For most people, a visit to Australia consists of a city or two plus a stretch of coastline. As I am not like most people, when I heard that ARB, the Australian 4×4 accessories manufacturer, was taking a group of journalists across the Simpson Desert, I did everything humanly possible to ensure that I was on that trip. I prefer the Outback’s deserted Dalhousie Springs on a full moon night to a packed Bondi Beach where all the blokes look like Shane Warne in budgie smugglers.
Australia’s Simpson Desert is one of the world’s largest sand dune deserts. Most things in Australia are bigger, better and more deadly than the rest of the world. Just ask Steve Irwin. This 106,000-square n1ile sea of red sand dunes is so big that it crosses three state borders. To put this into perspective, there are only six states and two territories in big old Australia. So a Simpson Desert crossing is without a doubt the Holy Grail of 4×4 trails to Aussie off-road enthusiasts. It’s that bucket list trip that you have to do at least once in your life.
So why was ARB taking seven lucky hacks across the Simpson Desert? Well, the company recently turned 40 and part of this celebration included putting together a convoy of four of the most iconic four-wheel drives from the preceding four decades crossing, specifically for a Simpson Crossing. The four selected ARB Icons for the trip were: a 1976 FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser, a 1991 Nissan Patrol GQ, a 1994 Toyota Hilux SR and last, but most importantly not least, a 1995 Land Rover Defender llO, which we named the Mighty Icon. The four Icons were purchased and prepared by ARB stores from four different Australian states. My Australian journey began in the Northern Territory town of Alice Springs. They call this area the heart of Australia or the Red Centre because – you guessed it – the place lies in the centre of the country and the sand here is red. Every bit of ARB kit imaginable has been added to each vehicle. This includes full suspension setups and ARB bull bars, plus a host of other extras such as Outback Solutions Modular drawers, AR21 Intensity LED driving lights, and ARB roof rack Mth awning, fridge-freezer, recovery kits, swag and much more.
Despite the fact that ARB is celebrating its 40th birthday, it still makes a comprehensive range of gear for older vehicles such as the Icons as well as the latest 4×4 models. As we all needed feeding, help with recoveries and repairs, and someone to take the pictures and video footage, we also had some support vehicles. There is a 2016 Toyota Hilux, 2016 Mazda BT-50, 2016 PXII Ford Ranger and the beastlike TDV8 Land Cruiser 79 Series dual-cab.
Alice Springs is the quintessential Outback town – small, laid-back and the last stop before moving on to well-known tourist attractions such as Uluru, the East MacDonnell Ranges, aboriginal rock paintings or, as in our case, the imposing Simpson Desert.
Read the full story here – LRM January 17 ARB Off Road Icons Part 1