Vehicle Requirements for Remote Area Fieldwork

I was asked recently for my thoughts about the minimum equipment requirements for a vehicle used for remote area fieldwork in Australia. This is a difficult request, because the specific requirements for different areas are different, as is the definition of what people consider “remote area” to be.

I have done most of my remote area field work in western New South Wales, northern South Australia and north west Queensland where you are generally no more than 2 hours from the nearest town and where the driving conditions are not overly difficult. Most driving is done on dirt roads or station tracks with infrequent deep sand and occasional shallow water crossings. Generally other people are around the area and can be contacted via UHF or satellite phone to arrange some assistance if necessary. If fieldwork is being conducted in areas where assistance is less likely, a rigorous equipment list than displayed here should be considered.

I would consider the following an essential list of basic requirements for vehicle accessories for remote area fieldwork:

  1. Bull bar
  2. Heavy duty tow bar
  3. Second spare tyre
  4. Cargo barrier if using a wagon
  5. Recovery kit including snatch-um strap, tow rope, heavy duty u-bots, long handled shovel air compressor and winch cable dampeners
  6. Basic tool kit including shifters, wrench set, screwdriver set, cable ties, breaker bars (if using split rims) and tyre repair kit.
  7. Washable air filter

I would generally consider the following items “almost”essential

  1. Dual battery system with isolation switch
  2. Driving lights
  3. UHF radio
  4. EPIRB
  5. Winch
  6. Dual fuel tanks
  7. Roof rack (if using a wagon)
  8. Snorkel

I would also strongly consider getting a HF radio fitted for long distance vehicle to vehicle communication if you have multiple field crews working in different areas.

I’ll discuss what type and configuration of vehicle to use and give my thoughts on basic field maintenance in a post soon.

All the best for Christmas and the New Year,

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