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112th Edition SPRING 2019

Horizontal Falls Indee Station Whale Song



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Exploring the Murchison

Sandstone to Lake Mason with Amanda and Mike .................................................................................................................... 10

Fossil Eyes

Susie gets her fill of the Flinders .................................................................................................................................................................................... 26

Indee Station

and a visit to Red Rock .................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 54

Whale Song Campgrounds

Paradise at Pender Bay.................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 58

Give Gero a Go

Re-discover the midwest capital .................................................................................................................................................................................... 76

A Day Trip to Horizontal Falls

in the Buccaneer Archipelago ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 105



Relaxation or Rescue

What’s New


Fold-Out for the Future

Fishy Business


Gear to Go Camping


Part 2 ................................................................................................................... 44 Nick and Susie are snugza bug in their new camper .......................................................................... 95

Tommy Ningebong

A role model for all, eh ....................................................... 111


Western 4W Driver 112 #

The People We Meet NEW! 179 Capture the Moment


Goings On


Subscriptions 189 Suppliers Directory


Silly Snaps



Navara Updated

A return to coils ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 18

Off-Road Mobility

All wheel drive and electric ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 40

Compact & Clever Camper

Have bed, will travel ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 64

MU-Xcels On & Off Road

Torque about a traveller ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 69

Hybrid Cruising

With the New RAV4 .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 81

Isuzu Go-to

A cost effective towing ute ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 87

Made for Extreme Adventure

Take a Numbat to the bush ...................................................................................................................................................................................................... 91

Out of the Bog

Roll out recovery ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 137


Trialling a newcomer ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 141




Wildtrax 117 What’s in a Name


The Things you See


Bindon’s Lore


Clewed Up


Are We There Yet? NEW! 187


Dealing With Crap 143 Well 'dunny' everyone! 157 Celebrating 4x4 159 Tatts Finke Desert Race 163 Rebels For A Cause 167 A Unique Alliance 175 Rust Worx For You ADVERTORIAL 176 Gold! Winner 184 Western 4W Driver #112


4Wheel Productions Pty Ltd ACN 632 239 395 PO Box 2384, Malaga, WA 6944 Phone: (08) 9291 8303 Editors Chris and Karen Morton Contributing Writers Phil Bianchi Peter Bindon Linda Bloffwitch John Bormolini Ben Broeder Amanda Burton Graham Cahill Jo Clews Neil Dowling Ian Elliot Alex Garner Colin Kerr Kristina Lemson Lyn Mitchell Ron Moon Rob Robson Ben Smith Nick Underwood Susie Underwood Advertising Chris Morton Nick Underwood Administration Chris Morton Graphic Design Karen Morton Printing Vanguard Press

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of 4Wheel Productions 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 and photographs, and all other material submitted, 4Wheel Productions Pty Ltd accepts no liability for loss or damage. Edition 112 Spring 2019


Western 4W Driver #112

WHY? Access to Facebook only competitions. See what’s coming in future editions. Communicate with other readers. Submit photos.

Been on an amazing trip? Tell us about it! western4wdriver/


The Other Social Media


ecently I was driving home after picking up our youngest daughter from school and I observed something really disturbing. Passing alongside me was a woman driving with her mobile phone on her lap. Her head was down and she was concentrating on the screen. This continued for about 30 seconds before I decided to catch up to her … and beep my horn. Suffice to say she decided that what was in front of her was more important than what was on her phone. We are constantly bombarded with messages telling us about the dangers of mobile phone use while driving. Almost daily we see the results of inattention behind the wheel and the body count is steadily climbing. All so you don’t miss out on a tweet, post, snapchat, email or text. Now, if someone wants to remove themselves from the gene pool by doing something stupid, then that is their business, however when they put others at risk while doing such an activity, that’s when I get angry. What ever happened to enjoying the journey? Every time we get behind the wheel we have the opportunity to see the world around us. Even the same route can reveal things you have previously missed. Forget the phone and look up. There's another type of 'social media' that is often forgotten about by 4W drivers. Many 4WD owners have a UHF radio installed in their vehicle but how many actually use it? When I say use it, I don’t mean when you are stuck in the mud and

you are talking to your spotter. I mean use it to talk to complete strangers? Channel 40 on the highway will give you a wealth of information, however, just like social media most of us just listen (or observe – we call them Facebook stalkers). Whenever we travel long distances our radio is on and we use it. I am not encouraging everyone to fill the airwaves with waffle. Talk to your fellow road users. “Hello pilot, what have you got behind you?” “Northbound heavy, I’m just coming up behind you. Can you let me know when it’s clear to get around you please?” “Hello westbound camper trailer. Watch out, there are cows on the road on your left just around the bend.” As an added bonus, you might find that you get less frustrated. When you are stuck behind a quad road train trying to overtake and you can talk to the driver, you no longer think of the truck as a nuisance that is slowing you down. That truck is now a person, just doing their job, a long way from home. They will help you overtake when its safe, you just need to have patience. That human connection, actually talking to someone, a complete stranger, who at that moment in time is sharing the same road as you is extremely powerful. It reminds us that we are all travelling to somewhere and by talking to each other we can make all of our journeys that little bit safer. Drive safe. Western 4W Driver #112



Western 4W Driver #112

Exploring the Murchison


& lake mason By Amanda Burton

So long as it hasn’t been raining, Murchison is a great place to explore. It’s criss-crossed with those red dirt tracks we so love, leading to a multitude of remote and fascinating locations. But be warned, these very same tracks turn to sludge with the slightest show of rain. So before the weatherman (or lady) can finish saying “possible chance of showers…” they are closed off. As a traveller, this can leave you stranded for several days, waiting for them to dry out and re-open (or facing substantial penalties in the form of a fine calculated ‘per wheel’ should you ignore the closures).


ut the weather gods were smiling on us this trip as we headed for Sandstone (which is actually accessible via the bitumen). I hadn’t given this stop much thought other than as a kick-off point where we were to meet up with friends for the start of our adventure, but there was quite a bit to do and see around the town which made it well worth dedicating a day to in itself. The Shire has put together some great brochures outlining a heritage trail to follow, both within the actual town as well as the surrounding area. But by the time we had all arrived the only trail we needed to find was the one to the pub, which was an easy stroll from the caravan park. The grandly named Sandstone

National Hotel was everything a good country pub should be; friendly staff, quirky decoration scheme, cold drinks and simple filling meals. All boxes ticked, we were further spoilt with warm showers in the spotless amenities at the caravan park before bed. The water was a little hard (taking a bit more effort to get a good lather up with the soap) but not unmanageable. The water is also safe for drinking, though some may find it a little unpalatable (see break-away). Next morning we headed off to explore the Sandstone Heritage Trail. Around the townsite there are lovely old stone and corrugated tin buildings as well some old car bodies and machinery. Keep an eye out for a few quirky touches like the shoe-adorned street signs. Western 4W Driver #112


The Heritage Museum and Visitor Centre was well worth a look with a treasure trove of old memorabilia and photos from days gone by. We then headed further afield to the town surrounds on the smoothly graded gravel tracks. Each site was clearly signposted with some information placards to supplement the Trail brochure. The Old Brewery was our first Plenty of quirky stop (like they didn’t things to see, get enough last including this night!) but this one rainbow coloured is now a dry affair. windmill. Built in 1907 it is a large cavern and tunnels in a breakaway which, through use of water from a nearby well and some Irish ingenuity, was turned into a brewery that provided apparently quite cold beer (all relative I guess) to the miners. With a three year monopoly before the railroad from Mt Magnet opened up to bring in competition, there was certainly

No chance of getting lost. The heritage trail is well sign posted.

opportunity for Mr Kearney to make his fortune. The only customer when we visited was a shy baby owl nesting in a crevice in the roof of the cave. The next attraction was of a more naturebased kind – London Bridge - as the name suggests, a bridge of rock. Formed through different rates of erosion of the hard and soft rock of the basalt ridge, in my opinion it’s right up there with Kalbarri’s famous ‘window’. Like the song about its more famous cousin in the UK, this bridge is also falling down so you can no longer climb on it. In days gone by this was the place to go for a picnic and there are pictures of a horse and buggy crossing the bridge. Of course, public safety liability wasn’t such an issue in those times, so nowadays it is well worth a look, but don’t touch. The nearby former State Battery is a history buff’s dream. One of only a few remaining installations, it was in operation between 1908 and 1982. As well as the Battery there are other buildings, stonework and relics around it to explore. The loop back to town


Western 4W Driver #112

Practicing for when we become Grey Nomads in caravan parks.

London Bridge, the place to go for a picnic in days gone by.

passes Contradiction Well. The fact it was sunk by hand to a depth of 100m in itself makes it worthy of a look, and it has been renovated to give an idea of how it would have functioned. Passing the rainbow-coloured windmill, back in town we splurged on lunch at the Black Range Tearooms. Though we seemed to have caught the proprietor on a bit of a grumpy day, her homemade quiche with fresh herbs from the garden forgave many sins. On the way out of town we stopped for a look at the old the Public Cemetery however there wasn’t an awful lot left to see. We were back on the thankfully dry, dirt tracks and heading for Lake Mason Homestead. This is a former pastoral station 56km north-east of Sandstone which is now a proposed conservation park. Camping is allowed around the station homestead, though it is stated that no facilities are provided. Once set up, we whiled away many hours wandering around stickybeaking. You can explore inside the old homestead which is

still in reasonable nick and marvel at the wide wooden floorboards and pressed tin walls. There is a large shearing shed, as well as a few other out-buildings and relics. There was also plenty of local wildlife to admire, including a rather fat looking racehorse goanna who swaggered through camp and a flock of pink and greys who raucously joined us for a drink. During our exploration a great find was the functioning ‘ablutions’ block. Though the décor probably prevented it from achieving adequate status to be touted as actual facilities for the campground, with a donkey hot water system and running water it ticked the most important boxes. So for those of us brave enough to share with the locals, all of whom had either more or less legs than we did, the luxury of a hot shower was there for the taking. The next day our ultimate destination was to end up just past Wiluna, ready to start ‘the real trip’ – tackling the Gunbarrel Highway. This is definitely one of those The homestead at Lake Mason is still in good nick.

Western 4W Driver #112


Well One on the Canning Stock Route was a dry affair. Excerpt from Hema’s WA State map.

bucket list destinations, but on the way there we decided to put just a little mark next to another bucket-lister, the Canning Stock Route. Now I know the CSR is up near the top of most people’s wish lists, but I have to confess that it doesn’t even make it on to mine. The very thought of all those endless sand dunes has me reaching for the Kwells and the Valium. I love the thought of the isolation and the epic-ness of the journey, but slugging over all those sand dunes, never knowing what might be coming up at you on the other side, just doesn’t do it for me. This puts the Simpson desert into the same category for me. I’ve

visited Mount Dare on one side and I’ve climbed Big Red on the other, but I’m more than happy to just skip those hundreds of sickening sand dunes in between. In a similar vein, we decided to take a peek at Well One of the CSR. No sand dune negotiation required, it’s only a few kilometres out of Wiluna. That said we still managed some dramas along the way. One plus for travelling in a convoy is that we noticed that someone was dropping water. A stop and check revealed that a water sensor on one of the camper trailer tanks had come loose. Some quick track-side repairs managed to get it plugged (lesson

Accommodation Info Sandstone Caravan Park

Officially called the Alice Atkinson Caravan Park, this is a 40 site park, no bookings required. $35/night powered site, $25 non-powered. Clean ablutions, washing machines, dryers, BBQ area, picnic tables.

