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4x4 Hi or Low drive on Tracks?

by Dick
(Isle of Wight (UK))

Toyota Bushcamper at King Canyon campground

Toyota Bushcamper at King Canyon campground

Hi Rita
Thank's for a great site :o)
I'm planning a trip along the Oodnadatta Track, Birdsville Track, and to Halligan Bay in February 2012 in a Toyota Bushcamper.

I'll be travelling alone, and I'm aware of the precautions I should take when undertaking such trips, but one thing I'd like to know is whether the Low Drive gears on the 4x4 would need to be used for long stretches of these tracks. I'm not talking about if I get into trouble, get bogged or whatever, but if the Low gears are normally needed when actually driving on the tracks?

I'm hoping that normal gears can be used, under normal conditions, for the full lengths of these tracks. Long drives in the low range of gears might well put me off going to Birdsville or Halligan Bay.

Thanks again for your great site :o)

Rita's Reply

Hi Dick,

Thanks for the kind words. That's why I made this website, to help travellers to go to the Outback. :)

In dry conditions you don't need to drive in 4WD mode at all (Oodnadatta & Birdsville Track). The Halligan route is different, a 4WD is always recommended. Just ask in William Creek what the track is like before you go.

On many tracks you just need the better clearance of a 4WD vehicle. Plus, 4WD vehicles are more robust than modern 2WDs. Apart from that, you can't take a hired 2 WD on the tracks.

Conditions on the tracks vary all the time. That's why it is always good to talk with the locals and travellers that come from where you want to go.

If ever, you can engage the HI 4WD on sandy sections. Also when a track is wet 4WD is very useful.

I am not a techie, but my understanding is that you use the low 4WD on sand dunes and rocky terrain in mountain ranges.
It's explained in the car manual how to engage 4WD, lock and unlock the front wheel hubs.

It is a while until February, you'll be well prepared then :). Don't hesitate to ask more questions. I am glad to help, and others readers might have tips as well.


More informaton...

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Jun 22, 2012
Glad you made it!
by: Rita

Hi Dick,

thank you so much for your feedback.

I am sorry that you were not in good health when you travelled the track. This can spoil the experience somewhat. (I know, I did the Birdsville Track with a fracture in my shoulder).

Good to hear from you.


Jun 21, 2012
Track Done.
by: Dick Cotton

Hi Rita!
I did drive the Oodnadatta track in February. I uesd a Bushcamper.
There was only one point on the track when I thought that a 4x4 was essential. That was S E of Oodnadatta, where a deep flood gully was filled with sand. I did use 4x4 gears for the whole of the track though. Better safe than sorry, and I was travelling alone.
I enjoyed the Oodnadatta track, I won't say it was fun exactly. I was in poor health at the time and the heat didn't help 45C at times. It was more of an experience or a challenge than fun. Wouldn't have missed it for the world though. Something that I'd always wanted to do, and I did it! :o) Later I drove the Nullabor as well.
Bye Dick

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