birding-aus Re:Outback travel

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: birding-aus Re:Outback travel
From: "Terrance Pacey" <>
Date: Sun, 19 Sep 1999 17:48:42 +1000
For some reason this did not appear to et through yesterday (Saturday) so
I'll try again.

Allan, Tony, Laurie et al

I am finding the discussion of outback travel amusing.  Have any of you ever
lived in an outback area?  I lived in the Channel Country way back in the
early 60's.  Not the 1860's.  I'm not that old.  At that time there were no
4WD vehicles available except for the Land Rover and a few (very unreliable)
Jeeps used by the police.  Land Rovers were beyond the reach of the ordinary
motorist and very uncomfortable as well.  Distances were so great that the
cruising speed of the Land Rovers meant that they were unsuitable for any
lengthy journey.  Most of us used ordinary Holdens, Chevs, Fords (not Falcon
at that time), Peugots, Volkswagens, etc.  The publican at Bedourie actually
drove a Wolseley while I toured the area (on and off road) in an Austin
Freeway (remember them?).

The roads were worse than they are today.  There were no CBs, satellite
phones, GPS etc but there was only the occassional incident, usually from
strangers.  The first crossing of the Simpson Desert by motor vehicle only
occurred in 1962 or thereabouts.  At one time, two or three men from
Tiboburra drove to Birdsville in their EK Holden to play cricket.  Most
people think that is an adventure even today.  We were forced to use these
vehicles during wet or dry weather as this was all we had.  A grazier near
Boulia used a 1964 Chev sedan.  His wife regularly drove to Mt Isa  to shop
with only her young children (3 under 5 years) for company.  This was a 6 to
7 hour journey each way in those days (10 miles of bitumen in the entire
trip with a lot of it on wheel tracks winding through the trees.  No bridges
either.) and she expected to be bogged at least three times each way.  She
simply put into place the techniques everyone used.  Sometimes the trip took
12 hours one way but this was just one of the problems of living in these

Too often we use 4WD where it is not necessary.  My favourite story of
recent times concerns "Big Red", the giant sandhill near Birdsville.  After
the Birdsville races, a group of 4WDrivers from the "big smoke" went out to
try their luck.  After a number of attempts, they were milling around at the
base deciding what to do.  Along came a couple of ringers from a nearby
station trying to clear their heads after the races.  They simply drove
their Falcon ute straight over and back.

As long as people use common sense, and take basic precautions there should
be no problems. That is unless you want to admit that todays drivers are not
as skilled as the older drivers (no hate mail please).

The damage done by a light 2WD is much less than a 4WD.  If you are
interested in the environment you should be considering this and looking at
whether you really need that energy guzzling 4WD.

Terry Pacey

Toowoomba  Qld

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