I first started working in remote Aboriginal Communities about 20 years ago in Alice Springs, this involved driving to Communities that were all within 200km to 300km from Alice Springs. Everyone drove Toyotas and there were many Troop carriers these were very common back then. The dirt roads were dangerous when it rained in the Desert. I was in Alice during the big wets of 1999-2001 these year were the wettest on record so it was common for the roads to be flooded in many places and very slippery in others. The troop carriers were pretty top heavy so they rolled over and this happened to a few people I knew luckily it never happened to me.
Back in the 1990s there was no training in 4X4 driving, I was given the keys on Monday arvo and told to drive to Maryvale Community so the next day I headed off at about 6am in the dark and drive down the Old South road. The car lights were pretty poor we saw lots of Kangaroos and cows so you had to keep a good look out to avoid hitting them. I had no idea what Low Range was and I had never seen Hubs that had to be locked in I was completely unskilled but the employer still sent me out bush, it was a different time.
When I was working in the Titjikala Community we were able to drive around looking for bush tucker so I had to learn how to drive a 4WD vehicle, I experimented with low range & high range, I went up sand hills in different gears and revved the car at different speeds, and I learnt everything about the Toyota Hilux. I still have allot of respect for an old style Toyota, I think they are far more reliable than the new Prado’s.
Once I got really bogged on the Napperby road and dug 2 big holes, one for each spare wheel to be placed under the rear tyres and then I dug another big hole in the front tyre for the swag, after 4 hours of digging, I sat in the car and put it in Low range and drove out “what a relief” to get out of the bog.
I look back now and realise the value of a 4X4 driving course, the training would have helped me in many situations. A good trainer understands what students need to learn and has “been there done that”. James Gorrie trains people in 4WD courses and has worked in remote areas for 20 years. 4X4 training