Lake Mason Homestead

Once a cattle station, Lake Mason is a 149,557ha reserve situated 50km north of Sandstone. No camping fees. BYO everything 14

Western 4W Driver #112

learnt – it’s important to build up a good stock of champagne corks so you have the right sized one for just such emergencies – luckily us ladies had been right on to that one) with more permanent silicone based repairs and a refill of the tank planned for that night. Catastrophe averted, we continued on out to Well One. From the stories I’ve heard this is quite a substantial well, as they go on the CSR. For me it made a nice place for a lunch stop, but that was it. It must, however, have inspired some of the boys. They put their heads together and as we speak, they have left the ladies (and the camper trailers) behind and are doing the boys’ own thing, in 4WD and swag, along the CSR. But that was still to come. Before that we had the Gunbarrel Highway to tackle, glamping it with our super-campers in tow. Fantastic or folly – was yet to be seen. Stay tuned. All hands on deck to try and plug the water leak.

Water quality at Sandstone Sandstone is one of the WA towns that has been granted an exemption from compliance with the Department of Health’s guidelines with respect to nitrate levels in the water. The water supplied is “harmless to adults and children over the age of 3 months of age. Carers of infants younger than three months should …. (use) alternative water sources for the preparation of bottle feeds”. The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines recommend that nitrate levels between 50-100mg/L are a health consideration for infants less than three months, although levels up to 100mg/L can be safely consumed by adults. Sandstone averages around 55mg/L. Sandstone’s water is also described as ‘hard’, an issue as it can cause scale to form on hot water pipes and fittings as well as making working up a lather in the shower a challenge. It is also above the recommended levels for ‘good palatability’ with respect to total dissolved solids, but there doesn’t seem to any health effects directly attributable to this, just taste. And yes, I know I just walked right into the joke about just needing to drink beer instead!

Western 4W Driver #112



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Western 4W Driver #112

Small steps in a positive direction have cemented a strong following for Nissan’s global Navara ute and even paved the way for it to be the basis for similar vehicles from Renault (Alaskan) and Mercedes-Benz (X-Class). But are the small steps just too small to outpace the strength of Toyota (Hilux), Ford (Ranger) and Mitsubishi (Triton)?

Western 4W Driver #112



ere are the good things about the latest, updated-but-you-wouldn’tknow-it Navara: It has the same drivetrain, same simple interior with plenty of storage spaces and low-maintenance hard plastics, and same rugged underbody. The newest news is all about the rear suspension which is a retuning of the original coil springs on the live axle that now caters for greater payload without sag. At the same time, this coil suspension is smooth on the road when the tray is unladen, trouncing its main rivals for occupant comfort. By comparison, the Hilux back end is a bit pitchy and harsher on poor-surfaced bitumen roads. The Navara is a different animal. Sure, it’s not perfect but it brings the level of ride compliance up to in between acceptable and tolerable. More than just a better ride, the Navara’s updated coils are combined with new front and rear dampers to control the vehicle when under load conditions. The problem with the first-generation Navara that debuted the coils was that as the payload increased, the tail end sagged and the front became lighter which made the steering less positive. The way to keep the payload and vehicle stability was found by simply using a dual-rate coil spring. These have been in use for decades in passenger cars - and particularly station wagons - for the same necessity for graduated spring rates to suit varying loads. But it’s not just the payload issue. It’s a pity that Nissan launched its new Navara in 2015 as the NP300 (Nissan Pickup 300) 20

Western 4W Driver #112

Coil springs at the rear compare with rival leaf-spring units.

with rear coil suspension without going back through automotive history and finding out about dual-rate springs before spending three years listening to lamenting owners with load and handling issues. The rear suspension was updated last year with new front and rear dampers, the dualrate springs and new suspension bushes. There is also some tuning of the steering with a new ratio but the turning circle is still a pretty woeful 12.4m. The new gear makes the Navara ride higher at the back than the previous model and that could be seen as affecting handling when unladen. Now we have a chance to test the ute with its new suspension and look back at how the Navara rates against its main rivals. Outwardly the Navara remains the same as the model that was introduced in mid-2015. It has the same drivetrain, most of the same cabin features and no change in the main body panels or dimensions.

In its top-shelf ST-X grade here, it gets a lot of features that could easily sway families looking for a dual-purpose vehicle that will work during the week, relax on weekends and tow up to a theoretical 3500kg in between. Theoretical? Well, load the ute with family and luggage and hook up a caravan or boat and you can’t breach the 5910kg GCM. Even standing empty by the side of the track, the ST-X has a payload of a reasonable 985kg but that deteriorates quickly when adding passengers and luggage. The ST-X stacks up pretty good alongside its rivals when it comes to tow ratings and payloads, with the only exception being its low 300kg towball download. Most others (except the Triton at 310kg) are 350kg. The tub has a liner to keep things clean and protect the metal surfaces from cuts and rust, while the tie-downs are the neat Nissan Utilitrax system of screw-down anchors that slide along slotted tracks. It means ties can be applied along the length of the tub and because they are placed at the top of the tub’s edge, there’s The ST-X gets chrome bumperettes, tail-gate top plate and a reverse camera in the handle surround.

Tough double wishbones remain Nissan's choice up front.

no need to lean inside to find hooks on the floor. It’s a great system that should be adopted by all ute makers. In the dirt the Navara’s coils improve ride comfort over rutted ground compared with leaf springs, but as noted in past tests, there’s not much difference between the two rear ends when load is added. The coils certainly don’t detract from wheel travel and rarely let the ute lose traction at the back. It continues the Navara tradition of double wishbones at the front. Welcome is the good angles of approach and departure, generally one of the better utes around with its 33.2-degree approach



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Plenty of chrome and leather in the top-spec ST-X.

Comfortable rear seat offers very good leg and headroom, lots of light and even child-seat anchors.

and 28.2-degree departure angles. By comparison, the recent test in the Isuzu D-Max showed 30-degree approach and a 22.7-degree departure, with a ramp-over of 22.3-degrees, less than the Navara’s 24.7-degrees. The Nissan also comes with a claimed 228mm ground clearance (down on the Isuzu’s 235mm) and while we want as much clearance as possible, it never became an issue on any of our tests. There has been some tweaking to the steering in the latest Navara update - but you’d be pushing hard to pick it - and so no complaints here, while the brake system remains Thailand’s tax-effective - but maintenance unfriendly - front discs and rear drums.

Navara remains a strong-looking ute with good value-for-money features.

As mentioned previously, Thailand is where most utes for Australia are made and there’s a tax break for using archaic drum rear brakes. Sometimes logic defies even itself. The engine is a carry-over unit with 2.3-litres - the smallest of the Japanese-owned manufacturers’ four-cylinder offerings - but with two turbochargers it puts out a decent 140kW at 3750rpm and 450Nm of torque from 1500-2500rpm. By comparison, the 2.8-litre Hilux is rated at 130kW/450Nm and the Triton with a 2.4-litre diesel at 133kW/430Nm. By the way, the Ford-derived 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel used in the Mazda BT-50 and Ranger is 147kW/470Nm. Western 4W Driver #112


Despite its small capacity, the performance is strong though it prefers to live above 2000rpm, especially for on-road traffic light sprints. It is an excellent engine for cruising and without the need for sprinting, will hum at 1500rpm at around 110km/h. A lot of the sparkle in the engine is attributed Nissan's 2.3-litre is one of the smallest Japanese to the seven-speed ute engines but has plenty of torque. automatic, with that extra cog (most rivals The Navara mill is gravelly at idle which have six gears) helping to spread the load. typifies the genre, smoothes out nicely Where that gearing really comes into its at mid-range revs and gets thrashy and own is off the road. In low-range 4WD - into aurally uncomfortable quite quickly neutral, twist the dash dial and you’re there around 3500rpm - to leave its sweet spot - there’s a better spread of ratios. from about 2000-3000rpm. Fortunately The transfer case has a high 2.717:1 there’s plenty of performance in that band ratio commensurate with the power of in which to have fun. the engine and the seven-speed main

Nuts ‘n’ bolts Nissan Navara ST-X D23

Price: $52,750 plus on-road costs Built: Thailand Engine: 2.3-litre 4-cyl bi-turbo diesel Power: 140kW @ 3750rpm Torque: 450Nm @ 1500-2500rpm Fuel average: 7.0 L/100km (14.3km/litre) Fuel tank: 80 litres Transmission: 7-spd auto Drive: 2-spd transfer; part-time 4WD, brake-lockable rear diff Suspension: front: wishbones, coils; rear: multi-links, coils Brakes: front: vented discs; rear: drums Steering: hydraulic Turning circle: 12.4m Wheels: 18-inch alloy, full-size alloy spare


Western 4W Driver #112

Tyres: 255/60R18 Dimensions: (L) 5255mm; (W) 1850mm; (H) 1855mm; (WB) 3150mm Ground clearance: 228mm Approach: 33.2 degrees Ramp-over: 24.7 degrees Departure: 28.2 degrees Weight: 1979kg Payload: 931kg Tow: 3500kg Service intervals: 12mths/20,000km Warranty: 5yr/unlimited km with 5yr roadside assist and 6-year capped price service program costing $1848 for three years. Resale (Glass’s Guide): After 3 years is estimated at 53 per cent of the purchase price.

gearbox’s spread. This is near identical to the Mazda/Ford at 2.718:1 and much higher than the Hilux (2.28:1) and Triton (2.566:1). Most of the slow off-road work can be done by crawling the ute in 4WD Low, held in first gear, that is more than sufficient for some delicate driving over rocks and wash-aways. Basically, the drivetrain presented absolutely no problems on test and even at the end of the day in the dirt, recorded a fuel average of 9.2 litres/100km. That comprised a lot of slow work through the dirt so it wasn’t surprising that the overall average - including on-road and highways and city streets - resulted in 8.1 L/100km. Nissan claims 7.0 L/100km to make it the most economical - on paper - of the major 4WD dual-cab utes on the market. The Navara is a good thing. The drivetrain is known to be durable and the suspension, though perhaps suited to less demanding duties than the leaf-spring set-up, works well to keep comfort levels up.

The feature list of the ST-X is pretty good - satellite navigation, leather seats, an electrically-operated back window, big alloy wheels and so on - but there’s no Apple CarPlay and the safety kit is thin at best. There is no autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system, for example, that is a must-have today and is standard in the Hilux, Mercedes-Benz X-Class, Ford Ranger, Triton and SsangYong Musso. It is getting long in the tooth and there’s some things that need attention, including the hard plastic cabin and not the last being that the noise levels in the cabin are higher than most rivals. The safety aspect needs addressing to bring the Navara up to its competition, too.

We reckon: So while it’s a good

drive, has a comprehensive five-year warranty and excellent fuel consumption (for its class), it is lacking in some areas and rivals with similar pricing are making a strong argument.

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Western 4W Driver #112


FOSSIL eyes By Susie Underwood

At the end of June this year, Nick and I (in our new camper) and a bunch of happy Campfire Escapees set off from El Caballo roadhouse, bound for South Australia - specifically the Ikara-Flinders Ranges.


