follow Up By: Vivid Adventures - Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 07:59

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 07:59
Yes, the woman had water, yet died from exhaustion...
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Follow Up By: Dickyboy - Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 16:41

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 16:41
Without wanting to sound flippant. It doesn't take long to turn from being young, fit and healthy to being dead out there.
Seems to me that good communication right down the line is vital. Whether it be informing locals, and them acting on info received, to having good radio and using it. Are pyrotechnics ever carried or used? Seems to me that a few parachute flares, thunder flashes, smoke flares or something might be a good idea. So long as one didn't start a bush fire of course.
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Reply By: Member - John and Val W (ACT) - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 09:07

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 09:07
Every winter there are plenty of us grey nomads (older and probably no fitter than you) out in the more remote areas of Oz. As others have said believe in yourself and your capabilities and prepare thoroughly. Think about joining a 4WD club to get experience and to meet like minded travellers. It is certainly possible to go by yourself but there is added safety in numbers for the more remote - and must see - places.

Enjoy your travels,

Val.
J and V
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Follow Up By: Dickyboy - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 09:37

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 09:37
Hi Val
Oh, I can do it, no doubt about that, but I do need to know the ins and outs of these things, and get prepared. I can do some of the preparation in the UK I guess, I'll just have to learn how to drive a 4x4 in mud instead of dry sand :o)) And in rain, fog and snow instead of sunshine as well of course :o)
I'd like to see Lake Eire South again and see Oodnadatta. I was in the area a couple of months or so ago. It's the remoteness I like. We don't have Remote in the UK :o(
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Follow Up By: Member - Footloose - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 09:39

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 09:39
Well one thing we do have is remote.
As much remote as you can bear.
Enough remote so that you can spend your lifetime remote :)))
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Follow Up By: Dickyboy - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 10:05

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 10:05
That sounds just about remote enough for me. I don't do Rush either, not unless I have to. :o)
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Reply By: Member - Footloose - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 09:37

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 09:37
We can't all be fit 21yo . I'm certainly not, but I still get around. Mind you the last trip to Peth and back became a bit much :) And there are many on this forum that are older and less healthy than I. I tend to travel by myself, so have picked up a few tips :)
Know your capabilities. No point in getting into strife. But you can only learn what your end point is by experience, which you will gain by actually doing those tracks. And by the way, the Oodnadatta track is a doddle in the dry with a well maintained vehicle and with a bit of luck.
Don't attempt to drive too far in the one go.
Do take safety advice.
Do have some comms so that you can yell for help.
Do stop and smell the roses.
If in doubt, don't.
If stopped by a flat tyre or mech troubles, don't panic. Panic kills. Boil the billy for a cuppa and hae a think about it after having a rest.
There's a lot more, but it's boring stuff.
Try and become a tiny bit fitter and have faith in yourself.
Then get out there and do it.
AnswerID: 303403

Follow Up By: Dickyboy - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 10:27

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 10:27
Hi Footy!
Tea, the answer to all the worlds problems, stop, think, have a cuppa and half the problem's solved. I do that here. I'm never more than an hour from a cuppa. :o)
We drove from Lake Erie South to Coober Pedy, via Marree in a morning. I wasn't driving, but it was a good track/road, though very unusual for me, as we don't have roads like those over here.
A bit uncomfortable though. 10 up in a troop carrier with the CD going full blast wasn't the way I wanted to see the Outback. I did enjoy the trip, and the company though.
One thing I learned was not just to drink water, lots and lots of that of course, but to add "Gator Aide" ? to it to add essential salts to the fluid. It picked me up no end when I got headaches or shakey.
Jeez! It's 01.30 I'm off to bed (Not a Swag) :o)
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Follow Up By: Member - Footloose - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 11:30

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 11:30
Hi Dickieboy, just hang around this site. Plenty of tips on using a 4wd.
Gator Aide ? Never had it in my life...maybe I should try some :)
Can fully understand the problem in troopy...hard way to travel, especially if the CD's blaring away. I prefer Simon and Garfunkles "Sounds of Silence."
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Follow Up By: Dickyboy - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 20:03

