Life’s an adventure; get out and live it to the full.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So, throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr., (P.S. I Love You)
Life’s an adventure; get out and live it to the full. Hit the dirt track, head to the Top End, explore the Kimberley, traverse the Outback and wind up in a tropical rainforest. Fish isolated beaches and drive to the ends of the earth just for the thrill of the quest. Be daring – become an overland explorer.
You won’t need roads or extensive itineraries where you’re going. You’ll just need a desire to see all the edges of our wondrous planet. When planning an overland expedition, it doesn’t matter how long you’re gone; what’s important is that you fully immerse yourself in the journey.
If you happen to find yourself in Birdsville, and you’re getting on with the locals, stay there for a month and hear their stories. Whatever you learn about other people and your surroundings will be mirrored in what you discover about yourself. There’ll be plenty of lessons as you adapt to off-road life. Hopefully, this guide will help you bypass some of the potential difficulties and hit peak levels of fun.
Travel light and go hard
If you’re an adventure seeker who lives to the extreme, you’ll already know the importance of quality gear. Despite the apparent lack of structure, overlanding requires a high degree of preparation – mainly in finding the right supplies to keep you going without weighing you down.
First and foremost, you’ll need a reliable, all-terrain vehicle, made for equal parts daring and hassle-free off-road living. When travelling vast distances over challenging ground, it’s critical to keep the overall weight (tare) of your travel home to an absolute minimum. Look for a vehicle made for overlanding; a truck that’s aerodynamic and fuel-efficient, and that will keep you under 4,500kg including fuel, water, spare wheels, accessories and personal effects.
Some of the key advantages of keeping your vehicle under 4,500 Kg (tare) are that you won’t be required to carry out an annual roadworthy inspection, you won’t need a Light Rigid Truck Licence, and you’re less likely to get stuck. After all, an adventure is a lot more fun when you’re moving. You’ll also enjoy cheaper running costs due to the power to weight ratio. If you’re on an extended journey, the more pennies you save, the longer you can travel.
Determine the essentials
Off-road survival is contingent on being able to adapt to any environment. As in most outdoor pursuits, when it comes to overlanding, less is more. Everything you carry uses fuel and makes it harder to get up hills and through crossings. Pack your vehicle thoughtfully.
Equipment for emergency repairs (e.g. tyre repair kits), should have an accessible place in your travel home. Half the fun is in working out how to use these kits before you leave. If you’re not confident in using something in a non-emergency, then it’s not worth taking with you. For example, you shouldn’t take a welding kit if you don’t know how to weld!
Most people won’t have even heard about the places you’re going. As such, carry high-quality navigation equipment. Be prepared for anything with travel insurance, solar chargers and communication devices. A good network of emergency contacts will also serve you well.
In places that are genuinely undiscovered, there may not be a communication signal. Hark back to the days of yore and keep a paper map handy in your backpack. Have a bit of fun with your bold, explorer persona; use this chart to mark hidden treasures.
With the essentials covered, everything else is optional. Each extra kilogram has the potential to hold you back, so find multi-use items. Consider a washing soap that works as a shampoo, laundry detergent and dishwashing liquid. Lightweight towels (or even sarongs) dry quickly, can be used as a beach or picnic mat and, at a stretch, can be tied at the top to makeshift a carry bag. It’s amazing what you can do with a little imagination!
When it comes to practical ready-made multi-use items, you can go past the Victorinox SwissCard. It’s a letter opener (blade), a pair of scissors, pin, stainless steel nail file, screwdriver, tweezers, toothpick, pressurised ballpoint pen and ruler. And, it fits in your wallet credit card compartment.
Plan to go further
The challenge of overlanding is getting the balance right. You might need to travel light, but you won’t get away with being a lightweight. Overlanding is a tough gig; demanding, but rewarding. You’ll negotiate every kind of terrain, sometimes driving at high-altitude, at other times navigating narrow mountain tracks, or crossing rivers and making your way across sandy deserts. Your vehicle needs to be light, but equally, it needs to strong and capable.
Caravans or trailers will not get you far as a means of overland transport. Towed vehicles are more suitable for shorter trips, closer to home. When you’re overlanding, you’ll come across all kinds of obstacles – your own truck shouldn’t be one of them.
There are a number of Australian overland truck providers. One of these providers is Brisbane-based, TravelTrucks. Their trucks are built for all conditions. The chassis, drivetrain, gear and transfer box are constructed to Military Light Tactical Vehicle specifications, driven by a 3-litre twin turbo engine, and each truck has a broad range of enhancement features, designs and accessories that guarantee you access to the most remote areas of the planet.
Overlanding can be extreme; you’ll go further with a vehicle made to handle all conditions with ease.
Get your mind into gear
Think like an overlander. Most people plan holidays based on a destination, but when you’re setting out on an expedition, every piece of ground covered is as significant as the last.
The mindset to take is this: you don’t know until you know. The aim of discovery replaces the lack of an endpoint.
When planning a route, there may be things you’d like to see, but, just as importantly, will be preparing vehicle border crossings, visa requirements (if applicable), international driver’s licences and facilities (if your vehicle is not self-contained). Some people are surprised to find out that they can even take their off-road vehicle overseas.
The world really is your oyster, but you must start somewhere, and if you’re an extreme adventurer, there’s no better place to sink your teeth in than Australia. Our backyard is a vast open plain for discovery. Just remember, exploration is your goal. An overlander knows that travelling is not about arriving, it’s about the thrill of the journey.