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104th EDITION Spring 2017

G

eorge orge

WA’s own 4WD Magazine

A Gander up Googs

Bullant

6x6 Across the

Kennedy Range

a HEMA WINNavigator MU-Xtra Mornington Magic The Art of Towing Blade Maintenance ...and much more!


AT HOME ON THE RANGE - Never Nullarboring

INDULGE YOURSELF

CAMPERS MRB:3101 DL:19018

PHONE 9317 4900 FOR THE KEYS!


With The Guys who can guarantee a good time

Spend a few days on photography with our special guest, Graham Cahill on a great Shutterbugger tour in November. Book early as places are limited.

Taking you to the edge! www.campfireescapes.com.au


Carawine Gorge, Upper Pilbara.


SPRING 2017

CONTENTS

DESTINATIONS Shark Bay to the Kennedy Range - with the wandering Burtons__________________________________ 8

Once around the Pilbara - Susie gets her kicks in an ancient land______________________ 58

A Gander at Googs - 200 rebellious kilometres into the bush_____________________ 146

TESTING More Bite than a Bull Ant

- we check out a 6 x 6 x 79 Series___________________________ 20

A Jolly Rugged Swagman

- Alex checks out a Cub_____________________________________ 51

MU-Xtra

- a wagon for all reasons_____________________________________ 91

Town & Country

- Subaru’s sharp little SUV___________________________________ 121

Ultimately Illuminating

- Narva’s Ultima 215 shines on_______________________________ 159

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Western 4W Driver #104


FEATURES Dabbling in Generics

- when is a Nissan not a Nissan________________________________ 73

Colorado Re-born

- with an all class canopy____________________________________ 76

3rd Battery install

- more power to you________________________________________ 103

Popular Botanics

NEW

- Dr Kris and the amazing Snottygobble______________________ 109

Blade Maintenance

- a slice of knowhow from the knife man_____________________ 129

The art of Towing

- or how to keep your marriage intact_______164

Mornington Magic

- exploring a Kimberley icon_______________174

EdSed 6 Wildtrax 45 What’s in a name 48 The Things you see 87 Clewed up 127 Bindon’s Lore 140

New TJM store for WA A camping Highlight

E-BO

G o t o:

:

wester

n4

OK!

For Mwdriver.com.a u ore

REGULARS

COLUMNS

BITS & BOBS

N o w in

42 49

What’s New? 31 Happy Dayz 136 ! WIN Gear to go Camping 148 Fishy Business 151 Workshop Chat The Big Cover up 186 Capture the Moment with Graham Cahill 191 Goings On 193 Subscriptions 196 Advertisers Index 198 Silly Snaps 200 Western 4W Driver #104

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Westate Publishers Pty Ltd

ACN 009 360 169 PO Box 510, Kalamunda, WA 6926 Phone: (08) 9291 8303 Email: underwood@eftel.com.au Editor Nick Underwood Contributing Writers Phil Bianchi Peter Bindon Linda Bloffwitch John Bormolini Ben Broeder Amanda Burton Graham Cahill Jo Clews Ray Cully Neil Dowling Ian Elliot Alex Garner Chris Harwood Colin Kerr Kristina Lemson Lyn Mitchell Ron Moon Rob Robson Susie Underwood Advertising Nick Underwood Administration Marilyn Dawson Typesetting BENSON

Printing

ADVERTISING

Vanguard Press Disclaimer: The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of Westate Publishers Pty Ltd or the editors but those of the authors who accept sole responsibility and liability for them. While every care is taken with images & photographs, and all other material submitted, Westate Publishers Pty Ltd accepts no liability for loss or damage. Edition 104 Spring 2017

When Safe is Dangerous O

n a moonless night way back in the early 80s (last century, not my age), I was somewhere south of Pine Creek in the Northern Territory and bolting for Darwin in an old Falcon. Our driving lights were setting the country ablaze when, on a rise, we picked up the glow of bright lights from an oncoming road train. As we topped the crest we both dipped our lights to be plunged into relative darkness and within seconds all hell broke loose as we ploughed into a mob of brumbies. The car slewed to a stop and we climbed out to the awful sound of a horse somewhere off in the bush, badly injured. We came out of it shaken but unhurt and it was this ‘lightmare’ that came to mind when out on the Darling Scarp recently testing the latest driving lights from Narva. There’s no doubt standard vehicle headlights are at best suited to well-lit city streets and we need good driving lights to penetrate the dark on country roads, but how far down the road do we really need to see and when does safe become dangerous? For some manufacturers, market research has obviously told them we need lights that can blind a bull ant at 1000 metres and that reach can come at a cost in excess of $2/metre. So imagine you’re driving with a set of lights that can turn night into day a long way down the road, the whole idea being that you continue forward progress without running into anything. In the daytime, assuming you can see clearly that far ahead, very small bushes on the side of the road appear much larger than they actually are, and your reaction times are tempered by idle curiosity. At that distance at night I’d suggest not much changes. What’s more demanding of your attention is what might emerge into your field of view from left or right within half that distance - say up to 500 metres. There are three dangers to driving with high-powered lights and they all have to do with the eye’s response to bright light: The brighter the light the more the pupil contracts to protect the retina from permanent damage. The retina is that part of the eye that processes visual information to send to the brain for that organ to respond. What exacerbates this impact is intermittent brightness, and one effect is really bright light on reflective road signs.


Sed

With powerful lights the glare gets really bad - the closer you get the more your pupils contract - and the area beyond the sign is in total darkness until the glare is gone. If an animal came out from that darkness you’d have no time to avoid it. An animal in our path further down with Nick Underwood the road has a similar problem in that your really powerful light has taken it from pitch dark to blinding light and it’s disoriented, which means it is likely to stay there transfixed until your noise or proximity moves it on (or you collect it). The third effect is on yourself when the glare is not from a road sign but from the driving lights of an oncoming vehicle. You come over a crest and dip your lights, so you go from very good light to bugger all, your eyes are busy re-adjusting when the oncoming vehicle appears with driving lights blazing and your pupils struggle to respond. In those precious seconds you’re temporarily blinded and praying you stay on a road you can’t see, let alone not hit anything that might leap out from the side of the road in your blindness. All this is assuming you have good eyesight to begin with. If you have something like astigmatism affecting the curvature of the eye, then not only will light be blinding, it will also be distorted. So what’s the answer for safer night driving? Firstly, we only need good useable light to 500 metres and driving to conditions should mean we go slower at night so reaction times are not compromised. Secondly, we need good coverage out wide to be able to augment our peripheral vision and spot anything heading into our path. Light bars with their accent on spread rather than distance are ideal in this regard. Thirdly we need options other than lighting to keep us safe on the road at night and I’m thinking thermal imaging. Plenty of useful devices have evolved from the military into civilian life. Think GPS, Epi pens, duct tape, computers, radar, 4WD, so why not thermal imaging? Invented in 1929 by a Hungarian physicist for anti-aircraft defence in Britain, thermal imaging could be used to detect anything with a pulse (or a warm engine) out to the sides well before we see them and then project their position onto a head-up display (HUD) on our windscreen. The closer they are, the stronger the image and their speed would allow you (or your vehicle) to react in time to prevent a collision. Collision-avoidance radar is already on some vehicles, so thermal response may not be that far away. While we wait, I’d recommend taking the pressure off and doing your country driving in daylight. There’s a lot more interesting stuff to see, you and the wildlife will be much safer, your eyesight won’t be so stressed and you’ll get into camp earlier for a well-earned gargle by the campfire. By the way, for the record, the Ultima 215s slot well into my distance requirements. Check the review in this issue.

Ed

Dunny Demo Also in this edition Phil Bianchi in his column, ‘The things you see’, takes a look at a range of home-made thrones suitable for doing the business in the bush and at the end is a link to a You Tube clip I’ve done to educate travellers on the etiquette of crapping in the bush and leaving no trace. Check it out and if resonates with you share it around to as many people as you can. You never know, you might actually see a reduction in dunny paper at your favourite campsite next time round. https://youtu.be/6-7-AZR9GNY Western 4W Driver #104

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SHARK BAY With true grit and determination the wandering Burtons experience a crowded Shark Bay before ascending the rugged aprons of the Kennedy Range.

Track up the west side of the range is more like a creek bed.

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Western 4W Driver #104

TO THE


KENNEDY RANGE Words: Amanda Burton Pics: Mike & Amanda Burton

The azure waters and red cliffs of Skipjack Point in Francois Peron NP.

Western 4W Driver #104

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T

wice before our efforts to Red dirt stops at yellow sand at Cape Peron. explore the west side of the Kennedy Range and cross over the top have been thwarted. The first time in 2013 we approached the Gascoyne River from the south and due to recent rains were greeted with a wide expanse of rapidly flowing river with a quick-sand like base. Common sense prevailed and we crossed at the causeway in Gascoyne Junction instead, leaving that west-side adventure for another day. In 2014 we returned. Well we almost returned. We got as far as Rocky Pool when the right at home in the minuscule patch Cruiser had another of her unexplained of dust that was our “site” in Denham. turns, losing all power, and we had There were literally centimetres to limp home to spend some more between the side of our camper and quality time with Toyota attempting to the neighbour’s awning – tight doesn’t work out what was ailing her (we’re even begin to describe it. Add to this now convinced it was the fuel pump / the howling sea breeze that was literally filter, as since insisting this be replaced rocking the camper and you have the she hasn’t missed a beat). So it was makings of a rather unpleasant camping with some trepidation that in 2017 we experience. Next morning we attempted headed northwards yet again. Would to escape the claustrophobia, heading it be that bad things happen in threes? into the National Park. The state of the Or would it be third time lucky? track suggested that there are plenty Things didn’t get off to the most of visitors who don’t lower their tyre auspicious of starts with our decision pressure as requested, despite there to explore the Shark Bay peninsula being two complimentary compressors before heading inland. We booked provided for use on the way back out. three nights in Denham as a base to Single lane track, chopped up soft sand explore the Francois Peron National with plenty of blind corners was always Park, then two nights at Tamala Station. going to be challenging, add in the Now I acknowledge that we are not inexperienced Easter weekend partial to caravan parks at the best of 4W driving crowds and it became times, but a sardine would have felt almost suicidal.

Denham Caravan Park was a sardine sandwich.


“No gear and no idea” seemed to be the motto of the day. We could only cringe as oncoming vehicles drifted across the track towards us as they took blind corners at great speed in the soft sand and we encountered bogged vehicles with full tyre pressure and not even a shovel in the way of recovery equipment. However first prize would have to go to the Troopie we encountered which had no fewer than five people hanging off the outside of it, either on the roof or holding on to various bits of bar work,

endure two more days before escaping to Tamala. After our driving experience so far, a day trip out to Steep Point was sounding fraught. Cresting sand dunes makes me nervous at the best of times; add in the number of clueless drivers that were currently populating the area and I was ready to start mainlining some Valium. A desperate call to Tamala couldn’t get us into our site there any earlier. In the interests of our mental health we made the decision to forfeit our camping fees and head inland early to escape both

“.. We could only cringe as oncoming vehicles drifted across the track towards us as they took blind corners at great speed in the soft sand...”

as it barrelled along. Later that day, soaking in the artesian water hot tub at the homestead with a local couple who were volunteer ambos, we could only marvel when they said that there had actually been few fatalities. Overall, the national park left us feeling a bit jaded. The red cliff / white sand / blue water combo at Cape Peron was nice, but ran a very distant second to what you’ll see at Cape Leveque. The beaches were very average to look at, and not being fishermen we weren’t enticed by what may be lurking beneath the waves (which must be plenty given the number of people making the effort to drag their tinnies up the peninsula). Heading back to our windswept, postage stamp campsite, we contemplated how we could possibly

the wind and the crowds – either of which are capable of driving you mad and in combination were overwhelming us. The long and uninspiring drive back to the “mainland” was even more so as we got stuck behind two caravans who seemed to think they were joined by an umbilical cord, which made them impossible to overtake. We were going to stop in at Wooramel Roadhouse for an early lunch, but when the umbilically challenged caravans turned in we decide to push through to Carnarvon instead. Fish and chips on the foreshore were a winner. Also enjoying the sunshine were a group of backpackers, tie-died with guitar in hand, sharing a herbal cigarette. There may actually be some benefit from passive smoking, as sitting downwind my other half breathed deeply and Western 4W Driver #104

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began slowly relaxing from the stress of the peninsula. After topping up the fuel we were back on the highway, but not for long, turning off onto Mardathuna Road and letting some air out of the tyres. The road in is maintained by the Shire as far as the Mardathuna homestead and though not quite “formed” was in reasonable nick with some soft sections and corrugations but nothing horrendous. Past the homestead things became a little different with some reasonable washaways to contend with (a few requiring a step outside the vehicle to pick the best line, but none requiring actual track work). Though a long day, it was an interesting drive. The rough, rocky sections interspersed with soft, boggy sand required a delicate touch on the accelerator to avoid bogging down whilst then easing off to avoid bottoming out on the rock. With the sun setting, it had been a very long day but we pushed through to make it to the base of the range, there being little on offer for potential campsites along the way due to the We certainly didn’t feel hemmed in at Pharaoh’s Well.

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rock strewn ground. We passed through the gate to Mooka Station, and soon encountered a shiny new DPaW information shelter. Seemingly the plan to open up this side of the Kennedy is gaining some traction (though the sign does note that “The top of the Range is currently not safely accessible to visitors”. We made the final push through to Pharaoh’s Well and set up camp – no wind and no people. Bliss. Next day we headed south towards the Gascoyne River, checking out the various springs along the way. The track and terrain varied greatly; stretches of soft sand, rough and rocky, clay and colourful crushed mookaite. There were plenty of washaways across the track, quite a few of which required some track building before we could get past. We easily made the Gascoyne before dark, setting up on the sandy bank for a couple of days of swimming and relaxing beneath the towering gums. Not another person to be seen the whole time we were there. Am I sounding a little anti-social? It only took 2 hours to make our way


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Our own private camp on the northern bank of the Gascoyne.

back to Pharaoh’s Well (without all the side trips and stops) then we continued northwards to try our luck over the top. The track started off in better shape than what we had just come through, noticeably less used. The most badly eroded section had bypass tracks. Then began the climb. It was steep. It was rocky. It was eroded. It was challenging. It was certainly a test for the new partnership

of Cruiser and larger camper trailer. I’m not imagining that you’d see many people towing up here, but we’ve never let that stop us before. The top of the range was not at all what we expected; a seemingly endless expanse of sand dunes and spinifex. At the half way point there was a visitor’s book - according to it we were only the third crossing so far this year, with a solo traveller being one day

Mookaite “Mookaite” is a colourful rock, the only known source of which is Mooka Creek, on the western side of the Kennedy Ranges. Mookaite is not a recognised “species’ of rock, but a locally coined name used to describe it. Mookaite consists of the compressed remains of tiny sea creatures known as radiolaria and is mined for use as rosary beads. Western 4W Driver #104

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A range-top dune system is quite unexpected.

cliff edges. The track meanders, at times quite close to the edge, and the views just keep getting better and better. There are no designated campsites; it’s just a case of picking a bit of clear ground with a view that catches your fancy and taking A visitor’s book recorded the crossing.

ahead of us (we thought the tyre tracks looked pretty fresh, and I must say that whoever you are Mr Baas you pick a pretty good line through the rough bits). As we approached the edge of the eastern side the track became rockier and we were then treated to the most stunning views over steep

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Western 4W Driver #104

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Access

Access to the western side of the Kennedy Range is recommended only to those with a high-clearance fourwheel-drive vehicle. DPaW are still in the process of developing the area and advise that the top of the range is not safe for visitors. We interpreted that as enter at your own risk, be self sufficient and prepared to recover yourself if required. The Gascoyne River crossing is about 200m of soft sand which is quite coarse and does not compact well when wet so develops into quicksand. It’s recommended only to attempt crossing when it is dry. The other 4WD tracks in are via Mardathuna Station from the west (Mardathuna Road) which continues

over the top, exiting on the eastern side at Mt Sandiman Homestead on Ullawarra Road.

care if you need to answer a call of nature during the night. As the sun sets, the changing colours and lengthening shadows provide a natural movie deserving of an Oscar award.

As we sat in our very own private outdoor cinema taking it all in we agreed that third time we had indeed been lucky and that crossing the Kennedy had been well worth the effort.

Excerpt from Hema’s WA State map.

A rewarding view down the east side of the range on sunrise.

Western 4W Driver #104

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Kennedy Range N.P.


MORE BITE

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Western 4W Driver #104

THAN A


BULL ANT

Off-Road with

Rob Robson

WE CHECK OUT A WESTERN AUSTRALIAN BUILT Western 4W Driver #104

21


I

t is always nice to meet a bloke who interest in to the 6x6 idea was to own sees a need for something better a vehicle that would take the place of then goes ahead and makes three or more vehicles necessary for it happen. my needs. With the 6x6 conversion I can still use the ute as a daily driver. Such a bloke is Sean Williamson who I can go camping or tow my boat runs an engineering company in a safely and in comfort and carry much little place called Argyle on the more gear. Now I have less insurance outskirts of Donnybrook. and servicing costs, I always have For many years Sean has had an everything I need on board and I can interest in 4w drives and particularly now set up one vehicle rather than two Landcruiser utes. Living on a rural or three.” Sean said. property, running After meeting an engineering “Sean was frustrated Sean a couple of business and that he needed several weeks earlier in always keen to get away with the vehicles to meet his needs Perth the Ed and family to do a bit I decided that we when his Cruiser, with a of camping, Sean might see if Sean better load carrying capacity could join us with was frustrated that he needed his 6x6 for an could do everything he several vehicles overnighter on wanted. ” to meet his needs the backend of a when his Cruiser, with Campfire Escapes trip. a better load carrying capacity could do The group was having its final night everything he wanted. camped on the Blackwood a little way “For me, the reason for my initial out of Nannup and we arranged to

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meet them there. I joined Sean at his substantial workshop on his property at Argyle and took the opportunity to take a few pics of the undercarriage of the ‘Cruiser while it was on the hoist. We loaded up my swag and a couple of essentials and headed off to meet the crew at their campsite. The following morning we parted company with the Campfire crew and the Ed led us out onto some gravel roads and 4wd tracks to see what the Bullant 6x6 could do. The lairy wrap job on the cab of the ‘Cruiser is certainly an attention grabber, but it is underneath the vehicle and specifically from the transfer case back that is the more impressive. Sean has extended the chassis by one metre from just behind the cab and added some substantial strengthening to the existing chassis rails towards the front of the vehicle. He has designed and manufactured a super heavy duty suspension cradle which is the heart of the Bullant’s rear suspension. “We have researched many suspension designs from across the world and have put together a system using only the best ideas and components available, to create a suspension that is unique, reliable and functional” Sean said. The cradle which locates the pivoting bogey arms is mounted and welded into place between the chassis rails. Coil springs, fitted between the ends of each arm and the axle housings support the weight of the vehicle.

The suspension cradle is the heart of the conversion. 9” Ford diffs allow a straight through drive shaft link to the rear axle.

‘A’ arms from the cradle to the top of both differential housings along with lower control arms mounted from brackets welded to the chassis locate the housings in place. The four shock absorbers, two per axle are also mounted to the cradle and attached to each diff housing. The design of the suspension system and its pivoting bogey arms means that as one axle moves up or down the other axle is forced in the other direction, helping keep all four rear Western 4W Driver #104

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wheels on the ground. The system totally transforms the back half of the vehicle. Leaf springs are replaced by four coils and the three link leading and trailing arms locate the two fabricated diff housings. The fabricated housings are not only substantial but they have been designed to correct the Toyota narrow rear wheel track which plagues the 70 series. Sean has opted to use Ford 9” differentials, driving through the front pinion to the rear diff

via a stumpy tail-shaft. A power divider allows for small variations in the revolutions of the two pinions. Drive to the wheels is through Truetrac LSD’s, high strength axles and Toyota hubs. Toyota disc brakes and callipers are used on both axles and the handbrake has been relocated to the back of the transfer case using a Marks Adapters conversion kit. The suspension cradle can be adapted to have a goose neck fitted for use with a fifth wheeler; it is rated to 5000kg and can be accessed through a flap in tray. Towing capacity remains at 3500kg. which is standard for a dual cab 70 series Landcruiser. With a tonne and a bit on the tray the big 6x6 was comfortable, stable and sure footed on the bitumen and even more so on gravel roads, far better than a standard Cruiser. But it was on the 4wd tracks that the

“...it was on the 4wd tracks that the ride quality, comfort and stability of the vehicle really became apparent.” Western 4W Driver #104

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ride quality, comfort and stability of the vehicle really became apparent. First, it was a large tree root across the track that marked a noticeable improvement. Even with OME springs and shocks up front, driving over the tree root sent a harsh jolt through the vehicle. Normally that harshness would be seconded by the rear suspension as it hit the root but the Bullant rear suspension just soaked it up. Next were some deep holes that had the Ed’s Cruiser rolling from side to side as he walked it up the hill. In the

footedness of the vehicle instils plenty of confidence for the driver plus, the two additional driven tyres gives it masses of traction, moving the big truck forward with barely any sign of wheel spin. Steep downhill, the same - Low range 1st or 2nd gear, not so much as a sweaty palm. The two additional discs and callipers have improved the braking performance substantially, now there are no concerns about getting it to stop, unlike a heavily laden standard 70 Series.

“Pivoting bogey arms ensures all four wheels stay on terra firma.”

Bullant we wouldn’t have even spilt our coffees. Then it started to get a bit more serious. There are some pretty steep, slippery and chewed up tracks around Nannup and Nick knows most of them. On this particular track he had chosen we needed to do a bit of track building to get his truck through a couple of deeply rutted and washed out sections. With both lockers engaged and a bit of right boot he managed to scramble his way to the top. On the other hand the extra traction and articulation (there is 400mm of travel) provided by the 6 wheel drive made it a walk in the park and that’s without the front locker engaged. The stability and sure 26

Western 4W Driver #104

The massive increase in load carrying ability is really where the Bullant 6x6 conversion shines. It takes the 3300kg GVM of the standard Cruiser to a whopping 5750kg. The Tare weight is 3120kg including the tray giving a payload of around 2.6 tonne, more than enough for the heaviest tray back camper. The wheel base measured from the front axle to the midpoint between the two rear axle housings has increased by 500mm – a small increase in the turning circle is the result. Sean has increased the fuel capacity to a massive 295 litres, 185 in the main and 110 in the auxiliary. Why? Well apart from the obvious increase in the vehicle’s range, the extra weight is no longer a concern. To be able to haul all that additional weight around, Bunbury Fuel Injection has fitted up a Roo Systems Performance chip to the engine giving power and torque increases of 20.6%


and 31% respectively. Sean tells us that with the vehicle unladen, fuel economy figures come in at around 12 litres/100km while on our little jaunt and loaded to 5.3 tonne it returned a figure of 18.8 litres/100km. The custom built alloy tray as fitted to the Bullant has been developed by Sean to suit the increased payload of the 6x6 conversion. It is 1925mm wide, 2700mm long and 30% lighter than a comparable steel tray. He tells us that he has designed it to be robust, strong and maintenance free and

has now adapted the design and is manufacturing similar trays for standard utes. Cost of the conversion starts at $48,500. For more information check out the web site at www. bullantengineering.com.au

We reckon: From its load carrying ability, its road manners, ride quality and off road performance to the strength of its components and quality of workmanship, the Bullant 6x6 Landcruiser is a pretty impressive piece of gear.

