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Water Crossings

The Basics on Water Crossings

There is risk with a water crossing. The general rule is if you do not have to go through water – then don’t.

A little water in the engine electronics can mean and sleep over in the bush or an expensive repair.
Water crossing often mean you get to go to isolated and pristine locations that make the risk worth the reward. If you are going to do a water crossing you need to know some basics:

Tyre Pressure
Tyre pressure is critical for a whole bunch of reasons. Most successful off-roading is about running the right tyre pressures for the terrain, and water crossings are no different. A longer and wider tread from airing down equals more grip. And on a slippery, round, river-rock bottom, it can be the difference between getting through or getting stuck.

At the water crossing, the important thing is to check the bottom strata of the river. If it is sand or mud, go lower with your tyre pressures 16-23psi. Rocks can be slippery and may require something in the high-teens to low 20s and a firm packed base should be manageable with higher pressures.
Minimise the chance of getting stuck

Check your surroundings, including what is at the bottom of the crossing. If possible, get out of your car and walk the crossing. Take note of any submerged objects such as rocks, logs and deep drop-offs. Make a note of the depth and the water flow.

If the water is too deep, your car may float away. Try to pick the shallowest, not the deepest part of river, with the easiest terrain. If you are unable to walk the track use a dead branch can assist in calculating depths along the crossing and the height of the ridge in between tracks.

If you cannot get a good idea of the crossing conditions, reconsider your need to take on the crossing. It’s probably too dangerous. Now check everything, and check again.

Recovery Gear
Have your recovery gear ready – if you need it you will need to move quickly to minimise damage. The basics include a snatch straps or a tow rope. Make sure you know where the recovery anchor point is before you need it and use this to secure recovery gear to your vehicle.

Always consider the entry, the crossing and the exit point. Assess whether your vehicle can make all three. Check the entry and departure angles. Remove anything in the access in or out of the crossing.
Don’t rush your water crossing, you may want to let the vehicle cool down before starting to cross water. It’s a good idea to know where the vehicle draws air from, so you can make sure the water level is below this point, if you do not have snorkel.

Time to cross! If your vehicle is manual, do not change gears halfway through the crossing. In automatic vehicles, you can manually select a gear. Your aim is to achieve a steady pace through the water without the fear of a mid-stream gear change slowing your progress. It is also useful to use low range in water crossings. First or second gear will often be best. Under no circumstances should you stop during the crossing, if you can help it.

You want to drop the front of the car into the water and maintain a steady pace, which will create a bow wave in front of the vehicle, pushing water ahead and away from the critical parts of the car. If you drive in like a hoon, it will look great with water spraying in every direction, but it will also likely result in damage to the vehicle. Slow and steady is the key; the bow wave in front of the vehicle works to clear water directly in front of the vehicle so you can follow it through.

Once through the other side, make sure you give your brakes time dry out. If you keep driving, gently using your breaks they will dry out. If you are stopping on the other side leave the car running for a while before shutting everything off so it has time to dry out.

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Cairns Aerial View

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The Daintree covers 1200 sq km between the Mossman Gorge and Bloomfield River. Cape Tribulation is where the Wet Tropics Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef meet.

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Visiting the Reef includes: snorkelling, scuba diving, aircraft or helicopter tours, glass-bottomed boats, semi-submersibles and educational trips, cruise ship tours, whale watching and swimming with dolphins.

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Atherton Tablelands

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Cape York

Torres Strait

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