With most of my newly acquired Perentie’s issues sorted out and the dreaded Western Australia ‘reggo’ obtained, it was time to let the Perentie stretch its legs.
Time for a trip along the Great Eastern Highway to some familyowned land in the Wheatbelt. My daughter and son-in-law would lead the way in their Nissan Navara, and as communication would be by two-way radio the Perentie needed a call sign. Given its association with the Parakeet military communication project, ‘Polly’ seemed an obvious choice.
No one could pretend that a Perentie is going to be a refined on-road drive. The Isuzu 4BDI engine was an early direct injection unit, its clatter being only mildly addressed by an attenuating cam cover. But with the side windows open, the diesel rattle sounded quite cheerful and, settled in the comfortable ISRI seats, the journey was almost relaxing.
Unsure of the accuracy of the fuel gauge, we obeyed ‘destroyer rules’, keeping the 15-gallon (68-litre) tank topped up. But the real fun was not jousting with land trains on the Great Eastern but getting off tarmac into the bush.
I’d done off-roading in a Perentie before when it was being tested by the British Army. Its driver did a circuit in a loaded Perentie and trailer without troubling to engage low range. The Perentie 110 uses the LT95 integrated four-speed box and transfer box complete with vacuum-operated diff lock – the switch is on the dash panel.
Fortunately, it operated perfectly – with the diff lock warning light illuminating – and was equally happy to disengage too. Low range selection was satisfying; I used it to give more control on the deeply rutted track we found. It was covered with small round stones, so I called for backup in the form of diff lock.
With its torquey engine, great articulation and tough transmission, the Perentie is the best Land Rover off-road drive in the rough, remaining unperturbed when a short rain storm turned the bush to mud.
The foray into the outback more than met my hopes for the Perentie. I can’t wait to head back Down Under to get behind the wheel again.