Nuts ‘n’ bolts

BULLANT 2016 TOYOTA 79 SERIES LANDCRUISER 6X6 4.5ltr V8 with Roo Systems chip Chassis: Extended by 1 metre Wheel Base: 3600mm. 500mm longer than standard. Fuel tanks: 295 litres Fuel Economy: 12ltrs/100km unladen.18.8ltrs/100km on test. Transmission: 5 speed manual. 2 speed transfer case. Drive: Part time 4wd Suspension: Front – Coil sprung live axle. Rear – Coil sprung bogey axle. Rear Differentials: 2 x Custom made housings. Ford 9” centres. Truetrac LSD’s. Engine:

Front – discs. Rear – discs on both axles. Tyres: General Grabber SRL 285/75/16. GVM: 5750kg Weight: 3120kg Gooseneck hitch: 5000kg Towing capacity: 3500kg Wrap: By Miles www.vinylwrapz.com.au Tray: Custom built Heavy Duty Aluminium; 2700mm x 1925mm wide Brakes:

Western 4W Driver #104

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KODA is all grown up, pushing into the booming seven-seat SUV market with a high-spec wagon with a sophisticated off-road system. The Kodiaq - marking an Alaskan naming phase for the Czech company that will soon add the smaller Eskimoesque Karoq SUV to the range - is based on the modular platform from its parent Volkswagen, so shares some tech with vehicles including the Touareg and Tiguan. Priced from a reasonable $42,990 as an all-wheel drive with a punchy 2.0litre turbo-petrol engine, the Kodiaq will be expanded later this year with a 140kW/400Nm diesel engine.

NEW?

S

KODIAQ

WHAT’S

The 132kW/320Nm petrol is claimed to squeeze 7.6 litres/100km from the tank (in ideal conditions). It is mated to a sevenspeed dual-clutch transmission - a special high-torque gearbox that is making its debut on Skoda - and drives the front wheels until a loss of traction is detected at the rear. This on-demand drive system is standard on all models though owners can - and should - specify the optional Tech Pack ($2500) that adds drive-select that dials up four modes - normal, eco, sport and individual - that alter the engine, transmission and braking systems to ensure maximum traction. It also has a “snow” mode that allows

Western 4W Driver #104

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it to be driven on anything from snow, gravel and bitumen roads yet adapts the drive system to suit the slippery conditions. The Tech Pack includes a three-mode suspension system suiting normal, comfort or sporty driving characteristics. The all-wheel drive system has an electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch that uses a control unit to constantly monitor traction loss. Skoda has used a conventional suspension layout of front MacPherson struts and a four-link system at the rear, four-wheel disc brakes and electric-assist steering. Chassis control includes an electronic diff lock that basically brakes selected wheels to maximise traction and minimise understeer or oversteer. It has 19-inch wheels as standard and a space-saver spare wheel. Perhaps the most impressive feature of the Kodiaq aside from its cavernous occupant and luggage space is its safety equipment. The standard list is exhaustive and includes autonomous emergency braking (detects an obstacle ahead and will automatically slow or stop the car), nine airbags, front and rear parking sensors with reverse camera, driver fatigue detection, a tyre pressure monitor, fog lights with cornering function, remote child safety locks for the rear doors, and multi-collision braking that prevents the vehicle from moving after an accident. Then there are some clever features for which Skoda has become renowned. In the Kodiaq, these include a mechanical door edge protector that pops out when the door is opened and prevents damage to - and from - a nearby car or wall. 32

Western 4W Driver #104

Other standard features include adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, dual-zone air conditioning, electric parking brake with auto-hold function, electric tailgate, sun blinds for rear windows, folding side mirrors, integrated LED torch in the luggage compartment, a net system in the luggage compartment (three nets) and two umbrellas in the front driver and passenger doors.

Cabin trim is faux suede with full cow as an option.

It also gets satellite navigation with an eight-inch touchscreen, eight speaker audio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, voice control, a DVD and CD player, and an auxiliary plug and two SD card slots. Cabin trim is alcantara (faux suede) and leather mix, with full leather as an option. The rear seats can be folded in the ratio 60:40, can be moved lengthways by 180mm as standard and the angle of the backrest is individually adjustable. The boot is aimed to be the largest in its class with a volume of 270 litres (all three rows up) to 2065 litres (with the third and second rows folded down). Options include the Tech Pack ($2500)


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See more amazing. Hyundai Tucson.


with the adaptive suspension and drive-select system, hands-free electric tailgate, upmarket 10-speaker audio, auto parking, and the off-road mode. Spend an extra $4900 and the Luxury Pack adds to the standard spec some features such as electric front seat adjustment with memory, perforated leather seats with front ventilation, 360-degree cameras, front and rear heated seats and traffic aids. Skoda is also offering a $5900 “special launch pack” a a limited offer. This includes all the goodies in the Tech Pack, plus 19-inch special-design alloy

wheels, and some top-shelf safety items from the Luxury Pack. As with all Skodas sold in Australia, the Kodiaq has a five-year, unlimited distance warranty with roadside assistance. Buyers can opt for a “guaranteed future value” program and pre-paid servicing. This servicing program costs $1399 for three years or 45,000km; or $2999 for a five-year, 75,000km pack and includes all regular maintenance items. Western 4W Driver will cover road - and off-road - impressions in a future test drive.

STONEY CREEK, WA 6065

S

HIP Creek has been on the box lately because that’s where a family got stuck when their vehicle conked out and was rescued by the smiling lass from their insurance company. Stoney Creek is something entirely different, but shows promise of being even more memorable. Folk on the eastern seaboard have known about Stoney Creek Campers for quite a while, but the company has just arrived in Western Australia with a stateof-the-art showroom in Wangara. It boosts the company’s established outlets in Queensland and Victoria. The family-owned business started way back when Hank Rojek founded the Trackabout brand, which he sold 15 years ago. Now son Chris, with a helping hand from Hank, is at the helm of Stoney Creek Campers, which started with one model of camper trailer in 2012 and has a range of the robust trailers, including a couple of hybrid models. The idea to make camper trailers

evolved from the special requests of customers for Hank to return to the manufacturing and building of quality

robust camper trailers. “We know that with all our knowledge and experience our customers will get a top quality product at an affordable price,” Chris said. You’ll also get wonderful after-sales service and you can be sure with a Stoney Creek camper behind your fourbie, you won’t end up anywhere near Ship Creek. Phone Corey on 0426 954 194 or go to stoneycreekcampers.com.au Western 4W Driver #104

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LED Down the Track

M

OST people would agree that it helps to see exactly where you’re going, especially after the setting of the sun. More so when you’re at the wheel of a couple of tonnes of laden 4WD. Visibility, or lack thereof, accounts for a vast amount of road accidents, although the tally doesn’t include the clots who crash into stationary things like houses these days. That’s just ignorance, addiction to mobile phones, or drugs or plain stupidity, for which there is no known cure. The good news for us sane, responsible folk is Narva has just released its new range of LED globes, and they are something else: direct replacements for Halogen globes, the Narva Ultima globes not only produce a bright, white light, but they’ll probably last

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Western 4W Driver #104

at least as long as your fourbie. They come in 12 and 24V variants and in all the popular globe types such as H1, H4, H7, HB3, H8/9/11, HB4, HIR2, HB5 and H13. More than improved visibility, which, in turn, makes for reduced fatigue, the Ultima LEDs closely resemble natural daylight and have the right beam pattern for roads in Australia and New Zealand. Although they’re a lot brighter than halogens, they won’t dazzle oncoming


traffic – and they draw less current than halogens. So it’s a win-win for the LEDs, as a politician might say. But wait, there’s more: like halogens, the Ultimas either clip or slot in place ,

and guess what? If you’re a farmer or a have a Big Mack (of the Kenworth, not the McDonald’s, kind) there’s an Ultima for them too. Find out more on Narva.com .au

Heavy Lifter

1 tonne chain block and girder clamp, making the removal – and refitting – of engine, gearbox and other heavy bits easily done by Clark Kent. Or your good self. Unlike conventional engine crane lifters which don’t have enough height to lift engines completely in or out of a vehicle, this one has an adjustable rail that extends from 2.5 to 3.6 metres in height, a huge 2.3 metres of clearance between the frames and is set on 4 swivel castors with brakes, so you can easily wheel it into position. This versatile system can also be utilised on many other applications in the garage or workshop for lifting all types of loads. More data at www.machineryhouse.com.au/K090

S

O your 4WD’s motor and/or gearbox, maybe the diff too, have had their day and need to be replaced. But first you have to remove it, which can be a problem for people other than Superman. So you need a block and tackle. They can sometimes be seen fixed to garage roof timber, but that kind of restricts their use. You have to wheel your ailing vehicle under it to get any work done and if your vehicle is unwheelable, you have to call Superman. Or you can get an MGT-1TGC mobile girder rail package, which comes complete with a

Going Clear

U

niden have a new radio on the market, the UH9050, and it has a couple of features that will appeal to the hard of hearing and groups frustrated with busy channels. Featuring contemporary design, DIN sized for easy installation, 5 Watts of transmission power, 12/24 voltage, UHF and scanner in one, dual speakers, voice enhancer, Smart Mic and Master Scan technology, instant replay and secure scrambling functions, big LCD screen with 7 backlight colour options and Triple Watch, the Uniden is easy to use and comes at a RRP of $399.95.

The heavy-duty speaker microphone with Smart Mic technology allows one touch control to switch between 100 user-programmed channels, voice enhancer, call tone and SELCALL. The built-in voice enhancer gives the UH9050 Western 4W Driver #104

37


the capability to choose between Normal, Bass, Midrange and High audio level settings to provide super clarity and performance to the chattering sounds coming from the speaker. Master Scan allows communication across a group of channels, not just one. If the in-use channel is interrupted by external traffic, all radios in your group will be switched automatically to a new clear channel, allowing (Buzzword alert!) seamless

communication. The Triple Watch feature makes it possible to monitor two channels plus a standby channel so you can catch multiple transmissions. If you are running a business, the scrambling function allows you to talk securely over the airwaves, and has instant replay that can record and replay one minute of recently received signals. Check out the UH9050 wherever Uniden is sold or go to uniden.com.au

Dash Top Direction

T

OMTOM sounds a bit like the name of a character from a Roy Rogers movie. But that’s something from the archives. Nowadays people know TomTom as an invaluable aid in traversing urban terrain or, as those not given to the use of formal names like TomTom might say, it’s a satellite navigation system. Enter the Polaris NG7, a nifty device

VASTLY IMPROVE YOUR LOAD CARRYING AND OFF ROAD CAPABILITY WITH

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RIGH T L I BU Go to bullantengineering.com.au or phone Sean on 043 815 4281

38

Western 4W Driver #104

that not only gives you TomTom navigation, but also Hema road maps plus a dash camera, plus a reversing camera, plus a USB port for media playback. And if you want more pluses, you can also get it with the options of a caravan/trailer camera kit and/or a forward vision camera. Now is that not all your Christmas wishes come true? The comprehensive Polaris NG7 package, with its 7-inch anti-glare touchscreen, costs $749 and comes with a three-year warranty. If Roy Rogers had one fitted to Faithful old Trigger, who know how many more bad buggers he’d have caught? For now, fit one to your vehicle and no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to get lost, and you can take pictures of yourself trying to. See more at mypolaris.com.au


FORD ESCAPES FROM KUGA

F

ORD has re-entered the compact SUV market by tagging an old name to its current model, turning the Kuga into the Escape. The name change isn’t all - there’s a host of improvements including a superior drivetrain and some neat safety gear, comfort features and design improvements. The main changes over the Ford Kuga include the option of autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and rear cross-traffic alert, better economy for the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol thanks to a new turbocharger, a front-drive entrylevel model, and a cleaner design.

Prices start at $28,490 but you won’t be heading to the foreshore with that front-drive model. Indeed, the family size SUV starts at $35,990 for the cheapest all-wheel drive variant. The TDCi diesel Trend model driven on our brief test costs $38,490 plus on-road costs and is well equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels; automatic rain-sensing windscreen wipers, autodimming rear-vision mirror and auto on/off headlights; rear park sensors; reverse camera; and digital radio with six speakers and Apple CarPlay/ Android Auto. Buyers are urged to pay a bit more

Western 4W Driver #104

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for the $1300 Technology Pack that adds lane departure warnings, lanekeep assist, AEB, blind-spot monitor, adaptive cruise control, rear crosstraffic alert and tyre pressure monitor. Or go up to $47,490 for the Titanium diesel. But that’s pretty close to the Ford Everest diesel with full offroad capability. Though a compact SUV, the Escape

seats up to five adults with plenty of rear seat leg and head room. The rear seats fold down to create a generous 1603 litres of space and as a helping hand, the tail gate is electric and has a hands-free opening and closing function activated by a kicking action beneath the rear bumper. You look funny doing it - especially when it doesn’t work first time - but means you can open the boot while having armfuls of shopping. On the road the Escape is surprisingly quiet and comfortable with the urge of the diesel engine so strong that it belies your actual speed. The engine drives through a sixspeed automatic with on-demand 40

Western 4W Driver #104

all-wheel drive (it’s normally a frontdrive vehicle). In firm sand it was adequate and only started to show a lack of confidence when the sand became looser and deeper. Rear-wheel engagement is quick and effective but there are obvious limits. The Escape is not alone as this also applies to its class rivals. Through some sand trails south of Geraldton, the Escape rarely became uneasy but perhaps its biggest asset out there was its occupant comfort and the excellent 7.2 litres/100km average. On the highway back to Perth the fuel use dropped to 6.4 L/100km, complete with three adults and luggage aboard. Not too shabby and reflective of where Ford is aiming this wagon. Compact SUV buyers now

have a lot of choice - including the new Subaru XV in this edition - in the segment. On top of that, Ford buyers have a broadening range. Ford will launch a five-seat version of the Everest this year and is poised to bring in the mid-size Edge SUV next year.


Thirsty pink and grey - Murchison House Station, Kalbarri.


I

NEW

n a vote of confidence for Western Australia, 4wd accessory specialist TJM has opened its first corporate store outside Queensland and it’s right here in Kewdale. Not ones to do things by halves, the shop front dominates the intersection of Abernethy and Kewdale roads where an estimated 14000 vehicles pass by every day and nobody’s going to miss the store with huge 4wd imagery

plastered over all available window space. The theme continues inside the store where manager Daniel Barron and his team look after a very large showroom floor presenting the full range of TJM’s barwork, steps and suspension through to everything else you could think of to set up your fourbie and all overlooked by larger-than-life action shots of TJM product at work. A wide stairway leads to a mezzanine floor where a range of Darche tents and swags are set up for inspection. The store runs separate to the state office and warehouse immediately behind the shop and completes a total of two distributors, seven stockists and numerous resellers spread across the state. 42

Western 4W Driver #104


STORE FOR WA TJM Out the back a cavernous workshop and vehicle storage area boasts six hoists and a dedicated paint shop and spray booth for colour coding barwork and canopies to client’s vehicles. “We’re here to build brand awareness in WA”, state manager, Rick Long said and TJM’s strength in that statement centres around their unique on-line ordering system which Rick says will significantly reduce delivery times resulting in happy resellers and happier customers. Since they officially opened up in May, Rick says the demand for full vehicle build-ups is growing and they look forward to playing a bigger part in the 4wd industry in

Western Australia. To find out what’s on offer, get down to Kewdale or call the shop on 6454 2202.

Western 4W Driver #104

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You’ve gotta larf

I

n April, travelling with a mate of more than a few years, I realised he’d never used my UHF radio in all the times he’s been my passenger. This became obvious when one of our fellow travellers asked him a specific question and I indicated he should grab the mike to answer. After his reply, the questioner complained that they had hardly been able to hear him. When this was repeated a couple of times I thought there was a problem with my radio until I glanced across and saw that he was holding the mike to his ear. When I enlightened him that he should talk into it instead, he promptly brought it down to his mouth but held it back to front. He’s all straightened out now but it gave us a chuckle or two at the time. There were a couple of minor misunderstandings with fellow travellers during a later trip. At one stage I was wearing a blazing orange and very warm hi-viz coat when I lit the campfire early one cool desert morning. I’m aware that I’m not exactly a small bloke, but to be mistaken for the rising sun by a person emerging from their tent, even though I was to their West, left me in no doubt at all that I have what might be termed a

Wild Trax with

Ian Elliot

certain presence in that coat. The same person, together with her husband, later became worried about losing me after I radioed back to warn them of a couple of calves on the side of the road. Young cattle can often do silly things on the road like dashing out in front of you at the last minute to get back to their Mum, hence my cautionary message. However, their anxiety stemmed from mishearing my message as “a couple of cars on the side of the road.” When they failed to see any vehicles they assumed that the “cars” had driven off and they then became concerned that the dust they were following might not be mine and that they could be following some strangers who could go off at a tangent. Eventually, we unravelled this mixup and had a laugh about it. Just to keep the record straight, I must admit that, early on during the same trip, down South of Lake Rason, I was excited by finding a faint and overgrown old track that seemed to lead out in the direction of where I’d marked a possible rockhole site on I’ll put my hand up for making that track Mr E. I enjoy the twists and turns. - Ed.

Western 4W Driver #104

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Google Earth. After steadily cursing the following Hann’s Dr Hicks Range. idiot who had put so many unexpected Further West on the shotline we and seemingly unnecessary bends in encountered Gold Road’s new roads all this old track, we came to a rockhole the way up to their Yamarna camp with site that I recognised immediately many offshoots to active drilling sites. as one I’d driven to with a Campfire There were speed limit signs and UHF Escapes group seven years earlier. I’d call-up points every few kilometres. been following my own tracks and, to Not having expected this new complex, make matters worse, some of the folk we called up to see what would happen with me this time had been on that and were surprised to have a polite 2010 Campfire Escapes expedition and response from Gold Road staff who also recognised the place. It’s very hard asked our destination and requested to convince anyone of the old “age that we call up on Channel 40 each begets wisdom” crock when something time we passed a numbered call-up like this occurs. Ah well, while this sign. This was no hardship and allowed might make it look like I’m running base camp and all other road users out of new rockhole sites to visit, I’m pretty sure there’s The McKay Creek track is no longer one or two to go yet in our much of an adventure. magnificent western deserts.

New Roads

Just before the more rabid greenies start writing in about the destruction of natural habitat for our furry native creatures caused by my cross country driving, I must point out that recent mining activity in this region has brought on a road-building flurry, both NW and SE of Lake Rason, that is quite mind-blowing to one who has been wandering around out that way for over 30 years. A new 25km road has been constructed to connect the Yaljeri turnoff with the McKay Creek crossing. The crossing has been built up and improved and the old McKay Creek track has been graded over its entire 35km length. Drilling roads now extend out from both of these thoroughfares. Although the old E/W shotline North of the lake is beginning to get overgrown in places, we found that someone has created a new 4WD track extending from the shotline southwards to Hann’s Table Hill. This track will also give access to the track I’ve established 46

Western 4W Driver #104

to be aware of our whereabouts. We heard one other vehicle calling up and could tell by the numbers they were giving that they were also heading North and were well ahead of us. A useful innovation, I thought. If you’ve now sunk into despondency imagining all this potential destruction of the environment, fear not. I noticed that, wherever possible, the new roads followed old tracks established by sandalwooders and others in the 1950s. Where the old tracks went straight over sand dunes, thus contributing to sand blowouts, the new routes deviate around the ends of the dunes to obviate this phenomenon.


TOUGHER THAN YOU FINKE

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Drilling spurs no longer required have vegetation or sand mounds to deter further traffic. Altogether, I was impressed with Gold Road and other mining company’s observance of the rules. And, for anyone worried about the effect of all this development and traffic on the wild life of the region, I can testify with great satisfaction that

we saw more kangaroos during this trip than I’ve ever seen on any previous trip. I believe that this is due in large part to the camel shooters of the 7Millers hut at the West end of Lake Rason. Their camel culling seems to have brought back the ‘roos in a most dramatic manner and I congratulate them on this result. Good on ya guys.

What’s in a name? Anjo Peninsula

I

’m often approached by folk interested in the origin of feature names and I received a call recently from Mike Donaldson of Wildrocks Publications, the creator of those magnificent photo-books of Pilbara and Kimberley Aboriginal rock art, requesting details of the naming of Anjo Peninsula. This land extension forms part of the NW shore of Napier Broome Bay in the Kimberley and minor features at its extremity are Anjo Hill, Anjo Cove and Anjo Point. An anchorage between it and Sir Graham Moore Island is named Geranium Harbour but perhaps the feature on Anjo Peninsula that would be best-known to 4w-drivers is the secret WW2 air base of Truscott, about 40km NW of Kalumburu. It’s always seemed incongruous to me that, while at war with Japan, the authorities would choose to site their “secret air base” on a feature with such a Japanese sounding name, however, the enemy never did find the strip. Sadly, I had to admit to Mike that I had no idea as to the reasons behind the name. Certainly, it’s well documented that the peninsula and its associated toponyms were named by Lieutenant Commander McKenzie of HMAS Geranium during a hydrographic survey undertaken in 1921 and first appeared on new charts in 1923. The names were adopted on Lands Dept.

48

Western 4W Driver #104

with Ian Elliot

plans in 1942. I’ve searched the net and, while there’s plenty of data on the ship and on Truscott, I’ve come up with nothing of any apparent significance on Anjo. There’s the city in Japan; the word is also said to be Portugese for “angel”, “messenger” or “a very good person.” It could be a Christian name or a surname, but I haven’t been able to check the ship’s crew lists. With a group ashore in September 1920, one crew member went missing and was taken by a croc. The half eaten body of Gunner John Davies was found on the banks of the Drysdale River three weeks later and buried in the cemetery at Pago (Drysdale River Mission). It has been suggested that this is Australia’s “most remote war grave” though I’m not sure how it qualifies as a war grave when we weren’t at war at the time. Nevertheless, I thought of the Spanish monks at Pago led by Father Sosa and wondered if the name, “Anjo,” may have been connected with them. Another possibility that occurred to me is perhaps some link with a Japanese pearl diver, but 1920 and 1921 WA Postal Directories don’t have any alphabetical listings between Angwin and Anketell. So, if any of our readers have any knowledge as to how this name came to be chosen by a 1920s RAN hydrographic surveyor working in our far north, it would be greatly appreciated if you’d get in touch. Thanks.


A CAMPING HIGHLIGHT

L

ike moths we’re drawn to camp lighting in all its forms. From hand-held lanterns that split into personal torches to head torches to the latest craze - LED strips. We started with fluoros on the cruiser and progressed to LED with a freestanding lantern for the table. The latter is now stashed in the shed because, like all the others and LEDs especially, the glare is so bad they wreck the ambience of a campsite. Dimmers help but the point is we’re used to fixed overhead lighting at home and any lighting at eye level is going to be intrusive around the camp. So imagine our delight when we discovered Oztrail’s latest - the Comet. This well thought out solution to the glare problem hangs up to four metres above the campsite pumping out 2800 lumens from an LED and bouncing light off an alloy reflector that, in our case, creates a circle of light over 10 metres in diameter. A heat sink on the back of the light dissipates any heat build-up, the ‘pole’ telescopes from less than a metre so is easy to store in its carry bag, it has an in-line dimmer to adjust light levels and an extra long power lead plugs into a lighter socket. (There’s a bit of

TE

ST

IN

G

redundant terminology from the smoking era - a bit like saying ‘smoko’ for morning tea.) The light comes with a ground stake to hold it firm at ground level but we had a holder

made to fit it another metre and a half higher on the back of our canopy for a greater spread of light and no cable to trip over. The light draws the moths and bugs up high like a street lamp keeping them out of your face and your food. This is definitely one of the best camp lighting options we’ve seen and expect it will light up our camping lives for years to come. We got ours from Getaway Outdoors on Albany Highway Bentley RRP $140.


