28th January, 2015

Dear ARB,

Recently I updated the family car to a Rodeo diesel 4×4, mainly
to extract my boat from the water on increasingly bad launch
ramps on the Murray River. And it does the trick too. Now,
however, being the owner of a 4×4, the temptation is to do some
of those Outback trips one sees in various mags (including yours)
and on adventure programs on the telly.

To date, the only non-standard accessories I’ve added to the ute
are a bin liner and ARB canopy. On reading and watching these
stories of all Aussie adventures (not necessarily those with Russell Coight), I am amazed at the array of accessories promoted, many apparently ‘essential’. It appears to me, given I buy one of each, it is unlikely there will be room for any food or passengers and/or I am going to need a 4×4 trailer to carry everything! ARB Fridge Freezer, extra water and fuel, winches and snatch straps, sand anchor, bull bar, roof rack, driving lights and spare wheels etc etc may make my idea of a trip quite expensive, let alone a bit squeezie.

So the question really is: what are the ‘essential’ 4×4 accessories and gear needed for a happy yet safe Outback adventure?


Hi Rusty,

As you have outlined above, there are many so called ‘essential’ accessories being promoted as vital for a safe Outback, or for that matter, any 4WD adventure. But the most ‘essential’ message is to be prepared.

With modern 4WDs, it’s easy to lose sight of just how prepared you should really be. In 1860, the legendary Burke and Wills expedition left Melbourne with 19 men, 23 horses, six wagons, 27 camels, and enough food for 2 years. All in all over 20 tonnes of equipment. Yet Burke and Wills died on the banks of the Coopers Creek near present day Innamincka.

Today you can visit this remote site in the comfort of a 4WD. You can even sit at their graves and enjoy a cold beer from your ARB fridge. But if you’re ill-prepared for a breakdown or accident, you can still suffer the same fate.

The idea behind fitting accessories to your 4WD is to make it as safe as possible for your next adventure, and the best way to approach setting up a vehicle for off road is to first start with a list of where you want to go and what you want to do.

Say your adventure is going to be a weekend in the mountains of the High Country. The High Country is renowned for steep tracks, river crossings and weather that changes from one extreme to the next in a blink of an eye, leaving those steep tracks a slippery mess and those river crossings near impossible to pass. So the accessories you fit may look a little like the following:

• Bull bar, winch and recovery kit – for self recovery on steep tracks, bog holes and rivers

• Driving lights – for a late Friday night get away

• Diff locks – for more traction on slippery surfaces

• Raised suspension – for more ground clearance over obstacles like rocks and fallen trees

• Snorkel and water crossing bra – for deep river crossings

• Mud tyres – for greater traction

• Esky, BBQ plate and some snags, and $100 for a pub meal – after all it’s only a weekend away

But what if your adventure is an Outback trip to a remote area like the Simpson Desert, the Kimberly or even Coopers Creek? Your list may look a little different:

• Bull bar – for animal strikes

• Long range fuel tank – the standard tank may not have enough capacity to get you to the next fuel stop

• Water tanks and jerry cans – for drinking water as bores and creeks may not have drinkable water without first being treated

• All terrain tyres – for traction and greater puncture resistance

• Extra spare tyre and tyre repair equipment – tyre dealers and repairers are few and far between in the Outback

• UHF or HF radio and satellite phone – it may be days before another vehicle comes by in the event of a breakdown or injury

• Comprehensive first aid kit – again, help is a long way away

• 12V fridge – to keep food fresh and drinks cold for longer periods

• Dual battery system – for back up engine starting and running fridge and lighting

• Drawer system and cargo barrier – for organised and safer packing of the cargo area of the vehicle

• Roof rack – for swags, tents and lighter bulky items

• Tool kit and spares – mechanics and spare parts may take days to reach you… even if you do have roadside assist!

• Heavy duty suspension – for safe carrying of the extra load of fuel and gear

Rusty, you can never be over-prepared when it comes to off road travel, as you never know what may happen out there… especially in remote areas. But the trick is to carry the right gear and accessories for the area you are travelling to. What accessories will make your Outback adventure safe will depend on how far off the beaten track you travel and how safe you want to feel. Many accessories for your 4WD are just like an insurance policy, ensuring that you and your vehicle can return home safely from any adventure. So start with a list and fit only what is necessary first. Remember never to overload your vehicle and if you do need to carry more than what will fit in the vehicle safely, an off road 4×4 trailer is a better option than 27 camels…

Mark ‘Lowmount’ Lowry
(Manager – Product Development & Evaluation)