Tuesday, 23 June 2009

4WD Training and keeping in touch

Keeping in touch

In 1970 when we were students, we went off to the Middle East for 10 weeks. Our luggage consisted of a tent and a small rucksack holding enough clothes for “one on, one off”, we had one film camera, a map of the Middle East showing the major countries roads and cities, one book each for the whole holiday (Lord of the Rings and Gone with the Wind), our shoes were those we had on, we probably had only two medicines with us and money was dealt with via AMEX Travellers Cheques. If anyone wanted to contact us , they could write to one of four Poste Restante addresses (Istanbul, Teheran, Baghdad, and Nicosia).

Now for about the same period in time we have just under 60 kgms of luggage; two digital cameras and a camcorder; a satnav, GPS and maps ranging from country to detailed areas; three books each plus two books of crosswords and a large Sudoko; walking boots, shoes and sandals; enough medicines to stock a small pharmacy (including a snake bite kit supplied in the van first aid kit); five credit cards and three cash cards; and for really keeping in touch, three mobile phones on different networks (two UK based and one Oz); and of course a wifi equipped laptop for email etc. The fact that we can phone or be phoned from anywhere in the world instantly means that we have gone from never being contactable to “why are they not answering their phone? Are they alright?” To ensure that we remain alright, we also have an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Rescue Beacon) – this is for use only in a dire life threatening situation and comes with the van. It is about the size of a thick paperback and when set off, sends out a signal via a satellite which eventually results in a helicopter arriving at your location equipped to save life.

Looking at the size of some of the packs and luggage carried by backpackers in the area, they too have suffered from luggage expansion. The word “essential” has been redefined for all classes of travellers as has the minimum standard of accommodation that is acceptable.

4WD Training

We have rented a 4WD camper van so that we can go off road and see some of the more remote parts of Australia. Because neither of us have driven a 4WD in serious conditions  before, I arranged for Rob Burrell, who trains 4WD drivers, to give us some practical training.

During the day we learnt the theory of how a 4WD works, and then about driving on dirt track roads, doing emergency stops safely if you encountered a suicidal animal, how to negotiate a river crossing:

First River Crossing

Our first river crossing

Pat driving across the river (with some style)

Climbing a Hill

how to drive up hills (and reverse down them if you get stuck) and also how to drive on sand and get bogged down in it.

Stuck in sand 1

The latter exercise was supposed to be getting bogged down in sand and then easily getting out of it – this did not go quite to plan however and our “rescue vehicle” also got bogged down and it took some two hours for us both to get free.

Stuck in sand 2

So whilst we are now far happier about 4WD, rivers and hills etc, we have both taken a vow to never drive on sand – we could not cope with the stress of getting out! A useful day, well delivered and enjoyable,


  1. Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

    4WD Campervan

  2. Thanks for the comment we are gald you like it. The next new entry will be late September when we go to Pompeii for a week, then around November we are taking part in the National Immunisation Campaign in India and so that will get quite a long set of blog entries followed by a brief visit to Tasmania at the end of November