Everyday Four-Wheel Drives of Australia

G’day, mate! If you’ve come here to take a squizz at some of the four-wheel drives rolling around Australia, you’re in the right place. On our last trip to this speccy country, we picked up more than just some ripper new slang. We also brought back heaps of photos of cool fourbies from coast to coast. These aren’t vehicles built for shows mind you, just the ordinary 4x4s we saw driving down the road every day. There were Nissan Patrols with snorkels and ARB bull bars, Hiluxes sporting the same, and Troopies with any number of customizations on them, and those were just the official airport vehicles we saw before getting off the plane! Once you’re on the actual road it seems like every other truck or SUV has a lift, a color-matched bumper, and off-road tires and it’s not hard to understand why. Australia’s towns are remote, its tracks are rugged, and the only thing more unpredictable than the weather are the animals. But don’t take our word for it, take a moment to browse through the photos below, and you’ll begin to get a small taste of the four-wheel drive heaven known as Australia.

We saw a lot of different four-wheel drives while traveling across the country, but the most common BY FAR was the 70 Series pickup, and nearly all of them had a tray-bed or canopy. I would even go as far as to say we saw more of these built trucks than any other vehicle on the entire trip. By the end of the first week, my co-driver and I actually began to crack jokes about just how darn many there were.

The Troop Carriers definitely took second place. These fantastic trucks are used as ambulances, police cruisers, transports, campers, training trucks, and pretty near everything else you can imagine. It did NOT help our desire to import one to the States. 

Hey, if you’re going to be hauled off to jail, at least it would be in something seriously cool!

We saw several 200 Series Land Cruisers stretched and turned into double-cab trucks. Unfortunately, they were usually booking it through the desert or down some beach, and we often couldn’t grab a shot in time. We did manage to snap a photo of this one in a parking lot though. It was decked out with just about everything you could want, including a powered BunduTop Tent.
Okay, so this isn’t your average everyday truck in Australia. In fact, it’s one of the only Mercedes we saw on the entire trip, and it was from Europe on an overland trip around the world. It was still pretty cool to see though, and worth including.
Australia has over 16,000 miles of coastline, and unlike in the States where much of it is private property, no one can own the beach in Oz. That means many sections are open to fishing, camping, and even driving. We camped on a few such beaches during our trip, and there were always plenty of locals heading out to go fishing or just enjoying a drive.
Somewhere in the middle of our journey we ran into this brilliant but salty guy. He bought this Patrol new in the ’60s, along with his beloved camper trailer which is painted to match the truck. He has been exploring the country in both ever since, and he repaints them himself by hand every few years. He was on an indefinite trip when we ran into him along the roadside having lunch.

His Patrol was far from the only classic four-wheel drive we saw on this trip, however. There were Land Rovers, Land Cruisers, and other Patrols as well, and each looked ready to tell their stories of adventure through the Australian bush.
Australia has laws limiting the size of lift you can run as well as the maximum tire size for different vehicles, which tends to keep four-wheel drives fairly reasonable. That doesn’t mean that all the trucks there are all small though. Far from it in fact. We witnessed everything from built-up buses to dump trucks off-road, and many of them even had beadlocks for low-pressure situations. Then there are the road trains, of course, tractor trailers with three or even four trailers in tow running dual snorkels for dust filtration in the bush. When these things are coming at you down a one-lane road, you move.
Driving across Australia also made me realize how woefully inadequate our large trailer market is. The flimsy plywood units that pass as RVs here are complete junk compared to most of the products available overseas, and I’m sad to say I don’t see that changing anytime soon. We can only hope that some of these awesome companies decide to bring their trailers over to the states, so those of us who want to get off the beaten path have real options.

There were two trailers that I had the opportunity to inspect up close in Australia, and the first was the Zone (seen below). This phenomenal company has taken off-road caravans to the next level with luxury features, modern, tasteful interiors, and a suspension and chassis capable of standing up to a beating. We will be taking an in-depth look at these trailers soon, so watch for the full article. Oh, and yes, there IS talk of them coming to North America!
For more information, check out their website here. 

The second trailer we were able to inspect was the Bruder EXP-6 (seen below). You may remember this brilliant product from an article we did back in 2016, here. They were just starting out then, but these trailers have now been shipped all over the world, including the United States. Although we didn’t get to take one out on a trip, we did have the opportunity to do a quick suspension evaluation and it blew us away. Look for a closer look at these units on the home page soon as well!

Until then, check out their website here.

Alright, so this wouldn’t be the ideal overland vehicle, but how awesome is this little Suzuki truck? I’d love to load up some surfboards and head for a four-wheel drive beach in it, which is exactly what this owner was off to do.
Another unusual vehicle was spotted in Birdsville next to the Hard Road Cafe, which sells Camel Pie by the way. It was an old-school Baja bug, complete with moon hub caps and a single exhaust pipe out the rear. With such proximity to the Simpson Desert, we wondered if it had ever made the crossing.
It seemed like all you had to do was pull into a parking spot for a cup of coffee and cool four-wheel drives would just show up. This was especially true in remote locations along the Birdsville track and Fraser Island where 4x4s abound.
What does your work truck look like? Is it equipped with a bull bar and winch? The ones in Australia sure are, and we’re hoping it catches on here in the States. (Note: Notice how the truck in the second photo below only has one light and it’s bent. That was from a kangaroo strike just that morning.)
At the end of the day, we only photographed a tiny fraction of the vehicles we saw on this trip, and only included a portion of those here in this article. It was absolutely insane how many amazing four-wheel drives there were, and no amount of photos can truly help you understand. For that, you’ll need to visit for yourself, but be warned. Once you’re there, you might not want to come back.

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Chris didn’t receive a real taste of the outdoors until moving to Prescott, Arizona, in 2009. While working on his business degree, he learned to fly and spent his weekends exploring the Arizona desert and high country. It was there that he fell in love with backcountry travel and four-wheel drive vehicles, eventually leading him to Overland Journal and Expedition Portal. After several years of honing his skills in writing, photography, and off-road driving, Chris now works for the company full time as Expedition Portal's Managing Editor.

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