Great Divide Tours
Tweet tweet go the birds as you head through the trees on Vic Widmans virtual adventure trail. With a bit of pre-trip 4WD driver training, a compass and a bottle of water, Vic will take you to well beyond the black stump on a choice of trips ranging from a quick one day-er up to Stockton Beach, to a month-long tag-along death ride across the Simpson Desert. The pics look picture perfect for an outback trek - up dunes, down mountains and across creeks. All you need is Vic's $20.00 book - that's a dollar for every year he's spent out there - and you are Mal and Mike Leyland's illegitimate yuppie half brother, Larry.
Sample: "..let me help you get the most out of your vehicle without causing damage to the environment, yourself or your wallet."
Verdict: Vic has got the right stuff - he guarantees you'll come back alive. - SS
Adventure Australia with Break Loose
A directory of all things adventure leads you all across Australia, discovering the what, where and how of adventurous activities. The trouble with directories is that they take so much effort to put together on limited budgets. Nevertheless, they have done a pretty OK job here. Even though there are a lot of holes to be filled, there is enough to get you started in your search for the ultimate extra-metropolitan activity. It is well laid out and easy to follow, it just needs your sponsorship dollar to kick it along a bit.
Sample: "If you feel you have an article that would be of interest, please let us know.."
Verdict: Please do! They could do with some encouragement! This could be a great tourist web-destination. Some good travel yarns. - SS
Net Worth: ***
A one-stop trip shop taking away the stress and strain of planning your holiday, organising your car, maps accomodation, mileage etc. You have to buy the maps and stuff, so it is kinda hard to see the benefit here, as against dropping into the local service station. There is a good bit of pre-arrival destination info to chew on, though, as you tie the three spare tyres, gearbox and diff to your roof. Overall, it is quite a neat package, and certain to get you thinking about where in this great big land you might like to head next.
Sample: "Legend goes that Tennant Creek was established when a beer cart broke down, attracting nearby miners to the site".
Verdict: Oh yeah - don't forget your esky!! - SS
Australian Bushwalking Web
There is nothing better after a long bush bash in your 4WD, than actually getting out of the air-conditioned beast and going for a real walk in the wilderness. This site is a complete guide to what to do and what not to do once your strap on the hiking boots. The bushwalkers code, safety, equipment, clubs and the all-important environmental aspects are covered. This site is a result of all the bushwalking clubs in Australia nutting out the ultimate website to represent them, and they've succeeded.
Sample: "Please carry your Medicare card."
Verdict: …presumably, that's to squash poisonous spiders with… - SS
Australian Caravan Touring
With an obvious love for the blessed caravan, this site's creator serves up the lot on his HTML gas stove about the whole caravanning experience. His light-hearted style makes this mostly text-based site more colourful than some heavily pictorial sites, as he takes you through preparation, destinations, navigation and communication while living the dream. There are heaps of very useful facts, including seasonal considerations, local festivals and must-sees, making this site a must-read before and during your big adventure.
Sample: "Packing, Preparation and Hitching — wherein we encounter lists destined to gladden the heart of the irredeemably obsessional, albeit at the risk of striking fear into the heart of the neophyte"
Verdict: Ah, the joys of caravanning! - SS
Australian Hovercraft Federation Website
Well strike up the fans and blow me away, we are going on an all out yee haa ride of James Bond proportions here. Floating around in these babies has got to rate pretty high on the fun scale. I really don't know why hovercrafts haven't taken off as the primary mode of transport to get to work. Sure they are loud, but they look so cool. I want one, and you will too - and the great thing is, you can! And here's how.
Sample: "Inventor.. Sir Christopher Cockerell…constructed a model from two coffee tins and a hair dryer..."
Verdict: Sell your Pajero, we're going a hoverin'! - SS
Australia's Bicentennial National Trail
The route from Cooktown in Qld to Healsville, Vic, is the largest single trekking route in the world. The legendary RM Williams dreamed up the concept of a great trail, and before too long it was a reality. A memorial to all the great bushmen of this country that anyone can savour to whatever degree they like. A wildlife cornucopia, and definitely good for the constitution as you walk, horse ride or mountain bike your way to exhaustion, trying to get as much of the 5,330km trip into your Sunday afternoon as you can.
Sample: "the Trail follows the historic coach and stock routes, old pack horse trails, and country roads. Wherever possible along its great length the Trail has been designed to be a "living history" of our country, following the routes of our early pioneers and highlighting historic sites and artifacts along the way."
Verdict: You can't call yourself an Aussie til you've done a bit of this one. - SS
CIA World Fact Book
OK, so you've done the blue mountains, now it's time to stick your land Cruiser on a raft and head O/S. Since the CIA know everything, it makes sense to check with them before you go, just in case you might be headed for one of their covert operation areas, or some old land mine site. The fact book basically covers your usual stats like population, land mass, politics etc, and is really quite a good all round guide to what's going on around the world, should you wish to go a-wandering.
