Travelling in a 4WD offers a number of benefits, and with all the spectacular places we have in Australia to explore, it’s no wonder!
1. Greater Access
In a 2WD vehicle, you are limited to driving on bitumen and on good condition gravel roads. Whilst Australia has a number of bitumen roads, they only cover a very small percentage of the total land area. If you want to explore beyond the bitumen, or the tracks less travelled, you need a 4WD.
As long as you have permission, traction and clearance, you can take a 4WD just about anywhere in Australia. Whether that’s down a local track in the bush that you’ve always wondered about, or across the Simpson Desert, a 4WD gives you a massive increase in accessible areas.
Cable Beach in Broome is the perfect example of this; one of Broome’s major attractions, visited by thousands of people every year. You can find a park in the carpark at the top and walk down, but trying to find your own slice of the beach is nigh on impossible.
If you own a 4WD though, you just continue on from the carpark, down the entry point to the beach and you have 22 kilometres of beach to enjoy. It doesn’t take long to have your own private part of the beach; there’s nothing quite like the freedom of access a 4WD gives you.
To top it off, you can have everything in your vehicle and be metres from the water. There’s no more lugging gear up and down!
2. More Space and Carrying Capacity
By nature 4WDs are bigger, which means you have more room. Packing for a trip away is no longer a game of Tetris, and you have more leg room too. For long distance driving, sitting up high in a 4WD is fantastic; you can see better and sit more comfortably.
Beyond that though, the extra room makes it easy to install accessories and modifications that will make your travel more enjoyable. A second battery and 12V fridge are common items found in 4WDs, that give you access to cold food and drink.
Weight is always an issue when it comes to loading a vehicle up, and 4WDs in general have higher payloads than the alternatives. If you wanted to install a drawer system in the back and pack it full of tools and gear, you shouldn’t have an issue.
3. Safer Towing
Ever wondered why every big caravan, boat or trailer you see is being towed by a 4WD? The towing capacity of 4WD’s is dramatically higher than any smaller vehicle. Modern 4WD’s have towing capacities of up to 3500kg, which is well and truly necessary when there are plenty of boats around pushing the 3 tonne mark.
Of course, it is imperative that you check the correct towing figures, along with payload and ensure that you are not overloaded.
4. Gateway to Adventure
If you love the outdoors, a 4WD is the ultimate tool to open up a whole new world of adventure. Whether it’s fishing, camping, surfing, free diving or hiking, being able to get to the less travelled locations is where the adventure begins.
Driving a 4WD off road in itself is a lot of fun, and heading out for the day purely to do some 4WD tracks is always a great day out. However, plenty of people have a 4WD purely because of what it allows them to do.
You don’t necessarily have to be crazy about spending hours behind the wheel on a bumpy track, but being able to access the best fishing or diving spots from the shore is often the primary attraction to owning a 4WD.
5. Improved Range
Most 4WD’s carry at least 80 litres of fuel from the factory. Some come standard all the way up to 180L, and that gives you a lot of distance between fuel stops. Sure, they use a bit more fuel than alternatives, but many 4WDs can easily do 800 – 1200km without having to refuel.
If you are travelling long distances, or in remote areas, this gives you huge potential to save money on fuel and reduces the chances of picking up poor quality fuel from some of the smaller fuel stations that don’t turn over a huge amount.
Long range tanks are easily installed, with some 4WDs carrying up to 270L of fuel on board, giving huge range in between fuel stops. If you are towing, extra fuel on board is imperative as it can dramatically increase the fuel consumption.
6. Escape the Crowds
Possibly the best part of owning a 4WD is you can escape the crowds. Australia is a phenomenally big country, with such a small population compared to the rest of the world. It doesn’t take much to find an amazing place that is well away from everyone else.
If you can have your own slice of the perfect river by driving a few kilometres down the road, you would, wouldn’t you? Generally accessible tourist attractions are fantastic, but if you can see places that are just as good (and in many cases better) without the crowds then I know which I would choose.
There’s something about waking up on a beautiful beach with your friends and family, and no one else in sight. The waves roll in all day long, and your 4WD allows you to stay away from the crowds in comfort for as long as you need.
Getting Started with a 4WD
If you are keen on buying a 4WD, do your research beforehand. You can hire them to start off with, or head out with friends that have them. Learn the ropes, or jump on a training course. There’s nothing too technical about 4WDing, but if you aren’t familiar with it you can end up in some pretty serious trouble.
Ensure that the 4WD you end up with ticks as many boxes that you require; if it doesn’t do what you want it to then you’ll end up selling and changing, and that’s an expensive exercise. You can never do too much research.
Travelling in a 4WD is the ultimate way to see Australia; there’s a reason so many people do it this way. See you out there, on a 4WD track!
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