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MONKEY DO MONKEY SEE,

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MONKEY DO MONKEY SEE,

Monkey Gum (Eucalyptus cypellocarpa, otherwise known as Mountain Grey Gum) is a straight, smooth-barked forest tree that reaches a maximum height of 60 metres. Yalwal’s Monkey Gum Firetrail is anything but straight, anything but smooth, and climbs skyward a lot further than 60 metres, as we found out by taking three not-quite-so-new 4WDs to the Nowra hinterland. Words by Ian Glover, images by Tony Knight.

Pat Callinan’s 4X4 Adventures

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ou used to be able to drive on the other side of the weir before they closed it off,” Simon Seivers says. “Lots of old mine shafts over there, lots of things to do, things to see.” We’re sitting by the breakfast fire in the crisp morning light seeping into Danjera Dam Campground – the ‘Old Campground’, some 30 kilometres west of Nowra. Under those dark, cold waters, in amongst the turtles and bass, are all that remains of the buildings that made up the township of Yalwal. It was drowned when the dam was completed in 1971. “There wasn’t much left by then,” Simon explains. “Authorities cannibalised some of the buildings during WWI material shortages, and a massive bushfire in 1939 didn’t leave much at all.” Gold mining began here in 1870 with a sluicing operation, followed quickly by an open cut mine to exploit the mother lode, and (of course) conventional shafts driven into the hillsides – shafts which can still be explored. Today the only

physical reminders of Yalwal lie in the tiny cemetery, which interestingly contains only the remains of old people and very young children; most of the residents who died were buried in Nowra, apparently. Perhaps the aged and the infantile were most susceptible to the epidemics that often decimated pioneer towns, necessitating hasty burials to prevent the risk of further infection or contagion. Almost certainly it was as a result of some epidemic – scarlet fever, cholera, perhaps even bubonic plague (which by official reckoning, scourged Australia from 1900 to 1910) – that led to the three children of the Payne family dying within days of one another and being interred in a common grave there: John Henry (aged five, 18 May 1911), Leslie Roy (aged three, 18 May 1911), Phyllis Amelia (aged one, 17 May 1911). I was reminded of a chilling headstone inscription in Capertee cemetery, left by a mother who had gone through a similar horror: ‘Dead, my children, dead but safe’. Life was hard for the pioneers, but death could be even harder.

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Not a good feeling on the passenger side!

Life for us is easy. Danjera Campground – run by Shoalhaven Council – is open, clean and FREE. It even has gravity-fed flushing loos; just the thing for a bloke who’d rather go bush than use a stinking, fly-infested long drop! Simon, a local (or, to quote him, ‘almost a local’) has shown us the touristy sights, like the speccy Tianjara Falls and numerous lookouts affording magnificent panoramas over the surrounding wildly rugged country. Having visited here since childhood, he knows the area like the back of his hand. It’s his recreational playground, and he’s built up just the vehicle to enjoy it in style, ease and comfort. From his home in Shellharbour, Simon runs Skilled Services Illawarra – a company specialising in all areas of the construction industry from new homes to repair work and a lot else in between. Also a registered 4WD trainer and recovery specialist, his chosen vehicle is a 2002 GU Patrol Series III, the factory-

fitted 4.2 litre diesel enhanced with diesel gas injection and an aftermarket DTS TD05 turbo running 14psi boost. From the turbo back, a three-inch exhaust produces a distinctive bass note, like Paul Robeson singing ‘Old Man River’. Not just a pithy voice, the Patrol looks the part too – lifted with three-inch Dobinsons heavy duty springs and fourinch Tough Dog nine-way adjustable shocks front and rear; and Superior Engineering superflex radius arms, steering rods, Panhard rods and upper rear arms. Original wheels and tyres have been replaced by black 16 x 8 steel wheels fitted with 305/75/16 Kumho KL71 tyres (extreme muddies); and two spare assemblies are carried at the rear on a Kaymar bar with custom-made wheel carriers. Up front, a 30-inch LED light bar crowns an ARB deluxe bullbar, complete with UHF radio aerial and 9,500 pound Warn winch. On the roof a threequarter roof basket provides a home for

WOMBAT FLAT CAMPGROUND Where Yalwal’s Old Campground is neat, clean and looked after, Wombat Flat is the open air equivalent of a house shared by unattached blokes. Broken glass, jettisoned cans and other assorted masculine debris litters the entire area. It really needs a cleanup fellas … before some act of bureaucratic bastardry deems it off-limits.

We persevere, thinking it can’t get any worse … which, of course, it does.

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FEATURE Practical Tourers

Daniel and his Land Rover Defender.

A (VERY BRIEF) HISTORY 110s/ DEFENDERS

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The Defender’s interior is finished to absolute craftsman standards.

