How good is this and entire portal dedicated to something that’s been a passion of mine for years, without even really knowing it. Expedition Portal ticks just about all of my interests,
- Expeditions & Travel & history – always a good read and a whole world out there, time & money permitting of course
- Vehicles for Expeditions – I was always in it to discover places , history & cultures. Whilst the vehicle is primarily a means to and end, there is simply nothing like a well prepared & thought out four wheel drive. It’s home base after all.
- Equipment & Gear - Some amazing equipment available, even if its not all necessary sometimes.
- News & Forums – Got to love the internet for bringing together like minded people.
I’ve been lucky enough to live in and visit many places over the years and have had some incredible adventures in all sorts of guises. A few come to mind
- An accidental, three month adventure through Mexico & Central America. A spontaneous Mayan archaeology & history trip through some amazing cultures & countries. True Indiana Jones inspired fun
- Solo Egyptian archaeology trip. Exhausting & challenging but priceless
- East African wildlife photography expedition by four wheel drive. Always an eye opener camping when you know you’re not top of the food chain !
- Wet Season to Cape York, Australia by ancient BJ42 Land Cruiser. Tough truck. Low on comfort.
- Canadian & US Rockies winter trips – spectacular winter wonderland.
- Caribbean Diving Expeditions. Opens a whole new world.
- Many outback Camping trips in Australia
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Wow ! As I think back to those trips I feel privileged to have had those opportunities. Like many things in life of course , the more you learn the more you find is out there. Certainly makes for wanderlust and plenty of armchair adventures.
Having grown up in Europe I found it the perfect base for travel to both Africa and the US but having an opportunity to move to Australia that opened a whole host of new options especially with a growing family.
Whilst I loved exploring Europe I found getting away from the vehicle is the best way to find unspoilt places, people the masses are simply reluctant to go a lot further than a car park. Australia still has plenty of the same type of people but it also has many that are prepared to kit up and be completely self sufficient for weeks. Sometimes with alarming amounts of kit.
Having English roots I suffer from a common illness – “Rover-itus”, sometimes hard in a land of Japanese vehicle lovers. I think I caught this affliction whilst watching a Camel Trophy Amazon documentary as a kid. I’ve wanted a Defender ever since. Whilst I have dabbled in several Landcruiser’s I’ve always come back to Rovers for that coil spring comfort, toughness and ability to get me into all sorts of trouble ! Now being married into an Australian farming family I can’t tell you the grief I get from the Nissan Patrol & Toyota Landcruiser brigade. Still the old Range Rovers & Disco has been everywhere and done everything any of those others have done, often in greater comfort. I have to admit to looking at some very tasty alternatives on the market recently – more on that later.
Not wanting to be too divisive here but I have found this portal absolutely fascinating in some of the underlying trends from different parts of the world. In many respects its “Grass is greener” but that’s what keeps us travelling right. To name but a few things that I picked up on;
- Very interested to see the lack of seemingly everyday expedition ready vehicles in the US, i.e. where are all the Diesels of all makles, Defenders, many Landcruiser variants, diesel dual cab “ute’s”, Nissan Patrols etc. Fascinating, I had no idea these weren’t available in US. I was under the impression Australia had US car envy but in the 4x4 scene it seems the other way. Seems this is probably limited to older US muscle \ classic cars which Australians love. Choice in Australia is certainly excellent in this respect. I now understand why Jeeps are so loved.
- The down side of the choice of expedition vehicles here in Australia is often the cost of them. Generally vehicles in Aust are significantly more expensive than the US. Pretty hard to swallow $60k – $100k for a Cruiser to take bush bashing.
- Europe has some very tasty vehicles that are well priced. Ironically good destinations are a little harder to come by unless you’ve got plenty of time on your hands to venture to eastern Europe or Africa. Having said that if you get out of your vehicles options are endless. Love Europe for its endless cultural diversity but not so many wilderness offerings for a quick weekend camp as here in Aust .