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In a blurry world of mixed manufacture, Alex Garner discovers true blue credentials in...

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SWAGMAN

Western 4W Driver #104

51


F

rom the get go, the Cub Swagman camper trailer is on my good side. Hard floor designs are a favourite of mine due to my uncanny ability to book every camping trip on the wettest weekends of each year. The Swagman, like most of the Cub lineup is a rear folding model – a design which they have had plenty of time to perfect as Cub has been around since 1968. Everything on this camper is made in the same factory in Australia using Australian canvas, steel and anything else Aussie they can get their hands on. That’s especially important for the chassis, as some of the cheaper steel coming out of China is known to be somewhat lacking in quality. The first thing I look at with hard floor models, whether forward or Queen size bed for a good night’s sleep.

Drawbar storage unit contains a drawer system plus big fridge slider.

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Western 4W Driver #104

rear folding, is the winch system used to open and close it. Some of them I have found to be a little clunkier than others, requiring the user to go back and forth between operating the winch and tucking canvas, moving poles or re-positioning straps. The gas struts on this camper are in the perfect pivot point and apply just the right pressure to allow the floor to fold over with minimal effort. Working the winch to close it up again there was no back and


Chef’s kitchen with three burner cooktop, sink and cutlery drawers. Fridge slides out adjacent to the kitchen.

Big food prep area with pantry drawers beneath.

forth to adjust straps or tuck canvas until the very end. When all folded out, the living space inside this trailer seems enormous! A queen size bed consumes most of the front half of the space, with a locker box and four drawer cupboard at the foot of the bed. The fold out floor is a blank canvas ready to be decked out with a table and chairs or beds for the kids – so much room for activities! There are two mains power outlets in here as well, and a single one on the outside. These are only operational when plugged into site power at the caravan park, however there are plenty of 12 volt accessory outlets, USB sockets and LED strip and kitchen lights dotted about the place. How do we power all this? A 100 amp hour battery of course, with a second battery as an optional extra. I guess you’ve gotta have some way of charging this too; which is where the Redarc BMS1230 system comes into play - a popular

choice for camper trailers managing vehicle, solar panel and mains power inputs. As standard you get a 100 litre water tank, which can be expanded to 180 litres total if you’re a thirsty bugger. This water is expelled through the tap in the roll out kitchen by means of a 12 volt pump, but if you want to get water from the drawbar tap you’ll have to use the hand pump. Not such a bad thing, especially if the 12 volt pump throws in the towel! But anyway, back to the Western 4W Driver #104

53


Electrics are easily accessible within a storage area on the right hand side.

kitchen because I love food. This rolls out like a drawer and being quite wide it has two sides. One side contains a 3 burner cooktop, sink and cutlery drawers; while the other side is a nice big bench top with three deep drawers which would be perfect as a pantry. On the drawbar right next to this is the fridge box with one of the biggest fridge slides I have ever seen on a camper – easily accommodating a 75 litre fridge or possibly even larger. The opposite side of the fridge box is home to a couple of nice big storage drawers, great for any optional accessories or a bit of a tool kit. You’d think I might be running short of things to mention by now, but I’ve got to point out the twin 9 kilo gas bottle holders and triple jerry can holders!

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Western 4W Driver #104

That’s a lot of motion lotion and more gas than a baked bean lover could provide in a lifetime! As has been the case in the past, Nissan Australia were kind enough to lend the tow vehicle; a D23 Navara twin turbo diesel, this one being the six speed manual rather than the seven speed auto tested in the previous edition. This vehicle offers a beautiful ride on road, and isn’t too bad off road until you hit the really

“...Cubs’ many years of experience in the camper trailer market make the Swagman a serious consideration...” rough stuff – drive it too hard and you come close to bottoming out. Once the Cub was hooked up, the five link coil rear end sunk considerably and handling really suffered. As a towing vehicle, a set of airbags in the rear and a suspension upgrade would really make it shine. Everything is honkey dorey in the power department though,


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especially with nice low gearing in low range making off road towing much easier. Where the Navara felt the bumps, the camper did not. The beefy independent suspension setup keeps it riding high and smooth, and more importantly - in line with where it’s supposed to be going! Okay, so it’s not the cheapest camper trailer on

the market; but with a starting price of $38,990 it’s certainly reasonable. If you plan on hanging on to your camper trailer for a long time and tackling some gruelling terrain, Cubs’ many years of experience in the camper trailer market make the Swagman a serious consideration. http://www.offroadequipment.com.au

Nuts ‘n’ bolts CUB CAMPER - SWAGMAN Manufacturer : Model: Design: Dimensions:

Weight: Water:

56

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Western 4W Driver #104

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Western 4W Driver #104


PILBARA Words by Susie Underwood Pics by Orland Sundry

While everyone in Perth froze their bits off in a July cold snap, a happy band of sunseekers ventured north to the Pilbara in search of cool waters to dunk their wanderlust in.

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’m sure you’re all sick to death of hearing me waxing lyrical about the beauty of the Pilbara, but that’s just tough luck, you’re going to cop it again! We took off on the Campfire Escapes Pilbara Prowl on Friday 30 June on a cold and miserable Perth morning, heading for the sunshine and blue skies of the Pilbara. I say it’s my favourite part of the world, but as I have only seen the Kimberly photographically so far, my opinion is subject to change (and hopefully sooner rather than later). Our first night was at our usual spot just south of Cue and it was an extremely cold night (-4 deg C), but warmed by lots of laughter over the “getting to know you” Tequila prawns (Nick’s world famous). One of the best parts about being camped in the mulga is the roaring fires and

a jolly night was had by all, followed by quite a slow start alleviated by a bacon and egg toastie in Cue. The day slowly warmed as we headed towards our second night’s camp on Prairie Downs station and by the next morning spirits were high and the sky was bright blue. Our spirits were boosted even higher by the addition of JB to our convoy, he had been laid low with the flu and unable to drag his carcass out of bed on Friday, but staged a miracle recovery and drove like the clappers to catch up with us on Sunday morning. We proceeded to our next night’s camp via Weeli Wolli, a spring-fed creek which is well worth a visit. The nearby

Mine dewatering tastefully exits into Weeli Wolli Creek from beneath a viewing platform. Interpretation story board gives a good indigenous background to the area. Some creek crossings are smooth affairs.


Lining up for the first climb on Meharry. Pic: Mark Leigh.

Hope Downs mine dewaters into the creek so the spring is pumping 24/7 and the water is lovely and warm. The first creek crossing was preceded by a few nervous titters from the crowd the water does run quite fast and the creek bed is inordinately rocky but also very shallow and we all got across safely with gleaming clean tyres. We crossed the creek again once or twice (or three or four times) and had a good look around this pretty spot with a cleansing splash in one of the pools there. There are birds galore of course accompanied by the sound of the ubiquitous Pilbara trains hooting mournfully in the distance. Next morning was the climb up Mt Meharry, WA’s highest mountain. This was the third or fourth time I have been driven up there, and the experience has not got any less bottomclenchingly exhilarating since the first time I did it, although the first time I mercifully didn’t know what I was in for. The climb is scrabbly and scarily steep for someone who is not that into heights, but the payoff is the magnificent view from the top.

Nick guided everyone safely to the peak where we lunched while ooh-ing and aah-ing over the view. Strangely enough we came across a hiker while up there, a very interesting chap who is an earth science professor in Canberra. His bucket list is to walk up the highest peak in each state and he was planning on spending the night there which I must say would be a chilly experience. He was telling me of an evening spent on Tasmania’s highest peak watching a meteor shower and the meteors were so low they were glowing red as they came in. As we inched our way down to the bottom of Mt Meharry we came across another hiker on his way to the

Lunch at the summit. Pic: Mark Leigh. Western 4W Driver #104

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A quick tea bag at Python Pool for dear ol’ dad.

Enroute to George River in Millstream Chichester NP.

Pic: Mark Leigh.

top, wearing t-shirt and shorts and carrying a small bottle of water. As it was nearing 4pm by this time I was a bit concerned for his safety, he would have been making his way down in the dark and was woefully underdressed and unprepared a) for hiking and b) for how cold it gets up there once the sun disappears. I hope he made it down safely. We barrelled into Tom Price halfway through our adventure to restock, shower (aaaaaaah) and grab a “something and chips” lunch. I went for chicken which I have to say was one of the most unappetising meals I have ever experienced while Nick tucked into his fish with relish. I compensated with an icecream from the servo on the way out and on to the Pilbara Iron rail access road (complete with permits) and settled in for an evening of being serenaded by train horns. Why they need to blow their hooters every five minutes in the middle of nowhere is beyond me, it’s not like there is any traffic to warn! Next day was a bit of a special day for me. We were headed into the George River Gorges via Python Pool, a place my dad had visited in the 70s and always raved about and I was curious 62

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to see how right he was. Our first stop was Millstream-Chichester NP, we pulled into the shady gardens of the homestead and had a good look around the house and gardens before a swim at Deep Reach, a large pool with platforms to access the water and shaded picnic tables. I could have stayed there for hours dipping in and out of the water, but time was pressing so we packed up and headed to Python Pool. The drive there was so interesting. Leaving Millstream there is nothing but flatness to the horizon, then you make the turn to Python Pool and suddenly there is topography everywhere, which gradually gets closer and higher until you hit the ribbon of bitumen which takes you over Mt Herbert and is a seriously photogenic drive. The hills


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are chocolate coloured, just the right tone to set off the Sturt’s Desert Peas and there is a photo op at every turn. It really deserves a good couple of hours to explore and preferably on foot in my opinion. Well dear old dad was not wrong about Python Pool, it is a gorgeous place, very shady and cool and the water just a bit goose pimply. Those of us who were brave had a dip while everyone else said “hmmmmm very nice, what’s for lunch?” and wandered off. The water was “refreshing” to say the least.. Our next camp was at George River Gorges, where we were looking forward to a couple of lay days and an explore. Nick hadn’t been out there before and was as excited as a kid with a new bike. The scenery was breathtaking, jumbled piles of chocolate rock which looked like they had been dumped there by an enormous dump truck and pyramid-shaped hills marching off into the distance. The gorges did not disappoint, though apparently the water levels were much lower

than usual. Our home-sweet-home for the next two nights was next to a rock wall at the foot of which was an interestingly green ice-cold pool which never saw the light of day. We were all up early the next morning to catch the first rays on this impressive rock face, only to watch the sun slide away to the north with nary a photo opportunity to be had. We did walk a little way up the hill later that morning to be blown away (not literally) by the abutment walls marching away into the distance. Our camp next to a pool hanging in since last rain around February.

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Truly truly stunning, even though my heart was in my mouth most of the way up and ALL the way down. This spot is obviously very popular with the locals, who in my opinion should show a little bit more to respect for what is in their backyard. All the camp sites were littered with toilet paper (as had most of the sites we had stopped at). I know I have banged on about this before, but really how hard is it to burn your paper or pop it in a bag and take it with you? I think we should mount a campaign to stop people calling it “Kimberley Confetti”, because that makes it sound benign when in fact it’s a menace to the environment and public health. After our big walk in

chairs and cries of “where! where!”, it turned out that as Nick had wandered around the other side of the car he had spotted an FBS (Very Big Snake) slithering away from the front of the car and heading to points west. He and JB followed it a short way to make sure it was clear of any camps, JB snapping pics all the way until the FBS showed an unhealthy interest in JB’s naked calves, at which time they decamped in

Ancient ramparts towered above our camp. A big mulga snake came seriously close. Pic: JB.

the morning I had settled in for a rest in the afternoon and was sitting at camp chatting to one of our Escapees about knitting. Nick had been sitting with us until the knitting needles came out, at which point, eyes glazed over, he wandered around the back of the car with JB to “take photos”. A few minutes later he was back, eyes as wide as a startled possum. “I don’t want to alarm you”, he said, at which point I immediately became alarmed, “but we have just seen the biggest snake .....”. After much leaping onto 66

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an easterly direction to share the tale and show the pics. He certainly was a healthy looking specimen and I’m so glad I only saw him in pixels and not in all his organic glory. Too soon it was time to say goodbye to George River and head to our next destination - Carawine Gorge via South Hedland, Shay Gap and Muccanoo Pool. Now Carawine has a special place in my heart, last time I was there I was newly engaged to my Fiasco so I was looking forward to seeing it again. We stopped in at Whim Creek, because apparently that’s what you do and it is well worth a visit. Not only for the flushing toilets and hot and


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Moonrise over Muccanoo Pool. These Shay Gap houses ended up in Mt Magnet.

cold running water, amusing parrots and peacocks, but they sell the most amazing pies I have ever seen! Very tasty and a bracing antidote to an FBS-inspired hangover. I will draw a veil over the South Hedland shopping centre where we stopped to restock a few necessary items. I’m not a fan of shopping centres at the best of times, but this one takes the cake. Crowded and noisy, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. The drive to our next camp was via the abandoned towns of Goldsworthy and Shay Gap. One of our Escapees had lived in Goldsworthy as a boy and was regaling us with tales of life in a small mining town in the early 70s. It was quite a weird experience driving along a track fringed with thick bush with every so often a

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ribbon of bitumen spearing off into the distance. The topography around Shay Gap was just gorgeous, though unfortunately we didn’t have time to explore the old townsite itself. Stefan had been telling us about the Shay Gap housing experiment on the track from Goldsworthy to Shay Gap. Gazetted in 1972, at its peak it was home to over 850 people. The town was developed by Mt Goldsworthy Mining and designed by Lawrence Howroyd, who won the Prince Philip Prize for Australian Design in 1973. The houses look like something out of the Jetsons with space-age windows which didn’t open, and cars were banned in the town itself, all parking was on perimeter roads. Unfortunately as a social experiment it was a dismal failure, though I’m not sure that FIFO is the answer either. The town was closed in 1994 and the buildings sold or relocated. You can still see a couple of the original houses in Mt Magnet.


Perfect reflections at Muccanoo on the DeGrey River. Pic: Susie.

We overnighted on the banks of Muccanoo Pool, which has got to be one of the prettiest spots we stayed at and came complete with a justexciting-enough water crossing the next morning. Carawine Gorge never disappoints, there is nothing like coming up the track and seeing that massive rock wall rearing in front of you. An interesting addition since our last visit was a sign pointing to a field of glacier-polished rocks, which just seemed so bizarre in that landscape, but there they were and you can seen the gouges that the glacier had grooved into the rocks as it ground over them in Gondwana however many million years ago. Unfortunately the campsite was a little crowded due to it being school holidays, but we squeezed ourselves in and settled in for a few days of R&R. The next night was to be the world famous Campfire Escapes Fancy Dress Night, the format of which we altered this time to make it into a camp oven progressive dinner.

Glacier-ground rock now in one of the hottest places in Australia.

We delegated various tasks to those with camp ovens (roasts, vegetables and desserts) and much fun was had that afternoon decorating the camp, getting fires and coals happening and dinners into camp ovens. It was a truly splendid evening and the cuisine did not disappoint. We had a couple of actual cooks with us this time - Tim Pyramid (or nipple) Hill on the Roebourne Wittenoom Rd.

Pic: Susie Underwood.

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A formal dinner at Carawine was a real hoot.

who butterflied a leg of lamb for the camp oven and Mark who turned out the most sensational gravy - he had been simmering stock all day and it was truly delicious. He also produced a delicious cheese sauce, soon christened Slapper’s Surprise Cheese Sauce, which went down a treat with

the hungry horde. I do hate being culinarily shown up! Soon enough, plates were cleared away and the dancing began, though I believe we were all tucked up by 9.30pm. And if you believe that, Nick has some snake oil to sell you! The next day was splashdown at Running Waters, one of my most favourite places in the Pilbara. The track in via the Upper Carawine Gorge track makes for interesting driving. We came across two couples towing enormous vans on this track (braver folk than us) who had acquired a flat tyre which held us up for a bit, but after the track was cleared we pressed on across the river and then bounded over the tree roots

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and in to Running Waters, straight into that gorgeous clear water. We spent a few happy hours splashing around, blowing bubbles and taking photos, before it was back to camp for a cook up of the previous evening’s leftovers. From Carawine we were on the homeward trail back to dismal cold weather, with our last camps just out of Meekatharra, where we celebrated JB’s 70th birthday in true Excerpt from Hema’s WA State map.

Carawine always delivers the views. Running waters - the perfect grand finale.

Campfire Escapes style, complete with birthday cake, candles and silly glasses. Our last night was at Ninghan Station where Nick talked us in to taking the nibbles table up on to one of the rocks, so we had sundowners at sundown with a stunning view over Mt Singleton, a truly fitting way to wind up our trip. We had a “bugger off” breakfast next morning in Wubin and said our regretful goodbyes, before hitting the bitumen towards hot showers and sooooo much washing!

Homeward bound on the Skull Springs Road.

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WESTERN AUSTRALIA


DABBLING IN

GENERICS

OPINION by Neil Dowling

So you think you know where that ute comes from. Think again, says NEIL DOWLING.

S

from still more. All without most o you think you know where that ute comes from. Think again, buyers being aware. says NEIL DOWLING Late last year, it just got a little bit more complex. That’s when a fuel economy Congratulations! You’ve just error by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation bought a new $55,000 dual-cab ute snowballed into a series of accusations with plans to go travelling. and rumour mongering with the effect You did your research, buying the that its share price plunged. Canyonero Most Powerful Edition 6 - because it has a strong corporate name, there are plenty of dealers and the Right now car companies are price was right. You also forging alliances with other car owned a Canyonero model previously, was happy makers, buying a controlling share about its Japanese build in others, sourcing components quality and of course from still more. All without most loyalty counts for a lot. buyers being aware Right? Not anymore. That Canyonero Most Powerful Edition 6 is, At the same time, Nissan (which is unbeknown to 90 per cent of the in an alliance - read, marriage - with showroom shoppers, actually made Renault) was a bit peeved about in Thailand by a less renowned ute seeing Mitsubishi fudge about the builder called Desert-King and the fuel consumption of its vehicles. Edition 6 is actually a Desert-King That’s because Mitsubishi builds some WarpSpeed Deluxe. How’s your vehicles - small vans, actually - for loyalty now? Nissan. Nissan appeared to support You bypassed the Desert-King Mitsubishi as its share price continued because of its less impressive quality to spiral, throwing almost $3 billion at and reliability compared with the its share registry and ending up with a Canyonero brand. In fact, you would majority 34 per cent share of its ailing have never bought a Desert-King. Japanese rival. It’s no fairytale. Right now car companies are forging alliances with Synergies are at play here. Nissan is other car makers, buying a controlling expected to bring Mitsubishi into its share in others, sourcing components web, finding shared components to Western 4W Driver #104

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save billions of dollars in costs. One of the first planned is a joint-venture ute. That is, the next Mitsubishi Triton could likely be a rebadged Nissan Navara with a new nose, tail lights and cabin detail. If you were a loyal Mitsubishi buyer, what would you think? Yes, the ute would probably be cheaper than rivals from other brands because of the synergies in Nissan buying parts, building factories, building drivetrains and electronics. But it’s not really a Mitsubishi. It’s also not a one-off. Nissan’s Navara is being remodelled as the next Mercedes-Benz X-Class ute that is expected in Australia next year. But wait, there’s more. Nissan and its bedmate Renault have also decided that Renault should have a ute, so next year there will also be a Renault Alaskan ute. Sure, there are differences between the Navara, X-Class, Alaskan and possible Triton. The Mercedes has its own grille and interior, plus a German drivetrain including a wide choice of engines. It probably won’t be built in Thailand so maybe it will come out of a Renault plant in Europe. Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi isn’t alone. Ford and Mazda have had an alliance since after the Second World War. But it has been a love-hate affair. More recently, the alliance between Ford and Mazda crumbled. Ford sold most of its shares and Mazda plugged on by itself, building its own engines and bringing vehicle styling inside the company. It has nothing to do with Ford today except for sharing the BT-50 ute with the Ford Ranger ute. The body panels are different but the powertrain and drivetrain are the same. Late last year this deal fell apart as Mazda first announced it would share ute technology with Toyota - then the 74

Western 4W Driver #104

Hilux would be similar to the BT-50 - and then changing its mind and announcing it would join with Isuzu. That indicates that the 2019 Mazda BT-50 would be similar to the sameyear Isuzu D-Max and could also allow Mazda to borrow the 4WD wagon idea to have a similar unit to the Isuzu MU-X. Why didn’t Mazda stay with Ford? Well the likely explanation is that Ford is a profitable company - it was the only one of the ‘big three’ US car makers that did not apply for a government bail out in the 2009 global financial crisis - and it takes royalties for the bits it designs and makes itself. That’s why former Ford asset Volvo, when it split from Ford and was bought by Chinese conglomerate Geely, moved quickly to rid itself of the Ford engines. Jaguar and land Rover - also former Ford subsidiaries - did the same thing. As did Mazda. - all because it costs a lot of money to pay Ford for the right to use its engines. Now Mazda has a strong bi-turbo diesel engine that can be modified for a ute, and a new 2.5-litre turbo-petrol (now fitted to the CX-9 and later to a sports version of the CX-5, Mazda 3 and Mazda 6) that will also suit petrol buyers. It can share the ute body build with Isuzu and fit its own engines. Again, you thought you bought a Mazda ute? Then there’s the Holden Colorado which is another Thai build that has heavy influence by former ally Isuzu. There’s a lot of the Isuzu D-Max in every Colorado. This is an example of what is happening. But I’ve only talked of utes. There are lots of other components shares - the Volkswagen Touareg, Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne are on the same platform, their body shells built in the same Slovakian factory - and builds that will surprise you. Even shake your loyalty.


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COLORADO

Epitomising the evolution of Homo Campus Australis, John Brown (JB) takes us through his transformation of a tradie’s ute into a mobile caravanserai any wandering sheik would be proud to call home.

W

ith almost eight years of owning one of the best and most capable 4WDs ever made, (a Turbo Diesel 100 series GXL; previously the Ed’s car), one might think that life couldn’t be better when traversing the outback. Why would you sell such a great 4WD, one which had everything you could wish for in terms of accessories and comforts of home on the road? I asked myself that very question for months and months after selling it, and prior to the new project coming together. For me it was a case of doing something else that was overall easier to use, given my rather limited elevation and ageing carcass.

