Your birding vehicle

To: Graham Etherington <>
Subject: Your birding vehicle
From: Ian May <>
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2006 22:01:49 +1100
g'Day all

The question of what is the ultimate birding vehicle is like a question I asked an old mate of mine, what is the best outback 4WD? Alex replied, "that’s a bit like asking me what the best political party is.  Nearly everyone thinks their choice is best but once you strip away the spin and BS, what you have left is useless most of the time and very expensive to maintain".

Yeah right I said.   For about 20 years, Alex had the responsibility for dragging many stranded visitors out of the South Australian desert, from Oodnadatta to Innaminka and south to Arkaroola after they took what was considered their ultimate off road vehicle a little too far off the road. 

For what its worth, here is a summary of his experience. 
Mitsubishi Pajaero/Holden Rodeo/Rav 4 etc.   The source of much plastic pollution across the desert

Nissan Nevara/Pathfinder/Toyota Hilux etc etc.   Objects better used for the study of metal fatigue and passenger stress than rough country driving.

Subaru  (The ultimate birding vehicle blah, blah?)   Well not for long after an inch of rain on the Strez or Birdsville track.  When the going gets tough fuel consumption is about as good as the V8.  Have you tried looking through the windscreen with binoculars? And the cost of parts!!!!

Susuki! What?  They make good motorbikes and outboard motors. But try buying parts in the bush. Need a windscreen?  And, don’t run out of gears.  Excellent golf buggies though.

Toyota Landcruiser/Prado Blah blah blah.  Remember the jingle "Toyota tough!  That means tough on the arse and tough on the pocket."

Nissan Patrol?  Sorry Tony!  Can’t resist.  Rebadged Lancruiser.  The drivers mostly evolved from a scene in Mad Max II.  If you like eating dust you will love a Patrol. 

Landrover.  With the best centre of gravity and power weight ratio, if you have access to two things, (1) your own oil well and (2) your own team of mechanics, Landrover is the ultimate off road vehicle.  And because the body panels are made of aluminium, when bogged in Lake Eyre they make good landmarks as the wreckage lasts much longer than steel vehicles.

What then is the ultimate 4WD?.  Alex said, after a flood like 74, if the engine starts when the key is turned, that’s good but in a drought like the one we have just had, the one that takes you through the bulldust in comfort is best.


Hope that helps..





Ian May
St Helens, Tasmania.

Graham Etherington wrote:
Hi everyone,
I'm expecting to move from the UK to Brisbane at the end of March or
the beginning of April. I'm planning of spending a lot of time
birding, probably going away for birding trips every other weekend, by
My question is this - do you really need 4x4 to fully enjoy the best
of QLD/NWS birding? I know I'll need something with plenty of space
for camping gear and the like, but I'd be interested to see how many
Australian birders use 4WD vehicles (and where you use them).
I've visited Queensland once before and thought that a good off-road
vehicle would have been handy sometimes, especially at places such as
Noosa Plain and Lamington.
Also, what about the various different types of 4x4. I know about the
usual Nissan Patrols and Toyota Landcruisers, but what about the
'station wagon' type 4x4. Anyone use one of them?
So, what I'm really after is comments from birders about what they
drive (4x4 or other), how they think their vehicle copes with birding
terrain, how necessary they consider a 4x4 to be, and where they spend
most of their time birding.

Looking forward to joining you all in Oz and meeting up with some of
the local birders in Queensland.
Best wishes,
Graham Etherington
Norwich, UK
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