Western 4W Driver #112


was just a bit excited, because my only previous experiences of South Australia had been a weekend in Adelaide at the airforce base watching my son graduate and driving from Sydney to Perth in a minibus towards the end of the last century. Our way forward was hampered somewhat by the closure of the HydenNorseman Road which necessitated a detour via Great Eastern Highway, adding 167 km to our first day’s drive. Our chosen campsite was east of Norseman at a place called Ten Mile Rock (10 miles from Fraser Range) and, bypassing the 24 hour rest stops inconveniently placed right on the very noisy highway, we nosed our way down a few tracks, getting well off the road and into camp with just enough daylight to see what we were unpacking and settled down by the campfire with the traditional garlic prawns and little boys. The next few days stretched somewhat monotonously across the plain, punctuated by the odd (sometimes very odd) roadhouse coffee

and sausage roll. Strangely enough I found that nothing much had changed since my east-west traverse in 1979, though my ride was a tad more comfortable. One of the highlights before we hit South Australia was travelling through the Madura Pass. After hours of monotonous straightness and flatness, you are suddenly presented with the realisation that you have been up on the Hampton Tableland and now stretching out below you is the Roe Plain. From these dizzying heights the road continued flatlining (with occasional sea views) until we reached the border. As we set up camp outside Eucla at the whimsically named Weebubbie Cave it occurred to me that two weekends previously we had flown to Sydney, attended a birthday party and then flown back to Perth in the time it had taken us to drive this far. People bang on about the vastness of Australia (me in particular when I’ve had a few red wines), but driving across that enormous empty landscape really Pines draw the gaze to the blue horizon.

Western 4W Driver #112


obligingly. Can I say right here right now that I’m never eating oysters any other way again. Left on a hot shovel just until they start to open produces a warm (not cooked) oyster that tastes divine. From that single bag of uglies we reckon we got 5060 oysters. The next night we were a little more refined and cooked them on a barbeque plate at Willow Springs, complete with bacon and Worcestershire sauce. Magnifique! The first sight of the southern Flinders as you drive into Port Augusta is truly breath-taking. The ranges stretch away into the blue distance and really are a sight to behold. The shucker serves up ugly Kilpatricks. Add a drip of Worcestershire.

does give you an appreciation of the hugeness of the place. From Eucla it was off to Port Augusta to restock after being de-fruited and de-vegetabled in Ceduna (and filling up fridges with oysters). Our last camp before we sighted the Flinders was just outside the little town of Wirrulla, somewhat sinisterly named “The Town with a Secret”, though I have since discovered that their secret is they’re apparently the only place in the world with an inland jetty. We were a tad late getting into camp that night, but once camp was set up and the fire blazing, Nick produced his own hidden secret, a bag of uglies purchased in Ceduna. To the uninitiated (and I was one), uglies are oysters that are clumped together, making them very hard to shuck and sell individually. The man at the Oyster Bar in Ceduna sold Nick a bag of these for $15 and told him to stick them on the shovel in the fire until they opened. Well! The shovel was produced and heated and the uglies popped open 28

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Our first stop was to be at Willow Springs Station (home of the famous Skytrek) and our route took us through some truly picturesque scenery. You can tell from the hyperbole that I really, really loved this place! Places we have highlighted to revisit include Pichi Richi (where you can board a steam train and chug ecstatically through the winding valleys), Quorn and Hawker. Dotted along the road were many stone ruins, more than I expected to see. South Australia being mainly bereft of trees, most houses were built from the local stone and according to our information many were abandoned soon after being built, the early settlers unaware of the inhospitable conditions which mostly prevail in this region. I’d like to say that’s a testament to hope, but really, it’s probably ignorance. We arrived in Willow Springs late in the afternoon to a warm welcome. This is a lovely place to visit, with lots (and lots) of room to spread out, also (bliss after four days on the road) hot showers and toilets.

The next day we tackled the Skytrek, which begins benignly enough with a tour through rocky creek beds and past Aboriginal rock carvings, before winding through the back blocks of the station to a locked gate. Those of you who have read my stories in the past will be aware that heights and I are not often on speaking terms (well never really), and once through the locked gate things took a turn to interesting. I have driven up Mt Meharry in WA many times, every time swearing that this will be the last, but in my opinion this track puts Mt Meharry in the shade. It starts steep, gets steeper and then, just as you think the steepness is over, it gets suddenly vertiginous. You pop out on top of a bald hill with an absolutely breathtaking view of Wilpena Pound and the surrounding mountains. After leaping out of the car and giving myself a good shake I was able to take in the view, happy that it was all downhill from here on. Sadly that was not to be, we had two more lookouts to negotiate, all extremely beautiful, particularly in the late afternoon light. Putting my heights neurosis aside, the Skytrek is absolutely not to be missed, the track is in really good condition and it provides a unique perspective of the surrounding landscape,

A high time was had by


Wilpena Pound in particular. Just as an aside and to give an indication of the harsh conditions of this part of our country, Willow Springs is a sheep and cattle station of 70,000 acres, the stocking rate 1 sheep per 16 acres, making for a lot of lonely sheep. After restoring my equanimity with a hot shower, we settled around the camp fire with a large glass of red and reflected on our interesting day. The next day’s drive took us through Bunyeroo Gorge to Brachina Gorge. Driving through the Bunyeroo valley treats you to amazing views out to Wilpena Pound. There is a ‘Corridors through Time’ geological trail in Brachina Gorge which is well worth a visit. We meandered leisurely along this track, stopping at the interpretive signs throughout the gorge. Lucky for us we had Glenn-the-geologist along to explain what we were looking at in Great tracks on the Skytrek.

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Old fossils found old fossils.

Brachina Gorge on the geology trail.

layman’s terms with Nick just itching to get his rock pick out and dig himself up a fossil. There are several camp sites along the trail and we have also earmarked this as a place to go back to and explore more thoroughly. The Flinders Ranges are also home to the fabulously named Golden Spike which Glenn directed us to. The Golden Spike delineates the Ediacaran Period, which is the first geological time period to be declared in the southern hemisphere. Though unassuming in appearance, the disc marks the geological reference point for the Ediacaran in the world and is a hot spot for excitable geologists. Brachina is also home to the largest population of yellow-footed rock wallabies 30

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in Australia, though sadly we saw none during our time there. By the time we had finished our geological ramble through the millennia it was time for a restorative coffee at a cafe in Blinman before heading out to the old horse yards at Angorichina to camp. What a pretty spot that is, with willow trees, massive gums and a river bed winding past. That night we were visited by one of Australia’s least favourite species, a feral cat, which inconsiderately left paw prints all over our nice new kitchen. From Angorichina it was off to Arkaroola via the Artimore ruins not far from Blinman. Artimore was one of the first sheep stations to be established in South Australia in the early 1850s and there you will find some pretty The Ediacaran Golden Spike a global geological treasure.

impressive ruins. It must have been a large establishment in its day, carrying more than 40,000 sheep at its peak. However, the unreliable rain, wild dogs and overstocking led to its abandonment in 1903. From Artimore it was a long and dusty drive out to Arkaroola for a couple of nights. The least said about the drive into Arkaroola the better. We drove through what must be quite a pretty gorge, invisible due to a wall of white dust. When visiting this region it would be best to avoid school holidays in my humble opinion. Arkaroola is home to the Echo Camp backtrack, a self-guided 4WD tour through Bararranna Gorge. The track is steep and rocky, but not half as vertiginous as the Skytrek and well worth visiting. Through here you can see ripple stone, which is formed by water running over ancient riverbeds, but over time and various geological eructations, this ripple stone can now be found sitting vertically in the rock face. There are also numbers of the very cute yellow-footed rock wallabies, but due to the very dry conditions there are also large

Glenn the geologist opened our eyes to the significance of it all. The camp minstrels at work.

Dust traces the pathway to Arkaroola.

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Rugged country on the Echo Back track.


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numbers of dead animals, overall quite depressing. We had a very pleasant evening at the restaurant at Arkaroola before packing up and heading out to Farina, via the Gammon Ranges. Our route this time took us very close to the little town of Beltana where a member of my family lives. Lucky for us Ngatina was home and gave us a guided tour of this special place. Unlike a lot of the little towns in this region, Beltana has never been abandoned. All the houses in Beltana are still privately owned and, such is the pull of the town, those family descendants who have moved away to pursue education and careers are beginning to retire and return to the family home, the population increasing from 6 to a dizzying 35 in recent years. Most buildings have interpretive signs out front so if you’re ever in the area it’s well worth a visit and a wander around. However, we

The underground bakehouse at Farina has raised a lot of dough to fund restoration work.

had our sights on the bakery at Farina, so beetled off in plenty of time to get there before the bakery closed. Farina (the latin word for wheat) was established in the mid 1850s with the intent of turning the region into the food bowl of South Australia, another testament to hope over reality. It must have been a bustling place in its time and was home to two hotels, a post

The northern lip of Wilpena Pound en route to Bunyeroo Gorge.

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Yellow-footed wallabies were a highlight at Arkaroola.

office, police station and cells, a church and brothel. Interestingly, the brothel was across the road from the hotel and next to the police station, conveniently saving everyone unnecessary time. A rail line also passes through and there is an old cricket ground. The Farina ruins are gradually being stabilised and restored by an enthusiastic group of volunteers who go out there every year for weeks at a time, gradually unearthing more buildings and more history. The bakery is world famous (well it should be, its bread is amazing). It is underground and pumps out delicious loaves of bread for only six weeks of the year, but is extremely popular with travellers. Each morning there’s a queue of people waiting for it to open. The bakery funds the restoration work and the group are also using the funds to


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A study in geological motion.

build a dedicated visitor’s centre and cafe next to the underground bakery which will open next year. Early the following morning, we were treated to a guided tour of the bakery and new visitor’s centre by our friends Jude and Johnno, part of the team of volunteers bringing Farina back to life. After filling our cheek pouches with bacon and egg pies and apricot Danish, we tackled the Oodnadatta Track on our way out to Lake Eyre and Coober Pedy. Suffice to say I didn’t love this part of our journey. The track is rocky and very, very dusty and also very heavily trafficked - we had picked probably the worst time of year to travel there were camel races at Marree, the Big Arkaroola’s Echo Back track was a tad steep in places.

An aerial perspective.

Lake Eyre looking like the ‘Great inland Sea’.

Red Bash was just about to start and it was school holidays. Still, we ground along at a reasonable pace, stopping at The Mounds to have a look at the artesian springs before lobbing into William Creek to board our plane for a flight over Lake Eyre. Along with not loving heights so much I don’t love flying so much, particularly in little planes which don’t have the magic light which brings wine and the little screen which shows movies. This time I was seated up the front next to the pilot with a steering wheel in front of me and pedals at my feet. Believe me, I was so terrified I would touch or step on something which would send us into an immediate death spiral I practically strangled myself with my seatbelt. However, once we got over the lake all that was forgotten. It was truly awesome seeing that water stretching away in front of us.

Our pilot was very informative and we had an absorbing hour scooting over the water drinking it all in (not literally, I’m happy to add). From William Creek it was a long, hot and bumpy ride out to Coober Pedy. That stretch of country makes the Nullarbor look positively lush. There is nothing from horizon to horizon but rocks and the odd Oodnadatta Track open (to interpretation).