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RE-BORN

RE AD RI ER DE ’S

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A set of leg extensions overcomes most issues of stature.

did not want a station wagon and I didn’t need a dual cab, but I like to have space inside the cab for ‘stuff’. I kept coming back to a space cab to give me that internal room but with a solid canopy at the rear to give me the opportunity to create my own fit out. And so the search began for a good, reliable, well-cared-for second-hand 4WD with a budget of under $25,000, and importantly, with the right size and type of canopy. As luck would have it I found my 2010 Colorado 3.0 litre TD, 5

speed manual, at an auction yard with relatively modest kms, in top condition, full service history and with a great allaluminium canopy. The Isuzu drivetrain has a tough reputation amongst the smaller variety of 4WDs and fitted the bill perfectly. The canopy on this vehicle provided me with a 2m long x 1.3m wide space and not too high, to create my off road touring solution, and I thought it would be easy! I needed a set up that was simple to

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Western 4W Driver #104

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Sheoak makes for a classy trim. Insulation on doors ensures a cool interior. 80 litre water tank from Rota Moulding has had a sight tube added to show water level.

use, efficient in terms of the use of space, easy to build and of course, not too heavy. Three months passed with

many variations of hand drawn designs, none of which hit the spot in terms of simplicity, ease of use, and optimisation of the available space. Fortunately for me a good friend offered to draw up my final plan using the CAD programme, thus allowing me to visualise the way it would work, before it was built. And so the journey began. Another good friend, a 50 plus year experienced cabinet and furniture maker then worked (with me as a novice TA), to build the carcass in his workshop using his extensive equipment. Our process was to build the carcass in three sections (front for water tank and power systems, fridge slides etc., middle for drawers and storage, and rear for the kitchen I had in mind). Each section of dividers and drawer carcasses was built Slot for table next to fridge and wine storage next to that. Shelf above will have more drawers and bin on RHS will make way for extra water storage. Western 4W Driver #104

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on its own base, butted together and bolted through the canopy floor for strength and stability. They are all joined together with the top shelf which is also in two halves for ease of installation. We used relatively light 13mm exterior ply to keep the weight down and each panel was joined with biscuits and then glued and screwed with reinforcement where necessary using Jarrah to provide strength and a visual appeal, as well as to provide the attachment structure for the top shelf. All panels were then carpeted and edges dressed with Sheoak, a magnificent timber when lacquered and very strong to give additional strength to the ply. Without any doubt the now varnished Sheoak edging is the most eye-catching element of the build, and I love it. Another good friend assisted with the electrical diagram and together with Rob Robson I spent a few days completing the extensive cables and wiring to operate the dual battery system and myriad of electrical gadgetry etc. This is all housed in the front driver’s side of the

Auxiliary battery and electrics sit next to freezer on RH side of canopy.

canopy along with the auxiliary battery. Balancing the load left to right was important so we shared weight around to achieve this. Getting all the bits I needed was a challenge given my tight budget, so Gumtree came in very handy with several items saving me around two thousand dollars in total build cost including a full set of 6 original D-Max

On the driver’s side spare tyre will come out to allow bag storage. Gas bottles are plumbed through to cooktop.

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mag wheels, 2 near-new spare tyres, 125 litre long range tank, 2 fridge slides, H/D Outback drawer, and a bunch of smaller stuff. The vehicle has undergone quite a transformation over the past 12 months and now includes the following mods: • Canopy-full aluminium and completely insulated • ARB Deluxe B/Bar and RidePro suspension and ROX shockies fitted by ORE. • Clearview extended mirrors. • 9000lb Tabor winch and 125 litre LR tank fitted by ORE. • Snorkel. • 125 litre L/R Tank protected with Line-X. • Lightforce HTX driving lights. • Shod with BFG KO2 All terrains. • Ali Side steps. • In-cab storage compartments behind the seats as well as clipin storage for UHF aerial, fishing rods, hiking pole, sand flag and other lengthy items when not in use. • Outback rooftop tent. • Set of Maxtrax under the roof top tent as well as the ladder. • 80 litre water tank from Rota Moulding located front and centre of canopy, with pressure activated pump inside the canopy. • 1.2m long Poly table slides in alongside fridge. • Wine bottle storage for 6 bottles of the favourite tipple! • Two deep long drawers for dry foods and pots’n’pans. • Redarc dual battery solenoid and circuit breaker. Battery in canopy RHS with Distribution/fuse panel and solar regulator. • Engel fridge kerbside. • Engel freezer driver’s side. • LED lighting throughout. • Driver’s side heavy duty ‘Outback’ tools and spares drawer.

Natty rear kitchen has fold down slide out cooktop plus 12V oven, cup and glass storage.

• Driver’s side drawer for 2 jacks, compressor and tyre fixing stuff. • Specific shelf above heavy duty drawer for bulky items. (Currently holds second spare which will be moved outside.) • Full open top shelf allows for chairs, lightweight 2 x 80W (10.8 amp/hr) solar panels, canvas awnings for attaching to driver’s side canopy door, and rear kitchen area annexe; can also take a spare tent, stretcher, selfinflating mattress etc. • Dedicated rear kitchen with slideout Coleman 3 burner cooker, Travel Western 4W Driver #104

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Buddy Oven and storage for glasses, mugs and cups etc. • Driver’s side rear quarter corner dedicated storage box for hammer, pegs, ropes etc. • Two 2.2 Kg gas bottles on shelf

2800Kgs loaded, just under the GVM, so I am happy with that too. For me, it is easy to use with everything within reach and undercover so I spend less time setting up and more time enjoying the outback adventure that we all seek. By the time you read this I will have Pilbara red dust everywhere! Rear space in the cab is well utilised with clothes lockers and long item storage. GPS and comms dominate the cab.

plumbed through to kitchen cooker. • Rear quarter storage area kerbside can carry containers for either water or fuel on extended trips. At present it houses the rubbish bin. • Computer remap which showed a 25% increase in Power and a 30% increase in Torque with the benefit of improved economy. This made a significant difference to on and offroad capability. • For mapping I run an iPad & Memory Map backed up by a Hema Navigator. So, how do you compare this solution with the powerful and comfortable Landcruiser? Well you can’t really but it has ample power for what I do, and, being torsion bar at the front it is also very comfortable. The economy is very acceptable, even with the load it carries every day achieving 11.4 litres/100 km around town and 13-14/100 on a long trip with everything full. She tips the scale at 84

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Love it and may there be lots of it! The destination bucket list is growing. Whilst I have spent hundreds of hours on this project myself making it the way I want it, completion would not have happened without assistance from the following friends: Andrew Fardon and Off Road Equipment Myaree – bulky 4WD stuff and fitting, Colin Dawson – electrical design and sundry other help along the way, Mitch Underwood – electrical, Mark Bailey – design and in-cab cabinet build, John Carter – canopy carcass build and Sheoak trim. A huge amount of work! Rob Robson – electrical installation and sundry other help, again a huge job, John Lewis & David Newton – Line-X Coatings, Brian Wallis – UHF radio supply & installation, Colin Sparkes – kitchen slide- out unit and aluminium trim


Livin’ the dream in the

new rig.

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GO YOUR OWN WAY

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STICKY BEEF

W

ho can resist a camp oven cooked meal, the aromas, tenderness and juiciness of the meat, just delicious. But there are pitfalls for the unwary. This is about an incident that took place a while back. We were out on a desert trip and had had a long day in the saddle. Most of us were sitting around the campfire before tea, when one couple decided they were having roast beef. They went through the usual procedure of digging a suitable

THE THINGS YOU SEE! With (Truthful)

Phil Bianchi check again, just in case ‘the meat had returned’. Off comes the lid, still no meat; as he was about to put the lid down onto the ground a chorus yelled out “stop! stop! “. He did and was then told about the meat being stuck under the lid. He couldn’t believe it; I’m sure he thought Truthful was at work again. Again Truthful gets the blame; it’s enough for someone with a fragile and delicate disposition like me to get a case of ‘Nervous Dyspepsia’.

Doing the Business

The audience waits with baited breath.

hole near the fire, putting coals in it, heating camp oven, then set about cooking the meat. When hubby came back from their camp to check how the roast was going, he lifted the lid to find the meat was gone. He didn’t say anything because he thought practical jokers were at work and quietly headed back to his camp. What he didn’t know was the meat was a bit too big for the camp oven and had stuck under the lid. When he lifted the lid the meat stayed stuck, and of course we the audience didn’t say anything. After a while he and his wife came back seemingly ready to do battle but before they did they took the lid off to

Nowadays the ball joints aren’t what they used to be. After a couple of arthroscopies the old knees are a bit fragile and don’t support my delicate frame with the same conviction - especially when needing to head into the scrub ‘to do the business’. Over the years I’ve seen various contraptions and designs of toilet seats; from the humble stool with fold out legs, through to Porta Potties. Jimmy’s Thunder Box is top of the range in the long drop method of toileting, with foldout enclosed sides and seat, but it’s cumbersome and heavy. Porta Potties are right up there if glamping is your scene, but they take up lots space when transporting and you need to keep these well secured; the consequences of an in vehicle spill would have you in real do do. Going back to the basic toilet seat, with fold out legs and clip on seat, while appealing because of price, size Western 4W Driver #104

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Precarious posterial pooing perches.

and weight, they’re flimsy. I’ve heard of legs buckling and the plastic seat clips giving way; as a mate of mine found out to his dismay when the seat collapsed and he landed on top of his deposit. There’s an improvement on this model, it comes with clips to hold a plastic bag in place so you can collect ‘everything’ and then get to take it home with you! Another toilet seat is a 25 litre bucket with a plastic swimming pool noodle. Put a plastic bag in the bucket and hold it in place with the noodle sliced length ways so it presses and holds the plastic bag onto the lip of the bucket. While it looks like it would work, I’m concerned about possible incisions in my butt, and then there is the problem of the contents of the used plastic bag or a dirty bucket if no bag! Then there’s the folding camp stool with an appropriately placed hole in the canvas seat. Another type is where the canvas has been replaced by lengths of seat belt webbing fitted to support each cheek. It looked decidedly dangerous and flimsy to me. So I made my own. I had a steel legged camp stool with perished canvas; it was the version where legs (real steel) were joined across the bottom by a horizontal bar, giving more stability and strength. A quick trip to The Big Green Shed (Bunnings) had me owning 88

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a sheet of 10mm ply and saddle clips. While I was there I went to the plumbing section and borrowing a toilet seat traced the outline onto my ply – a helpful shop this. A jig saw made short work of cutting out the seat. Using the saddle clips I bolted one side of the legs under my ply seat. To hold the other leg, some 20mm x 3mm flat bar from my ‘could be handy’ box was used to make two U shaped brackets, I bolted these under the seat; these were the clips locking the other side in place. After a couple

This visual pollution is an all-toocommon sight at campsites. Check out the editor’s dunny demo on YouTube.

of coats of black paint on the legs and four coats of lacquer on the seat as a splinter precaution, the king of dunny seats was born. I’ve since made a few for friends who threaten to knock off mine; but to control my patent; each has a sticker under the lacquer saying ‘Stolen from Truthful Phil.’ If you still haven’t a clue what we use the seat for, go here for a factual description. For the Ed’s Dunny video just go to Youtube link: https://youtu.be/6-7-AZR9GNY


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MU-XTRA

Off-Road with

Rob Robson

Like several other manufacturers, Isuzu have used their Ute as the platform to build a 4wd wagon. In the case of the MU-X, the very successful D-MAX has served that purpose.

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he ladder frame, 3 litre engine with the addition of six speed manual and six speed transmissions are and six speed automatic transmissions. all basically the same as those The 3 litre engine received some used in the D-MAX, even all the substantial upgrades including newly transmission ratios cross over to the designed pistons, fuel injectors, fuel MU-X - manual, auto, transfer case and supply pump and a new variable final drive, all exactly the same. geometry turbo which have all But the similarities don’t stop there. contributed to increasing the torque The dash layout, seating and controls figures from 380NM to 430NM. are all pretty much identical. In fact Although power output remained comparing the two interior photos of the same at 130kW, the torque is the dash in the MU-X now available over and D-MAX a wider rev brochures - they range and, “The main point of difference according could almost be one and between the two is in the rear to Isuzu, the the same. suspension and rear brakes.” engine is more The main point fuel efficient of difference and produces between the two is less emissions. in the rear suspension and rear brakes. It is also Euro5 compliant. The D-MAX uses a leaf spring rear end The new six speed auto is an with drum brakes while the MU-X has electronically controlled Aisin been fitted with a multi-link coil set up AWR6B4511 with Adaptive Logic and disc brakes. Control and converter lock up from As with the D-MAX, the MU-X has 3rd through to 6th gear. The trans recently received a face lift and the also features an Uphill/Downhill benefits of some engine changes along control system which hold gears when

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climbing steeper grades and also selects and holds gears on steep descents to control speed using engine braking. With a raft of electronics including ABS (Anti-skid Braking System), EBD (Electronic Brake-force Distribution), EBA (Emergency Brake Assist), ESC (Electronic Stability Control), HSA (Hill Start Assist), HDC (Hill Descent Control) and TCS (Traction Control System) along with six airbags and passenger safety cell the MU-X carries the ANCAP 5 star safety rating. Wanneroo Isuzu Ute let us have the latest top of the range LS-T MU-X for a week and with less than 1200Km on the clock you could almost say it was straight off the show room floor. The LS-T comes with plenty of fruit including alloy side steps, roof rails, climate control, a six way electrically adjustable driver’s seat, leather seating, a roof mounted DVD player, passive entry with keyless start and 18 inch alloy wheels. The dash layout is simple and uncluttered. The infotainment unit has all the usuals – touch screen, CD, DVD, MP3, AM/FM radio, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, sat-nav, and a

Almost identical to the D-MAX apart from a bit of extra bling on the steering wheel. Dash has plenty of storage options.

reversing camera. The climate control features a large display and easy to locate buttons with a big temperature dial so there is minimal fiddling to get the in-car temperature to your liking. Upper and lower glove boxes plus a box on top of the dash are only part of the incredible number of storage compartments and bottle holders spread throughout the vehicle. Three USB and three 12 volt outlets provide plenty of options . Just about everything in the cabin was easy to use and fuss free. I really

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Easy access to third row seats pays more than just lip service to seating arrangements.

With seats laid flat there’s a heap of cargo room in the MU-X.

liked the ease with which the third row of seats can be laid flat and similarly bought back to a seating position. Just pull the strap on the back of the seat and push the seat forward to lay them flat or grab the strap and pull them back to the seating position. Accessing the third row was also super easy, unlock the lever on the base of the second row, the back folds down and then the whole seat rolls forward – love it. I took the MU-X for a spin down to Donnybrook while I had the vehicle and came away pretty impressed. The driver’s seat is good and comfy with plenty of adjusting options to get the driving position just right. The vehicle’s multi- information display is positioned between the speedo and tacho. Buttons on the ends of both steering column stalks allow you to scroll through a number of different options such as odometer, trip, fuel consumption, kms to empty and several others. Cruise control and audio controls are on the steering wheel with the climate control in easy reach under the infotainment screen. The tiptronic shifter is easy to use and gives plenty of control if you prefer to shift manually. The combination of the coil rear end 94

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and independent front provided a comfortable and stable ride. It cruises happily at the speed limit with the tacho reading around 1800rpm at 110kph. It has plenty of get up and go for overtaking thanks to the combination of the engine’s torque and the new automatic transmission which down shifts whenever the accelerator is depressed that little bit more. Even though Isuzu have made efforts to reduce the noise with sound and vibration insulation, engine noise is still very obvious in the cab when accelerating or the engine is under load. That being said, when loping along at the speed limit the only obvious sound is a bit of wind noise around the mirrors.


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Having a look under the vehicle, at first glance it appears to be quite well equipped with underbody protection. Skid plates run all the way from the front bumper to the transfer case but on closer inspection the large plate under the transmission is only plastic and the others are made of fairly light weight steel. There are several companies making more substantial replacement and auxiliary protection plates, they would be a worthwhile fitment if the vehicle is going to see some tougher tracks. Also crying out for some protection is the polymer fuel tank positioned between the tail-shaft and chassis rail on the passenger side. It sits low and looks like it would cop a hiding. (Although I am assured that Polymer tanks have an excellent resistance to impacts). Approach, departure and ramp over angles are nothing to write home about either. A suspension lift and bull-bar would help the ramp over and approach angles. Fitting a Kaymar rear bar should help increase the departure angle and get the spare wheel out from its vulnerable position under the vehicle. (Kaymar do a rear bar for the MU-X with the option of a dual wheel carrier or spare wheel and jerry can holder.) The couple of tow points under the front bumper shouldn’t be considered recovery points and would certainly not be suitable when using a snatch strap. I gave the MU-X a bit of stick on a very corrugated dirt road not far from home, the Electronic Stability Control and Traction Control helped to prevent things from getting too untidy although they seemed to be a touch slow to react. Dialling into 4wd (which would have been more appropriate for the conditions) made for a more controlled drive.

Lightweight skid plates might cop a hiding on rough tracks. Spare would be better off up on a rear bar.

Anti-skid Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) worked together to pull the vehicle up as straight and as quickly as possible. On rough 4wd tracks the combination of the torquey 3 litre engine, autotrans and low range provided as much 4wdrive capability a vehicle of this type would ever be likely to need. A locker in the rear would be nice for those rare occasions that the traction control might come up short but I doubt that’s going to happen very often. Hill Descent Control (HDC) reduces the white knuckle effect when going down, while Hill Start Assist makes it all too easy to get going on the steep stuff. Western 4W Driver #104

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Driving on the beach is where the MU-X really impressed. With the tyres at around 15psi it didn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference whether I had it in high range, low range or with TCS on or off. Admittedly the beach was quite firm although pretty chewed up and lumpy – the little MU-X just loved it. It was a different story when we took a sandy track off the beach that had a couple of serious holes (Even the Ed in his ‘Cruiser had to have a couple of goes to get through). After spraying a bit of sand around and getting some wheels in the air we decided that discretion might be the better option plus we weren’t too keen on having to explain to the guys at Wanneroo Isuzu why the side steps were all bent up. I had the opportunity to do a bit of night driving while I had the MU-X on loan. Inside the cab all the controls are discreetly illuminated making it easy to identify the buttons and switches in the dark. Outside, the projector lens headlights provide plenty of low beam depth while on high beam there was a good spread of white light but it didn’t extend too far up the road. A pair of

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HID driving lights on the front bar would be worthwhile. Under the bonnet there is room for an auxiliary battery on the passenger side although fitting one might make it a bit difficult to renew the fuel filter. The engine’s air inlet is up the front inside the driver’s guard. A snorkel could be a worthwhile investment if water crossings are to be part of the plan. There looks to be great potential to fit some storage drawers, fridge slide and other camping necessities if the third row seats were removed. A quick look online and Drifter came up doing several combinations that looked pretty smart. The towing capacity of the MU-X’s is only 3 tonne compared to that of the D-Max which is 3.5 tonne. But, it seems there is a bit of an anomaly here. GCM (Gross Combination Mass) of the D-Max is 5950kg and GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) is 2950kg which means that when the D-Max is fully loaded to the GVM it only has a towing capacity of 3 tonne (GCM minus GVM) . The MU-X on the other hand has a GCM of 5750KG and GVM of 2750KG so it can also


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Multi link coil suspension at the back provides plenty of wheel travel.

tow 3 tonne when fully loaded. The fuel tank holds 65 litres and over the week that I had the vehicle it used 46.3 litres and travelled 563km giving economy figures of 8.22 litres/100km (12.15km/litre). Not far off the stated 7.9litres/100km. Service intervals are 12 months/10,000km. Isuzu’s Service Plus 555 program includes 5 year warranty, 5 year road side assist, and 5 year/50,000km capped price servicing.

We Reckon … Isuzu have a reputation for building tough, strong, reliable, vehicles and the MU-X is no exception. It may lack some of the sophistication of other manufacturers in this segment and need a bit of help to get its off road credentials up to the mark but as an honest, no fuss 4wd wagon it ticks most of the boxes.

Nuts ‘n’ bolts ISUZU MU-X LS-T 2017

Price: Built: Body: Safety: Engine: Power: Torque: Fuel Economy: Fuel tank: Transmission: Drive: Suspension:

$53,000. Japan Body on frame 5 Star 3ltr, 4 cylinder turbo diesel 130kW @ 3600rpm 430Nm @ 1,700 to 3500rpm 7.9L/100km (stated) 8.22L/100km (on test) 65 litres 6 speed auto. 2 speed transfer case Part time 4wd Front – double wishbone, coil springs. Rear – Multilink’ coil springs, live axle.

Brakes: Front & rear – discs. Steering: Power Assisted rack & pinion Wheels: 18” alloy. Track: Front – 1570mm. Rear – 1570mm Approach Angle: 24 degrees Departure Angle: 25.1 degrees Ramp Over: 19.5 degrees Turning Circle: 11.6m GVM: 2750kg Weight: 2157kg Tow ball load: 300kg - maximum Towing capacity: 3000kg – maximum Warranty: 5 years/130,000km Service Interval: 12 months/10,000km – capped price servicing. Western 4W Driver #104

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ered Engine lia for tra in Aus f Aussie o s 0 100 urers advent

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HO

Along with solar charging, extra batteries have become a popular option for powering campsites. Alex Garner leads us carefully through a ....

3

W

TO

RD BATTERY

INSTALL

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R

emember the early days of the dual battery system? Apparently it was a dark time, an era of fiddly lantern mantles and drawing short straws to determine who leaves the comfort of their chair to pull off the “ice run”. Then someone got clever and threw in a second battery, rigged it to charge and isolate through a marine switch, and hauled some whiz bang fluoro lamps and a fandangle twelve volt fridge out bush! I’m not here to write up a history of auxiliary power systems, so I’ll skip past a few advancements and bring you straight into 2017 where I’m installing a third battery in the GU Patrol. Is this really necessary? That’s something you have to consider for your individual situation I believe. Take a few trips with all your electrical gear, and decide if you’re happy with the capacity of a dual battery system. In my case, solar topped both batteries up perfectly. But the fridge, lights and massive box of camera and computer gear I charge was seeing it flat before morning came around. Installing a third battery is really quite easy, though it is a significant investment. You will need an AGM or GEL battery, as they won’t spill and ruin your vehicle – not to mention the toxic fumes put out by a lead acid battery when charging. You’ll also need a DC to DC smart charger. These can be rather pricey, but essential to negate the problem of voltage drop over the long cable run. Plus you’ll get way more life from your battery by using one. Then of course there’s the battery box, wiring and assortment of connections, tape and heat shrink needed to complete the job. In the Patrol, the 120 amp hour AGM battery will live in a battery box which is bolted through the nonsliding side of the drawer system using big flat washers. At the moment

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Keep everything neat and protected with conduit under the bonnet. Circuit breakers are awesome, I like to protect those terminals with liquid electrical tape.

I don’t tend to run conduit inside the cab, and it’s easier to tuck away.


Vice grips do a reasonable job of crimping.

It’s up to you, but I like to solder as well as crimp my connections.

the battery will power the trusty old Engel and a cigarette socket for whatever may need electricity. In the future there will also be a pure sine inverter for charging all that camera equipment. The secondary battery under the bonnet will be tasked with lighting duties. My choice of charger is a Projecta DC & solar 25 amp battery charger. This can be had for anywhere between about $290 to $390 depending on your willingness to purchase off eBay over a bricks and mortar store. This unit will prioritise

charge from your solar panels, and supplement this with power from the alternator if more current is needed pretty smart! Smart chargers tend

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These chargers like fresh air, it’s best to give them some space.

