Our Birding Vehicles

To: bird <>
Subject: Our Birding Vehicles
From: brian fleming <>
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2006 13:19:13 +1100
When we were first birdwatching seriously, we took the family (two young kids) in a Peugeot 404 station wagon. This had high ground clearance and a rear space long enough to sleep in if we folded the back-seats. (3 year old on front seat, baby in a basket). Its upright sides allowed us to pack an awful lot. We went to outback NSW towing a lightweight folding van and had little trouble. Alas, none are made now, and current Peugeots are far too close to the ground. Note that a sump-guard should ALWAYS be fitted if you intend to drive on dirt, rock or even ungraded gravel roads. You should try to carry TWO spare wheels.

We have had a LandRover County 110 for about 18 years and still go bush in it. Its extra height gives an excellent view for birdwatching. We had a pop-up camping roof fitted, back in the days when we could still climb up into the roofspace to sleep. The roof supplier also fitted all-round milium curtains which if drawn on the sides do a very good job in reducing the heat. A small sun-powered extractor fan does wonders for this too. We have done extensive work patching the numerous original holes in the floor to try to keep dust out. It still comes in the doors though. We had its fuse-box moved to an accessible position (wiring school of Lucas, enough said).

It has been everywhere except north Queensland, including some very rough tracks indeed, as we explore Victorian forests. The worst trouble we had was a bent trackrod on the Gibb River Road (nasty boulder in a patch of bulldust). Brian used our electric winch to pull it back into shape, passing the cable round another 4WD's towball as anchor-point for the snatch-block (i.e. a pulley into which a cable can be inserted from the side without threading through from end). Some further adjustment by lantern light at El Questro camping area that evening enabled us to continue via Darwin, and eventually back to Alice Springs and qualified repair. I understand there is not a LR parts supplier there these days and parts have to be sent from Adelaide.

Our Landy is very useful for towing a caravan, and moving heavy objects, but it's hell to take up the street shopping and being an older diesel is not sprightly in traffic. Many parking areas are too low in the ceiling for it to get in. Its worst fault is that the exhaust runs under the co-driver's floor, and in warm weather cooks her feet, together with heat from the gearbox.

Anthea Fleming
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