How to Drive a Water Crossing

Nolans Brook is a deep crossing with a soft sandy bottom that claims many vehicles on the Tele Track each year, with one of the major reason’s being the driver not knowing how to complete a water crossing safely.

The crossing at Nolan’s was approximately ‘nipple deep’ (I’m only 172cm tall) with a reasonably firm base when I walked it in June 2018. However, Nolans is renown for having an extremely soft sandy bottom. After unspooling some winch cable and putting a tree trunk protector in place as a precaution, we made it across in first low without any problem. There would have been close to another 50 or more cars go through in the 2 days we spent there, and many of them didn’t make it across unassisted and quite a few came out very wet, a couple with more terminal issues! I am still amazed at how many people were simply not prepared or didn’t realise the consequences should everything not go to plan. So many cars drove it without any sort of preparation or plan if they bogged down and didn’t make it across! Most, if not all of the casualties could have been avoided with a little planning before jumping into the water! I recommend to think it through and have a plan.


Most people did walk the crossing, a few didn’t but quite a few walked it but didn’t check properly for obstacles or deep soft holes. If you check the whole crossing where you plan on putting your wheels and ‘map’ the bottom of the creek in your head you have the best chance of missing a spot that could see you stuck! This also gives your diffs and driveline components time to cool down a little and reduce the gance of sucking in water during the crossing.


If you have a winch, have the controller plugged in and isolater connected if you have one. Check that it is in gear and actually operates and also unspool some cable ready and put a tree trunk protector in place. Otherwise if you are travelling with another vehicle or there is a vehicle already on the other side that would be willing to pull you out if something goes wrong, attach a snatch strap to the front of your vehicle. Make sure this is secure so you can’t run over it but easily accessible if required (remember the force of the water may dislodge it so jam it in behind your spotlight or bull bar well).


Ensure all valuables are up high off the floor so if you do end up with water in your car, the amount of damage is reduced. -It also pays to check all the joints within your snorkel and air box are sealed. We witnessed one or two cars that sucked water into the engine with terminal results simply because the snorkel wasn’t sealed well enough.


Check and adjust your tyre pressures to suit the crossing. This will depend on what the bottom of the creek is like, the tyres you run and the weight of your car. But if it is a soft sandy bottom or you are worried, I would go down to at least 18psi. -Select first or second low range and approach the water slowly, once your nose is in the water, up the revs to some where between 1500 and 2500 and drive through. We witnessed so many people hit the water at Nolan’s some incredible pace, I’m surprised they didn’t just float across the top!! But there was numerous cars hitting the water hard enough to force water up over the roof (and possibly into the snorkel..!!) At this sort of speed not only do you risk getting some water in your snorkel and air intake but you risk sucking your fan into your radiator as well as damaging other things due to the force of the water.

If you do all of these things, worst case scenario you should be out of the water within a minute or two and have minimal damage and water in your car. However if you enjoy giving your car a bit of a bath every now and then, please go ahead and dive straight in without heeding any of this advice! We always appreciate someone who goes out of their way to provide some entertainment.

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