This Anderson plug is to connect a solar panel to the charger.

to get a little warm if you stuff them the battery yet either, best to avoid any short circuits! in a tight space and deny them any The next bit is where it’s easy to get ventilation – so this one is getting confused. You’re probably cramped screwed onto the side floor kit next to up in the back of your vehicle with the the fridge. smart charger in one hand, and a fist Next we need to plan the length of the full of wires cable run from the “.. You’re probably cramped in the other. vehicle starting up in the back of your vehicle Having a flick battery to the charger – about with the smart charger in one through the 6 metres in this hand, and a fist full of wires in instructions for the case. This is the other...” charger may the time to get relieve some of mathematical, as your stress, as I discover that a few of digging a few strands of trailer wire out the wires on this charger are for various of your scraps box isn’t going to do the functions I don’t need for my installation. trick. Thankfully we have the internet They include a trigger wire for vehicles to do maths for us! Just do a Google with smart alternators, and one for an search for ‘dc cable size calculator’, optional external LED indicator. That’s punch in the maximum current draw two less wires to worry about! Now of your charger, the length of the cable there’s just power in from the alternator, run - and it will spit out the gauge wire power in from the solar panel, power you need. This must be run through a out to third battery I’m installing, and fuse or circuit breaker of course, right an earth cable. In order to keep things up the front as close to the starter tidy, I create a common earth where I battery as possible. Follow the usual connect the earth from the charger, an rules; plenty of conduit, heat shrink, earth from the new battery, and one for cable ties and electrical tape – and run the Anderson plug I’m installing to which that cable all the way down to your I can connect a solar panel. charger. Don’t make the connection to Western 4W Driver #104

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A good looking setup which can be expanded upon later.

Don’t worry, we’re nearly there! This is the point where I go grab a cuppa and forget about the job for 10 minutes, as I’ve about had enough and that’s when you start making mistakes. Solder all of the connections together, slipping a piece of heat shrink over each cable beforehand. You can use electrical tape of course, but heat shrink looks nicer and holds on longer. Spend as much time as you need running wires back and forth between the battery, the charger and any power outlets or accessories before wrapping them in conduit.

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Put in the time here and you can get everything in one piece of conduit – so much neater! The final piece in the puzzle is one I very nearly missed, a circuit breaker on the third battery fitted in the charger output line, and one on the positive cable for the solar panel input near the Anderson plug. We want to prevent electrical fires at every possible opportunity. Once every last ring terminal is nice and tight, it’s time for the best bit! Connect that first terminal to the starter battery and hopefully you get a few lights. Crank the car up, and once the starter battery reaches a decent voltage you’ll see the ever so satisfying charge light glowing. If you see sparks, you definitely did something wrong! Ahhhhh, I can practically feel the flow of electrons as I bask in the pride of a job well done.

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SNOTTY GOBBLE

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hat comes to mind when you read ‘snottygobble’? I guess I don’t really have to answer that one - but I’m sure the nearest four year old will oblige if you need help imagining! This name ‘snottygobble’ is a truly superb and evocative example of how people name the plants and animals around them – and also how the same name can mean different things in different places. To those living in the south-west of Australia, ‘snottygobble’ is a small, graceful tree (1-5 m) with the scientific name Persoonia longifolia. The lovely nickname refers to the texture of the ripe fruits, which resemble green olives with a soft, sweet, sticky flesh around the seed. The flesh of fresh fruits is edible, and there are multiple records of Noongar people using it as a food source, but the inner parts and seeds are inedible (unless you have a vice for a jaw). Persoonia trees are distinctive, with long, narrow, drooping leaves (the basis of its scientific name ‘longifolia’) and beautiful multilayered flaky bark. The thick bark protects special buds on the trunk which allow adult trees to recover quickly from fire by resprouting. Snottygobble flowers from November to February and fruits ripen in autumn. They are green

Popular Botanics with

Doctor Kris at first, but turn yellowish after dropping to the ground. Production of fruit can be profuse, and they collect on the ground, providing an important source of food to Emus and other animals –local botanist Tom Vigilante worked out that emu droppings in June and July can contain up to 90% snottygobble! Now, for the issue of names. In the southwest, snottygobble is also used for at least one other species of Persoonia, P. elliptica, which mainly differs in leaf shape. In regions further north (Paynes Find and beyond), I have come across its occasional use for mistletoes in Amyema, whose seeds also have a sticky, mucilaginous or oily surface. The scientific name Persoonia was given by Joseph Smith in 1798, and celebrates Dutch botanist and expert on fungi, Christaan Hendrik Persoon (1761-1836). Dr Kristina Lemson is a botanist and keen camper lecturing at Edith Cowan University where she teaches biology, evolution and taxonomy. Western 4W Driver #104

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A

GANDER AT

GOOGS

By Lyn Mitchell Pics by Lyn & Ron Mitchell.

In the normal scheme of things, having a gander at Goog’s Track in South Australia should not be possible. But thanks to some good old Aussie ingenuity and determination, the 200km long, four-wheel drive track is still there today for visitors to enjoy. Western 4W Driver #104

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oog’s Track runs from just north of Ceduna through to the Trans Continental Railway Line near Tarcoola. With its corrugations, ruts and 300 sand dunes, it has often been likened to a mini Simpson Desert crossing. In April 2017, our six-vehicle convoy, made up of fellow West Aussies Karen and Len Elms, Dave Goodrich and Ron and I, and South Australian mates Phil Bigg, Dave Maggs and Geoff Vincent, took on Goog’s Track and had a ball discovering its wonders and challenges. Its history dates to the 1950s when a few locals, using axes and shovels, started to clear a bit of a track from the northern end at Malbooma Station near the Trans line. That track headed south towards Mt Finke but was abandoned because the

The adventure begins.

going got too difficult. Two large drums of water were left where they stopped at what became known as Drum Camp. Then, in 1973, Stanley Gilbert John Denton, or Goog (as in googy egg as he was known to most people), his wife Jenny and a group of locals decided to use their basic equipment to put a track in from Goog’s marginal farm just north of Ceduna through to Drum Camp. The trouble was, Goog’s proposed track went through conservation land. While they didn’t have approvals to put in the track, there was method to their madness. They felt that by opening the link through to the Trans line, they could get their wool and other commodities to market much quicker than the existing 500km-plus circuitous route they normally had to use. From their base at Goog’s 2,500-hectare property called ‘Lone Oak’ at Kalanbi, 25km north of Ceduna, they started clearing the scrub with their old Fordson tractor fitted with a front-end loader blade, and three old Gnamma holes in a granite not far from the track.

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the family, camping out in the bush Land Rovers to cart the fuel, tools, camping gear and other supplies. overnight, enjoying a few drinks and partying along the way. Working mainly on weekends, they Unfortunately, as time went by and the used the tractor to blaze the trail and stories spread, the South Australian family and friends would walk behind authorities became alarmed and picking up the sticks and roots. threatened Goog with legal action for Friends and locals often donated muchclearing conservation land. needed fuel and equipment to keep the Goog and his mates continued to project going. push the track Often, they could through only clear one or “..The volunteer work gangs despite the two kilometres over a weekend each weekend grew to become threat of legal action. but occasionally, the stuff of legends...” The track around 8 to 10 continued to kilometres of track move forward could be achieved. until finally in August 1976, three years As time went by and the sand dunes after they started, it was through to got steeper and higher, they purchased the Trans line. a grader and called in a bulldozer The locals extolled the virtues of the to help. It wasn’t long before the popular track especially given that they fun everyone was having on the could now get to the annual Tarcoola volunteer work gangs each weekend Races via the new, much quicker grew to become the stuff of legends. route. Mining companies also became Many more locals came along to join Part of Googs Lake near our camp.

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interested in exploration in the new area now that it was accessible. Given these factors, the South Australian authorities backed down and no further action was taken against Goog and his mates. As we discovered on our trip 41 years after it was completed, access to Goog’s Track is now provided with the co-operation of Kychering Station and the Department for Environment and Heritage. It is still a challenging, narrow, one-lane four-wheel drive route. Some of the many dunes we encountered were around 25m high with lumpy and corrugated southern approaches and sand blown tops. It is recommended that you travel from south to north, which we did, due to safety concerns on the dune crests. Sand flags are a requirement, as is monitoring Channel 18 on the UHF radio to communicate with other track users. Under clear blue sunny skies, our convoy fronted up to the gate at the Dog Fence at the start of Goog’s and proceeded to let our tyres down to 25psi in readiness for the conditions. Our first day’s drive was an easy One of several gnamma holes on Nalara Rock. Gawler Range is on the horizon.

55km through to Goog’s Lake, located on the north-eastern corner of the conservation park. Along the track, there were a few sections where the bush scraped down the sides of the vehicles but then it started to get into the dune country and we all enjoyed tackling each sandy ridgeline. About 40km up the track, we stopped at the Aboriginal rock holes located about 2km west of the track, to enjoy morning tea. About 15km further on it is well worth deviating east off the main track to head to the stone and

Goog and Dinger’s memorial is a deviation off the track.


Prepared to explore.

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concrete memorials to Goog and his son Martin ‘Dinger’ Denton, and Goog’s Lake. The memorials are decorated with seashells, coins and several bottles of alcohol, and in the trunk of a nearby tree, many people have glued coins, bullets and other memorabilia, including a Harrods of London keyring. Just a few kilometres further east again, is the impressive sight of Goog’s Lake – a 14km salt lake. It has numerous camping spots along the high ridges that provide excellent views of the lake. We found plenty of fire wood nearby for our campfire and the main camping ground features a long-drop loo. We set up camp and sat back to enjoy the million dollar views across the lake as the sun went down and to contemplate the amazing feat that Goog and his mates achieved. Next day, we headed further along the northern edge of Goog’s Lake towards Lois Rock and nearby Nalara Rock. Both are large granite outcrops dotted with interesting gnamma holes. We climbed to the top of both rocks and could see the Gawler Ranges far off in the distance. Prior to leaving on our trip, we had obtained permission to enter Lake Everard Station to visit Childara Rockhole, which is located about 13km further along the track from Lois and Nalara Rocks. After all the problems with the authorities over Goog’s Track, strangely enough once it was completed, Goog won a contract with BHP to put in a track from Goog’s Lake eastwards through to Lake Everard Station and beyond so that the area could be evaluated for mineral exploration. This track is in good condition Funny place to leave a sandflag.

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Run-off from Childara Rock ends up in the dam - the windmill has seen better days.

and as it heads eastwards, we were running with the dunes rather than over them. The terrain was much firmer although we did encounter some washaway sections and some muddy puddles along the way. At the vermin-proof gate, we entered Lake Everard Station and camped the night at Childara Rockhole, a huge salmon-coloured granite rock only a few metres higher than the surrounding countryside.


Camp in the lee of Mt Finke.

The whole base of the rock has been ringed with a low wall of stonework to trap the rainwater runoff and funnel it to a large dam. Sadly, the dam infrastructure looked in poor condition and didn’t appear to have been used recently. The blades of the windmill lay broken at the base

of its tower and broken piping lay around everywhere. Next day, as we retraced our way back to re-join the main Goog’s Track, we realised that our sand flag was missing. It wasn’t long before we came across it stuck in an overhanging branch on the track and Hubby Ron had to climb on our roo

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bar to retrieve it. We decided to camp overnight again at Goog’s Lake and went exploring further around the area. We found the old overgrown air strip near Goog’s Memorial and took a drive from there to explore the southern side of the lake. Next morning, we continued northwards along the main Goog’s Track towards Mt Finke about 80kms away. There are many large sand dunes on this stretch with plenty of deep, uneven holes in the lead up to the crest. Over the top of one of the higher dunes we had our first glimpse of the impressive Mt Finke, a series of four quartzite hills stretching for about five kilometres with Mt Finke being the highest, standing at 270m above the surrounding landscape. British explorer John McDouall Stuart discovered Mt Finke on 7 August 1858 and named it after William Finke, a prospector and pastoralist who sponsored Stuart’s exploratory journeys. Mt Finke can be climbed in a couple of hours but as there is no defined track to the top and it was getting a bit late in the day, we decided to give it a miss. There are several gravel campsites nearby so we set up camp and took a drive along the track around the northern side of Mt Finke, which was very rocky and slow going. As you can’t drive all the way around the base, we had to come back the same way we went. Next day, we were off for the final section of Goog’s Track. Just north east of Mt Finke, the track crosses a large, dry salt lake and continues

on to weave its way through some lovely mulga bushland. Nowadays, the track deviates to the west to avoid Malbooma Station’s out-stations and wells. Along this part of the track, we came across a fallen tree blocking our way so it was all hands to the pump to remove it so we could get through. It was an excited group that finally arrived at the Trans line that marks the end of Goog’s Track. Although we could have done the trip in a day or two, we had chosen to take our time and spend five days out there properly exploring this iconic Aussie 4WD track.

Goog’s Track permits – free but camping fees of $12 per night, per vehicle apply at Goog’s Lake and Mt Finke. These permits must be obtained

online prior to departure at www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/ entry-fees/online-booking-information Permission to visit Childara Rockhole on Lake Everard Station or to travel across the station is required prior to departure. This can be organised with the station management on 08 8648 1884.

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Excerpt from Hema’s WA State map.


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BACK BETWEEN THE CAPES

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oin us between the capes Naturaliste and Leeuwin in November for three days and nights exploring the best bit of coastline in the Southwest. From one camp under the peppermints we’ll explore up and down the coast, taking in spots where huge swells pound the shoreline creating excellent opportunities to get the cameras clicking. We’ll shoot the Karri forests, a winery, (any excuse) go underground to light up the limestone and hit the tracks and beach drives for some 4wd action. At night around the campfire we’ll put the day’s pics up on screen to enjoy the results of our efforts with big prizes to follow. The beauty of this new trip is no long haul needed to get amongst the action and more quality time with others and ,of course, your camera. 4WD Photo journalist Graham Cahill will be there to give us the benefit of his extensive experience behind the camera, especially as this part of WA is his backyard. Hit the website: www.campfireescapes.com.au for more details or call Nick on (08) 9291 8303 or Andrew on (08) 9317 2344. While you’re at it, click onto our new South Coast Surprise video for a look at our Australia Day 2018 trip.


TOWN & COUNTRY

IT would be easy to dismiss the Subaru XV as just another compact SUV aiming at the urban market of shoppers, young mums and pensioners on the way to bingo. But Subaru has bucked the trend away from off-roadability with its latest generation XV launched this month in Australia. The baby SUV, based on the Impreza sedan and hatch, gets a raft of off-road features borrowed from the Forester to make it surprisingly competent in the dirt. Neil Dowling goes for a spin. Western 4W Driver #104

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ubaru even took the launch party to a quarry in the south coast of NSW for part of the launch, pointing to the gravel mounds and drop-offs with a cool and confident “give them a try”. The fact that I’m still here to talk about it is testament to the new wagon’s competence. If you know the original XV, you’ll know this latest one. They look practically identical despite the fact they don’t share any body metal and the new one is 15mm longer, 20mm wider and sits on an all-new, far more rigid platform that has a wheelbase expanded by 30mm that makes a huge difference to rear seat passenger legroom. The engine is all-new, too. It’s a 2.0litre four-cylinder petrol unit with a horizontally-opposed layout, set ahead of the front axle and driving all wheels constantly through a continuouslyvariable transmission (CVT) automatic. The manual transmission option, available previously, has been dropped. Ground clearance remains at 220mm the best in the compact SUV category

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Engine is all new but with similar output to the previous model.

- which is a boon for offloading but the best news is the addition of the X-Mode electronic off-road drive system that maximises traction and allocates torque to individual wheels. It’s like the electronic aids currently available that brake wheels with no traction to divert power to those with grip. It works by using the ABS system but instead of preventing wheel (brake) lock-up, it actually brakes the wheel. But in the XV it’s more intuitive and


reacts far quicker than many rivals, so the exercise is far more effective. It works only up to 40km/h with Subaru figuring that below this speed is where all the troublesome track conditions exist. Above that speed indicates you’re out of danger of bogging. The XV also gets hill descent that can be set from a crawl to a modest walking pace. On the quarry test track, the system works as well as any modern 4WD or SUV and certainly holds it to a speed that prevents excessive wheel slip and steering errors. The suspension is as before - McPherson front and multilink rear - which means there’s not heaps of wheel travel for gnarly conditions but that at least you’ll be pretty comfortable. It’s tuned for the bitumen and as a driver’s car in the country, it’s a very competent and even fun machine. On the road the steering and suspension, general handling and braking, are right up there with the better hatchbacks. It’s just that if you have a beaten track to explore, it gives the owner another dimension. On the dirt test the engine and

XV is competent on country roads and in quarries. Boot capacity is 1240 litres floor to ceiling.

transmission worked flawlessly. It’s an improved 2.0-litre that doesn’t have a lot in common with last year’s model. It’s not especially powerful - 115kW output which is up only 5kW than previously - and the same 196Nm of torque that slides in at a rather high 4000rpm. The data isn’t especially conducive to slow off-road work but the saving grace - and it’s a two-pronged fork here - is the flexible CVT. It is basically a constant drive system Western 4W Driver #104

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running on belts, so has no specific ratios. However, thanks to the beauty of electronics it can stop the drive belts at certain points along the way and create seven steps. Or gears. The problem with a CVT in the dirt is it will slip - sometimes to the point of agonising noise - which makes the gearbox hot and may get so hot that it shuts down. Not good. But when treated fairly gently, it’s smooth and relaxed. You can choose one of those seven preset ratios - steps - in these cases to help the car along but I am assured that overheating only happens in extreme circumstances - circumstances where you should have bought a Land Cruiser. In addition, the CVT can slip and make the engine rev hard on tight, twisting roads or long hills, aggravated by lots of weight in the car. Again,

Regardless, for light duty work, it’s a capable machine and fits neatly into the Subaru dual-purpose philosophy. The new XV gets a host of safety equipment but you have to ignore the base model - the 2.0i - to get the best. From the 2.0i-L, standard equipment includes EyeSight, Subaru’s clever autonomous emergency brake (AEB) system that prevents front collisions. It will do it in reverse in the top two models, as well, so you can’t reverse

Hill descent works a treat. Typically stylish Subaru interior. Manual is no longer an option.

choosing a manual mode improves the relationship. On the upside, CVTs are renowned for being more fuel efficient than traditional automatics and even many manual transmissions. The XV averages 7.0 litres/100km which is pretty good. On test, I ended up with 7.9 L/100km but saw high 6.0s on country roads. 124

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into anything as the brakes are applied without human interaction. There are other safety features, such as blind-spot monitor and lane-keep assist on selected versions, on top of the base offering of seven airbags , rear park sensors and a reverse camera. The spare is a large-size emergency tyre that copes with offroad conditions - that is, it’s not a skinny motorcycle tyre - but even then the boot is not especially substantial. The rear seats fold down in a 60:40 ratio but there’s no flat floor as the rear seat backs form a step. Prices start at the 2.0i at $27,990 plus on-road costs that represents a


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fall of about $1200 on the previous automatic model. There is no manual transmission available and no lowrange capability. The 2.0i-L and 2.0i Premium cost $30,340 and $32,140 respectively and include EyeSight,

while the top-shelf 2.0i-S gets things like leather, sunroof and so on. I’d put this as a city and country car for two people, with the ability to do some light off-road work. The boot size aside, it’s the best drive of the segment.

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SUBARU XV

From $27,990 plus costs Japan 2.0-litre flat-four petrol 115kW @ 6000rpm 196Nm @ 4000rpm CVT Constant AWD 7.0 L/100km 63 litres 91RON petrol Front - McPherson struts; Rear - multi-link, coils electric-assist rack and pinion 10.8m 4-wheel ventilated discs, electric park brake

Wheels:

17-inch alloy (18-inch for 2.0i-S) Tyres: 226/60R17 (225/55R18) Spare: Oversize 17-inch steel Dimensions: (L) 4465mm; (W) 1800mm); (H) 1615mm; (Wb) 2665mm Luggage: 310-765 litres (1240 litres to roof) Ground clearance: 220mm Tow (max): 1400kg Weight: 1462-1484kg Warranty: 3yr/unlimited Kim; 12 month roadside assistance (launch 5-year warranty available) Servicing: 12mth intervals, 3yr cappedprice program.

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B

ACON, EEF AND EER HOTPOT

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here is a school of thought that goes “everything tastes better with bacon” You only have to look at the title of this recipe to know that you are on to a winner, three ingredients that were just meant to go together all in the one meal. I was scraping around in the kitchen for some inspiration the other week, thoroughly over eating another meal with tomatoes in it. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good tomato-based meal like spag bol, Osso Bucco, Mediterranean Lamb bake, but it’s nice to have a change and I have to admit I was pretty pleased with myself with the end result. As far as everything tasting better with bacon I’m not convinced it would be pleasant with ice-cream, but I am sure there would be someone out there who would try. So for your enjoyment here is the recipe for my latest creation.

CLEWED UP with Jo

Clews

You will need: (Feeds 4) • 800gm stewing steak, Shin beef or Osso Bucco, diced • 2 large brown onions roughly chopped • 3 rashers of streaky bacon ,diced • 2 x 300ml bottles or cans of beer, any old brew will do • 3 large field mushrooms, or the equivalent button mushrooms. roughly chopped • 1 x 300ml carton of whipping cream or 2 x 200ml UHT cream • 2 tablespoons of oil • Generous amount of cracked black pepper • Salt to taste I cooked this recipe in my small cast iron camp oven in my oven, so if you are cooking it at home or the caravan oven, a pan that can be transferred from the stove top to the oven is ideal. On the stove top or fire coals heat the oil in the camp oven, add the bacon and onion and cook till slightly caramelised. Remove these ingredients to be added back later. Add the beef to the hot camp oven and brown slightly, add back the bacon and onions and pour over the beer and bring to the boil. If you are cooking this over fire coals then remove a small amount from the fire and place a sturdy wire rack over the top of the coals and sit the camp oven on top. Place the lid on and arrange a few coals around the outer edge to maintain a gentle simmer for about an hour. New coals may need to be added during the cooking to maintain Western 4W Driver #104

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a consistent heat. If cooking in an oven, place the lid on the camp oven and place into a low-moderate oven of aprox 160-180 degrees and slowly simmer for an hour. Once most of the beer has evaporated, pour in the cream and place the sliced mushrooms on top of the meat mixture. The reason for placing the mushrooms on the top is to prevent them from over cooking. Return to the fire or the oven and simmer again for another 30 minutes to an hour or until the meat is tender and succulent. Stir the cooked mushrooms through and serve with baked vegetables and greens. Tip. I have become quite a fan of the frozen chopped spinach and kale so most of the stuff I cook has at least a couple of the little nuggets of green goodness added, entirely optional though. Tip. This mixture makes an outstanding filling for the good old

jaffle for either breakfast or lunch the next day, that’s if there are any leftovers. I haven’t tried it yet but I suspect it would also make a rather delicious pie filling too. Enjoy.

LET’S MEAT AT YOUR CAMPSITE

Select from our extensive menu and we will:

• Vacuum pack your meat by the meal. • Tag each pack by contents and day. Eg: breakfast - bacon & sausages, day 4.

• Freeze for your convenience. 354 MARMION ST. MELVILLE

Phone/Fax orders:

(08) 9330 3863 128

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Get all your trip meat from the little butcher with the big reputation.


BLADE MAINTENANCE Hone your skills and your edges with some sharp advice from knifeman Darren Spencer

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t’s happened to all of us at some time. We go to use our favourite knife and it’s just not as sharp as it was when we bought it. So what happened to the cutting edge of that blade? The business end of a blade cops a bit of a hiding with continual use on a hardwood cutting board, striking the odd bone in a roast or when dressing a carcass, an occasional whack on the stainless sink and even hitting the aluminium edge of the bait board in the boat... and we wonder why our knife is not as sharp as it was when we first purchased it?

Order three pieces of your favourite steak and he will take out his knife and steel, rub the blade over the steel only two or three times (to touch up the edge) and cut your steaks. You walk off and the person behind you says, “ I’ll have a couple of those as well”, so the butcher takes out his knife and steel and you guessed it... he rubs the blade over the steel again just a couple of times and cuts those steaks. The moral of the story is he is not sharpening the knife so much as keeping it sharp. Now here is a good question - for how long can this go on? Well, the better you are at rubbing the knife over the steel at the EXACT same

DULL EDGE

How many dull edges on knives, scissors and chisels do you have hanging around in drawers at your place?

Ok, so where to from here? Let’s cover some important points on knife sharpening and maintenance. When your blade is very blunt (for me, that is when you are unable to cut a tomato without punching a hole in it first with the tip) you will need to reset the cutting edge. Now some people will think that you can reset the edge with a steel. But even the best steel will struggle to reset the edge unless it is a very cheap soft steeled blade. So let me explain. In my 30+ years of selling, using and sharpening knives I have found the best way to describe maintaining a blade edge is your local butcher. 130

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angle the longer you can do this. A dull edge is the result of continual use and sharpening with different angles. The bottom line is no matter how expensive your steel is it will not reset an edge on a knife. The coarse or diamond steel will only

Tomatoes will tell you when blades are getting blunt.


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keep bringing your edge up for so long. Interestingly enough, the butcher will generally use a very fine or even a polished steel - remember he is continually touching his knife blade up maintaining the edge. So how do we reset the edge of our favourite knife? There are many options available these days in stones, machines and kits. You might try a good

A good re-setting tool takes the guesswork out of angles. Marking along the blade edge before running the stone over it will show you if you’ve got the right angle.

quality double sided stone (a coarse 150 grit and a fine 400 grit) and sharpening by hand and eye. This takes many hours of practice. I remember my dad some 40+ years

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ago showing me two sharpening- ona- stone styles. Both quite straight forward, just hard to master. The first was the circular motion and the other like slicing from one end of the stone to the other. And I remember him clearly saying many times, to make sure you use the whole length of the stone or you will wear it unevenly and hollow out the centre. Now I hear some of you saying I tried that and just can’t get it sharp. The problem is in the consistent angle! Don’t worry, you are with the majority of us. It just ain’t that easy. I purchased the EZE Sharp Blade Sharpener; the family business sold it for many years as it was one of

Oil up the stone with sewing machine oil or similar. With the angle right, work one side of the blade.

Re-setting the edge, angles will vary according to use. Any blade subject to hard kitchen surfaces set to around 22º while boning and filleting set around 30º. chisels closer to 35 º. The finer the angle the more susceptible to damage.

the best sharpeners around. I still use one today! I have found that the simplicity of being able to clamp it to any bench anytime, and having an angle adjustment both on the T bar at the back of the system and on the knife holder makes finding and selecting the desired angle very easy. Probably one of the best features is the Flip Over knife holder. Once you start sharpening, it is as simple as holding the Flip Over, pulling it out of the V and rotating the blade 180 deg. Then it is released back into the V to start sharpening the other side. Continue this process until you have the edge reset. Once happy with the reset edge, remove the knife and finish it on a leather strop, polished or fine steel.

Flip the blade and repeat the process.

This last process is optional as the blade should be close to shaving sharp at this stage. There are cheaper kits like the Lansky/ Gatco that are more compact than the Western 4W Driver #104

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EZE Sharp Blade Sharpener. These work on the same principle but just on a smaller more compact and less expensive scale. They are also quite fiddly because of their size but great if you are after compact on-the-move-sharpening options. This style is usually limited to two to five angle options. Bottom line is no matter what method you use to reset your blade edge, remember to steel it regularly and keep it sharp for as long as possible.

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have been making knives since 1898, so they know their stuff. The USMC 1217 is made by KA-BAR in the good ol’ US of A and sold here in Australia for around RRP $159. The knife features a 7 inch (17.8 cm for you young ‘uns) carbon steel nonserrated blade, polished stacked leather handle, black epoxy powder coated carbon steel guard, and comes razor-sharp safely ensconced in a leather sheath. Tramontina Knives – Bushcook pack. Tramontina started making knives in Brazil way back in 1911. Perhaps the 134

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Re-set blade should be sharp enough . Finish with a steel if necessary.

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Andrew Emmitt

Such is life...it’s definitely not a hard one in the North West with days like this. Me and the Disco out for some boy time at a favourite fishing spot just north of Port Hedland. Unfortunately as the esky got empty of Gold cans it wasn’t replaced by some good Barra or Muddies. But whose complaining when it’s just you and serenity.

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Firstly, let me say your 4W Driver is a great read, better than those from across the Nullarbor. My wife and I have just returned from a trip from West to East and back again using a lot of dirt roads. As can be seen from the photo we set off in what we hoped was a going to be an uneventful trip, and it was, the Ford Ranger never missed a beat in the 11,000km’s we travelled. After six weeks on the road it was good to be home again.

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Yvonne & Brian Aplin

A trip down the Dargo - Mt Hotham road in Victoria a few years ago saw us in snow. A delight to experience after a great 5 ½ years in the Kimberley. We are again in western Australia and have reconnected with your great magazine. Still must be the best 4WD magazine in Australia, keep up the good work.

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Taken in April this year, the dam belongs to the caravan park at Ravensthorpe, on a chilly 8 degree morning as the rising sun was just starting to burn off the early morning mist. Taken with compact camera about 22 years old. The most important computer in photography is the one between your ears.

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At Toolinna Cove WA, we were travelling on the old telegraph track SW WA, a lot of bull dust on the track and around the camp at night.

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Quoin Head Fitzgerald River N.P.


MY FAVOURITE PLACE

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he Ed and I were having a chat about places to visit, places that should be seen, and then he got around to mentioning favourite places. He said, “Why don’t you do a story about your favourite place?” I felt a bit like Sir Les Patterson when, in his fantasy, he replied to the Prime Minister of the time, “That’s a big one Gough.” How many favourite places did I have, I pondered? Hundreds of them. But on ticking them off I found it all comes down to a matter of scale. My first favourite place is Australia. This was brought home to me more than ever just recently when two friends who’d been working for the Australian Government in overseas stations returned and we all got together for a natter. What they both emphasised was

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how great Australia was. It’s a safe, stable, and relatively fortunate country; especially when compared to some of the states in Africa and others in Southeast Asia where these two mates had been working. They wouldn’t be drawn into any other closer focus on an area than simply “Australia.” Well, it wasn’t much good thinking about writing about Australia for the magazine; the place is too damn big for a start. Let’s narrow down the focus a bit I thought. What about picking a state? That was not such a good idea either; the whole of France fits into Australia more than twelve times and almost four times into Western Australia. Just how many interesting, special and favourite places do I have in W.A.? Well, there are thousands of them. It depends on what your interest is at the time,


doesn’t it? There are great places to see wildflowers, wonderful surf beaches, fantastic fishing, spectacular scenery, marvellous geology and the list goes on; depending on how I feel, any one of these categories could well include my favourite place in Western Australia at the time. And that’s only in a big state that is just one third of the whole country. What about Queensland? What about Tasmania? Heaps more fabulous places to see in these and all the rest of Australia; surely there must be a few favourites amongst the other states too. I’ve been to great places in all the states, but I guess that you should return to them more than once for them to be classed as your favourite place, don’t you? No, just trying to pick one of the states as my favourite place is not good enough. In fact, I’m feeling a bit jaded about the

states this week; the maroon jerseys once more dominated the blues. Did I expect that? That’s one state crossed off my favourite list, but then again, I’m going back there in a week or two for some more fun along the Cooper. That’s because the Channel Country has become my favourite place for a while – even that’s a big place. We still need to narrow down the favourite field a bit. How about if we look at the question this way? There are places where I am content to just sit, lean back in my chair, sip a drink, and simply enjoy the atmosphere – or maybe the scenery. As long as I can’t hear the big generator that the crowd across the track used last night until about 10 o’clock.

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Then there are other places to which I sometimes go where you can learn something. Is it about plants? Is it about geology? What about the animals, what about…? If you believe learning can be fun, and I do, then there are certainly plenty of places that could be the favourite of the moment where you could learn something. And then there are those places that you go to because a mate has told you about them. Perhaps he or she is even going to go back with you. Those kinds of places are places to enjoy because while we are there we can feed off someone else’s enthusiasm and enjoy what they are enjoying. Yes, like you I have visited a few places that an excited friend has wanted to show me. Here they want to tell me about a discovery that they have made, a plant in glorious bloom, a rare reptile in its hiding place, a spectacular piece of indigenous art, a new geological phenomenon. I remember being fascinated on the first occasion that I was introduced to stylolites in the limestones close to Fitzroy Crossing. How come I had never noticed these wonderful wriggly features previously? After all I had been pawing over these limestones for years in search of fragments of ancient Devonian fossils. How could I have missed a stylolite? There is no doubt my introduction to them was a fascinating experience and I have been back to view them once or twice since; but it has not really become my favourite place even though inside many of the pebbles in the creeks can be found the remains of ancient bony fishes. I just love a Devonian fish, don’t you? But the Lennard River gorge is not my one and only favourite place, although it is somewhere that 142

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Some places, like Purnululu’s iconic Cathedral Gorge have a lifetime impact on all who visit. Pic: Mark Price.

I remember with affection. My guess is that we all have some places like this that we visit time and again in our dreams, if not in our four-wheel-drives. There is no doubt that there is some time factor wrapped up in the idea of a favourite place. Even spots to which I like to go for a riverside picnic somehow lose their shine with constant visiting. Is it that the sense of adventure diminishes the more times we visit? Perhaps there is something about favourite places too in the old saying “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I do enjoy going back to places that I remembered visiting as a youth, and that was a fair time ago. One thing I’ve noticed about such visits though, is that on subsequent visits the place never seems the same


Is it the culture or the landscape that brings you back? Galvans Gorge Kimberley. Pics: Mark Price.

as I remembered it. Is it just familiarity that makes it different? Or is it that once the initial pleasure at discovering a place is over, the place gradually becomes too familiar and we look for something new, something exciting, and something different? Nevertheless, one thing is for certain. There are plenty of places to visit and no doubt

Our dramatic coastline is a firm favourite for many.

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some of them will become, at least for a time, my favourite place. There are factors that makes some favourite places decidedly un-favourite. Overuse of an area, especially by a certain untidy type of user, can render a place very unfavourable and very quickly. The disappointment is extreme when I find that somebody has visited a great spot and defiled it with a bunch of rubbish, left a messy campsite, a pile of badly placed fire-stones surrounding the fire pit full of rubbish and the scald marks of tent floors that have been too long in one place on the grass. Do all these marks of the presence of others mean that they didn’t visit my favourite place with the same ethos as me? Or am I simply being a grey nomad


fuddy-duddy? I wonder where respect for the landscape stands in identifying a favourite place? Is there something tied up in here which just reflects pure laziness? A short drive away from a wayside stop on any highway soon confirms the laziness of many road users who run on the old adage “Out of sight out of mind.” They think that by opening the window of the vehicle and tossing out whatever it is that they don’t want in with them gets it out of their way. It might get it out of their way, but what does it do for the adventurer following behind? Not a lot. It’s rare now but once it was common to see on the highways individuals doing community service in their fluorescent jackets, gloves up to their

A small sampling of disrespect found at a Warren River campsite by Ian Elliot.

elbows, armed with a pair of tongs and lugging along a woven plastic sack into which they were shoving other people’s rubbish. It’s a bit of a disgrace

I remember Lennard Gorge in the Kimberley with some affection.

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that we actually have to do this, but we do it. Sadly, these collectors of other people’s rubbish never seem to collect the rubbish left by others in the remote spots to which my mates and I are drawn. Some them are strewn with garbage when we arrive showing that they are heavily frequented but not loved as favourites. Will the garbage throwers return? We try to make our approaches to these treasured spots as subtle as possible, but there is always somebody with time on their hands who is prepared to follow a set of wheel tracks into the scrub in search of they know not what. I don’t mind this; in fact, I encourage it. But what I do

which they were the first observer; that they had visited a pristine spot before anyone else and that they wouldn’t bother going back again. And this need not be the case either. I worked for some years in a school camp where the kids rotated in groups of about 150 every two weeks. They were extremely proud of the fact that they could leave this beachside camp looking better than it did when they arrived. They certainly put their hearts into making sure that they left no marks on the landscape in which this wonderful camp was located. I guess that for some of them it became their favourite place – at least for a while. Sometimes simple remoteness defines a favourite region and offers a potentially pristine environment.

like to see is them taking their rubbish home with them. I remember that on camping trips that the family took when I was very young my parents would say to me that they didn’t want to see anything that I had eaten again in any form. I thought that was a reasonable direction, but sadly it is still possible to stop at a spot where others have stopped previously and discover the evidence that they didn’t pay any attention to what my mother had said. The cynical person might say that their favourite place therefore was one at 146

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Currently, my favourite place is a spot where a couple of dozen families gather at an appointed time each year to work together on an environment and heritage project that needs some tender loving care and restoration. We enjoy it. And, at Easter it’s definitely our favourite place. We hope to make it a favourite spot for others too. I’m sure our efforts will bear fruit; at least we hope they will. Yes, I thought, pondering on the Ed’s idea of a favourite place. I guess everybody needs a favourite place and there are just dozens of camping magazines, four-wheel-drive magazines, and holiday magazines that all constantly encourage us to make some location in their area the focus of our attention, but will one of their offerings become my favourite place? This is definitely a work in progress…


Down among the karris Southwest WA.


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420D polyoxford PVC floor, and with the trademark WeatherTec system they are rated to withstand 100 km per hour winds. The tents come with heavy duty carry bags, and by all accounts they have the unique characteristic of being big enough to put the tent back in after you unpack the tent for the first time – this must be a world first! The Gold series Instant Up tents come in four sizes; 4, 6, 8 or 10 person. Weights are all just above 20 kgs with plenty of internal height at over 190 cm, so that’s plenty of head room for the average family. When packed they measure about 120 x 30 x 30 cm. You can add awnings or gazebo if you like, or the front door can be pitched out as a front awning. There are plenty of videos on Youtube of people putting up these tents, so check them out and see how easy it is to get camping!

A Duffel Duffle Heaven forbid you should throw in your job and head bush to live out your final days in a tent. However, you could do worse than take advantage of some great deals for the 10th Anniversary of Instant Up tents and get out of town for a break – there are retailers out there offering hundreds of dollars off! All Instant Up tents have the brilliant integrated pre-attached steel hub frame design, with welded floors and inverted seams to prevent water entering, ultra-fine mesh and circle ventilation, and internal storage, but the Gold series feature heavy duty 185D ripstop polyester material with 148

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A lot happened in 1990. The re-unification of Germany. Perestroika in the USSR leading to the first MacDonalds being opened in Moscow and the election of Gorbachev as President of Russia – you decide which of those is most important. Yugoslavia disintegrated into separate states. Iraq invaded Kuwait. Nelson Mandela was released from prison…….. ….and the New Zealand navy decided to discontinue the daily rum ration, which might explain why New Zealand ultimately discontinued its entire navy. Who wants to spend months out at sea without a tot of rum? Oh, and yes, an Australian by the name of Tim McCartney-Snape became the first person to walk from sea level at


CAMPING With Chris Harwood

the shore of the Bay of Bengal, all the way to the summit of Mount Everest. This was a journey that took 3 months, and led to the birth of Sea to Summit adventure gear, a small local company that has gone on to win business and design awards in Australia, Europe and America. Sea to Summit, headquartered in Perth, Western Australia, like to design and make longlasting, light weight and compact equipment for the adventurer and the outdoorsy traveller. ‘Lighter, better made, better performing gear’ is at the core of the company ethos. The latest offering from Sea to Summit is the range of Duffle bags, set to ‘revolutionise how expedition packing is perceived’! So, the now not-so-humble duffle bag has come a long way since its 17th Century roots in the Belgium town of – you guessed it! – Duffel!! Here a local type of thick cloth was used to make cylindrical hold-all bags with a rope or cord used to tie up the opening. Over the years it became popular with navy and army personnel, and then, after World War II, it came to pass that the duffle bag was adopted by the surfie cultures of west coast USA and east coast Australia. The ‘tars’ and ‘grunts’ of yore would probably love to get their hands on the Sea to Summit duffle bags. Instead of just one opening at the top, there is a large full-length lid for ease of access

and packing, with a dual zipper for strength and puncture resistance. To make carrying easier, the handles can be configured in several ways; either the classic hand carry, or backpack style, or shoulder sling. But multiple configurations are just the start of it. The handles are magnetised, so when the bag is put down the handles stick together, making it easier to pick up again. Furthermore the handles are double cushioned for comfort, with quick adjustment possible by use of wiregate hooks, and if you are in backpack carry mode, the bag lid is padded to make it sit comfortably against your back. The base is also padded to protect your gear if you drop the bag. Last, but not least, the bag has compression straps and lash loops for squashing the bag down to save space, and for lashing the bag onto the back of the motorcycle, the roof of the bus, or the hump of the camel. The Sea to Summit duffle comes in four sizes based on capacity; 45, 65, 90 and 130 litres, with the RRPs starting at $179.95 and peaking (peaking!…. get it?) at $249.95. The smallest bag weighs 1.65kg and the biggest 2.45kg. All four sizes come in a choice of three colours, blue, orange and charcoal.

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freezer. Yes, yes another fridge in an already crowded market sector. But one look at this shiny little number and you may be putting your trusty ol’ cold mate onto Gumtree. Why? This good looking stainless steel number is weatherproof. Yep, you can sit it on the back of the ute and let it rain. With a Tonka Tuff design approach, there’s the expectation that this ‘All-Elements’ cold box could prove a temptation on an unattended ute back – any chance of free coldie? Nope – the tamper proof lid has a 4-digit pin code electronic locking system. Similarly there’s a permanent tamperproof mounting kit ideal for tray installation – plus a padlock provision for complete peace of mind. The 60L fridge is complete with thoughtful design inclusions like a gas strut that holds the lid open in any position for two handed stack or retrieval. Inside the shiny panels is a full height evaporator to ensure the entire fridge operates at a uniform temperature – which means that with the increased fridge insulation thickness there’s improved efficiency and less run time for the compressor. All of which should translate into a reduced demand on your battery power. Other natty little bits and pieces included a slimline LED interior light for night raids, a reversible basket with removable divider for flexible packing and a cabinet drain plug for easy cleaning up after the roughest track. Get in early and put this one on your Christmas wish list. https://www.arb.com.au


TREK TO AN ISLAND

I

know that if I start talking (or writing) about the amazing places and possibilities that still exist here for those passionate about exploring, camping, fishing and the like, I’d be no doubt preaching to the converted. Little wonder given that thousands of folk still enjoy what is part of long standing custom and practice as they trek away, sometimes across half the country to favoured spots inland, amongst the forest country or along the coastline. For me, it will often involve water because fishing has to figure in there somewhere. Long hours of driving and towing to faraway hotspots are no deterrent when there’s the promise of some great fishing at the other end.

The best laid plans don’t always come together perfectly though with bad weather, mechanical mishaps, stray animals or even some natural disaster intervening – but that’s all part of the adventure I guess. I love the south but more so with the just the four-wheel drive and shore based rods in tow rather than the boat. The north is the place for exploring with a decent craft and from Shark Bay onwards the added attraction of decent off shore island groups always gets my angling taste buds salivating. Admittedly, long stretches of essentially highway hauling are hardly taxing from a four wheel driving point of view but when you’re towing a bit over two Tranquility after a hard day’s work.

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tonnes of fibreglass boat that sits just under four metres high on the trailer, there’s plenty to be wary of. My boat generally tows very well, sits nice and square and with no sway, the biggest issue being the high profile, especially in cross winds. Sometimes controlling it seems a bit like the bigger jets that glide in slightly side on to the tarmac in those strong side winds. The best advice comes in two forms. Careful preparation and “pre

the main Thevenard Island, it had been quite a long time between drinks for me and this stretch of water, with its ten or so islands lying off Onslow. With the Chevron group reclaiming Thevenard as worker accommodation

Why wouldn’t you be happy – John Bormolini and Grant Pronk with an 8 kilo rankin cod destined for the table. Thevenard Island, home to the Mackerel Islands Resort and the remnants of WAPET’s oil infrastructure and operations.

flight” checking weeks, even months in advance to make sure that everything is definitely in order to handle the trip and secondly, taking regular stops to look over and check how everything is travelling. Don’t wait until you hear loud disturbing noises or see smoke pouring out of wheel bearings – by then it’s too late. Most recently, I’ve taken to venturing back to what are commonly known as the Mackerel Islands for some extended trips. Essentially based on 152

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for a number of years during the build of the Gorgon project offshore at Barrow, the Mackerel Island resort operation was closed to the public for a period but from 2016 it reopened. And if the fishing is anything to go by the break has done the area no harm at all. On our last visit we found the island almost deserted as we snuck in some extra days just ahead of the arrival of the rest of the Western Angler Celebrity bash and a flotilla of around two dozen boats and sixty plus anglers. Part of


not far from one of the islands. I’d the earlier arrival was to coincide with brought a few smallish tailor that I’d picture perfect calm weather. (even though it continued on for nearly six saved for bait and set one out floating days straight anyway.) We simply under a party balloon. As is often the couldn’t have pre-ordered it any better way in this part of the world whole but there are plenty of times when it’s fish often attract larger hungry fish the opposite. and it wasn’t a long wait before the JT and I were the advance party rod tip bucked and the ratchet on the having hauled the Piscator II from small overhead screamed in protest as Kalbarri after breaking the trip with an something decided to eat the tailor and overnight stay. Bosun Grant was due to head for Bali. fly in to Onslow and join us a day later The first 150 metre top shot section of but that didn’t coloured braid stop the two of disappeared “..the ratchet on the small us hitting the in short order overhead screamed in protest and I began to fishing grounds as soon as as something decided to eat the sweat as the we’d made the knot joining the tailor and head for Bali...” 22km crossing braid to the next from Onslow’s length of nylon Beadon Creek and unpacked the array mono line slip out through the guides of gear in our beachfront cabin. To and disappear into the blue. I began to describe it as a Cabin was harsh – it curse the fact that I hadn’t re-spooled was fantastically appointed, newly with a 300 metre unbroken length of renovated digs that were almost braid but, too late now. too comfortable. The long howling first run eventually The warm northern Spring sun had us into shorts John Bormolini struggles with monster spanish mack from the magical islands.

and geared up in no time and steaming out past well cap platforms and under beautiful, cloudless blue skies. With not more than a few hours of the afternoon to get a sighter, we eventually settled on a promising spot to drift over, south west of Thevenard. A procession of blue lined and red throat emperor entertained us but nothing that was going to trouble the scales so most were released for another day. Eventually it was time for a different approach and we anchored on a ledge

slowed a few minutes later and the work of gaining some line back began. That join in the line left me very nervous about working the fish too hard and I could do nothing but coax Western 4W Driver #104

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The big mack was a handfull.

whatever it was back in steady gentle fashion. The weight pointed to it being a very good fish but with every few minutes that passed the real possibility of sharks showing up and ending things, increased. A couple of shorter runs and subsequent retrieves had the fish still a fair way out but we knew we were slowly gaining and eventually the dreaded knot slipped back up through the guides and onto the spool. Now it was easier to put some real pressure into stroking the fish back and the angle of the line showed that it was close to the surface and tiring. The last five minutes though are always the most problematic and as we strained to get a glimpse of shape and colour some thirty metres away, it suddenly tore off and then catapulted out of the water. We knew it now involved a pursuing shark and could only watch with fingers crossed, Malabar cod on a soft plastic for the author.

