Saturday, 3 September 2016

Walter Mitty Motoring

Complete with winky blinky orange light.

This week I had another bush trip, and as has been the case recently, I was allocated a hire rather than a fleet car.

We hire from Avis, and a four-wheel drive is specified, so I’m usually set up with an SUV, mostly  Outlander or X Trail. Apparently, that is what is specified by the agency if you’re heading off the beaten track. O H & S etc.

Not this time.

When I went to collect the vehicle, Avis’ computers were down, which was creating a major headache for staff. They couldn’t tell what vehicles were required, and when, and it severely limited their flexibility.

Only vehicles not usually up for hire could be allocated, so I ended up with a Toyota Prado. With the mining downturn, plenty of these things are spare at the moment.

It was well and truly kitted out for mining work.

It had an HF radio, a bull bar, a winky blinky light on top, an orange flag, and a first aid kit.
Fortunately, I didn’t need any of these things during my trip, although I did enjoy leaving the scanner switched on and eavesdropping on the CB communications up and down the Warrego.

HF Radio, extinguisher and smelly seatcovers

 I heard language I remembered from the army.

Driving it reminded me of my stint in the North-West. In those days we used Toyotas, but they were generally 80 Series Cruisers. This thing, a J150, had done 41000 km, and was in fairly good nick.

It lacked bumps and scrapes, unlike most rental vehicles, so I don’t think it had a hard life. It felt like an 80 Series, but had all the gismos (Bluetooth, cruise, USB music and the foulest smelling plastic seat covers I’ve ever encountered.

They looked proof against nuclear attack, and could probably have been hosed clean.

It drove OK, once you accepted that it had general steering. By general steering, I mean that it generally followed the direction you pointed the wheel in. You had to be a bit patient, and wait for the direction to change. It always did, generally.

It was powered by a big lump of a four cylinder knocker (diesel) with a turbocharger, which lacked the response of (say) a Territory diesel, but cruised easily at 110km/hr.

Didn't get to use the orange flag.

Economy is not necessarily a strong point, as it averaged 9.5 lit/100km according to the readout.  

Overtaking was a bit fraught, and had to be planned carefully.

Surprisingly for a work truck, it was very comfortable, and the seat/wheel alignment could be adjusted to suit my bizarre anatomy.

Perhaps the only downside was the occasional dirty looks I received from some of the locals.
Miners aren't all that popular along the Warrego, especially in Miles.  

 Here's a bit of video (West of Dalby) - 

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