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9274 7844



er s t a e r g & r a e g f o range e g u h e h t e e s d n a in Pop DL 23701 MRB 3762

Our digs at the Dugout B&B couldn’t get much cosier.

tuft of optimistic grass. Our first night in Coober Pedy was spent in a caravan park, the details of which I will draw a veil over. The next day was a lay day and we spent an absorbing few hours at the Old Timers Mine and museum, well worth a visit. Along with the old mine shafts the museum also contains an underground house, lived in by the mine owners and kept in its original 60s condition. From there we took a look at the Serbian underground church, which is absolutely glorious! The walls are covered in carvings and it is an absolute gem. Sadly we had run out of time to visit any of Coober Pedy’s other attractions, but we will be back. At sunset, we mounted our mechanical ponies and (along with practically every other tourist in town) scooted out to The

Breakaways for sunset drinks and nibbles. What fantastic scenery - the sunset colours were so intense and the landscape out of this world. If ever any Martians come to visit us, they will feel right at home here. For our second night we had booked ourselves into the Dugout B&B on the outskirts of town. If you are ever in need of accommodation in Coober Pedy, do yourselves a favour and book in, it is absolutely five star (in capital letters and flashing lights). Our 3 bed 2 bath villa was in an old mine dug into a hillside, and came complete with vast views over the plain, a kitchen which puts ours at home to shame and (best of all) complimentary port! Most of the furniture has been made by the owners and it really is a unique and very comfortable place to rest your weary head. From here, it was homeward bound for us, with a couple of days at Koonalda, an abandoned sheep station on the old Eyre Highway. The old homestead still stands and

The breakaways north of Coober Pedy were inspiring at sunset.

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there is a car dump which will keep any vintage car enthusiast amused for hours. We camped by the old shearing sheds, which are particularly photogenic in the late afternoon light. We had a lay day at Koonalda so we drove over to the coast to the bight for more spectacular views. Lucky for us it was whale-watching Another amazing campsite, this one near the Gawler Range. season and we spent an hour or two at the Head of the Bight spotting whales. Since my visit last century there have been a few improvements at these lookouts, the Head of the Bight now boasting a cafe and souvenir shop plus walkways and fences to stop oneself inadvertently stepping over the edge. We also had an afternoon The traditional Mad Hatter’s Dinner Party was a hoot at Koonalda. excursion out to the Koonalda cave, which is really a doline, (with more Ceduna oysters). On our route more a sinkhole than a cave but large and west we followed the old Eyre Highway impressive nonetheless. That night we for a bit before spearing off on the Old donned our finery and treated ourselves Coach Road where we surprised a very to a camp oven (mad hatter’s) dinner party Whale spotting at the top of the Bight.

Quarantine checkpoint on the SA/WA border, old coach road-style

Warbla Cave on the old coach road near Eucla.

laid back dingo out for a morning stroll until he spotted us and hightailed it into the long grass. All across South Australia I had been grizzling to Nick that I hadn’t seen a wombat (not a live one anyway) and I still haven’t, but the Old Coach Road treated us to a bounce through a couple of very large wombat holes which took us by surprise. One more reason to return to SA. Having crossed the heavily policed Western Australian border - on one side it was too late for lunch, on the other too early - we headed into camp near Cocklebiddy then our last night in the Great Western Woodlands by the side of Lake Johnston before heading back to sunny Perth and the dreaded washing.

All up, we travelled 6536km in just over two weeks, which was a bit of a mad dash and with my newly retired hat on, I’m looking forward to a more leisurely eastern adventure next time. The new camper worked a treat, apart from a few run-ins with the dastardly snapping cupboard of death (see Nick’s story) and a bit of getting used to the new set up and pack up routine. Ikara-Flinders Ranges is a definite on my list of places to re-visit and linger in. We certainly live in a marvellous part of the world.

Crystal clear night near Cocklebiddy.

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New Zealand electric motorcycle maker UBCO has arrived in Western Australia with a quick, silent and remarkably easy riding model perfectly suited to seamlessly transferring from a recreational ride to a tough workhorse.


imed at a broad range of users, the bike has particular application as a carry-on transport solution for caravans and 4WD owners, allowing mobility for the traveller after setting up camp. The UBCO is a purpose-built electric bike with a unique drivetrain of two electric motors - one on each wheel - for superior traction in the dirt for excellent rider safety and for negotiating rugged terrain. Originally designed for farm work in the challenging terrain of countryside New Zealand, the UBCO is remarkably versatile. It is easily licensed for the road and can carry one rider and cargo up to 150kg with optional front and rear racks. The UBCO can act as a power source. For owners who use the bike for work, there are plugs to operate electric tools - and even charge mobile phones or supply power to other 12-volt equipment - on the bike’s dash. There’s an app for your mobile phone that gives real-time information about the state of the bike’s battery and power delivery to the wheels, acting as a diagnostic tool to trouble shoot problems. Chris normally gets left behind with his bad knees and ankles, but can now join the family on the beach or on bushwalks.


Words by Neil Dowling Photos by Christine Arnasiewicz

It also has charging points that allow the battery to be topped up to 90 per cent from zero in six hours. This can also be done by plugging into the vehicle’s electrical system and charge the bike while the vehicle is travelling. The UBCO is also less than half the weight of conventional motorbikes, at only 65kg - yes, almost one third of the payload - to make it easy to manoeuvre and load. UBCO offer a range of accessories to tailor the bike to the needs of campers, workers in fields as wide as agriculture and courier services, or just people who want to get away from the city. The tow-bar mount for bike carrier is one accessory that will suit people with limited space in or on their vehicle or caravan. The low weight of the UBCO means it is easy to load onto the rack.

Other than the fact that it’s electric, the stand-out feature of the UBCO is its two electric motors that give it dirt-track stability far superior to a conventional rear-wheel drive motorcycle. It’s dead easy to ride - switch on the ignition and twist the handlebar grip. No clutch, no gears and no noise. The handlebar levers are for the brakes front and rear - so there’s no foot-mounted brake pedal to make the ride as effortless as possible. The single seat is low to the ground and the step-through design of the frame makes it easy to mount and dismount, even for people who may have some movement impairment. A 48Amp/hour lithium-ion battery is positioned in the frame for a low centre of gravity to aid handling. It powers two Western 4W Driver #112


electric hub motors rated each at one-kilowatt. When fully charged, it has a range of 120km and the manufacturer said the energy cost is only about 90 cents. Acceleration is smooth and brisk and though it is rated at a maximum of 50km/h, feels a lot faster, especially on gravel. Handling is predictable and sure-footed without the rearwheel breakaway experienced in other motorcycles. Because it is so light and narrow it is easy to control and slip through obstacles while never taxing the rider. So though inspired by the farm - with the majority of sales to date being in the Australian and New Zealand agricultural industry - it has real benefits for 4W drivers and travellers wanting lightweight, low cost mobility. No clutch, no gears and no noise. The bike fits comfortably on the back of a ute or there is a towball bike mount available to fit on other vehicles.


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Relaxation Part 2

By Ben Broeder

“Houston, we have a problem…”

Famous words from the NASA Apollo 13 mission. Whilst these astronauts were able to call upon a team of thousands for assistance, thousands of kilometres from Earth, you and I travelling in remote Australia will most likely not have quite the same level of support available…


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or Rescue?


reviously we have discussed how best to prepare and equip you and your travelling party for remote outback travel. If you missed it, be sure to track down a copy of edition 111. Unfortunately, even if you have taken every precaution, there will still be a risk that something could go wrong, something could break or someone get injured. This is why we prepare ourselves and our vehicles for remote travel, so when things

do not go to plan the situation can be dealt with in the best way possible. As with many situations, a cool head and calm demeanour in these cases will not only help you to make the right decisions, but in remote areas, a cool head can literally be the difference between life and death. Having worked in emergency rescue services for over ten years, I can’t stress enough the importance of staying calm in bad situations. I have witnessed first-hand, scenarios where people have perished due to losing their cool in what were otherwise manageable situations.

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can best determine an appropriate plan. What are my options?

Lean on that shovel and assess the situation properly before making any decisions.

We will discuss several scenarios, but the initial advice is the same for all of them. Stop, take a breath or make a cuppa if you need and then assess the situation with a cool head. All too often something happens, everyone panics and then runs around like a chook with its head cut off, expelling much energy and frustration in the heat of a summer’s day, when more often than not, a simpler, easier solution was available.

How to assess the situation

Things to take into account when assessing a problem in the outback: Is there immediate danger or risk? If there is immediate danger to people or your vehicle, such as a vehicle fire, yes, you must act immediately. However, if it is just a case of your vehicle being bogged or it won’t start, sit back and think about things for a minute. Rushing into a solution with blinkers on can lead to even bigger problems. What exactly is the problem? This may sound a little redundant, but it is important that you correctly assess what is wrong before you go charging off trying to fix it. Something like a vehicle bogged in sand may actually be part of a bigger issue. Perhaps a drive shaft has failed, causing the vehicle to become bogged. Step back and take in the whole scenario so that you 46

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To best determine a suitable course of action, weigh up all of the options you have on the table, even if they do not seem right. All too often there are simple solutions over-looked by people trying to overcomplicate things. What are the risks? Am I capable?

Even once you have come up with what you believe to be the most appropriate solution, you still need to weigh up the risk of doing nothing and calling for help vs. the risk of your intended plan. Sometimes you have no better option than to call for assistance and wait. Trying to do something you aren’t skilled enough in or can’t physically achieve can make the issue exponentially worse. Once you have assessed the situation, come up with a plan that makes sense and that you are capable of undertaking. Make sure you keep re-visiting the scenario and continually assessing the situation. Things can change along the way and open up new options that may not have been available or thought of initially. Generally, most scenarios that occur in remote travel will fall into one of the following categories and we have provided a few basic tips on how to deal with these more common situations. However, remember to fully assess what is wrong and make a clear plan on how you will deal with it before proceeding.


As much as we hate to admit it, we all eventually get stuck at some point. That is all well and good on a club trip with plenty of people around, or in those forest tracks where there is plenty to winch off. However, if you become stuck somewhere more

A dead-man anchor - a lot of work, but sometimes your only way out.

challenging, such as the edge of a salt flat on the Canning Stock Route with only one, or maybe no other vehicles around, this will be no laughing matter. When a vehicle is bogged, or as I like to call it ‘Tractionally Challenged’, the exact situation will dictate how best to un-bog it. Ultimately, experience is your best resource here, but things worth noting are: • As soon as you lose momentum on something such as a salt flat, or large muddy area - STOP. If you are stuck, you are stuck. Do not make things worse by trying to rev and rock the vehicle back and forth, you are only making more work for yourself. • Become that stereotypical council worker. Quite often shovels are best for leaning on. Do not go racing in trying to dig wheels out until you have fully assessed what you are going to do. • Take a little pressure off. Even if you are already down to a low tyre pressure, as long as you are driving in a straight line, you can lower standard tubeless tyres (without bead locks) to around 5 - 10 PSI, which may be enough to get you out and going again, or at least ease the recovery process a little. As soon as you can though, return the tyres back to a more suitable pressure.

It may seem slow, but it can be done in a controlled manner. • Do not hope for the easy option to work. Often you are best to spend your time and energy going straight up for a solution you know will work, but may require more effort. Such as creating a dead man anchor Situations like these can certainly lead to losing your cool.

• If you are travelling with another vehicle, that just became your lifeline. Do not risk getting it in the same problem. Think very carefully about every move you make with it until you become unstuck. • Winching is always a good option. Western 4W Driver #112


instead of trying to winch off a twig in the sand.


The amount of ways in which a vehicle can break down in the outback are as varied as the amount of vehicles on the road. Whilst our four wheel drive vehicles have become more advanced over the years, there are still common items that you can check and work through without having to be a full- blown mechanic. This is also where carrying a full service manual can benefit you, or someone more capable who comes along. Again, I take this chance to stress how important it is that your vehicle is serviced and maintained by a competent, reputable mechanical workshop experienced with 4WD vehicles and that you get along with, so that if you need help, it will be available. Generally, mechanical breakdowns will occur in one of three categories:

Mechanical Failure

This is perhaps the most common issue I see on the tracks and in our workshop. A catastrophic mechanical failure of the vehicle or one of the accessories fitted. Generally, all these types of failures are preventable. We are talking about broken chassis and suspension or driveline components through outright abuse or overloading, failed fuel tanks due to poor construction etc.