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Running water is available anytime in the Defender.

a long-handled shovel and a high-lift jack, and under the bonnet is an aftermarket PWR aluminium radiator. The list goes on: Hot water shower system; double DIN DVD, TV and GPS; custom cargo barrier; upgraded stereo system; boost, pyro and dual battery gauges on the driver’s A-pillar; rear Outback drawer system; 600 watt sine wave inverter; and a sizeable Engel fridge. This is one well set-up truck. Our fellow travellers emerge from their night cocoons. Daniel Fluckiger eases down from the rooftop boudoir in his Defender and the bearded, grizzled face of Terrain Tamer’s Allan Gray pokes out through the flaps of his one-pole tent. The 110 is a showcase for Daniel’s business – Expedition Centre – a Sydney firm that specialises in thoroughly preparing 4X4s as extended touring vehicles. Traditionally the clients have owned Land Rovers, but Daniel is finding

The Expedition Centre Defender in ‘sleep’ mode.

owners of other marques now flocking to his Mortdale doors. “My wife and I spent three years travelling in a Land Rover, all over the world. We decided to spend two years in Australia, and 12 years on we’re still here!” The accent is Swiss-German. Although he was born here, his parents went back to Switzerland when he was quite young. The mods to the Defender are brilliantly conceived and executed. When not extended on its gas struts, the elevating roof is low profile, constructed from aluminium filled with insulating foam. The tent is made of high performance Tefloncoated Airtex canvas; it has three large screened ventilation windows and comes complete with a roof light. The bed has a high density, 75mm thick foam mattress (with removable cover), and can be left ‘made up’ when the roof is back down. At the rear of the vehicle is the slideout kitchen – all marine plywood and

The Land Rover Defender was introduced in 1983 with either a 90 inch or 110 inch wheelbase – hence the nomenclature delineating the short and LWB versions. All had beam axles and coil springs – great for wheel articulation that was already legendary – and permanent 4WD. Originally, they had the same engines as the Series III Land Rovers: 2.25 litre petrol or diesel, and the 3.5 litre petrol V8 a la Range Rover. One engine upgrade – the 1986 turbocharged version of the 2.5 litre diesel – proved initially to be unreliable. Despite a re-designed crankshaft, Teflon-coated pistons and nimonic steel exhaust valves to cope with increased power and higher internal operating temperatures, it was prone to bottom end failures and cracked pistons. A revised block and improved big end bearings came in 1988; and ten years later, the Td5 was used. Traction control and ABS appeared in 2002.

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After a relatively easy creek crossing, the smooth, graded track degenerates into a major effort, our route strewn with large rocks.

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Practic 01 A (VERY BRIEF) HISTORY 110s/ DEFENDERS

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Simon’s Patrol on an easy creek crossing.

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Monkey Gum Firetrail - this is the easy stuff!

The Land Rover Defender was introduced in 1983 with either a 90 inch or 110 inch wheelbase – hence the nomenclature delineating the short and LWB versions. All had beam axles and coil springs – great for wheel articulation that was already legendary Simon Sievers and his GU Patrol. – and permanent 4WD. Originally, they had the same engines as the Series III Land Rovers: 2.25 litre petrol or diesel, and the 3.5 litre petrol V8 a la Range Rover. GU models were first manufactured in 1997, and One engine upgrade – the 1986 wereturbocharged available with an astonishing of engines version of the 2.5 array litre diesel – 4.5 litre andinitially 4.8 litre 2.8 litre, 3.0 litre – proved to petrols; be unreliable. Despite a andre-designed 4.2 litre turbo diesels; aTeflon-coated 4.2 litre naturally crankshaft, pistons aspirated diesel; steel and aexhaust 4.2 litrevalves intercooled and nimonic to copeturbo with diesel. Not allpower were available here, with the 3.0 increased and higher internal operating litretemperatures, and 4.2 litre turbo the engines of it wasdiesels prone being to bottom end Australian failureschoice. and cracked pistons. A revised block However, there big proved be problems with early and improved end to bearings came in 1988; examples the 3.0 litre, to piston and tenofyears later, theprone Td5 was used. meltTraction down. This and was ABS quickly rectified. control appeared in 2002. Vastly more comfortable than the previous GQ Patrol, the GU boasted improved seating and much better NVH characteristics. The GU has been dropped in most markets now the Y62 petrol V8 has arrived, with Australia, South Africa and the Middle East being the exceptions where it continues to be sold alongside the newer model. By the way, the designer of the new Patrol has an interesting name: Taiji Toyota!