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 20:03
Hi Footy
That Gatoraide is a sports drink really, it comes in powder form in plastic tubs. It's meant for joggers etc really. It's a good pickmeup. We bought a tub each at a supermarket just before we got onto the Oodnadatta Track. The Leader reccomended that we get it to add to our water bottles.
My tastes in music are similar to yours I reckon. :o)
The troop carrier wasn't the best way to travel, all one could really see was the person siitting facing you, and it was the desert I wanted to see. We did stop for occasional photo shoots though. Met a bloke called Talc Alf at one of them, and another stop at a creek where there are some rather strange objects, up ended planes, the "Ghan Hover Bus" There are some rather strange people out there. :o)
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Follow Up By: Member - Footloose - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 20:22

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 20:22
Dickieboy, well if it's anything to do with sports, no wonder I haven't heard of it:)
Yep, our outback is full of "characters", and I can assure you that if you're not a character when you arrive, it doesn't take long.
Some of our best characters are on this forum, as you've probably already gathered :) (present company excepted..of course).

That's definitely not the way to enjoy the outback.

Solo travel is one way, but you do miss company after a week or so, and end up chatting to everyone.
One trip the only thing I said to anyone was "fill er up please"...and gave all the family an ear bashing when I got home.

Most here go with another vehicle for safety. I rarely do (not enough mates I guess). Plus if you look at our early explorers most of their hassles came from not having the right people with them (A fact I've successfully emulated a time or two :(
I presume you've read a book or five about "how to" ..if not then this site has some great ones.

The only problem with remote area travel is that it will become addictive...and if in the UK then that could be a problem :)

But I reckon that if you can survive the plane flight (in cattle class) then driving our remote areas should be a breeze :))))

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Follow Up By: Dickyboy - Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 02:24

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 02:24
Hi Footloose
Solo travel sounds fine to me, but of course, being my own boss I could stop off at a hotel on occasion, a night in a bed, a proper shower and a bit of decent grub before moving on.
I did fly out "Cattle Class" my two flights out and one flight back were all chocca bloc. More comfort in a cattle Road Train I reckon.
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Follow Up By: Member - Footloose - Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 22:36

Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 22:36
Skills Dickieboy ? Couple of quick ones. "Not rushing" we've covered . Skill number two. Pretty much what you'd tell a daughter (or son)...when in doubt, don't.
Always ask yourself do I have to go there? Is there a better way? Do I have the skills, preparation and confidence to go there?
Do I have a plan B for pear shaped situations ?
Who is going to look for me if I'm overdue? Better still, have I got a satphone or radio to yell for help? Do I have the supplies to sit it out ? Where's that cup of tea? :)
Lots to learn but most of it is common sense if you take it easy to start with. You soon learn not to take the vehicle swimming in deep water, to get off for roadtrains and what colours of the track indicate which surface and condition.
And most tracks do have passing traffic...within a couple of days anyway:) As you've no doubt learned by now we're not only a weird mob, but also most of us are pretty friendly and ready to help in cases of genuine need.


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Follow Up By: Dickyboy - Thursday, May 15, 2008 at 06:18

Thursday, May 15, 2008 at 06:18
I'd tell my daughter to keep one foot placed firmly on the floor at all times. Does that apply when driving as well then? :o))
I'm begining to get the idea of what's required. Common sense, good transport, good safety gear, good driving skills and a minimum supply of tea. Say two days supply, I can't survive much more than three days without a cuppa, so I'd have to touch a base within five days :o) I don't drink alcohol, so there's no threat from that direction.
I went into Toddys in Alice, to meet some mates from a 4x4 trip I was on. I asked the barman for a Pint of cola, "Never had anyone order one of those before" Said he :o))
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 10:23

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 10:23
Dicky boy,

The Oodnadatta Track, is a well maintained "road" and in all but wet conditions, presents little difficulty. Information on ExplorOz will give an indication if track conditions change and this information is also obtainable from towns such as Marree, (beginning of the track at the south eastern end) Coober Pedy (about the middle access point) and Marla (at the north western end). The Tracks also have large signs at the access points indicating current conditions and if they have been closed for some reason. (usually heavy rain)

The major Tracks such as Oodnadatta, Birdsville, Strzelecki, etc., are well traveled and you will find vehicular traffic on them regularly, most times of the year.

Access tracks to Lake Eyre, while less travelled, still have the occasional vehicles on them on a daily basis and they are relatively short side trips. Just let someone know when you intend the short excursion and you should be covered pretty well.