Having tyres suitable for outback conditions is a must.

failed transmission. The vehicle was then flat towed a considerable distance into Warburton and then brought on tilt tray to our workshop in Kalgoorlie. Upon diagnosis, the issue was found to be a failed rear axle, not the transmission, but the act of flat towing this vehicle had destroyed the rear axle housing and the rear differential gearset, costing the owner many thousands of dollars and delaying his trip until a new housing could be obtained. If the fault was correctly diagnosed, it would have been fairly straightforward for those travelling in the accompanying vehicle to return with a new axle, re-fit it and have the vehicle continue the trip with a minimum of cost and disruption. Remember - fully assess the situation before leaping into action.

Electrical Issues

Prevention is better than cure in this scenario. However, if you suffer a mechanical failure on your vehicle there really is not too much that can be done. Try to best patch things up and limp very carefully to help, providing it is not going to do further damage to the vehicle.

Electrical issues are what probably scares many modern four wheel drive owners most.

A classic example I once saw was a vehicle where the driver diagnosed the fault as a

It is however, very common to see failures, fires and issues associated with what is


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Rest assured that apart from physical damage to factory wiring harnesses being torn out by bushes or sticks, or eaten (which has happened on the CSR), any electrical failure of factory systems are rare.

• Check connectors are clean and tight • With vehicles going into limp mode or similar, it is preferable to try and read the DTC (Diagnostic Trouble Code) and record it before clearing, to assist later repairs and diagnosis. However, even if you do not have a scan gauge, quite often removing the negative terminal from the battery for ten minutes will reset the vehicle’s ECU and clear the fault temporarily.

Fuel Issues

Another common problem in the outback is fuel issues and it may surprise you to learn what the main cause of these issues are. Ensure any after-market wiring is up to scratch.

generally found to be the extremely poor standard of workmanship found with aftermarket electrical equipment fitted by the ‘experts’ out there. Automotive electrical issues can be tricky to diagnose for those without a trade and experience in the area. However, this is where a good relationship with the service centre that maintains your 4WD can help. Likewise with the aftermarket accessories that are fitted to your vehicle. A quality, reputable workshop will know exactly what has been installed where in your vehicle and will be able to provide you with wiring diagrams and information if you request them. If you have the basic tools, quite often you can be talked through diagnosing and repairing the more simple faults that occur.

We often have travellers present to our workshop with fuel filter lights on, failed fuel injectors and the like, all apparently owing to picking up ‘bad fuel’ along the way. Whilst this is not an impossible scenario, it is extremely rare. Generally, the situation is found that the vehicle hasn’t been serviced adequately. The fuel filter hasn’t been replaced regularly enough and on their big trip, using lots of fuel and running tanks down to low levels, the fuel filter clogs up enough to stop the vehicle, bring on a warning light or reduce its performance. All blamed upon ‘bad fuel’ when it was actually bad servicing and maintenance. Operating vehicles in the outback requires more frequent servicing to avoid issues like this blocked fuel filter.

What may be obvious points to consider, but are often overlooked are: • Is the battery flat? • Check ALL fuses in the vehicle. Remember some cars may have two or three fuse boxes and it’s not unheard of for a blown brake light fuse to cause a vehicle’s engine to not start. • All electrical items require a power and a ground to function. Is the faulty component correctly grounded or has it come loose? Western 4W Driver #112


Firstly, ALWAYS carry a spare fuel filter with you in the outback and secondly, ensure your fuel filter is changed regularly enough. In engines such as the V8 Toyota Land Cruiser, the filter element is quite small and at times the element may only last ten or twenty thousand kilometres at the most. Also don’t forget about any additional primary or secondary fuel filter systems you may have installed. Things to check if you suspect a fuel issue: • Is there fuel in the tank? Don’t trust the fuel gauge. • Is the fuel filter blocked? Is there fuel present at the filter? • For diesel vehicles, is the fuel system correctly bled? Has air entered the system? • Is there an electrical issue? Fuel pump not being powered or a loose connector on a rail pressure sensor or similar? Don’t just sit, crank and crank the vehicle. Sometimes with some issues, tow starting may help (manual vehicles only) but these are another area that without careful assessment and a little help or knowledge you can make a bad situation worse. Modern diesel vehicles can require a lot of know-how to correctly diagnose.

Having a tyre repair kit and knowing how to use it is essential.


With modern tyre technologies it is becoming less and less frequent that we get punctures or tyre failures these days. However, they are still an element that can leave you stranded in the outback. Most of us carry at least two spares when in the outback, but what can you do if you run out? • If you are in an isolated area, do not drive on flat tyres. This will only lead to you becoming immobile and without any further options up your sleeve. • If you cannot repair a tyre with plugs or patches, a good practice is to carry a spare tyre tube (even for tubeless tyres) which can be installed within the tyre to keep it inflated in an emergency to limp to help. Likewise, you can pack a tyre with leaves, spinifex and the like to make it drivable without destroying the tyre.


Western 4W Driver #112

REPCO AUTHORISED SERVICING • We service 4WDs and 2WDs • Log book servicing • All mechanical repairs • Auto electrical • Air conditioning • ARB 4X4 accessories


• Satellite phone hire • Communications equipment

(08) 9091 4797 1/35 Great Eastern Highway, Kalgoorlie

• In the case of bent or buckled rims, you can try to panel beat them with a large hammer or use the vehicle’s weight and a jack to bend them back in place well enough for a tyre to re-seal to the rim. If you have fancy alloy rims, a spare tyre tube is your only option here. If your alloy rim has not cracked or shattered yet, it will if you try to mend it.

Medical Emergency

This is perhaps our biggest fear with remote travel. Someone is bitten by a snake, or falls from a roof rack and breaks an arm - whatever the scenario - what closer to town could be called a minor incident could quickly become life and death in the outback. This is where your training in first aid and preparation with first aid and communications equipment becomes critical. For many minor problems, your first aid skills and training will be able to manage the situation but something beyond the role of a first aider needs to be escalated quickly. • Assess the situation – Follow your first aid training to provide basic life support and to ensure you do not make the problem worse. • Establish communication – This is where your HF radio or satellite phone has just paid for itself. Contact the RFDS or other emergency services to seek assistance. They can also provide information and advice on patient transport or whether to stay put. Have all relevant information ready before you call:

- Location

- Nature of the problem

- How many persons involved

- Age, gender and any relevant medical information you might have available.

- Your contact details

• Stay calm. You are a long way from anyone or anywhere. Rushing around or 52

Western 4W Driver #112

racing off to get help at a hundred miles per hour is only going to make the scenario worse and deteriorate the patient’s condition. Follow the advice provided by the relevant emergency services. Stay calm and collected to ensure you make the right decisions.

Summing Up It has often been said by bushies and outback travellers that the best thing to pack is a deck of cards. That way if you find yourself in trouble you can get them out and start playing patience. Because we all know from experience, as soon as you do, someone will be behind you telling you to put that ten of clubs over there on the jack of diamonds…. All joking aside though, travel in the remote outback these days seems like a doddle. With our satellite phones, air conditioning and modern radial tyres it is a very long way from what it was even only as far back as twenty or thirty years ago. Having an appreciation for the heightened risks involved with outback travel will help you to relax a little more out there, and knowing that you have all bases covered will help keep you in the right mind set to avoid getting into trouble in the first place.

Remember: • Make the proper preparation of your vehicle and those travelling with you an absolute priority. • If things go wrong, fully assess the situation. • Keep calm and collected.


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Indee Station

By Chris Morton

We had overshot a planned overnight stop about an hour south of Port Hedland and were rapidly searching the net looking for an alternative location to pull up for the night when Karen found Indee Station. A quick call confirmed that we could stay the night and if we were quick we would make Happy Hour. 15 minutes later we pulled in.


menagerie of animals greeted us as we made our way through the homestead yard before we were warmly greeted by owners Colin and Betty and the other station guests. Happy Hour was in full swing. We quickly got our vans


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setup and then made our way back to catch the last half of the social gathering. Colin, who is 80 and still very much involved in the day to day running of the station, bought Indee when he was just 23. He has lived on the property for 57 years, the last 21 years with Betty. Colin still holds the record for the most wild dogs trapped, in an eight week period. The property is approximately 400,000 acres and was originally a sheep station but now carries around 3000 head of cattle. The local motocross club holds the annual Indee 500 (4 x 125km laps around a circuit on the station) every July. Our highlight was a visit out to Red Rock. As the name implies it is a large red rock outcrop with a multitude of rock pools. The larger ones were still holding substantial amounts of fresh water from cyclonic rains in March. The view from the summit was spectacular and is well worth the climb. We were kept company by a very inquisitive hawk. The rock is also covered with Aboriginal etchings. We managed to find 30 however Betty informs us that there is at least 50.

On New Year’s Eve 1968, Indee Station was the scene of Western Australia’s worst commercial aircraft disaster. An Ansett four engine Viscount 720C, on charter to MacRobertson-Miller Airlines, was on final approach to Port Hedland airport when it crashed. All 26 passengers and crew were killed on impact. Colin was the first person on the scene after emerging from a well and seeing a pillar of smoke in the distance. A memorial has been erected after being moved from the original crash site (due to mining operations) and has been located next to Red Rock, providing a tranquil and picturesque location fitting for the victim’s memories. This memorial has been erected in honour of the crew killed in the Viscount crash.

Aboriginal etchings are found all over Red Rock.

Excerpt from Hema’s WA State map.

Western 4W Driver #112


For bird lovers, there are in excess of 20 species. The highlight for our daughters was getting to meet and hand feed the baby camel, Calvin. The homestead’s breezeway is filled with artefacts and the walls literally ooze history. Colin is extremely proud of his vegie garden and can be found there every morning, lovingly tending his plants and ensuring the chooks aren’t able to feast on them.

Just one of the many interesting things to see at Indee Station.

The station offers hot showers, unpowered sites and a camp kitchen for those who need it. Adults are $12.50 per night and children $6. Dogs are allowed if kept on a leash. Happy Hour is 5:30pm every night and we highly encourage you to join Colin and Betty. BYO drinks with snacks provided.

Calvin the camel was very vocal and a real hit with the kids.

A rock pool at the base of Red Rock was still full of water.


Western 4W Driver #112

Come and visit our family owned and operated, independent camping store for unique and exclusive products you won’t see anywhere else in Perth.

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9/58 Erindale Rd, Balcatta Phone 08 9344 6252

Whale Song Campground


By Chris Morton


Western 4W Driver #112


Whale Song is a place that you need to experience to truly appreciate its natural beauty. Nestled along the spectacular pindan red cliffs of the Dampier Peninsula, Whale Song is a truly unique Western Australian destination.

ocated approximately 135km (or about a three hour drive) north of Broome off the Cape Leveque Road, access is definitely 4WD only. Even with the soon-to-be completed bitumen road, the last 35km is along narrow, winding bush tracks. Although we managed to get our 21 foot New Age Big Red in, it wasn’t without some minor damage. Our camp site for the next three days can only be described as having a million dollar view with our van sitting only about five metres from the edge of a pindan

cliff. Looking north east we were able to drink in Pender Bay in almost all of its entirety. The stark contrasts between the turquoise blue of the ocean, the white sandy beaches and stunning red cliffs really is breathtaking. Waking up to the sounds of waves breaking along the beach really does recharge your soul. Whale Song’s amenities are quite adequate for those equipped for off-grid camping. There are two communal toilets (one being near the owner’s residence and the other being located centrally within the

Western 4W Driver #112


campgrounds) as well as an open shower and camp kitchen. The bush shower is screened with some mud brick walls, inlayed with locally sourced sea shells. The water is heated by the sun while laying in the 200m-long poly pipe run from the main water tank. Fresh water is available at the kitchen. There is no power, but if you are equipped with solar panels then this shouldn’t be an issue.