GU PATROLS

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aluminium construction – with plenty of storage cabinets and drawers, lined with serviceable carpet. There’s a completely portable two-burner gas stove (with fully adjustable legs to cope with uneven ground), a sink, a National Luna 50 litre fridge/freezer, two sturdy Wolf storage boxes, and a slide-out table (again with fully adjustable legs). Inside the cab, the seats slide back further than in conventional Defenders thanks to Mulgo (Daniel’s own line of products) rail extensions, and a gas strut on the rear door that (again) opens further than normal. Also different is the Mulgo re-designed glovebox. An ARB air compressor and two comfortable slideaway chairs complete the picture. Outside, a Foxwing swing-out awning provides shade areas at the side and rear of the vehicle; a 3kg gas bottle is mounted on a sturdy bracket; and up front the bespoke bar comes complete with LED Daytime driving lights. An LED worklight comes standard as well. Plumbing consists of a fully pressurised 60 litre stainless steel water tank (just turn on the tap and away you go), and an outdoor shower. Daniel’s Defender has 105 AH deepcycle dual battery system controlled by an intelligent solenoid isolator plus over-ride and monitor. There are three 12 volt outlets (one of which is used by the fridge), two USB outlets and an interior LED light with an adjustable brightness switch. Vehicle protection comes in the form of Mulgo rock sliders, a Mantec raised air intake, Mulgo rear corner protectors, front and rear QT diff guards and an aluminium sump and steering guard. The whole conversion is thorough, precise, and based on firsthand knowledge of what you need (and don’t need) for a relaxed, comfortable life on the move – without negatively impacting on the 4WD ability of the vehicle. Top job. By contrast, Allan’s FJ45 is Spartan … the sole mods being Terrain Tamer suspension and steering damper, and some very aggressive Federal Couragia MT tyres. Everything else is stock. Except the paint job, or lack of it. The specially treated bare metal Terrain Tamer Toyota draws attention wherever it goes, and it never takes long for Allan – very much

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Unstoppable Allan Gray and the Terrain Tamer Toyota.

THE F-SERIES ENGINE

Pat Callinan’s 4X4 Adventures

With probably the longest production run of any Toyota engine, the F-engine – an OHV inline petrol six – lasted from 1955 to 1992, when it was replaced by the 1FZ-FE engine. It produced an incredible amount of torque at low rpm and was characterised by a massive cast iron block and incredible reliability. Though many people regard it as exclusively a LandCruiser engine (where it made its first appearance), it was also fitted to large trucks (like fire tenders) and even the Crown-based Japanese police patrol cars at one stage! Based on a General Motors engine first produced in 1939, due to its slow-revving characteristics it was not uncommon for examples of this power plant to travel almost 500,000 kilometres before needing a major overhaul.

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“Great four wheel driving, but not exactly 4WD touring; a bit outside the brief,” I think. Daniel must be telepathic. “This is not four wheel drive touring,” he says emphatically. It’s his second rough country foray with this Defender (he normally uses his trusty 2001 Defender 130 Station Wagon), and he hasn’t quite gotten used to how to maximise the traction control. I deny the urge to encourage him to use a bit more ‘wellie’, knowing that if anything goes amiss, it’ll be my fault, regardless of the circumstances. Simon debates turning around and going back, but wisely decides to go on – reasoning that doing some of the more dangerous sections with all the engine weight on the downhill side could be a lot worse than continuing to climb. He spends a lot of time out of his Patrol, guiding people through the more difficult bits.

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Sheer petrol grunt was often Cruiser’s saving grace.

The Terrain Tamer suspension and steering damper is a vast improvement over the Toyota’s original equipment.

Issue 10

of Pat Callinan’s 4X4 Adventures magazine will come with a

free DVD

of this journey, so make sure you get yourself a copy!

Pat Callinan’s 4X4 Adventures

the celebrity thanks to promotional/ instructional DVDs and YouTube footage – to have the fans flocking around him. So ‘The Engine Whisperer’ has to take time out to talk … or even fix other people’s cars! It can sometimes make for slow progress! “I think we’ll do Monkey Gum Firetrail today,” Simon says. “It should be a reasonably easy run, with a few little challenges to get the adrenalin pumping. We’ve had a bit of rain, but not enough to really change things, I’d say.” Man proposes and God disposes. After a relatively easy creek crossing, the smooth, graded track degenerates into a major effort, our route strewn with large rocks. We persevere, thinking it can’t get any worse … which, of course, it does. Vehicle-swallowing wash-aways, narrow slippery sections flanked by precipitous drop-offs, massive dirt moguls and wheel ruts too deep to stay in without high-centering.

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It all happens so quickly. One minute we’re picking our way through a nasty section; the next, the Defender’s OE Continental rubber has lost its grip and we’re balanced on the edge of a massive wash-away, passenger side wheel way up in the air. A rollover is a distinct possibility. It’s alright for me – I’m on the uphill side. I sit very still. Even a shift of my own light weight may literally tip the scales. Other track users race to help, jumping up on the running boards to balance the vehicle as it begins a very gentle reverse to get clear of the danger zone. There are no further incidents, no sharp intakes of breath; just a few ‘aw gawds’ and ‘bloody hells’. Daniel quickly becomes used to maximising the traction control. Simon’s vehicle is purpose-built for this country, and Allan uses the sheer grunt of his 4.2 litre petrol engine to power through everything, aided by the gnarly side lugs on the Federals (although the long rear overhang on the ’Cruiser cops its fair share of belts and blows). Almost at the top of the track, a striking sandstone escarpment, hollowed out by thousands of years of wind and rain into caverns and depressions, rises out of the scrub – a magical place with native palms and those long, straight trunks that typify Monkey Gums soaring upwards: Time to get back to camp, get the fire going, and settle back to reflect on the day’s activities. A beer’s going to be good, too!


Pat Callinan's 4X4 Adventures - Practical Tourers Adventure. Monkey See, Monkey Do.