Bill,
Bill


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AnswerID: 303409

Follow Up By: Dickyboy - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 20:13

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 20:13
Nice to know that there will be a few other people about, there wern't many when I travelled the Track, but I think it was a bit early in the season, mid March. I didn't notice much signage on the track, but I wasn't driving, and most of the time I was sitting in the back.
I liked the way drivers put their hand up to each other as they passed, especially the locals. I imagine it's a sign that all is well as much as a friendly wave.
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Reply By: V64Runner - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 19:17

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 19:17
The advice everyone has offered makes good sense. There is a tree known as "die wag `n bietjie boom" Its Afrikaans for "The wait a while tree" when you are tired, find the wait a while tree- rest if you must and then proceed when the energy levels have regrouped - I`m in my mid 60s, retired and the handbrake and I pace ourselves. If are not up to it the next morning we stay put. We put our health an well-being first and the road will still be there when we are ready to move on. We are off with a few other grey Nomads and a couple of 20+ year olds to do The Canning Stock Route from Newman back to Perth. Allowing two and half weeks for the oldies to catch their breath and the youngsters to lend a hand when we run out of huff and puff. You can do it . Just remember to pace yourself All the best.
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Follow Up By: Dickyboy - Wednesday, May 21, 2008 at 19:19

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 at 19:19
Good advice indeed.
When I went on the 4X4 Trip I didn't realise that there would be such an age difference between me and the rest of them. I just couldn't keep up with twenty year olds. I wasn't very fit anyway, plus I damaged my thumb when getting out of the back of the troop carrier, the very first time I got out of it. I caught it behind the door handle as I dropped to the ground. I thought I'd broken it. Rolling the swag, and packing the sleeping bag into that little bag (Are they always that tight a fit?) was a very real problem without the use of my thumb. At least it showed me that even a minor accident can have far reaching and potentially serious results.
A slower pace would suit me much better methinks, better still would be if I could do it all at my own pace.
I've found a 4X4 driving school where I live. On the Isle of Wight. So before I go to Oz again I'll do a bit of practice here.
I'm hoping to go out to Croatia in a few weeks time, to join a new ship that's being built out there. That'll be a different type of adventure I think. :o) Even a 4x4 won't get me down the Adriatic, across the Mediterranean and through the Bay of Biscay :o))
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Reply By: P7OFFROAD Accredited Driver Training - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 20:21

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 20:21
At 60 you'd be a spring chicken on some of my courses...

There are plenty of people out there enjoying their retirement.

The correct preparation and you'd be surprised at what you can do!

good luck
AnswerID: 303473

Follow Up By: Dickyboy - Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 02:34

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 02:34
Hi P7OFFROAD
How long, roughly, do your courses take?
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Follow Up By: P7OFFROAD Accredited Driver Training - Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 06:58

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 06:58
They start at one day, go from there. How much would you like to learn ;-)

P7Offroad - Introductory Courses
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Follow Up By: Dickyboy - Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 17:04

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 17:04
The basic essentials for all terrains. I wouldn't expect to use the veachel as a moon buggy or do any seriousley extreme driving. Just enough to be able to drive competently and be able to get out of trouble, as well as communication skills as well of course. I don't envisage going totally off road or track.
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Reply By: lockey lux - Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 22:44

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 22:44
what can i say but that the track is a nice easy one to do i have been down there many times with tours that i ran with some people of all ages including 70 odd. i have seen all ages driving down and up it too in my time. just make sure you have the essentials recovery gear if you are really worried then think about hiring a sat phone or such but take time do it slow or miss lots and enjoy it mate all the best
AnswerID: 303687

Follow Up By: Dickyboy - Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 01:11

Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 01:11
Hi Lockey Lux
I have ridden on the track. I know it's an easy drive, it's the driving skills, risks, etc, that I need to know about. The driving will be easy I guess, but the driving isn't my main concern. It's not the driving from A to B on a track that would be a problem, but if I get into trouble while deviating off track, to get to a distant camp site or viewpoint for example.
I'm having a good look around this site and learning a lot. Not least the cost of hiring a 4x4 from Britz. Not cheap! :o)
I've already decided to "Do it slow" and not try to cover all of Oz.
I was thinking of perhaps driving from Perth over the Nullarbor, shoot up to Cook, then head for northern SA & NT to see the Outback, Missing Uluru, which I found a disappointment, and not in the least Spiritual. The sunset wasn't that good either. A "Must Do" that I've done. It's years until I can get down there again, so I have plenty of time to think and plan ahead.
Cheers!
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