I get asked a barrage of questions at shows, on the street, and of course via social media. One of the most popular ones is, “What have been your favourite 4WD trips so far?” Given that I do more than 20 big 4WD excursions every year, throughout Australia and across all states, you'd think it would be a hard question to answer. But honestly, three adventures stand out in my mind pretty clearly.
Before I answer I need to explain just what really and thoroughly, makes me tick as a four wheel drive enthusiast. For as long as I can remember, right back to school days on my push bike and then naturally once I got my first 4WD (a SWB MQ Patrol out of interest) I’ve been utterly fascinated with getting as far away from civilisation as I can.
The more remote and isolated I can get, the more exciting the experience as far as I’m concerned. There is just something about complete reliance on your knowledge, skills and 4WD when well out of reach of any aid. There is no calling the RAC or a mate to come lend a hand when you are out on the fringe and that makes me feel alive!
I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved in some massive, long range, remote trips right around Australia. From the Gulf to the High Country, on the West Coast and the East I’ve experienced some of the most untouched and unchartered country Australia has. Yet there are three that still make the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I think about them.
First, a trip I did several years back now into the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Along with my film crew and good mates Ronnie and Thomas we attempted to drive the Oombulgurri Track from Derby to Kalumburu. A very heavy, late wet season coupled with the track not being driven on in several years put us behind the eight ball before we even started.
We battled insane tropical storms, black soil country, bogging and the deepest croc infested river crossings I’ve ever attempted (before or since!). In the end, we were defeated by time and conditions and only made it a quarter of the distance before we had to pull the pin at the tiny settlement of Oombulgurri. To this day that trip embodied everything I love about 4WD ownership and I’m happy to say the track is now driven regularly and everybody can enjoy it.
The second of my three is an ambitious plan we hatched to try and push a brand new route out to the coast through the Gulf of Carpentaria on the massive Lorella Springs Station. Weather conditions were much more favourable for this expedition but we had not counted on just how thick and impenetrable the scrub would be. We spent several days making painstakingly slow northward progress, suffering multiple punctures per day and covering only hundreds of metres in any given daylight period.
We finally made it to the edge of a stunning river and admitted that the vehicles simply couldn't handle anymore punishment. We were beaten but not out of the game. We launched our small rooftop tinny, threw in the swags, fishing gear and water and continued down river to the coast. We were some of the first folk to set foot on that river mouth from the land and today our track has been opened to the general public. This remains one of my proudest achievements.
Lastly, I was lucky enough to join in on a trip to map a route out to the geographical centre of the Simpson Desert. This was a true off-track, remote and isolated expedition of the highest order. It took us several days of crossing massive sand dunes, route finding over and across the soft desert sand before we finally made it to one of the most iconic yet hard to reach locations in the world.
The thing with reaching such a place, however, is that of course there is no easy way back out. You simply turn around and do the entire expedition again in reverse. I believe this to be the hardest desert crossing in the country and one that deserves respect. I count myself very lucky to be able to say I’ve done it.
Of course, there are still many trips I’m yet to do and my bucket list is literally overflowing. I’ll be very lucky indeed to ever do anything as exciting as those three trips again but regardless, so long as I’m far from the city lights, next to my 4WD under a star filled sky, I’m the happiest bloke in the country. Maybe I’ll see you out there.
What’s in your 4WD destination bucket list? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook.