CW is joining the crew as they follow in the wheel-ruts of Mike and Mal Leyland, whose historic crossing of the Australian continent from west to east nearly 50 years ago made them outback legends. The Bailey Australia West2East Challenge will follow a similar trans-Australia course – but with a twist.
Instead of travelling the shortest route through the centre of the continent by 4WD alone, as the Leyland Brothers did in 1966, the modern day adventurers will drive current model 200 Series GXL V8 diesel Toyota LandCruisers towing two brand new Bailey Rangefinder caravans.
The two-week ‘torture trip’, will incorporate more than 2200km of unsealed and corrugated roads, and is the finale to a demanding six-month program of accelerated testing undertaken by the new Baileys ahead of their public release at Melbourne’s Leisurefest (Oct 8-11).
Like the Leyland Brothers, the West2Eest Challenge crews will take the hard way across the continent. Instead of crossing the Nullarbor as most east-bound caravanners do, the two Rangefinders will travel via the Grand Central Road, which at 1126km from Laverton to Yulara is Australia’s longest major outback highway.
Laverton and Warburton in Western Australia, Yulara and Alice Springs in the Northern Territory and Boulia and Birdsville in Queensland are some of the well-known outback centres on their unsealed route.
The two new model caravans on the trip are a Rangefinder Nebula and Rangefinder Gemini – two of the five models that will ultimately make up the Rangefinder line-up. The Nebula features a panoramic front ‘entertainer’ lounge, a central galley and separate shower and toilet bathroom and a rear ‘island’ double bed. The Gemini is a new family van with a typical Australian front island bed, central galley and L-shaped lounge, with twin rear bunks opposite a separate shower and toilet ensuite at the rear.
The two Rangefinders taking part in the West2East Challenge are regular ‘on-road’ caravans – not specially prepared or equipped ‘offroad’ models. Both caravans feature Bailey ‘Alu-Tech’ interlocking aluminium extrusion framework and fibreglass bodies, re-engined to accept rugged locally-designed Australian chassis, suspension and other proven local fittings and their under-body equipment.