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awestruck by the size and form of what was clearly a big spanish mackerel. Free spooling the reel gave the fish some slack and it took off for a short burst still swimming freely and if suffering from attack, seemingly uninjured. More than twenty minutes had passed by the time the leader came slowly into view. JT paced the deck with gaff in hand until it finally came into range and then we struggled to haul the broad shouldered silver and blue torpedo onto the floor. Sitting back to admire the sheer size of this beautiful fish and recount the good fortune of being able to land, we noticed some cuts and slicing teeth marks near its tail, all part of a lucky escape from that shark. Later that evening as we enjoyed a beer and the tranquil view from the front of the cabin we mused over the great start to the week and hoping it was a sign of things come. With our extra crewman safely


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aboard the following morning and the confirmation of at least four days of great weather still ahead, we took to the seas again optimistic that our Mackerel Islands escape was looking good. And indeed that’s the way it went. Most days were punctuated by turns at trolling lures in the likely spots near drop offs and current lines and at times the pelagic fishing was almost nonstop. Regular strikes drew encounters with lots of spanish and shark mackerel, yellowfin and northern blue (or longtail) and mack tuna, cobia and on our last day a double hook up on two impressive and blisteringly fast wahoo. We even enticed some formidable and delicious rankin cod on the trolled lures, often from depths of more than fifteen metres. Much of the day was also spent exploring areas with weighted soft plastics and jigs, drifted and jigged near the bottom. Again rankin and black spotted malabar cod, the occasional red emperor and a variety of northern snapper (emperor) species showed their liking for what was offered and there were rarely any long periods of boredom. Shallow water sessions near sandy cays also added some fun as we tangled with thumping spangled emperor and gold spot trevally, eager to chase down a soft plastic tail or piece of squid. And for some added highlights seven and eight kilos queenfish entertained those who hooked one on a chrome twisty or surface popper as they cart wheeled across the surface, head shaking and jumping everywhere. It was the typical northern sports fishing medley and smorgasbord that can happen when one gets lucky with all of the conditions coming together perfectly. Favourable tides, calm seas, sunny warm days and clear water all 156

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make a considerable difference. What capped it off was the ability to even walk the shoreline on a couple of these islands, flicking lures out across the shallows or simply soaking up a couple of hours sunshine exploring the beach line while waiting for the tide to

Another attractive island to explore – the water says it all.

turn. In the end it was great to simply sit and relax even, as we recharged the batteries and rested the weary legs and arms after some long days on the water. Like much of the Pilbara, there’s a lot for us to marvel over and be thankful for. By the time this goes to print I will have just returned from another August jaunt there and hopefully another great trip exploring the islands. This time we’re planning to explore some new spots of interest and shoals further afield as well as target some new challenges with the fishing. And the Jeep has recently been replaced by a 200 series Sahara so I’m looking forward to our first real long ride together. It actually feels like home to be back in another Cruiser after previous long stints in a HJ61 turbo diesel and then a 40th anniversary 80 Series, before the three year stint with the Grand Cherokee. I just can’t wait to feel that northern sun as we point northward again.

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Long haul treks and a dangerous mishap

T

he long haul road trips that many of us take on every year are easier and more comfortable these days with more places and conveniences to break the journey, reasonable mobile phone coverage and generally less worries. It doesn’t mean you won’t encounter problems and every so often something new will come out of left field. A lot of preparation and pre servicing, especially to trailer bearings, brakes, and fresh tyres meant we were feeling pretty reassured when we climbed in at the start of what would be well over 3000 kilometres of round trip. But all of that didn’t account for the “out of left field” problem we hit on the return leg of the 3000 plus kilometre round trip. It had just gone dark an hour before as we closed in on Carnarvon, around forty kilometres north of town. The lights of a vehicle coming the other way dimmed from high beam and I did the same and as we got close I could see the vehicle was a 4WD and caravan. Just as we crossed in opposite directions I noticed something out of the corner of my eye, flash upwards into the light and then down. Before anything could register there was an almighty crunch as something smashed into the front right corner and bits of debris showered over the windscreen. After the initial shock and keeping things on the road we slowed and stopped to figure out what had happened and survey the damage. Just as we had crossed an aluminium framed solar panel about a metre wide had flown off the guy’s caravan roof and down into the front of the Jeep, smashing into bits of frame and debris and showering glass down the side. The right front panel was cracked and displaced, thousands of glass scratches had removed the paintwork and the right front rim and tyre were battered and scarred. Along the whole driver’s side down to the back there were clear paint chips and scratches. At the end of 158

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the day it could have been far worse if the whole thing had run us off the road and into the bush. I don’t want to think about what would have happened if we had crossed a split second earlier and the panel was still at windscreen height.

Jeep Front – Missiles coming the opposite way at night pose a dangerous threat on the road.

With the panel coming at least 90 km/h towards us and our vehicle doing the same in the opposite direction it’s easy to see why the whole thing was obliterated like a bomb. None the less it still cost an insurance excess and nearly three weeks without the vehicle as it went for repairs and repainting. By the time we had pulled up the other vehicle was long gone and no doubt, had no idea. I can just see the bloke pulling into a caravan park the next day and saying “some bastard’s stolen my solar panel” (when he actually forgot to lock it down on the roof of the van) Kangaroos, wedge tails, emus and the like are something we watch out for and deal with but this sort of problem we can all do without.


TE

ST

With an eye down the road, John ING Brown checks out the latest offering from Narva and finds the Ultima 215

ULTIMATELY ILLUMINATING T

he future looks very bright for Melbourne based Brown & Watson International Pty Ltd, the company behind Narva, a true household name in this neck of the woods and supplier of high quality automotive lighting and electrical accessories to the automotive industry. It is comforting to know that this company has been around since 1953, and in the modern era that can only be an enduring testament to good management and great products. Introducing their latest driving light the Ultima L.E.D. 215, yet another brilliant product, (pardon the pun). The first thing I noticed was the inbuilt ‘Front Position Pipe Light’ or as we know

them ‘daylight running lights’, (DRL’s), immediately improving daytime driving visibility and safety. The brochure makes a big deal of the fact that each aspect of this new lamp is engineered to achieve a specific outcome, whether it be for performance, versatility, durability or what

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they call personalisation. The latter being a range of colour options for the bezel or inner trim immediately surrounding the 35 L.E.Ds. So, if you are someone who likes to colour code things on your rig, this may well suit you. The Kit for each lamp includes: a Coated Polycarbonate Lens Protector, Stainless Steel Mounting Hardware Kit, set of Interchangeable Trim pieces (Blue/Black/Red/ Yellow) and harness. Narva strongly suggest that you use the matching Plug and Play wiring harness which has been specifically tailored for Ultima 215 lamps. This harness features a 40amp relay and fuse along with H/D cable to allow for increased current draw. The multi-slot three bolt mounting options appear to make it ideal for nudge or bull bars of most if not all makes and models. Equally the mounting suspension

Standard high beam on the 79 Series is well below par.

system with its polymer rubber to suspend the lamp will help to absorb shocks or vibrations in the outback. On our test vehicle one of the vertical ‘tool free’ adjuster knobs had already come loose and dropped out after sustained corrugations, so obviously the ‘tool’ who tightened it needs more Weeties for breakfast when tightening these by hand. So, how do they rate in the field? The Ed’ had a set mounted on the front of his Toyota ‘stealth cruiser’ so we took it to our ‘driving light proving ground’ out the back of Kalamunda to run some tests. Initial impressions are very positive with bright white light emanating from the two lamps in a wide spread either side of the vehicle. Without a LUX meter it was impossible to take precise measurements however their sales literature shows (based on their own in-house simulated test laboratory) that they produce 4 LUX at 400 metres, and 1 LUX at 900 metres with two lamps. This is more than adequate for most circumstances at sensible speeds. Our tests with a dummy standing on Corrugation-resistant Loctite is the only answer to keeping any bolt in place on Aussie tracks.

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Ultima 215s shoot well down the road. Red and white reflectors are at 300m.

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DRLs outshine Toyota’s park lights but if you use them as DRLs your standard park lights stay on as well and they are no value in daylight.

30 metres is where you need good vision and better reaction times.

the side of the road in fauna-coloured clothing at 30m and 60m showed a distinct fall away in performance to provide clear vision at and beyond the 60m mark. So, whilst the spread of light is good, it is important to remember that most of the time hazards lurk in the bushes and this is where your lights need to perform. At the end of the day your vehicle speed must always relate to the scope of clear vision that you have. To ignore that reality would 162

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Narva’s dedicated DRLs have the best light for daytime safety.

be foolhardy. I felt that the spread of light was a tad compromised by the engineering of the special reflectors to achieve greater distance penetration than other similarly rated L.E.Ds might achieve. This is not to say that they are not performing well, however comparing these with a bog standard light bar would be an unfair comparison as light bars are mostly designed for spread of light and lower speeds. Confidence in clear vision beyond 350 – 400m at highway speeds would fall away (as can be seen in their own sales literature), so again vision and speed need to be balanced to optimise safety, and one should keep expectations realistic when choosing an L.E.D lamp if you are looking for powerful distance penetration, as well as good spread. As the pictures show, the stealth cruiser has terrible factory headlights, particularly after ten years of bush work, so without effective driving lamps the risk of an incident is very high. With the two lamps switched on the difference clearly shows the true benefit of having quality driving lights and these new Narva 215s provide good light for safe driving at sensible speeds. In terms of ‘value for money’,


a quick search online will see them at around $600 per lamp plus accessories so they are far from being the most expensive, yet they compete well in the quality stakes. When choosing new driving lights

for your vehicle the ULTIMA 215s are certainly worth every consideration. It is no longer a simple matter of throwing a couple of lights on the front bar. Work out what you need most out of a light, and then shop for that.

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THE ART OF

TOWING I don’t enjoy towing. I feel unsafe and it makes me tense. Perhaps it is fear of the unknown or unknowable…I’m not sure, but whenever I pack up the camper and leave Perth on a new trip 164

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By Mike Burton Pics by Mike & Amanda Burton

I’m always as wound up as a clock spring trying to come to terms with the unusual feel of the Cruiser, the different weight and the odd forces at work. Western 4W Driver #104

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W

e are wired to experience fear of the unknown so it makes sense to get some training or should there be a special licence requirement for towing? Whatever you think, towing is intimidating and does present a large number of challenges and risks to yourself and other road users. At least consider preparing a planning checklist. What type of hitch is good for you? Travelling to the local caravan park or a load to the tip, then a 50mm ball could be just the ticket. Need a little more articulation for that dirt track – try a Treg/ Trigg or polyblock. Washaways and the marriage needs saving? Try the DO35 or McHitch. Time for a visual inspection! Towbar, hitch, chains, shackles and cables – run your eyes carefully over them all. Look for dirt, wear, corrosion, cracking, distortion and signs of fatigue. Are the bits all load rated? All shackles are now required by law to be load rated and marked. After 2017 the same goes for chains. The bubbling excitement of an impending camping trip is often pushed to the background the moment I need to reverse the tug to the trailer and see all those dangly bits that need connection. It starts with lining up the hitch. Trust me, approach with caution - divorce territory! Try UHF hand-helds, agree on the meaning of strange, obscure hand signals and most of all be patient and speak nicely to each other. One real solution is to fit a nice big reversing camera and line it up yourself. They are fantastic once you learn the geometry. Now connect up, lock the hitch, cross the safety chains, finger tighten the shackles and check the wiring. Dearly beloved can help visibly check that all lights are working correctly. Did you know that your trailer needs brakes if it can carry over 750kg?

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50mm Ball Hitch - domestic and bitumen duties best suit this coupling. Treg Hitch has full articulation for offroad. Chains now need to be rated.

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Reversing cameras have also saved many a marriage, Can be used for effective visual communication. i.e. Read my finger.

If you can carry over 2 tonne then you must have a system that ensures the trailer brakes are applied if it ever becomes detached. Usually that is another dangly bit that must be connected. Keep an eye on the height of the vehicle and trailer at the hitch. Both should be naturally level. You can adjust this with an offset tow hitch bar but only do this once poor load distribution has been eliminated as a cause. Now the tug is connected, everything is safe and functional, so it is time to head bush. Once you have buckled yourself into the pilot’s seat check that you can see both sides of the trailer in your mirrors. Will you be able to see buzz boxes approaching from the rear?

Camper rear cameras are a treat for spotting those sneaky oxygen thieves approaching at high speed and tucking themselves right under your rear bumper! Driving out, you will probably immediately notice the extra weight and the effect the camper has on the vehicle’s handling. Stability is everything - think sway, jack knife and

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loss of control! How can we control this? It is a complicated mix of many variables but start by making sure that your tow vehicle is heavier than the trailer. Trailer design is next… something that is probably too late for you do much about. This involves how the axle is positioned, the draw bar length, its weight loading and distribution. When you bought your tug, you were told that it had a towing capacity of 3,500kg - wow! Now let’s read the fine print! The figure we should be interested in is the Gross Combined Mass (GCM). This is the maximum weight both the tug and the trailer can be when fully loaded. Take for instance a Ford Ranger which is advertised as having a towing capacity of 3,500kg. It has a GCM of 6,000kg and a maximum loaded capacity (GVM) for the vehicle of 3,200. If you subtract this from the GCM it only leaves you with 2,800kg

that you are allowed to tow! So if your vehicle is packed to the gunwhales it can only legally tow 2,800kg and not 3,500kg as advertised. Additional weight is added to the vehicle via the towbar – Tow Ball Mass (TBM). Think of your tug as a seesaw with the pivot being the rear axle. If you add more weight to the tow ball, it is going to lighten the load at the front wheels affecting your steering control. Keep in mind that if your 4WD was already close to its maximum load you may now be getting close to the allowable rear axle loading capacity, another serious no no. Trailer design is the key, followed by your packing and then the tow vehicle itself. It might seem like common sense but the tug should be heavier than the trailer. This weight relationship is law in some countries but not in Australia. In Germany the maximum that a Landcruiser can tow is 2,176kg.

It may not be law in Australia but for safety sake make sure your vehicle is heavier than your trailer.

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The Caravan Council of Australia recommends the maximum your Land Cruiser should tow is only 2,577kg! Have a look at the Caravan World Four Best Aussie Vans in 2016. The average tare was 2,600kg with the average loaded weight of 3,400kg! And a couple of these are marketed as ‘off road’! What can tow these monsters

One thing we can control is loading. Rule one - keep it light. Rule 2 – pack for even weight distribution. Keep the stuff (weight) low down and as close to the axle (centre of gravity) as possible and make sure it is secured. Avoid heavy stuff at the front or back - this will increase/ decrease ball weight. Don’t add tool boxes, jerry can holders, A good set of extending mirrors like these from Clearview Mirrors will make all the difference to your rearward vision.

safely? So keep this is mind if you see a less than 3 tonne tug hurtling down the road at 100kph towing a poorly designed, overloaded 3.5 tonne box – what uncontrolled forces are at work here? Stability is affected by many factors including trailer design, speed, centre of gravity and loading, suspension and tyres (condition and pressure), sudden manoeuvres and environmental factors such as wind. The longer the distance from the hitch to the trailer axle, the more stable the system. European testing indicates that a tow ball mass of 6-8% is best for stability. Remember too much ball mass can overload the rear axle and reduce front axle load affecting steering. The maximum legal towing speed in Western Australia is 100kph with a very good reason given the many other important risk variables that are not directly in our control such as trailer design. 170

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spare wheels or other stuff to the rear or to the drawbar unless it is put there by the manufacturer. Check your stuff – have you used it in the last 12 months? Is it necessary? Lighten the load as much as you can in vehicle and trailer. Off-road towing presents us with a few more risks to manage. Traction has altered – stay to the ‘drive-to-conditions’ mantra, adjust your tyre pressures and slow down! Stopping on dirt with an extra couple of tonnes at the back will take longer and cause the ABS to protest loudly! Washouts, gullies, holes and rocks often seem to appear out of nowhere. By taking it slow we see them early and can pick our line. Visualise your dangly bits, know the arrival, departure and ramp over angles. Ease slowly and carefully into the chasm with your ears pricked for any horrible scraping sounds. Remember to manage and control the energy at your disposal. Harsh full throttle, grappling-the-wheel type driving is not only unnecessary it will release uncontrolled energy that usually results in unnecessary harm and damage. One other challenge to be wary of is your ability to turnaround with a long rig. Dead end or single


Make sure anywhere you can drive in you can drive out again or turn around without embarrassing yourself.

lane tracks and some restricted and tight parking areas can all mean at some unlucky time you gotta turn around with your 10 plus metre behemoth. Think a fun 100 point turn! We try to plan for this by sending someone to first eyeball the route with a hand-held UHF either walking, biking or driving a non-towing vehicle. This is not always practical so be prepared for the big turnaround! But don’t let fear or apprehension prevent you from

exploring these ‘opportunities’ because as Murphy will tell you, they always have the best unoccupied campsites. So there we have it. Towing behind a vehicle changes vehicle handing dynamics, stability and does increase risk.

A reasonable departure angle will ensure you can cross gullies without ripping anything off.

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The key is the effective engineering design of the two units with sensible packing. You can control your weight, how it is loaded, your tyre pressures and your speed. Get this right and you minimise risk to yourself and other road users. Going off road exposes us to more potential hazards that can

THE ‘FUN’ BIT Now the serious stuff is out the way, we can concentrate on the fun bit - reversing a trailer. We love this, right? Walk around the car/ trailer combo and get a feel for relative dimensional footprint. Make sure you will fit where you want to go before you go. Note any obstacles beforehand. We’ve previously touched on vision - we have the right mirrors and/or cameras and can see all the important protuberances. Rule 1 – move backwards very slowly and steadily with small controlled movements, not big desperate movements. Observe the result and adjust and correct carefully. Now for some dyslexia. First, use one point of reference. If using your mirrors (my choice) stick with them. Don’t start on mirrors, then look over your shoulder, followed by the camera. Sit straight, use your right mirror and look at the right side of the trailer as a point of reference against where you want to be or the tree

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be readily managed with the same good principles. Reversing, well that will never be fun, but take it slow and easy and practise a lot (when no one is watching LOL). Engage your brain not your throttle. Most of all, get out there and give it a go.

Trailer right

Trailer left you don’t want to hit. Hands on wheel – right hand down, moves trailer left. Left hand down moves trailer right – simple, eh? Looking in your right mirror, the trailer is moving too close to that tree, right hand down, the trailer will move away and to the left. Rely on the mirror that is on the inside of the turn and use an object such as a wall or tree as the fixed point of reference. Jump out and visually check as many times as you need. Take your time and forget the audience – there always is one!


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THE MAGIC OF

Through the eyes of our wandering historian, witness the evolution of this iconic Kimberley property. 174

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Pics by Ian Elliot and Kevin Coate

Dimond Gorge on the Fitzroy is a Jewel in Mornington’s backyard. Western 4W Driver #104

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H

aving paid a number of visits slickers spooking his cattle. However, to this area over many years, he intended to visit there in three days I’ve witnessed some amazing and was happy to have us along. In the changes. Run as a beef cattle interim he suggested we visit Dimond station until 2001, it is now held as Gorge on adjacent Mornington so that’s a privately- funded nature reserve where we went. and resort by the Australian Wildlife We found the ruins of Old Mornington Conservancy, a not-for-profit body Homestead over the track from Annie that currently also has control over Creek. There was very little remaining former stations, Glenroy, Tablelands apart from a chicken yard, a few sheets and Marion Downs. of corrugated iron It will come as and a garden “There was very little no surprise tap embedded remaining apart from a chicken in a gum tree. to regular readers to find yard, a few sheets of corrugated According that I was first old plans iron and a garden tap embedded to attracted there this was by the fact that in a gum tree.” supposedly practically all the near the site of a features in this region were named by tree Hann had blazed FH over XII, but Frank Hann during his explorations in we saw no signs of this. (Maybe this 1898. My first visit was in 1990 when blaze wasn’t on a Boab. Blazes on gum Martin Waller and I called in to Glenroy trees in the Kimberley don’t last long.) Homestead seeking permission to visit We followed the wheel ruts over the the Gladstone Lake area where we Adcock and camped on the right bank knew Hann had marked two Boabs. The of a long pool upstream from the ford. manager was reluctant to let us explore After a night of solving the world’s that sector alone as a muster was problems over a few, quite a few, beers imminent and he didn’t want us city and catching and consuming heaps of

Fitzroy Bluff dwarfs our vehicle.

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Yvonne and Kevin Coate on the path to Sir John Gorge.

tasty Cherabin, we set off to negotiate the tortuous track down to Dimond Gorge. Never reached by Hann, this rugged gap where the Fitzroy cuts its way out through the King Leopold Ranges was named in 1959 after the

death of Cyril Dimond, the PWD Engineer for the NW, who is said to have suggested it as a future dam site. The track was pretty rough and rocky but my most vivid memory is of stockman graffiti in the form of the drawing of the rear end of a cat on a Boab at a deep creek crossing as we rounded the western spur of Fitzroy Bluff. The track dead-ended in the dry river bed immediately upstream of the gorge and we had a little trouble getting the Hilux back up the steep bank. After rattling over the long haul back we spent a second night on the Adcock before following station tracks out East to a walk track down to the awesome Sir John Gorge.

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The afternoon of day three saw us rolling back in to Glenroy for our planned visit to Gladstone Lake, only to find pandemonium reigning. The head stockman had come home from Derby after a marathon drinking spree brought about by the breakup of his marriage. Suffering from the DTs, he’d been strapped onto a bunk to dry out until a mate had unstrapped him and given him a tinny. This had caused him to go completely berserk and he’d rushed outside, jumped into someone’s car, roared off, and smashed into a tree a few kilometres down the road before running off into the bush. He was bleeding, had no shoes, shirt or hat, and the vehicle’s boot was open which we were told meant there was a possibility that he could be armed with a rifle. The manager was extremely worried so we offered to help with a search. Martin went with him while I

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took a young stockman who managed to track the runaway for a considerable distance through the bush out towards Mountain Creek and the Mount Clifton massif while the manager zigzagged left and right of our course to check behind thickets and rock outcrops. Dusk halted our efforts and we returned to the homestead where we were fed and put up for the night while our hosts contacted neighbours and the SES. Next morning saw crowds of searchers on the scene and the arrival of light planes and choppers. Martin and I undertook to check the old Mt House track, now mostly overgrown, that then ran between Mt Hamilton and The Estaughs. We saw no sign of the runaway, but did manage to drive, then hike, down towards the junction of the Throssell and Adcock rivers where we found one of Hann’s trees of 1898, a Boab marked FH over XI.


Returning to Glenroy we learned that the SES had located the severely dehydrated missing man who had been flown to Derby Hospital. The Glenroy manager thanked us for our help and gave us permission to spend as much time as we wished around Gladstone Lake as their muster would be delayed. We found both of the Hann trees up there, a couple of what we thought were graves with stone crosses laid on the ground and we hiked out East of the Hann River to the billabong that Hann had named Spider Lagoon during his visit. Our camp at the lake was so plagued with mozzies we were glad to depart for Kalumburu and an eight-day backpack hike up past Solea Falls on the Drysdale River. Getting back to Mornington history, in the early 1900s, when Hann failed to raise funds to stock the new pastoral country he’d found over the range, it

was eventually taken up by Joseph Blythe and his sons who developed Mount House and Glenroy stations, the latter encompassing present-day Mornington. Young Arthur Blythe, in partnership with Reg Spong, the Fitzroy mail contractor, took over the Glenroy leases in 1907 and later Blythe’s share was purchased by Jabez Orchard. In 1916 the “cattle king”, Sid Kidman (later Sir Sid) invested in Orchard and Spong’s station, the first of several Kimberley pastoral properties that he bought into. Its area was expanded and the leases were transferred to the Glenroy Pastoral Company. Kidman retired in 1927 and died eight years later when the southern section of Glenroy was transferred to H.K. Smith and R.S. Maxted and renamed by the latter, it is said, after Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. Bob Maxted (that’s one bloke, not three)

Looking downstream from Sir John Gorge.

