Vehicle Preparation
Mt Dare Hotel
Mt Dare Hotel
TIPS FOR PREPARING YOUR VEHICLE

PREPARING THE VEHICLE
Your 4x4 needs to be in good mechanical condition, in other words no bad oil leaks, "dodgy" radiators, battery trays, fuel tanks, bullbars or roof racks, worn out tires, brakes or clutches.

If you can't do the preparation yourself take it to someone who can, preferably a 4x4 specialist. The vehicle will need a full service even if it isn't due, on the shortest Outback trip most people will clock up in excess of 5,000 km, which will most likely take it past the service interval and you won't have time to do it while you're away.

Make sure the vehicle preparation is done at least a couple of weeks before you go. There has been many an occasion where the 4x4 was picked up on Friday to go Saturday only to find something's not quite right, ie; a new fuel tank that leaks because of a loose hose.

The most common break downs are from after market products, so when buying them do your homework and go to a reputable agent. Get the right accessories for you and not the ones you don't need.  A Drawer system and cargo barrier is a great way to keep your gear safe and where you can find it, prices start around $1500 look at Black Widow Storage Solutions.

MOST COMMON FAILURES
Roof rack
Bullbar
Spotlights
Tow bar
Battery tray
Spare wheel carrier
Shockers
Shocker rubbers
Radiator
Exhaust system
Tyres
Fuel tank
Number plate
UHF antenna

THE SERVICE SHOULD INCLUDE
The inspection or replacement of........
Engine oil & filter
Spark plugs & points if applicable
Fuel filters, some vehicles have more than 1
Air filters, some vehicles have more than 1
Gear box, transfer case & diffs oils
All drive shafts
Wheel bearings & swivel hubs
Brakes, including hand brake
Drive belts (fan belts etc.)
Hoses, coolant and fuel etc;
Lights & batteries
Tyres, they should have at least 50% tread
All after market accessories; see list

TOOLS TO TAKE
A set of ring-open end spanners
A socket set
Adjustable spanner 10 or 12 inch
Pliers, bull nose and pointy
Screwdrivers assorted
Hammer small & large
Snatch strap
Tire pressure gauge
Shovel, long handle is preferred
Jacking plate
Jack, a spare one if traveling on your own

SPARES TO TAKE
Wheel nuts, check that they fit and suit your wheels
Fencing wire
Electrical wire and Fuses
Electrical tape
Race tape or cloth tape
Cable ties
Nuts & bolts assorted sizes, not too many, metric is preferable for Jap 4x4's
Fuel hose, 1 meter
Fuel filters, some people have dirty jerry cans
Brake fluid, small bottle
Engine oil 2 litres, for topping up
Gear oil 2 litres
Auto trans fluid, 2 litres (if applicable)
Power steering fluid, small bottle (same as auto trans fluid)
Grease, small tub, suitable for wheel bearings
2nd Spare wheel
We feel it unnecessary to take spare belts and hoses, they are better replaced before you leave and some vehicles are quite involved to replace a drive belt, eg; Land Rover Discovery or Range Rover.

SPARES TO SHARE, but not compulsory
Cordless drill & drill bits
Tyre repairing gear including a spare tube, make sure you know how to use it
Tubeless tire plugs
Air compressor
Portable welding gear including a mask
Jumper leads
High lift jack, if it is suited to your vehicle
Oil and air filters

If you are traveling with other vehicles it's a good idea to share some of the tools and spares, this will save a bit of weight.

THINGS TO LEAVE AT HOME
Excessive amounts of spanners
Excessive amounts of jerry cans, plan your trip and take only what is necessary
Poorly made accessories such as a roof rack
Low profile tires, like Range Rover with 18 inch wheels and 40 profile tyres.
GPS's are not necessary, with some exceptions; in most cases a good map is better
Chain saw, they are prohibited in National Parks
Pets, they are prohibited in National Parks

CAMPING GEAR, WHAT TO TAKE & WHERE TO PUT IT

WHERE ARE YOU GOING?
Before anything can be packed you must first consider where the journey will take you, at what time of year and what activities you will be doing. Many people take far too much with them, think about your last camping trip and if you didn't use something, don't take it this time. Do you really need 2 camp ovens or spare chairs! Just in case.

