As a single ex-pat Pom, Alistair 'Ali' Nelson was having a great time discovering the Australian outback on two wheels. His BMW R1100GS had taken him to places like the Simpson Desert, Cameron Corner, Alice Springs to Bamaga via the Sandover Highway, the Gulf of Carpentaria, cross-country to South Australia and up and down the eastern seaboard. But with a new family and the offer of another outback adventure at hand, Ali knew he needed something more accommodating than the trusty GS.
While BMW's GS bikes are considered the world over to be the ultimate long-distance, cross-country touring bikes, the four-wheeled equivalent would have to be the venerable Toyota TroopCarrier. You can find Troopies travelling in all quarters of the globe - delivering aid in Africa, conquering dunes in the Sahara, transporting supplies in South America and kicking up dust in the Aussie bush.
"I was thinking of a D4D standard Prado," recalls Ali, "but at the time they were still too pricey, and I was worried that I wouldn't want to point a Prado up a rugged, overgrown trail for fear of dinging panels and scratching the duco. I was also concerned about doing DIY mechanical tasks on a Prado and the Troopie is much more basic.
"I wanted a vehicle that needs to be driven purposely and moderately, especially on long-distance trips. If I had a Prado, I know I'd tend to stay behind the wheel longer and set unrealistic drive times. You can't do that with the Troopie; it'll cruise at 115km/h on the right roads, but it's noisy, and hard work to keep it on the boil. Diesel use and tyre wear is horrendous at those speeds.
"Having the Troopie demands a more relaxed approach to travel and requires more sensible and realistic travel objectives, which adds up to a better travel experience overall."