Certainly can’t complain about the view from our campsite.

Currently there are five camping sites available and Jacinta and Lenny are well into the planning stages for the development of self-contained eco shelters. Jacinta says, “It’s a real balancing act between maintaining the natural beauty of the country and providing access for more visitors into the bay.” She goes on to say that, “With the expected completion of the sealing of the Cape Leveque Road at the end of 2020 we need to be ready for a potential influx of more visitors.” The eco shelters will allow for a longer season, being more comfortable in the warmer weather than the more common safari tents.

Access to the beach is a five minute walk from the campground.


Western 4W Driver #112

Pender Bay is also well known for being a whale nursery so the chances of seeing humpbacks with their calves is very high. Dolphins and rays are also quite common visitors. There is beach access just a short distance up the beach, allowing for the launching of small boats for those wanting to take advantage of the area’s abundant fish life. Lenny and Jacinta serve coffee as well as homemade snacks between 8.00am and 10.00am each morning. They quite often get visitors from the surrounding campsites looking to satisfy their coffee cravings. All the food served is home made with the Bounty Bar being especially delicious. Lenny and Jacinta are also the owners of Kimberley Wild Gubinge (KWG), a small family company formed in 2015 that harvests and processes wild grown Kakadu Plum from the surrounding area. The fruit is wild harvested and has been used by the Bardi people of the West Kimberley Coast

for thousands of years. It is the highest natural source of Vitamin C on the planet and independent scientific studies have found it to have amazing anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties as well as making an extremely powerful health therapy. Their facility is the only one in Western Australia set up for the processing of Gubinge and as a result they not only harvest their own fruit but also buy from other local families in the area. They are committed to ensuring that the Kakadu Plum is sustainably sourced utilising both naturally occurring trees as well as raising over 1000 seedlings for planting back into the area that will fend for themselves once planted. The range of Gubinge products can be purchased from Whale Song with the powder (only ½ teaspoon required per serve) being a good addition to both food and drinks. I found it quite refreshing added to cold water. If you enjoy beach walks or relaxing in the shade with a good book and are looking for somewhere special to escape to and enjoy a level of solitude, then Whale Song is for you. Mobile phone reception is sketchy at best (usually best in the evenings with one bar of 3G and sometimes one bar of 4G if you are lucky – Telstra only). Swimming is possible along the beach however salt water crocodiles can frequent the area so caution is urged. For more information, go to

Excerpt from Hema’s WA State map.

Each site has its own camp fire with wood available from the office.

Western 4W Driver #112


















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CAMPER Snails can make the most of their circular shell but not surprisingly, it isn’t particularly efficient for caravans despite the popularity of the tear-drop camper trailer design. Words by Neil Dowling Photos by Christine Arnasiewicz


Western 4W Driver #112


ne Perth camper-trailer maker, Terry Donnell of TS Campers, once made a tear-drop camper but has left that for the snails, designing a far more efficient box that maximises interior space and offers room for parents and two little children. With business partner Sara Andacic, Terry has made about six of his box-shaped Koala and Possum caravans and has an order book that is swelling by the month. The reasons are simple - both the designs are suitable for SUVs and even sedans. They weigh between 450kg and 635kg, easy for even a small hatchback and definitely in the mid-size SUV class - think Forester, RAV4 or X-Trail - and with bigger 4WDs you probably wouldn’t know they’re being towed. They also require no assembly. Roll into the camp site late at night and just park, open the side door (there are two) and sleep. In the morning you can assemble the expansive awning and side curtains and that’s about it. If that’s not enough, the prices start at $9990 tow-away (including one-year registration and GST) for the Possum. The larger Koala starts at $16,990 and the X Series - applicable to both models - is from $13,990 and made for more heavyduty work. The X adds goodies including a water tank, LED lights and ceiling fan, Bluetooth

outdoor speaker and RGB lights (yes, you can have your own disco), up to four USB ports and 12-volt plugs, 2.1-amp sockets, cargo nets, pot and cutlery drawers, extra bunk space (Koala X), and a list of other extras. Underneath are upgraded springs, a swivel hitch with 50mm ball to assist in off-road conditions and 16-inch wheels, up from the standard 14-inch rubber. Terry said options and custom builds were welcomed to ensure buyers got precisely what they need, including making one for a user who wanted space to carry mountain bikes and others who double the water capacity by adding a second 60-litre tank. “The campers are designed and made in Western Australia and wherever possible, I use WA and then Australian suppliers,” Terry said. “There are a few exceptions where we can’t get locally-made components, such as the doors. The awnings are designed in WA but made in China and the LED lighting and some of the electrical products are also from overseas.” “The rest - from the box-section galvanised frame I make in my factory unit, to the marine plywood cabinets, the aluminium shell, the tool box and so on - is all out of WA. I’m very proud of that and I think it’s important that buyers stick to local products and keep the work here.”

Western 4W Driver #112


The awning provides a weatherproof room and private area for changing.

Terry showed a Koala X to Western 4W Driver that was the first built and is used extensively by its owner. It set the bar for the Koala X units that followed, with standard awning with full-size zip-out doors, flyscreens for the windows and doors, and a swivel-out coverage that goes 270-degrees around the camper and provides full weatherproof cover and substantial living room from the side door around to the rear storage area. “There is no built-in kitchen,” Terry said. “We researched what people wanted and most said they didn’t cook in the camper or the caravan because they hated sleeping with cooking smells. So we decided to let the owners have their own cooking set-up and place it outside or in the awning space. Everyone we talk to about this is happy with that design. The awning also allows people privacy to get changed because you can’t stand up inside the camper.” 66

Western 4W Driver #112

If there was one bugbear, it is exactly that: The room inside is practically only for sleeping. Unless you’re flexible, it would be hard to change clothes. The room for two children - in the Koala - is suitable for small kids and everyone shares Plenty of space at the back of the camper for a slide-in fridge, storage and meal prep.

the same space. That may not suit everyone. However, there is plenty of floor area available when the awning is erected. Terry said there is space for a slide-in fridge - such as displayed for us - and the big drawers take a lot of cooking gear and general storage. There’s also the metal tool box on the A-frame that holds the ancillary poles for the awning, the 110-amp lithium-ion battery, fuse box and extra space for tools.

Doors on both sides allows easy access to the double bed and means you don’t have to climb over your partner.

Both the Possum and Koala are built on the same principles, with a 75mm by 50mm galvanised box-section frame, leaf springs and solid axle, aluminium sheet and polystyrene cladding over a timber frame, 45mm thick insulation for the ceiling, and 3mm marine-grade plywood for the cabinetry. There are pull-down legs including a winder to stabilise the camper, with the legs capable of being locked at different angles to suit uneven ground. The tool box has room for awning poles and walls, battery, fuse box and tools. This camper has been designed with cupboards and a TV inside but can be made with bunks instead.

Terry said a camper takes six to eight weeks to complete from order. “We have customers who tell us the campers don’t only go on holiday, they’re used around the house for extra sleeping accommodation,” he said. “That’s the beauty of them - they are small enough to fit around your house. They really are flexible and very space efficient.” Western 4W Driver #112


get your adventure on

At TS Campers we believe everyone should be able to travel and camp in style and comfort. Designed and manufactured here in sunny WA, we have created a budget friendly, easily towed, light weight camper. Suitable for solo travellers through to families, each camper is customised to your needs.

Phone 0444 514 193

MU-Xcels on & off road

Words by Neil Dowling Photos by Christine Arnasiewicz

There are four main contenders in the 4WD not SUV - wagon market which should make it easy to pick a winner. All have a ladder-frame chassis, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, part-time 4WD with low-range, coil suspension on the rear with disc brakes all around, and the availability of seven seats. Western 4W Driver #112



he Isuzu MU-X comes up against its ute-based rivals - Ford Everest, Holden Trailblazer, Toyota Fortuner, SsangYong Rexton and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport - with similar features and pricing at $50,200 for the entry-level LS-M tested here, rising to $56,400 plus on-road cost. Some are cheaper with the Fortuner starting at $44,590, the Rexton from $46,990 including on-road costs and the Pajero from $50,990. There’s also a fivecylinder turbo-diesel Everest at $54,450 but it's not as lively as the new 2.0-litre version that starts at $61,490. The price is ballpark so owners pick fuel economy as another reason for the Isuzu winning their wallets. Isuzu claims 8.1 litres/100km as an average for the LS-M. The other two variants, LS-T and LS-U, get a better consumption of 7.9 L/100km because they have 18-inch wheels instead of the test vehicle’s small-diameter 16-inch units. By comparison, the Everest claims 7.1 L/100km and is slightly worse than the Pajero Sport that has an average of 8.0 L/100km. Better to buy the LS-T or LS-U, then. That’s the good news. The MU-X is affordable, economical and has a reputation for lasting the distance while towing up to 3000kg (as long as it is within its GCM). It has been one of the most popular tow vehicles used by the older traveller on a round Australia holiday, mainly because of the vehicle’s reputation for reliability and its relatively low fuel consumption. Last year, Isuzu’s only two models - the D-Max ute and the MU-X SUV - outsold all of BMW’s 19 models and all of Audi’s 15 models. In 2018, that’s 27,640 Isuzu sales compared with BMW’s 23,055 and Audi with 19,416 sales. The latest MU-X gets some extra features and some polish but compared with the Hilux, Ranger and Rexton, for example, falls short in a few areas, including standard safety gear. 70

Western 4W Driver #112

Rugged MU-X makes easy work of this sticky gravel climb.

But many people don’t care. They know the MU-X - like its D-Max ute sibling - is simple, durable and easy to fix. There are a lot of good things. The 16-inch wheels have higher-profile tyres that are more comfortable for occupants, and are better in the dirt - especially sand where they

Dash design is simple and understated. Three dash storage areas are welcome features for travellers.

There’s no autonomous emergency braking (AEB) or adaptive cruise control, for example, that are standard on the rival three models. The MU-X’s infotainment system is ordinary and the central monitor is hard to see when there’s any sunshine glare. There are touch-button controls for the audio which can be difficult to get to work when you’re driving. The headlights have to be turned on and off manually - becoming very uncommon in an age of automatic and dusk-seeking headlights and keyless entry and start systems. Buy the cheaper LS-M and not only do you use a bit more fuel with the 16-inch wheels, but you miss out on satellite navigation. Plenty of room in the back with a comfortable cushion rake.

Long-travel rear suspension gives a compliant ride over all surfaces.

can be lowered in pressure to provide a longer footprint. The 16-inch rubber is also cheaper to buy than 18-inch donuts come replacement time. Then there are the appreciated userfriendly features. The dashboard has three glovebox compartments plus a big lidded storage bin between the seats, cup holders in the centre console and bottle holders in the doors. The boot area has a high floor, designed so there’s a flat floor when the third and second row seats are folded down. In creating this artificially high floor, Isuzu has made storage areas under a removable floor section. Seating is for seven and there’s enough room for two adults in the third row, though probably not for a long journey. It’s an easy vehicle to enter and leave despite the tall stance with help from the side steps, grab handles and the flat floor. Western 4W Driver #112


Wagon looks like a city slicker but goes hard in the bush.