SLEEPING
Central Australia in the winter, contrary to popular belief gets very cold at night (as cold as -5) with nice sunny days (about 20) and cool evenings. It's essential to pack warm sleeping gear, a comfortable mattress, a jacket and warm clothes for the night with lighter clothes for the day. In the warmer months, autumn and spring expect the days to be between 25 & 35 with the nights a mild 10 - 20, jackets and extra blankets won't be necessary now. In the summer, if you're brave enough the days can be a scorching 40 - 50 with little relief at night, lows are 23 - 33.

Swags are a great idea if the boys are on a trip, but they don't suit everyone! When using a tent a couple of things need to be considered, how many people will sleep in it and how hard is it to put up? Only use a tent that suits your needs, as a tent that's unnecessarily large will only be a hassle. There are many tents available that can sleep 4 and only take minutes to put up.  some great Ausie made tents are from  OzTent and Southern Cross Canvas.

COOKING
For most camp cooking is fun and a very important part of camping. Many people enjoy the candle lit roast dinner with an ice cream desert in the most unlikely places, like the Simpson. This is not hard to do with some planning.

Try to compile a menu; it only has to be a guide for your shopping list, next work out where the towns are so some of the shopping can be done along the way. Don't pack too much tinned or frozen food "just for emergencies". I've seen people pack enough for a month or more and when the fridge became unplugged they lost more than $150 in meat and other food. Try not to take all of the food for the trip from your home town, it's far better to purchase some things as you need them, they will be fresher and less likely to spoil even if they do cost a little more.

To have a freezer is convenient but not necessary unless you want ice cream. Cryovaced meat can last up to 6 weeks in a fridge, even longer if it is frozen before you leave, pack it at the bottom of the fridge and it will stay frozen for up to a week. It will also prevent the dreaded blood from leaking everywhere. Ask your butcher to cryovac the meat in portions for the meals you have planned, some meats keep longer than others, so ask the butcher.

If you don't own a fridge, have a good look around before buying one, there are many on the market with the most well known being an Engel.  A 40 litre fridge will set you back about $1,150 but it will cop some rough punishment and still be going strong in years to come, a quality fridge is a great investment.  The alternative is to hire one, some 4wd accessory places do this.

WATER
Water will always need to be carried, but be sure to only carry what you need with some spare for emergencies. Work out places where your water containers can be refilled and how much to carry, for example two people would need 7 litres of water each per day, but 4 people would only need 5 litres each as washing and cooking water is shared.

This is a guide only, for a 3 day trip across the Simpson two people would require 2 x 7 x 3 =42, plus 2 days spare, 2 x 7 x 2 =28 is a total of 70 litres. Four People in the same vehicle would require 5 x 4 x 3 =60 plus 2 x 5 x 2 =40 spare, is a total of 100 litres. When water is available every day only half these amounts would be needed.

Water bladders are a good idea as these can be located in an out of the way place, low down in the vehicle. A ruptured container could leave you dangerously short, don't carry all of the water in 1 container or bladder. They vary in size and quality; check them out at a reputable 4x4 accessory store.

WALKS
The Centre has many attractions with nearly all of them involving a walk, ranging from a short 100m walk up to the likes of Kings Canyon with a lengthy 6km, 4hour walk. If you plan to do any walking and you should, be prepared. A pair of walking shoes and a good quality day pack is essential. You'll need to carry your camera, food for a snack or lunch and most importantly water, even if the weather is cool and extra if it's hot.

FUEL
Work out when extra fuel is really needed and, only fill jerry cans when necessary. There's no need to carry more fuel just to save $5 or $10 at the pump, the extra weight will do more harm than good increasing wear and tear on the vehicle and tyres. Ask people who know for advice on how much fuel to carry in the outback area that you will be traveling in. The amount will vary depending on the type of 4x4 and if it is towing.