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Stonework on old Mornington Homestead. Pic: Kevin Coate.

seems to have been an interesting fellow with many Kimberley interests. Besides Mornington, he and Henry Smith shared ownership of several stations over the King Leopolds, including Tablelands, before Smith died in 1944. Postal Directories list Maxted as a contractor at Derby and he is known to have been a major purchaser of surplus infrastructure from the RAAF Truscott airbase on Anjo Peninsula after the war. One of these acquisitions was the lugger Medlar, which he used for pearling and dry shelling expeditions among the islands and reefs of the northern coastline. On one of these voyages in December 1945 he observed at low tide the wheels of an RAAF B25 Mitchell bomber that lay upside down on a mud bank near the mouth of the Glenelg River. The aircraft had been piloted by a five man Dutch crew who had become lost in the last hours of a flight from Cloncurry to Broome six weeks previously. They had made a forced landing on the tidal waters of the lower Glenelg and the crew had just enough time to launch their rubber dinghy and scramble into it before their aircraft sank. Ashore, they were able to alert search planes 180

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with signal rockets and supplies were dropped before they were rescued by the Kunmunya Mission lugger. Maxted began salvage operations immediately, before flood waters could dislodge the aircraft from its precarious perch, and managed to retrieve 13½ lbs of coins and five sealed cases containing altogether an estimated 100,000 Netherlands banknotes, quite a haul. Back at Mornington, the station struggled due to the difficulties in getting supplies in and cattle out. The terrain was too rough for motorised transport and donkey and bullock teams were the usual mode of transport over the tortuous Blythe Track or Johnson Track, the latter an approximation of the present-day Gibb River Road. Although Mornington was located right on what was known for a time as the Barclay Stock Route, only mature cattle, five years of age, could survive the rugged trip over such stony ground with poor feed to either Wyndham (six weeks) or Derby (three to four weeks). All this changed when Gordon Blythe, grandson of the original lessee, launched his Air Beef Scheme. The air strip and associated abattoir and freezer works at Glenroy meant that surrounding stations could not only get their beef to market quickly and easily, they could also fly in their supplies. In March 1949 Mornington was the recipient of an initial consignment of air freight from Derby per Dougles DC3 (aircraft known to the Yanks as “Gooney Birds” during the war).


Black headed gouldian finch - a rare breed and a subject of Mornington’s conservation work. Pic: Kevin Coate.

This delivery was said at the time to be a first for pastoral Australia. Later, a Bristol Freighter with clamshell front loading doors became the Air Beef Scheme’s main transport. The Scheme meant that Glenroy supported a

considerable population of workers and the AWC would probably be disappointed to know that one article describing its operation reported that the main leisure occupation of the men stationed there was shooting freshwater crocs. The scheme operated until 1963 when the improved Gibb River Road brought about the switch to road transport of cattle. It was during another Gibb River Road trip in 1998 that Martin and I were brought up short by a roadside sign advertising a licensed bar, the most remote in the Kimberley, down at Mornington. It took just a quick glance at each other before I swung right and we headed down to sample this new attraction. The lessee of Mornington Station at this time was Michael Curr, a Queensland born cattleman who had recognised the value of tourism to augment the income of a remote pastoral property.

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Glenroy Homestead was deserted at this time and the Mornington gate left us in no doubt as to the lessee’s feelings concerning the proposed dam at Dimond Gorge. Michael had a large sign on the gate that read “Damn the politicians, not the Fitzroy.” I wrote about this visit in our 28th edition, but I can perhaps expand on this a little. The new bar was divided into kitchen and restaurant areas and the wall sections were raised horizontally to open it to breezes and increase the shade area. During the closed season in the wet the walls were lowered and the whole building was made weatherproof and secure. Lyn and Dave Hughes ran it for Michael while all the campers occupied a

the banks of the creek. She and Dave put on excellent meals providing you booked ahead. They sold great T-shirts advertising the place one of which I have to this day although it’s getting a little threadbare now. They also took bookings for canoes that Michael had moored down at the gorge so we took the challenge and paddled our way through the gorge and back;

Rock art in Sir John Gorge is a bit difficult to photograph.

grassed area just North of the bar and adjoining Annie Creek. It was a very relaxed atmosphere that worked on a casual honour system. Whenever you got a tinnie out of the fridge, you recorded the event in a notebook on top of the fridge. These were added up and paid for prior to a guest’s departure. Lyn attracted hundreds of feathered customers every morning by scattering breadcrumbs and damper on 182

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hard work against a head wind on the return leg but a fabulous experience. Michael visited the bar most days, driving the 25km from the new homestead situated out East of Bluebell Hill. He quaffed rum and enthralled us with his yarns, one of which concerned his quest for a liquor license for the Mornington bar. When a particularly officious planning wallah was informed that the proposed premises would provide meals, he insisted that, for the dimensions planned by Michael, two giant exhaust fans would be necessary on the roof before the license could be issued. Michael’s protests that the building would have no walls when it was operating were to no avail and he had to produce receipts for these exhaust


fans to get the license. When I asked where they were, he waved an arm southwards and replied, “Over there, lying under that tree.” I liked his style and presented him with a copy of Do Not Yield to Despair, Hann’s exploration diaries that had just been published. In return, he gave us the run of the place which allowed us to search, unsuccessfully as it turned out, for the explorer’s blazes along the

and found that the Conservancy had fenced the whole lake to prevent further damage from cattle. I was saddened to see that the old track past the “graves” was apparently no longer used. It was getting overgrown and would soon become impassable I felt. It was 2014 before I got around to visiting the AWC’s Mornington Camp with a group on a Wildtrax tagalong. While disappointed with some of the restrictions that were Mornington today is a welcoming environment for anyone who shares their enthusiasm for the Kimberley’s unique flora and fauna.

Hann River east of the homestead. The next time I visited this area was with Campbell Cornish on a trip to stay at Mount House. The Wildlife Conservancy had held Mornington for seven years by this time and had set up a radio shack near the turnoff from the Gibb River Road. I was very glad they had. It was right at that turn-off that a fully reconditioned alternator seized up and stranded us. We radioed Mornington and they contacted Mount House who sent out a ute to tow us in. A genius named Dave repaired the alternator with secondhand bits and we went on to stay at Moll Gorge, Gladstone Lake and the Hann River crossing before returning to Campbell’s place in Broome. I visited Gladstone Lake again in 2011 184

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imposed (they refused us entry onto Marion Downs where they had scientists working and many of the tracks I’d roamed freely on fourteen years earlier were now closed to all but management), nevertheless, I was impressed with the development that had taken place and I understand the reasons for limiting access to what is, after all, now a world class nature reserve. The canoes were still at the gorge but the track down there was now graded and an easy drive. Guided tours to a variety of destinations were available, or you could take yourself following a route map provided by the office. Eleven spacious safari-style tents were provided for fly-in visitors. The 4WD camping areas had been extended although still strung out along Annie Creek with an interesting walking path on the opposite bank. Hot showers and toilets were available at a handy ablution block and the main building boasted an impressive restaurant with extensive lawns and a communal fire-pit. We were enthralled by the


Aboriginal rock art in Sir John Gorge and our naturalist friend, the ever energetic Kevin Coate, was excited to be given a rare glimpse of Gouldian Finches in the wild. A keen bird man, Kevin was enthusiastic about the work being done by the AWC at Mornington in connection with rare native birds such as the Gouldian Finch, the Purple-crowned Fairy Wren and the Red Goshawk. This endeavour, coupled with their efforts to find solutions to the feral cat problem and to continue providing a sustainable tourist destination puts them high on the eco-warrior list in my book. Please note that reservations are required and the Camp is only open from 1 May to 9 October. Campfires, generators, fishing and pets are not allowed. If you’re interested in visiting this rugged wonderland, check out their website on the net.

Excerpt from Hema’s WA State map.

SupaFit

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THE D

BIG

ual cab utes are ubiquitous, whether for the tradie around town or the explorer out on the track. For many they are the goto choice when buying a 4x4 vehicle. However, most dual cab ute owners find something lacking in the format, perhaps regretting not going for the wagon option, wanting better security for their gear or hoping to increase their storage space for those extended trips. Fear not, there are many solutions out there and the most popular is the ute canopy. These come in many shapes and forms and there can be fundamental differences between canopies and canopy manufacturers. With there being many traps for young players looking to add a canopy to their vehicle, we have put together a few considerations to look out for when buying a canopy and have highlighted many of the shortfalls in some models while giving you a few good questions to ask when shopping around. One important consideration to keep in mind is that even the best built canopies will allow some dust ingress into the rear tub of the vehicle. This is mainly due to the tailgate not being

186

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COVER UP sealed to the ute tub as well as many other hidden openings. After all, they were designed as a ute. What’s that,

Hinged windows work better than sliders, great for getting at your gear. If you’re only getting one, make it a left hander.

“add a tailgate seal kit” you say? Well these help, but due to a negative pressure occurring in the canopy area when the vehicle is moving, these will not completely stop dust. Naturally with a poorly built or sealed canopy these issues are magnified. Be realistic


with your expectations though regarding canopies, whilst it’s possible to have them relatively dust free, they will never be as dust free as the interior of your vehicle cabin. The most successful way to prevent excessive build-up of dust in your

WORKSHOP

CHAT with Ben Broeder

You’ll never keep all the dust out but a well-positioned vent will pressurise the space to keep most out.

Internal framing will help support a rack. With a rack up top you can add essential gear - like the all-important awning.

canopy is by the use of a canopy vent. The canopy vent will still let some dust in from passing vehicles, however this will stop virtually all other dust coming in through cracks and openings in tail gates and the ute tub itself. This is our first point to look out for. If you are planning on plenty of off road or gravel driving, a canopy vent is an important feature. Not all canopies can have a vent fitted and limiting factors can be the canopy design itself, such as ridges built into the roof as well as those fancy carpet and similar linings that some canopies come with. Linings not only act like a magnet for dust, they make it difficult to clean your canopy and limit the possibility of installing a canopy vent. Now, having a relatively dust free

storage space, you may want to add a roof rack to your canopy. There are many options here as well, however, many canopies can only support a very limited load capacity which is further reduced for off road driving on many models. Most canopies will have an additional or integrated steel frame which removes the load from the canopy shell, transferring it directly to the ute tub. From experience, Western 4W Driver #104

187


Go for a canopy with a solid (and keyed) locking mechanism. The one on the left has disintegrated and was only ever as strong as the plastic it was fixed to.

the canopies with these dedicated support structures can carry much heavier loads and are much better for demanding or off road use. While we’re on the subject of heavy loads and durability, it is also important to consider how the canopy is mounted to the ute tub. Many canopies are now offered with only a series of generic ‘C Clamps’ which clamp the canopy to the ute tub. These may be well and good around town but take care. In harsh terrain or when heavy loads are carried on roof racks, these clamp

will offer a 3 year, 60,000Km warranty it’s worth reading through the fine print. Most manufacturers will not cover your canopy for off road or excessive unsealed road usage. Ensure you check what type of usage is covered with the canopy on your 4x4. Let’s assume the worst has happened, something has broken on your canopy and you need it repaired. Easy. Well, maybe not so easy. While most manufacturers will offer spares and after sales service many lesser known brands out there are extremely difficult to source replacement parts for, such as glass or Tie-down points can be established anywhere in the tray to keep the load safe. The blue sponge pads are for kneeling on the tailgate.

systems can work loose and in extreme circumstances can fail completely. It’s recommended to opt for a canopy with a vehicle specific attachment system to the tub to ensure a solid mounting and the best reliability in rough terrain. If worst comes to worst, you still have the warranty to rely upon, right? Well here is another area to be very careful of. Although the best manufacturers 188

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window locks. Naturally it’s important to consider dealer networks and after sales support so if you break something while travelling, spare parts will either be in stock or very quickly accessible. Canopies can be a fantastic accessory for your ute. Take the time to research your options, ask the hard questions, speak to others and look for a manufacturer with an extensive dealer network for spares and after sales service. As always, keep in mind that you get what you pay for… LINKS: Facebook: www.facebook.com/GoldfieldsOffRoad/ Webpage: www.goldfiefieldsoffroad.com.au


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hat did the cheese say when it saw its reflection in the river? Haloumi. Sorry, that was a cheesy joke but a Gouda way to start, given the fantastic reflections captured in this image from Tim Sly, on yet another epic Campfire Escape trip. This image really has a lot going for it, it ticks many boxes. First up, simply and probably most importantly once again, it just makes me want to be there. I want to cast a line and wander that bank, it looks warm and tranquil; in short I enjoy looking at the image and that in itself is a huge win. Secondly, can you see how the tunnel of trees and the watercourse draw your eye into the frame? Leading lines is the technical term. It adds a three dimensional feel to a two dimensional image by giving it a sense of depth. Your eyes have somewhere to go, a reason to explore the image; this is an incredibly powerful technique when used well, as it has been in this case. Thirdly, (and the reason for the terrible cheese joke) how impressive are the reflections? This really is the icing on the

With

Graham Cahill

cake, giving the image so much more punch. Like waterfalls and sunsets, reflections can be a little clichĂŠd and

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tend to be overdone. In this instance though, I think Tim has nailed it by adding just enough to bring out that tranquil feel I mentioned before. Reflections, when done right, can really make an image altogether more artsy… for want of a better word. Something to keep in mind should you want to remove reflections, especially if they are ugly and unwanted such as shadowy figures reflected in a window or such, is to use a polarising filter on your lens. This will cut through the reflection giving a clear surface. In Tim’s image, a polariser may have removed all detail in the water which I think would have been a negative to the overall photo (a negative….sheesh I’m on fire today). If I had one criticism of the pic, it would have to be my peculiar need to have images straight. Even though this photo doesn’t have anything to suggest perfect horizontal (such as a horizon line) it still looks to me like it’s sloping slightly to the left; which if it were, the river water would be flowing over that left bank. A simple tilt in a clockwise direction a few degrees would bring everything back to level and just complete the picture. This is a minor gripe however and not one to detract from the whole. Alright, alright, settle down…one more cheese joke. What cheese can you disguise a small horse with? Mascarpone….

Well done Tim, you’ve won A $200 GIFT VOUCHER from THATS IT FOLKS!

Email us a pic for some TECTIPS & you could win a $200 Voucher! Email to: comp@ecomuseimages.com 192

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Homestead into its next 100 years. Jo’s partner Ken is working hard to get the stage completed for the event and Friday night’s Duo of Braud and Beau will be the first to grace the new stage followed by the Suntones on Saturday with their new drummer, Tim. This promises to be an excellent

GOINGS ON

IS1200E series Jumpstarters after reports of the battery overheating in use and, in some cases, catching alight. BWI’s Bob Pattison said the company was investigating the problem and would not sell any more until the fault has been identified and fixed. The IS900E and IS1200E have a lithium cobalt (LiCo) battery and have been sold since September 2016. The Projecta IS1500 has a different battery pack and is not affected. So, if you have a IS900E or 1200E, you should take it back to where you bought it for a full refund. There’s also a hotline you can call: 1800 422 422 in Oz, or 0800 336 688 in Kiwi country, or take a look at www.recall-jumpstarter.com.au

Last Chance to Party

If you’ve got nothing on on the second weekend in September we recommend you get dressed and head up to Melangata for their big 100 year celebration. Jo Clews tells us the entertainment for two nights is locked in so don’t forget to pack your dancing shoes and prepare for a fun filled weekend to take the historic Melangata

Plenty of space to spread yourselves out at Melangata. The stage takes shape.

weekend with plenty of activities on offer so get on to trybooking.com, type in Melangata Station 100th celebration and lock in a weekend to remember. Western 4W Driver #104

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CELEBRATING S

The 4WD and Adventure Show will take a walk through history this year as they look at what were some of the big Game-Changers in the industry over the past few decades.

how Director Peter Woods said while camping, caravanning and 4wdriving are extremely popular pastimes for Australians today, this wasn’t always the case; and there were some significant turning points in history that encouraged more people to get out and explore their country.

These turning points, these “Game Changers” will be the focus of the 2017 4WD and Adventure Show. “What we are looking at is not just the products on the market today and where we go and what we do today; but really the evolution of the 4WD and Camping industry,” Peter said. Peter has been speaking to many of the big name companies in 4W Driving and camping to discover their own game-changing stories. He said the history behind some of these companies was so interesting and that often these major companies were built from one person’s need to solve a problem. “There are dozens of stories. From initial discovery of 4W Driving tracks, 194

Western 4W Driver #104

to products that we all now use, to people who got out there and did it, and inspired others to do the same. We can’t wait to share all these stories at the Show.” Peter said.

Show Special Guests He’s travelled all over the countryside, and now he’s heading to the 4WD and Adventure Shows! Mal Leyland is an Aussie legend.

Anyone who was in Australia during the 1970s and 80s will remember “The Leyland Brothers” – and no doubt can sing the theme song off by heart. Mal Leyland and his brother Mike were pioneers, travelling outback Australia before it became popular to do so, discovering and filming remote locations that had never been filmed before. “As one of the major Game-Changers, Mal Leyland is the ideal special guest


25 YEARS

working alongside the infamous Allan Gray, and sharing all her stories with her thousands of followers on social media. Terrain Tamer are set to release a series of mechanical videos, due for release in November 2017, that feature 27 year old Jess with 83 year old Allan, and the 4WD and Adventure Show will be the place to see the first instalment of Terrain Tamers TV with Allan and Jess. Peter said there will be more special guests announced closer to the Show.

Big Boy’s (or Girl’s) Toy for show

for the 2017 Show and we are excited to welcome him and his lovely wife Laraine”, Peter said. He is also excited to have WA boy Graham Cahill at the Show to help celebrate the 25th anniversary. Anyone who is into 4W Driving knows who Graham Cahill is. As a presenter and journalist for 4WD Action, Graham Cahill has seen and experienced the outback first hand, often through the lens of his camera. Peter said he was also keen to welcome a new face on the scene, known as “Jillaroo Jess.” Jess Edwards is one Aussie sheila with a story to tell! Jess has been kept busy lately with Terrain Tamer TV,

Toyota has built a dream toy for adults, and it will be on display at the 4WD and Adventure Show. The stunning concept vehicle HiLux Tonka brings together the iconic Tonka and “unbreakable” HiLux brands. A full-size dream toy for adults, the HiLux Tonka Concept is an impressive rock-crawling truck that combines the enviable reputations for toughness and durability that dominate the Toyota and Tonka DNAs.

While the HiLux Tonka Concept is not destined for dealer showrooms, adults and kids alike will have the opportunity to share the dream as it tours 4WD shows across the country. Be sure to check it out at the 2017 Perth 4WD and Adventure Show. For show details go to www.4wdshow.com.au Western 4W Driver #104

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National Luna........................................ 67

Camera Electronic............................... 190

GPS NAVIGATION Hema Navigator ................................. 115 Polaris................................................... 96 MECHANICAL REPAIRS &/OR REPLACEMENT Armadale 4WD Service Centre........... 192 Fremantle Fuel Injection ..................... 119 Gearing Dynamics............................... 132 Robson Brothers .................................. 72 Terrain Tamer.......... ...............................90 Turbo Tech............................................ 42 United Fuel Injection.......................... 100

SOLAR SUPPLIES Redarc.................................................. 55 TOOLS & MACHINERY Hare and Forbes Machinery House...... 106 TRAINING & TOURS Campfire Escapes................................. 120 Eureka 4WD Training ......................... 126

MOTOR BODY BUILDERS

TYRES AND WHEELS

Bullant................................................... 38

Associated Tyre & Wheel........................ 70 Cooper Tires........................................ 169 Kumho Tyres......................................... 95

MOTOR VEHICLES

Hyundai................................................ 34 Isuzu D-Max......................................... 86 Mazda................................................... 47 Nissan.................................................... 50 Perth Iveco Centre.............................. 110 Subaru................................................. 131 Toyota ............................................... IBC

UPHOLSTERY Trimcare Upholstery............................ 161

PERFORMANCE PRODUCTS

Midland 4WD Centre......................... 173 Turbo Tech............................................ 42

Western 4W Driver #104

199


Proudly sponsored by

MAXTRAX HIGHWAY

This photo is courtesy of Des Bunter of Geraldton who got into a spot of bother going to the Canning Stock Route to construct a Toilet at Well 15 with Track Care. Des also lost one of his PINK MAXTRAX’s in the mud so he would be delighted to win one of your Maxtrax prizes. Regards, Ben Blomfield

What a great shot Ben and we couldn’t think of a more worthy recipient. We must keep Des on track at all costs so we don’t have CSR travellers stressing out with crossed legs and clenched cheeks. A set of Maxtrax is on its way.

How you get stuck is your business. How you get out is ours. Now you can take the easy way out with Maxtrax. Get your pic in to win this great prize or, if you can’t wait, go to www. maxtrax.com.au to learn more.

KEEP ‘EM COMING FOLKS. All you need is a

potentially funny situation, a good sense of humour and,of course, your camera. Send your silly snap to: 200

Western 4W Driver #104

Silly Snaps C/- Western 4.W. Driver P O Box 510 Kalamunda WA 6926 or email: underwood@eftel.com.au


LEGENDS ARE MADE OUT HERE Here, where there are fifty shades of dust, two hundred types of mud, and dirt that gives soap nightmares. And this place right here, they know it better than the back of their own hands. These legends aren’t carved from marble. They’re the ones that carve up hills, through rivers and over rocks. You can always rely on a legend. When you’re up a creek or up to your neck in it, they’ll be there. No favour too big or small. A Houdini hen, a pig stuck in muck or a stubborn mule. They’ll have their sleeves rolled up ready. No questions. No boundaries. No worries. Legends step up, step in and step on it, until every last cow comes home. This is LandCruiser Country.

toyota.com.au


Expl- ORE The Great Outdoors! WITH EVERYTHING YOUR 4WD NEEDS! Off Road Equipment (ORE) has the largest range of quality 4WD equipment and accessories in WA, including the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s leading brands. Our massive product range includes camper trailers, rooftop tents and a comprehensive selection of 4WD accessories (including lights, tanks, racks, fridges and suspension kits).

OFF ROAD EQUIPMENT 61 McCoy St MYAREE WA 6154 Ph: (08) 9317 2344 Fax: (08) 9317 2448 www:offroadequipment.com.au

STOCKIST

W.A. AGENT FOR CUB CAMPERS, DESIGNED AND BUILT IN AUSTRALIA.

DL 19018

MRB 3101

Profile for Western 4W Driver

Western 4W Driver edition #104  

Bullant's 6x6. George Gorge. A Gander up Googs. Mornington Magic. The Art of Towing and much more

Western 4W Driver edition #104  

Bullant's 6x6. George Gorge. A Gander up Googs. Mornington Magic. The Art of Towing and much more