On the road, there’s a lot to like about the truck-like character of the engine. The 3.0-litre turbo-diesel, which borrows from the Isuzu N-series truck engine and has a long history in the company, never feels stressed. It’s not the smoothest or quietest engine in its class, with a typical diesel gravelly voice at idle, a relatively quiet sound at lowrange speed and is almost inaudible when cruising. It gets noisy at anything much above 3000rpm so is a place best not to visit too often. Flat second and third-row seats for heaps of cargo room. Lidded storage bin at rear is handy for recovery gear.

That aside, it’s very torquey. It has 130kW at 3600rpm - not particularly remarkable - but its torque is a hefty 430Nm that opens at 2000-2200rpm. Much of the off-road work with this test was in 4WD High as conditions rarely needed to engage Low. For steeper grades and some of the water crossings, the 4WD Low meant the MU-X could comfortably walk the inclines with little input from the driver. The wagon, and the D-Max ute, have clever hill descent systems that just need a dash button press to activate and then a touch of the accelerator or brake to increase or decrease the vehicle speed. It also has a very handy hill holder just brake on a hill and it’ll hold until the accelerator is pressed, before moving off without any backward movement. No controls are needed for this function. One stand-out is the suspension. Where the D-Max ute pitched over similar gravel and sand tracks on the power lines east of Perth, the MU-X virtually glided over the rough.


Western 4W Driver #112

There’s a lot of control at the rear as well, with the coils and lateral suspension links ensuring the wheels stayed in contact with the dirt as much as possible. Inside, it was just a cushy ride. There’s no noise from what’s happening underneath with no complaints from the suspension and only the occasional underbody noise from twigs and gum nuts. So despite this being a rather simple wagon, its performance over rough ground is anything but crude. Someone did a lot of work on the chassis before this thing hit the production line. Mechanically, there are some great features in this vehicle. The chain-driven camshafts may be a bit noisier and more expensive than a rubber-fibre belt but last much, much longer without needing replacement at around 100,000km to 150,000km as is the case with some manufacturers. Under the bonnet is easy access to the high maintenance items and includes a bleed for the diesel fuel pump, great for getting out the air or water.

Hill holder proves its worth.

The gearbox is a six-speed Aisin automatic transmission that has a good reputation for durability. The drive is part-time 4WD with the change from 2WD High to 4WD High made on the move, up to 100km/h. Getting into 4WD Low requires stopping the vehicle and selecting neutral before twisting the dash control. Tyres are Bridgestone 245/70R16 all-terrain rubber on alloy wheels. There’s a full-size wheel under the chassis at the rear.

Isuzu shines in our reverse carwash test. Western 4W Driver #112


This is a solid, dependable wagon that lacks some of the refinement - safety and infotainment - of its rivals. Isuzu won’t confirm it but there’ll be a new ute and wagon in 2021 with a lot more of the missing gear. These vehicles will also be the first in a new alliance with Mazda, so the next Mazda and Isuzu will share significant features in their respective BT-50 and D-Max/MU-X. It may also mean Mazda may have a rugged 4WD wagon for the first time.

Good attention to engineering detail under the bonnet.

Nuts ‘n’ bolts Isuzu MU-X LS-M

Price: $50,200 plus on-road costs Built: Thailand Engine: 3.0-litre 4-cyl turbo-diesel Power: 130kW @ 3600rpm Torque: 430Nm @ 2000-2200rpm Fuel average: 8.1 L/100km (12.3km/litre) Fuel tank: 65 litres Transmission: 6-spd auto Drive: 2-spd transfer; part-time 4WD Suspension: front: double wishbones, coils; rear: coils, multi-link, live axle Brakes: front: vented discs; rear: solid discs Steering: hydraulic Turning circle: 11.6m


Western 4W Driver #112

Wheels: 16-inch alloy, full-size alloy spare Tyres: 245/70R16 Dimensions: (L) 4825mm; (W) 1860mm; (H) 1825mm; (WB) 2845mm Ground clearance: 220mm Approach: 23.3 degrees Ramp-over: 18.7 degrees Departure: 24.6 degrees Weight: 2092kg Tow: 3000kg Service intervals: 12mths/15,000km Warranty: 6yr/150,000 km with 6 year roadside assist and 7-year capped price service program costing $1300 for three years. Resale (Glass’s Guide): After 3 years is estimated at 53 per cent of the purchase price.

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Gero a go!

I know of many people who screw their noses up and loudly proclaim, “Geraldton, pft - windy bloody hole of a place, couldn’t pay me enough to stay there.” A lot of folk just think of Geraldton as the Bunnings car park because it’s big and easy and has enough room for a caravan or the 440 roadhouse for the last cheapish fuel on the way north. So yes, Geraldton is both of those things but it is also so much more.

City view.


Western 4W Driver #112

By Jo Clews


s far as the wind goes it is no worse than most coastal communities I have visited over the years and on those odd days when there is not that steady southerly cooling things down, it is possible, and has occurred a couple of times in the last two years, that Geraldton has been the hottest place in the world. The wonderful thing is there is no wind in winter - that’s if you can call it winter. Minimum night time temperatures hover about 10°C and daytime is about 25ish with the occasional rain storm followed by delicious winter sunshine. Geraldton has never been a tourist destination - well not for locals anyway, which is really rather sad as it does have many things to see and do. So the next time you are making a bee-line for the north and are sitting at the lights at the

Straight on through the next roundabout and a couple of hundred metres on will find you at the new tourist information building on the right. Well itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s actually a really old building thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been given a face-lift and turned into something the city can be proud of.

Monsignor John Hawes Museum.

intersection that will take you on to the North West Coastal Highway, why not make a small detour and keep going straight into town. Once you commit you will be driving on Cathedral Avenue, named after the majestic Monsignor Hawes who designed and built the Catholic cathedral that sits just past the first roundabout on your left.

Turn right into the car park at the Sail Inn (who do darn good fish and chips and burgers) and park up to wander around our lovely foreshore. From here you can access the new observation deck that gives you a wonderful view of all the comings and goings of the harbour with the mighty ships docking to fill up with wheat and iron ore.

Monsignor Hawes is a pretty famous bloke in our parts, so much so that he now has his own museum next to the cathedral. He is responsible for designing and building many beautiful buildings in the area including the convent in Northampton, the church at Mullewa and as a kind gentleman from Morawa pointed out to me, the church in his town as well. He also built my joint at Melangata. After having paid your visit to the cathedral, keep driving straight on through the next set of lights and turn left at the roundabout. This is Marine Terrace and will take you past some of the more trendy coffee shops in town where you will be sure to get a good brew and a tasty snack to go with it.

St Francis Xavier Cathedral.

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Stroll along the foreshore.

The council have done wonders with our multi-use outdoor amphitheatre and all ages playground. Yes, it’s big enough for adults to play on, and one of the best located 24 hour RV stop-over and dump points in the big car park closest to the silos I have ever seen. It is within walking distance to everything the town can offer, there are safe swimming beaches and if the mood takes you, a spot of fishing off the small jetty at the boat ramp. Amble along the footpath towards the centre of town to the north and you will come across one of the best equipped children’s playgrounds you would be likely to find anywhere and a hugely popular water park that both young and old get great enjoyment from on the odd hot day in summer.

Wander past the couple of cafes that have the best location in the state or stop in for coffee if you need to, then cross Foreshore Drive at the statue of Weibbe Hays who was the hero of the Mutiny of the Batavia that was wrecked on the Abrolhos islands 400 or so years ago. But that’s a whole other story for another time. Head east to the roundabout then south into the centre of town and peruse the different shops in the mall, which strictly speaking is a one way street, but everyone calls it the Mall. There’s a nice bakery, gift and kitchenwares shop, jewellers that specialise in local pearl jewellery, shoe and clothing shops, health food shops, banks, cafes, a really good butcher and so much more to see before

Geraldton’s foreshore is something to be proud of these days. For those who can remember, the foreshore used to be a pretty bleak sort of place and was mostly fenced off to the public as the train line followed the shore and it wasn’t very inviting at all.

Giant playground with equipment for all ages.


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you arrive back at your vehicle for the next part of the journey. Turn left out of the carpark onto Marine Terrace and head back the way you have just walked, veer left at the first roundabout onto Foreshore Drive then keep going straight ahead till you get to the marina precinct where you will find the museum. No visit to Geraldton is complete without doing a couple of things and one of them is visiting the museum. After Fremantle, Geraldton has one of the best maritime history displays as the midwest coast is home to many early ship wrecks, the Batavia being just one of them. While you are at the museum get instructions on how to get to the memorial of the HMAS Sydney. It is visible from the museum so it’s just a matter of following your nose up the hill till you get to the second ‘must-see’ thing in Geraldton. The memorial really is a magnificent tribute to all those souls lost at sea in the tragic war-time incident that happened so close to our shores. The memorial is better viewed at sunrise or sunset when the golden light of the day reflects off the dome and illuminates the wall of names. There are many well equipped caravan parks to stay overnight or a few days or, if you like to free camp, there are numerous in the area including Flat Rocks, Ellendale Pool, Lucky Bay and for a small fee, Coronation Beach. The best time of the year to visit is from May to November and if you happen to be cruising around some of our lovely country roads in August to September when the crops are green and the canola is in flower, then you will be treated to a vibrant green and gold landscape that can take your breath away.

Watch the comings and goings at the port.

Ellendale Pool.

South of Geraldton is the Greenough Historical Village and if you aren’t that keen on historical buildings then they have great tea rooms and alpacas. Lucy’s Beach is great for fishing, beach combing or just enjoying the rugged coast and the Greenough Wildlife Park and the Hampton Arms Inn are all in the same area that combined, can make a good day’s exploring. The wind farm is massive and I love it. The turbines are visible for many kilometres and you can get up close and personal with one on your way to Ellendale Pool. I could go on and on but space will not allow so why not the next time you are heading north, add a couple of days to do justice to the place I call home, do a bit of exploring for yourself and give Gero a go.

Canola fields in all their glory.

Western 4W Driver #112


HYBRID CRUISING with the new

RAV4 By Neil Dowling

Toyota customers hanging out for a new RAV4 have waited about 18 months since news filtered through that one was on the way. Now prospective buyers of the hybrid version will have to wait even longer as demand outstrips supply and some dealers are edging customers towards the more available petrolengined RAV4s.


oyota leaked news about an allnew RAV4 in late 2017 so there was an anticipation that led to pent-up demand when the fifth-generation RAV4 finally hit Australia. A few things converged to make this happen: The latest RAV4 is not available

with a diesel engine, dropped because of global anti-diesel sentiment; the new SUV is based on the Corolla platform that has a hybrid; the 4.7 litres/100km fuel economy is pretty enticing; and getting all-wheel drive was possible by simply adding a rear electric motor with no need for a central prop shaft. The RAV4 Hybrid isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the only reason for the sales success. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no doubt that buyers will fall over themselves to buy a cardboard box with a Toyota badge but there is method in their one-eyed view. This latest RAV4 is big substantially bigger than the pictures indicate - and that impression is enhanced

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by the vertical, open-mouth grille that follows its US styling and emulates that countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s addiction to large, industriallooking utes and SUVs. But the size of the new SUV has a surprise: The new RAV4 is actually 60mm shorter than the one it replaces. From inside the SUV, you wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know it. There has been clever use of cabin space and the length of the cargo floor. This is directly attributed to the new platform now shared with the Corolla - that is stronger, lighter and now stretched 30mm over the previous RAV4. Headroom is better though that was never a problem - while rearseat legroom is a great improvement and suits particularly families with a growing range of children. The longer cargo bed will - with the second row folded flat - take an adult bicycle without removing any wheels, indicative of the ability to cart prams and holiday luggage. The rest of the cabin feels similarly expansive and from the driverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s seat, relays a sense that this is a much bigger vehicle than its mid-size category suggests.