Fuel quantities to cross the Simpson are as follows,

Large 4x4 (Nissan Patrol) - Diesel 150L expect to use 100L - 125L, ULP 200L expect to use 130L-170L
Medium 4x4 (Toyota Prado) - Diesel 140L expect to use 95L - 120L, ULP 180L expect to use 120L-155L
Small 4x4 (Holden Colorado) - Diesel 130L expect to use 85L - 115L, ULP 160L expect to use 110L-140L
Tiny 4x4 (Suzuki Siera) - ULP 110L expect to use 65L - 95L

These quantities include LPG (if applicable) all fuel tanks and jerry cans.  For example, a Landcruiser on Gas would have 90L of LPG and 90L of petrol and so would only need 1 -20L jerry can to total the 200L required.

If you are towing a camper trailer an additional 40L of Diesel and 60L of ULP would be required.  We only recomment very experienced people with medium to large 4wd's attempt this.  Travelling in a convoy with a vehicle that's not towing is also strongly recommended.

COMMUNICATIONS - UHF
It's a good idea to have a UHF Radio fitted in your 4wd, a good quality handheld is OK but cheap ones are rubbish, spend at least $250.  Don't over complicate your UHF with features you don't need, the simpler the better.  There are a couple of things you need to know about your UHF Radio though.

Firstly they can be used for vehicle to vehicle contact, this is limited to a range of about 10-15km and this is called "Simplex" communication.  Secondly they have the ability to communicate through a Repeater Tower, this is called "Duplex" communication and is done by pressing the "Duplex" button on the Radio.  A range of 100km or more can be acheived if transmitting through a repeater.

Repeaters are allways limited to channels 1-8 and opperate on 2 UHF channels by sending a signal to the repeater on one, the repeater then resends this signal back on another and this is why it's called "Duplex", it requires 2 UHF channels to function.  Channel 1 has the duplex channel of 31, channel 2 is 32 and so on.

UHF Repeaters work because they are located up high on a mountain, or tall hill in our case.  A UHF Radio is limited by "Line of Sight" so hills or trees affect its performance, this is where a Repeater comes in.  Because of its height a signal can reach it more easily without any obstructions, where likewise it can resend this signal out to a greater area, reaching locations that would be impossible from a vehicle mounted UHF.

For example Mt Dare has access to a repeater, it's channel 6 Duplex.  If contact to the Pub was required and you were 40km away, you would select channel 6 and press your "Duplex" button.  Press the microphone "push to talk" button and release it, if the repeater is reached a tone will be heard, it's morse code for the repeater identification and all repeaters have it.  You can then call the Pub, "Mt Dare Hotel on channel?" always wait for a minute for a responce before retrying.  Once your communication with the Pub is commplete, always return to another channel for vehicle to vehicle communication unless you need to monitor it, or call the Pub again.

NEVER use channels 1-8 or 31-38 for vehicle to vehicle communication, this is considered rude as many people maybe monitoring the repeater channel as part of their business and don't wish to hear the "chit chat" that goes on while you are on holiday.  Absolutely do use a repeater if it is an emergency or to communicate with someone that is monitoring that channel, Like the Mt Dare Hotel.

Channels 31-38 are the repeaters duplex channels and so if you are in range of a repeater and use them for vehicle to vehicle communication, a repeater will pick up this signal and resend it on channel 1-8.

For example 2 vehicles are communicating on channel 36, this is our repeaters "Duplex" Channel.  Anyone monitoring the channel 6 repeater (as the Pub does) will hear all commucation made on channel 36 via the repeater, but will be unable to communicate back to the vehicles.  This is because the repeater receives on channel 36, but transmits on channel 6 and with the vehicles on channel 36 the repeater can't be used to communicate with them and they are too far away to be reached on channel 36 directly.  So we must put up with anoying transmitions until the vehicles are out of range of the repeater.

PACKING
In most cases a typical 4x4 will have a roof rack and with that care must be taken when packing it. It's a good idea to pack the tents or swags, sleeping gear and the table & chairs on top, the light stuff and try not to put too much fire wood up there. A roof bag is an easy way to store things, just load it and zip it; they come in various sizes and will help keep the gear dry if it rains.

The water, tools, cooking gear and food, etc can be packed in the vehicle, even "approved" jerry cans, pack them safely nice and low in the 4x4, when they are empty they can go up top.

Good Luck and have fun, where ever your travels take you. 

Location

Contact

Phone:
Within Australia: (08) 8670 7835
International: 61-8-8670 7835

Postal:
PMB 267
Alice Springs
NT 0872

Email:
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