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THE EXPLORATORY PEOPLE:
Raf and Julie - a pair of nature-loving, outdoorsy explorers and mad-keen birders from Sydney who have been getting off the beaten track together for 18 years. Favourite places include Northern NSW, South Australia, Outback QLD, tropical QLD and Outback NSW.
THE EXPLORATORY VEHICLES:
1984 Toyota Hiace Discoverer by John Terry - poptop campervan, 2.0 engine, rear-wheel drive, sleeps 2 in comfort, 2 burner cooker + griller, 3-way fridge, towbar and gets up to 500km from 45l of fuel (9 L/100km). Has been around Australia 4-5 times in it's life, has made it to Innamincka, Birdsville, Kakadu and all the way to the top of WA (not us - the inlaws), never had a major problem, built extremely tough. Showing it's age but still a great way to travel. Feels like home. Probably has 2 or 3 star safety rating or less.
2001 Subaru Forester GT - 2.0 turbocharged engine, AWD (50% torque split front to rear), raised heavy-duty suspension (240mm clearance - higher than a Pajero, Hilux or Prado!), sleeps 2 in a tent, camping kit contains 2 burner Primus cooker (no grill), Waeco 12v fridge/freezer, cooking equipment, plates & cutlery. Also has a towbar and roof racks + basket and can get up to 480km from 45 litres (9.38 L/100km). Was purchased in response to my previous car (1991 VW Golf Cabrio) falling apart due to too many corrugated dirt roads and National Park tracks. Has been through 800mm deep water and had a surge of water crash over the bonnet & windscreen with no snorkel (and no problems), a reliable and unstoppable beast. 5 star safety rating.
EXPLORATORY VEHICLE SUMMARY:
As you can see, both vehicles come in under 10L / 100km which is the psychological barrier. Consumption above that seems too excessive and feels wasteful. Both these vehicles fit within the boundaries of our 'green' and low impact philosophies. When driven sensibly both are very capable vehicles.
We have only been bogged in the Hiace twice, somewhere between the Bridle Track and the Turon River after a few days of rain we forded a river then when trying to drive out we began to slip. I dropped the pressure to 20psi and drove straight out. The other time was in Menindee, the rear wheels got caught in some deep, dry sand and spun. Same deal - drop tyre pressures - drive straight out.
The Forester however, has immense traction for it's weight so has never had a problem, even when caught on the Oodnadatta Track in torrential rain. It was raining so heavily that the road was closed from both ends while we were exploring the middle sections!
The main technology we enjoy when out and about is the internet for which we employ a +8dbi external antenna with a magnetic base and 10m of coax cable. We can then create a WiFi hotspot allowing phones, iPads and his/hers laptops to access the internet. A 300w pure sinewave inverter takes care of our charging and power needs and a 30cm LCD TV with built-in DVD handles all visual entertainment. For audio we use a BOSE Soundlink Mini bluetooth speaker (with aux in so we can connect the TV) which gives us good bass. Everything except for the laptops can run off 12v directly without using the inverter. When in the van we use 2 x 80ah deep cycle batteries, if travelling in the Forester we just take one. Last but not least is the Happy Wanderer camping antenna - bloody awesome - works great.