My father, Tim Roscoe, was a Christmas tree farmer in the UK, so since the early 1980's we've had at least one Land Rover in the family at any time as an essential tool to get about the farm. This 1997 Land Rover Defender 110 is the 15th Land Rover in the family. To me, Land Rovers, and particularly Defenders, embody the spirit of adventure, they are a robust sculpture of a pioneer, hewn from alloy and steel. We are currently located in Queensland, Australia, which abounds with beautiful places to explore and camp, so we have kitted this vehicle out with heavy duty Old Man Emu suspension, a 2.7m long alloy Rhino Rack Pioneer Platform, a Feldon Shelter Crow's Nest Extended roof tent, dual battery system and an 80 litre Engel fridge. I also want to mention that the emissions from this vehicle are offset through greenfleet.com.au, because there is not a viable long-range sustainable fuel that is widely available at this time. Watch this space to explore wild places with us.
When I was quite young, in the 1980's, the absolute highlight of the year would be when there was an extreme weather event, usually snow that was over a foot deep, or flood water was bonnet deep, Dad would take me for a lap around the local lanes close to our house in Worcestershire, England. The only mode of transport in these weather events was a decent 4x4, if you were adventurous, or a tractor, if you had one.
We had a smallholding where Dad grew Christmas trees, our first Land Rover, which he used to pull a heavy trailer trailer off road, with its tyres bound with kilos of thick red clay, was an even redder 1974 3.5 litre V8 Range Rover that he had bought second hand. Later my brother bought a 1968 2.25 litre petrol Series Two (SII) Land Rover, which we also used for exploring wild weather and Christmas trees. As a child of less than 10 years old, no matter whether the trip was just three miles, down to the river Teme and back, or across Wales to see relatives on the Pembrokeshire coast, every trip in a Land Rover seemed like the World's largest adventure to the African or Canadian bush. It is the essence of these adventures that I still need and brings me great happiness today.
Several times in my life I have wanted to abandon technology when it has annoyed the heck out of me because life has become overcomplicated. 2014 was one of those times, and I sold the ever-reliable Subaru (I'm just not a Japanese car person - they're great and all, just very characterless and boring), and bought a 1980 Series Three (SIII) Land Rover pickup, with the original 2.25 litre diesel motor. Rohan, a close friend of mine picked the old truck up for me from the Glasshouse Mountains for me, I had bought it unseen, and I flew down from Moranbah to pick it up from his house on the Sunshine Coast.
Before setting out on any adventures in the new-old Land Rover (I believe this was the 14th in the family), I changed the engine oil and filter at Rohan's parent's house, where Geoff, Rohan's father, kindly lent me a few tools for the job. The Rover was in very good original condition, but being 34 years old at that point, did need a bit of TLC. One of the most urgent bits of care that it needed was the sump fixing on properly. For some reason, it was dangling with half an inch air gap between it and the engine block. To this day I still don't know how the old girl had enough oil, and indeed oil pressure for Rohan to drive her from the Glasshouse Mountains to Noosa.
Anyway, sump bolts tightened, oil and filter changed, I set out on my 1,000+km journey back up to Central Queensland, where I was working as an Environmental Coordinator, mainly organising mine site and gas infrastructure rehabilitation at a metallurgical coal mine for Anglo American at the time. I had already made up my mind that I was going to camp somewhere near Seventeen Seventy, a small town almost exactly halfway between Brisbane and Mackay on the East Coast of Queensland. I had allowed two days for the journey, which I didn't think would be a challenge. However, this being a normally aspirated diesel Land Rover, it was built for working off road on a farm, not highway work. The absolute top speed I could squeeze out of the thing was 86km/h. That's right. A little over 53mph. Darn right slow!
So, merrily progressing at a snail's pace with earmuffs on, to protect my already shot-damaged hearing, I wound my way up the M1 north, frustrating almost everyone behind me. But I had a hearty sense of adventure, an that's all that mattered, to me!