- I noticed an interest for G wagons in this forum. Understandable given there toughness although Defender sparseness is pretty interesting for the price tag. They have recently been reintroduced here in Aust with a v6 diesel but are laughably priced at $160k – That’s three times the price of a Defender or twice the price of a 200 series diesel landcruiser !! Incidentally the Australian Army are in process of replacing their Land Rover Perentie fleet with G wagons. But hey they are just spending tax payer money
- As a result of some of the above, I see a lot of interest in early Land cruisers \ Land rovers in the US. Whilst many Down Under still hold a fondness for the bullet proof nature of these vehicles they have been somewhat superseded by more modern and significantly more comfortable options. Even the “anti electronics” brigade are still looking at newer vehicles despite the reliability concerns when in remote locations. This maybe a reflection of the relaxed cruising requirement \ massive distances to cover in Australia and lets face it any off road adventure is often preceded by plenty of on road driving. I know from experience I’d choose my 2000 model Discovery 2 any day over my earlier Land Cruiser BJ42 (diesel) or 60 series.
- Diesel fuel is expensive in Australia compared to Europe so the payback on Diesel v Petrol is longer. Despite this the driving range alone is the main selling point for diesel, 1000km’s (600miles) is really necessary here. Having said that some bargains to be had in Petrol vehicles though – i.e. a Diesel 100 series – v expensive, Petrol 100 series cruise is dirt cheap – bullet proof but too thirsty for most people.
- Absolute obsession with Toyota Landcruiser & Nissan Patrols in Australia. Near psychotic brand adoration built on historic reliability record. Although this is changing to a degree
- Diesel Prado’s now out sell 200 series Landcruiser significantly.
- 200 series viewed as too big, heavy, expensive for bush use, although still popular as a tourer \ tow car
- Significant suspicion of independent front end in 200 Series LC and some issues with oil consumption on V8 diesel.
- Nissan’s 4cyl, 3.0 litre turbo diesel has poor reliability record compared to previous 6cyl 4.2 - No replacement in sight for this aging model.
- Dual cab diesel ‘ute’ are the market winners here – flexibility, economy, tough, cheaper, tax breaks due to commercial nature. Endless choice is diesel variants . Can be a bit rough \ commercial but hard to go past.
- - Toyota Hilux 3.0 4 cyl diesel
- - Ford Ranger 2.2 or 2.5 4cyl diesel
- - Mazda BT50 2.2 or 2.5 4cyl diesel
- - Nissan Navara 4 or 6 cyl diesel
- - Mitsubishi Triton 2.5 4 cyl diesel
- - VW Amarok 2.0 twin turbo diesel
- Less is more – some interesting “mining” versions available in Aust. Low on luxury, high on toughness, troopies, 100, 200 series land cruiser.
- Credibility \ reliability reputation of Land Rover improving significantly. Many Range Rovers & Discovery 3,4’s around now despite hefty price tag. Although not so many used in the bush.
- Camper trailers are becoming huge in Aust. They are typically heavier and larger than those in the US and can frankly get very expensive. Whilst I do run full size camper trailer I’m looking at downsizing. Towing any sort of trailer can be a real limiting factor in some locations
- Track Closures. This seems a common thread across the world, all in the name of conservation. Considering the size of Australia & population its ironic coastal camping can be hard to find at peak times. I guess Europe & America’s know that one all to well. Track closures & access is the real issue here and don’t even think about it with a dog as you are instantly locked out of any national park.
- Distance & time. Probably the biggest challenge to us all, especially if I throw in money ! Australia does have some fantastic destinations but it’s not unusual for the time or distance issues to make many once in a lifetime trips. You just can’t get there and back in two weeks.
- Got to love the variety of terrain in the US & Europe – real mountains, flowing rivers !
- I’m in awe of some of those winter camping trips in the US. Tough people out camping & fishing when the weather is below zero.
- At the risk of being even more controversial. Keep in mind not all Australians are Crocodile Dundee ! As hard as that is to believe in this forum, most Australians are urban city dwellers. Okay so you can still be outdoorsy even in the city but you know what I mean. Those venturing & living out in the bush are in the minority. Anyway, that’s great as it leaves plenty of open spaces for the rest of us
Needless to say I’ll be a regular fan of Expedition Portal and am certainly here to bring you an Aussie flavour on board. More photos to follow. Feel free to drop me a line anytime and keep up the good work.