Sample: "The conduct of peace involves all countries, all human activities--not just the enemy and his war production."
Verdict: Yeah, but are there any good sand dunes? Huh?? - SS
All the major search engines have been quick to see the opportunities for sponsorship revenue from travel companies as web surfers use the net to plan the annual getaway from the office computer. The information, when proffered by willing professionals with advertising budgets to burn, and coupled with the search engines technical ability to deliver the info, makes for an appealing addition to any portal's services. Book air tickets, hotels, cars, buy a book or two, and your holiday is a sure-fire success - at least on paper. When you get there, you have to go through the withdrawals of not having your computer to organise your sunbaking schedule and cocktail orders.
Sample: "need a travel companion? Matchmaker free trial"
Verdict: Geez, they think of everything!- SS
4WD On Line Magazine
Part of the Sofcom suite of info sites, this one provides everything a 4WD owner or prospective owner might want. If it doesn't you can post a question and have someone answer it. All the big name brands, the army vehicles, the multitude of uses, clubs, links, news, destinations and mechanical tips are here. How to buy, fix and maintain your pride and joy, is expertly detailed by experienced enthusiasts who want you to join the club and be glad you did.
Sample: "I have a Defender 110 year 1994. I am on my 3rd clutch master cylinder in 12 months. When the clutch is empty of fluid, the peddle catches on the downstroke and stays down and I am sure that it shouldn't do this."
Verdict: Especially in the middle of the Simpson Desert! - SS
Great Outdoor Recreation Page
All this fresh air and sunshine has certainly given the GORP's of this world a bright outlook on life. Yes it is American, so the happy-happy vibe is to be expected - this time it is done with a genuine love of the bush. You can almost see these stereotype yanks beaming with pride as they drive their gas guzzlers up to the fish'n'shoot hotel, gaze at some major natural phenomenon, and drive back to the burbs for another year. It's all very Chevvy Chase, but there's something magical about that ol' outdoors - except for them thar grizzly bears.
Sample: "the Ouachitas have rugged trails, roaring whitewater and a natural beauty that nearly became a national park."
Verdict: …until the army commandeered them to test stealth bombers… - SS
Land Rover Owners Club of Australia - Sydney Branch
With an emphasis on community fun - by organising tag-along trips - and "treading lightly on public and private land", this site brings you activities, membership opportunities, driver training and access to the club library. The photos and reports make it look like a helluva good time, except for the getting bogged bits, but there are always enough helping hands around to get you out of trouble, cook up a bit of tucker and boil the billy before you head home in the tow-truck.
Sample: "We welcome owners of other four wheel drive vehicles in our club - in fact, we have life members that own Toyotas!"
Verdict: Sharing the spirit of a classic vehicle. - SS
This is the glossy, mud-covered sales pitch of the Land Rover legend. With such a well-known reputation, it's no wonder these vehicles are selling like beers on New Years Eve. The colour and style is great, but the informational content here is a little lacking. It would be nice to see a little more history and legend here. We are already sold on the cars - the new ones are pretty amazing indeed, especially when veiwed in snazzy Quicktime.
Sample: "controlled, responsive, refined, advanced"
Verdict: …just like your accountant is going to have to be to get the car loan approved as a business investment - SS
Welcome To Landrover
The Aussie site may not be as flashy as the international one reviewed in this chapter, but at least they have bothered to give us a bit of info about where to take the cars after we buy them. Choice locations around the country are detailed, with maps, driving tips and FAQ's. Come to think of it, you could probably make the same trip in your old Holden. Whether you can afford a Rover or not, you can always buy a key ring, belt or tie pin and pretend.
Sample: "Land Rovers are built in quality control conditions to ensure your every adventure is a great experience. So too is Land Rover Gear. Each item is designed and manufactured, like your Land Rover, to endure the toughest conditions you can put it through."
Verdict: ..like I'm going to drag my polo shirt through a ravine and winch myself up the other side with my watch strap! - SS
Lonely Planet On-Line
The world-renown experts on vital travel info have generated a constantly upgraded version of their expertise, packed with informed and interesting reading, news and tips aimed more towards the backpacker market, but nevertheless vital info even if you are going the 4WD/5-Star route. The thorn tree bulletin board allows for instant Q & A, and you can follow many a nifty little icon to more useful, funny, and at times sobering info.
Sample: "Lonely Planet has an unmatched reputation for producing well-researched, up-to-date information that travelers can depend on no matter where they're going."
Verdict: Not so lonely with the kinship promoted here among travellers. - SS
Out of the Way Luxury 4WD Tours
Ok, so you've just retired, you always dreamed of travelling round the far north of Australia and seeing the sites, but you're a bit over the whole "roughing it" thing you may have done 40 years ago. What better way than to pile into a luxury stretch 4WD with 5 others and have the time of your life laughing, sharing stories and admiring the scenery in air-conditioned comfort. Doesn't sound too bad at any age really. A visit to a few antique and craft shops, a bit of a sing-song around the campfire and the trip is a perfect success.
