As fas as I know, this is the only Td5 Defender 90 XS in Australia. My wife and I emigrated here in September 2012, and prior to leaving the UK we had a look at the Australian market for Defender 90s.
They're not only rare but very expensive, so buying a decent-sped Td5 90 was impossible and we decided to bring this one with us. If you emigrate on a permanent residency visa you need to have owned the vehicle for 12 months (among other criteria), which meant delaying our move by three weeks.
I've done most of the work myself in adapting her (the Land Rover, not the wife) to Australian conditions. My aim is to make it a capable long-distance tourer, while making sure it can cope with the challenging tracks around Perth. Mods include a snorkel (dusty roads out here), underbody protection (rock sliders, diff and steering guards), winch, roo bar (kangaroos are suicidal), a two-inch suspension lift and a T-Box extended sump and gearbox oil cooler (because I tow a large camping trailer).
My love affair with utility Land Rovers started when I joined the Army as a mechanic in 1988. They impressed me with how much abuse they could take, and how simple they were to work on - sometimes, all you needed was plenty of gaffer tape.
One lasting memory was when I was based at a snow and ice clearance station in the mountains above Tomislavgrad in Bosnia, during the early stages of the war that took place there in the 1990s.
An engineer and I discovered a seven-tonne truck stuck in a ditch. It was about -30°C so we decided to see if we could help, and our Defender 90 towed it out of the snow no problem. The driver then opened up the back of his truck and showed us his cargo: about 30 women and children who were fleeing the fighting. That's why I own a Defender 90; I can still see their faces.
I'm really grateful to the Team W4, the only dedicated Land Rover club in Western Australia. They're a fantastic bunch, and we have monthly meetings and frequent day trips. The best bit is the weather never lets us down. Sorry if that sounds smug...
Originally featured in the May 2014 issue of Land Rover Owner International. Download a digital issue, or order a back issue by calling 01858 438884.
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