Sample: "Two full days of quiet rest and good food, while enjoying our spectacular Australian bush. We do all the work, and you enjoy the pampering."
Verdict: Sounds good to me! - SS
Outback Australia - Big Red Tour
This is the real lowdown from those that have been there and done it all. They know the challenges that may lie ahead for the novice outback traveller, and they offer as much advice as they can in the interests of helping everyone appreciate our great land. It's dinkum Aussie all the way with advice on how to be friendly to the locals, how not to piss them off by being a rude European, what to pack in your suitcase, road courtesy, dangers, places to visit.
Sample: "If you follow these simple advice, then you will not end up as one of the people that leave a bad impression and destroy for other travellers following in your track."
Verdict: True Blue words of wisdom for the uninitiated traveller. - SS
Outward Bound Australia
If you are still around after nearly 60 years, and a non-profit organisation to boot, something has got to be working. With a mission to basically get people off their bums and doing something exciting, OB has seen more than 2 million people take the challenge and discover something about themselves they possibly never knew existed. Get out with a team spirit and do challenging stuff. It's got to be good for the soul.
Sample: "..everything Outward Bound does is carefully planned and operated by our professional staff to minimise real risk without diminishing the excitement of an active, adventurous challenge."
Verdict: Have fun, learn about yourself and make friends for life.- SS
Overland 4WD Safaris
WA Based tour operator offers a nice cracked-earth theme to their on-line promotion which captures the feeling of being "out there". There are a few limited help sections for accommodation and travel, a big news area, internet discounts, survivors tales, bush recipes and a good selection of pics. All guaranteed to give you a hankerin' for the outback. If you are lucky, John or Joy might even be on-line and you can ICQ them direct.
Sample: "Our objective was to show visitors the Australia that only the locals knew...the REAL AUSTRALIA!!"
Verdict: Attractive design, good content - just like the outback. - SS
The Bush Ranger
The Bushy is about as much fun as you can have without getting a hovercraft. Even Kerry Packer has one. They look cool, they love mud, and you can trick them right up to be awesome sedan-eating monsters with thumping stereos. There are a few links to other "bushy" sites, including the dudes who chop the original Range Rovers and Land Rover Discoveries into these cool looking beasts. But you have to start at this guys site - and send the poor dude an email - he's a fun guy.
Sample: "I should get a life. I wish I could get a life. Narrandera is a hole."
Verdict: Beserk bush bashin' in the backwater. - SS
Sarah and Eric have decided that the best way to save the environment is for them to do all the 4WD adventuring on our behalf, while we follow their travels on the web. Pretty smart thinking, I reckon. Less harm to our bushland, and we don't have to endure the flies and heat, breakdowns and flat tyres. Happily volunteering to bear the suffering of a life of total freedom and excitement, they let us see the whole thing from the comfort of our own dingy, rat infested city hovels. I really feel sorry for those two as they selflessly serve their country for the greater good.
Sample: "Perhaps like many other people out there, you don't have the time to drive across a country like Australia, to explore wild National Parks and rugged coastlines, camp out under the stars, go fishing for Barramundi, or frolic with kangaroos.......well we do have the time, in fact we've made the time especially for you! "
Verdict:. Aw gee, thanks guys! You lucky %$&@*'s - SS
Welcome to NRMA on the Web
Whatever anyone thinks about the NRMA as it struggles through it's identity crisis, facing the reality of economic rationalisation, global corporatisation of everything, and competitive strategic posturing, the old motorists' association still has the interests of us mere drivers in it's collective mind. The web site brings all the kind of stuff you get in the members' magazine, with a little more zing & zap, with regular updates. Members are privileged to get a few more pages than non-members, like how to appeal a parking fine - now that'll tempt anyone to join! The scope is wide, and well worth a look-see/listen/click.
Sample: "To Help Avoid Stress And Frustration While You're Driving - Don't drive if you're already upset by something happening at work or at home"
Verdict:. Well, that takes about 95% of cars off the road straight away. Excellent advice! - SS
Youth Hostels of Australia
Why not join this amazing network and guarantee yourself a bed no matter where you might end up after a long drive, er, night on the town. The experience, friendliness and youthful exuberance beams out of this site like a backpacker at a business luncheon. The site takes you all around Australia and the world in a colourful web space that beckons you to join the inn crowd and have some fun.
Sample: Membership of YHA is your entry ticket to a travel adventure, which will linger in your memory for years to come. Staying in YHA hostels also means your budget will survive so you can go further and stay longer.
Verdict:. So this is why there are so many travellers with expired visas! - SS