With the second row of seats folded flat, the longer cargo bed makes it easy to transport large items.

I enjoyed the previous model but there were some things that jarred - the dashboard, for example, looked like it was assembled from bits left lying around the workshop bench and the central touchscreen monitor looked tacked on, an impression shared with the current Hilux. Now the dash is cleaner, with a simpler layout and better-integrated controls, a brighter monitor and more space for personal items. It also comes as a hybrid - a first for Australia though there have been examples in other markets - which is courtesy of the Corolla (also with a hybrid option) and its shared platform. But Toyota takes on board the need for all-wheel drive, giving Dash has been improved immensely.


Western 4W Driver 112 #

the hybrid a second electric motor that powers only the rear wheels. It’s an ondemand system so won’t engage until sensors figure out a loss of traction or the driver manually flicks a consolemounted switch. It means the RAV4 Hybrid AWD (there’s also a front-drive version) can operate as an electric vehicle, powered by the battery for the front-mounted (between the engine and transmission) electric motor and the rear motor. Distances are short, generally up to about 5km, and EV mode only works up to 40km/h. So it’s used for petrol-free economy in stop-start city traffic, punting through carparks and some delicate offroad work. The 2.5-litre petrol engine and the front motor combined have 163kW. The engine alone 131kW/221Nm but the electric motor at the front has 111kW/202Nm. Throw away your high school maths because 131kW and 111kW actually equal 163kW and you can’t add the torque figures together. The reason is the engine and motor deliver at different times so there’s no cumulative effect.

Backing it up is the 40kW/121Nm electric motor at the back, but don’t bother with the mathematics because it, literally, doesn’t add up. However, the result on the road is a quick wagon with seamless, quiet, off-the-mark punch. It’s a superb cruiser in the petrol mode and there’s a huge improvement over the outgoing RAV4 when it comes to quietness and ride comfort. Drivers will note that the electric motor rarely comes into play on the open road except for when it cleverly turns itself into a generator and charges up the battery when the wagon is coasting or braking. On test - freeway, suburbs, CBD and some slow off-road work - it averaged 6.1 litres/100km which is impressive. Run in a slow-traffic urban environment and this will fall into the 5.0 territory, closing in on Toyota’s claimed 4.7 L/100km figure. In the dirt the driver needs to remember that this is a Corolla with an SUV body, without low-range and carrying a fair bit of weight at 1745kg. So it is adept at gravel

Western 4W Driver #112


What makes an exceptional 4WD experience? Over 30 Years

All 4WD Servicing and Repairs


4WD All Custom Work

4WD Tyres and Rims

Power Chips

Diff Locks

Competition Bars

Nudge Bars

Side Steps

Cargo Barriers

Tow Bars



UHF Communication

Drawer Systems


Roof Top Tents & Swags

All Recovery Gear



Roof Racks

3” Exhaust Systems Bullbars Rock Sliders

“healthcare for your 4wd”

2” & All Competition Suspension Upgrades Airbags Scrub Bars Long Range Fuel Tanks Dual Battery Systems

roads where the on-demand system for all wheels works quickly and effectively. It also takes to the slow work on rutted tracks with ease and comfort, though tends to dislike soft sand where the weight and low-profile tyres can be a disadvantage. However, it’s better than you’d first think and is close to Subaru Forester territory in some aspects.

The ground clearance is up to 190mm in this latest hybrid model compared with 179mm previously. It also gets terrain-assist modes including a special track program for the Hybrid AWD. In summary, it isn’t the prettiest SUV on the market but it has excellent comfort and space, a great engine combo (Hybrid) and top safety and convenience features.

Nuts ‘n’ bolts

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid AWD Cruiser Price: $44,640 plus on-road costs Built: Japan Engine: 2.5-litre 4-cyl petrol Power: 131kW @ 5700rpm Torque: 221Nm @ 3600-5200rpm Motor (front): 88kW/202Nm Motor (rear): 40kW/121Nm Fuel average: 4.7 L/100km (21.3km/litre) Fuel tank: 55 litres Transmission: CVT auto Drive: On-demand AWD, electric rear drive Suspension: front: MacPherson struts; rear: multi-links, coils Brakes: front: vented discs; rear: discs Steering: electric

Turning circle: 11m Wheels: 19-inch alloy, space-saver spare Tyres: 235/55R19 Dimensions: (L) 4600mm; (W) 1855mm; (H) 1685mm; (WB) 2690mm Ground clearance: 190mm Approach: 17.5 degrees Ramp-over: n/a Departure: 20 degrees Weight: 1745kg Tow: 1500kg Service intervals: 12mths/15,000km Warranty: 5yr/unlimited km and capped price service program costing $830 for three years. Resale (Glass’s Guide): After 3 years is estimated at 53 per cent of the purchase price.

Western 4W Driver #112



OWN WAY GET OFF THE BEATEN TRACK IN THE 3-LITRE, 430Nm, 6-SPEED ISUZU D-MAX & MU-X The Isuzu D-MAX and MU-X are stand out performers on or off-road. With the legendary Isuzu 3-litre turbo diesel engine, 430Nm of torque and an intuitive 6-speed transmission across the range. Coupled with a Terrain Command 4WD system and outstanding towing capacity, the D-MAX and MU-X have everything you need for any adventure. GO YOUR OWN WAY! Discover the Isuzu D-MAX & MU-X at your local Isuzu UTE Dealer or

5-star ANCAP safety rating on all MU-X models & 4x4 D-MAX Crew Cab models built from November 2013 onwards & 4x2 D-MAX Crew Cab High Ride models built from November 2014 onwards. ^6 years/150,000km (whichever occurs first), for Eligible Vehicles with a Warranty Start Date on or after 1/1/19. Excludes trays & accessories. <6 years Roadside Assistance (unlimited kilometres) for Eligible Vehicles with a Warranty Start Date on or after 1/1/19. > The Capped Price Servicing Program (â&#x20AC;&#x153;CPS Programâ&#x20AC;?) applies to Eligible Vehicles at Participating Isuzu UTE Dealers only. For 19MY & later vehicle models, the Capped Price Servicing covers the first 7 Scheduled Services for up to 7 years/105,000km (whichever occurs first). CPS Program is subject to change. For full terms & conditions, current pricing & model eligibility visit


Western 4W Driver #112

Isuzu Go-to By Neil Dowling

Isuzu has built a solid reputation workhorse in Australia but for travellers, the brand is more likely to be seen in the hands of more elderly drivers and hauling a caravan or camper trailer.


he D-Max ute has become the go-to for many grey nomads, surprisingly chosen over the numerous rivals led by Australia’s two most popular vehicles, the Ford Ranger and the Toyota Hilux. Why? Isuzu say it’s the fuel economy of the D-Max (and the MU-X wagon version) that is the attraction, then the history of reliability and durability. Few Isuzu owners complain about anything and say the vehicle fits their purpose. The basis for the D-Max is very conservative, consisting of a ladder-frame chassis with

bolt-on body, turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine with automatic transmission (manual available), electrically-activated transfer case, part-time 4WD and live-axle, leaf-sprung rear end with wishbones and coils up front. It’s so simple that you’d wonder why it cost $54,800 plus on-road costs in the version tested, a top-spec LS-T with leather and sat-nav. But you’re probably looking too closely. This is all about durability and the ability of the ute to be thrown at a harsh environment or a high-payload situation and survive. It may be aimed at the tradie but has a lot going for it in the hands of the enthusiast and long-distance traveller towing a van. The engine is a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel with 130kW/430Nm driving a six-speed automatic through a part-time transfer system. Western 4W Driver #112


The LS-T rides on 18-inch alloy wheels that help give it a 230mm ground clearance. Many of the features are similar to the MU-X wagon tested on these pages, aside from this up-spec ute getting more gear such as leather seats, sat-nav, a bigger central monitor and so on. For the ute buyer, the D-Max will tow more than the wagon - 3500kg compared with 3000kg - because of the tougher leafspring rear suspension. The bed has a liner and four tie-down hooks and the LS-T adds an alloy, lockable sliding cover to secure the contents of the bed - as long as they’re no higher than the sides. On-road performance is similar to the MU-X with the main difference being the ride and handling. Unladen, the D-Max ute is similar to most rivals in its light-tail attitude on dirt and its pitchy ride, especially over larger corrugations. In comparison with the MU-X wagon on coil springs, it requires a lot more driver attention. But with 350kg aboard, the ute’s tail settles and the on-road ride becomes more compliant. This will certainly be the case when there’s a van or boat loaded up on the tow bar. Note that the ute has rear drum brakes compared with the wagon’s fourwheel discs, a by-product of Thailand’s tax system that has discounts for workhorse vehicles with drum brakes. Go figure! Lots of chrome, 18-inch alloys and sports bar identify the top-spec D-Max.


Western 4W Driver #112

The LS-T grade gets leather, big sat-nav screen and quality audio.

The ute is 470mm longer than the MU-X wagon and sits on a stretched 3095mm wheelbase, both contributing to the large 12.6m turning circle. That extra length goes into the tub at 1552mm long and comes with a payload of 1024kg in the LS-T version. Other differences include the 76-litre fuel tank (65 litres for the MU-X), lower vehicle weight of 2026kg, and better approach angle of 30-degrees (MU-X is 23.2-degrees) though a more acute departure angle of 22.7-degrees compared with the wagon’s 24.6-degrees. The choice between the wagon and ute is basically the final purpose. The on and offroad performance is similar and while the ute may be capable of making it through tougher ground conditions, the difference would be minimal and the comfort of the wagon may be more appealing.



For more information about our range, please call into our showroom 2/24 Baile Road, Canning Vale or phone us on 08 6254 2220 Follow us on social media:

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Made for

Extreme Adventure Ben Broeder reviews the Explorex Numbat If you’re looking for a truly rugged, but well-appointed caravan for your ‘big lap’ or those weekend getaways, we think the Explorex Numbat is worth adding to your short-list.

Western 4W Driver #112


duty hot dip galvanised chassis, you will find a pair of extremely well protected, 82 litre water tanks. We also found that all the plumbing and 12v electrical services were either hidden out of harm’s way or well protected from any potential damage.

On the inside, you wouldn’t know the van was only 2.2m wide.


eaturing a fully equipped ensuite, a queen-size bed and generous kitchen with café style dining, the Explorex Numbat 540XOR has all the features of larger vans, but in a package only 2.2M wide, thereby allowing for easier towing and more room to breathe on those tight bush tracks. Riding on a Cruisemaster double shock, trailing arm suspension, we found the Numbat towed equally as politely behind the 200 Series, both in the bush tracks we took it down as it did on the blacktop. Here the slightly narrower width also proved to make for an easier towing experience. Whilst some manufacturers struggle to prove their off road credentials, Explorex, who are synonymous with building commercial and mining caravans for Australia’s harshest environments, actually try to hide their ruggedness within their domestic van range. Despite this, many hints to the true design and heritage of the Numbat can be seen, if you look hard enough. Featuring an all steel frame with a full 10-year structural warranty, the Numbat, we believe, has to be one of the most rugged, well constructed off road caravans on the market. Beneath the sturdy Dibond body construction, tucked amongst the heavy92

Western 4W Driver #112

Inside the Numbat you will find high gloss cabinetry, soft close drawers, comfortable seating and despite the van’s narrow track, plenty of room to comfortably access the queen-size bed. There really is quite a lot of van packed into Numbat. The Numbat offers no shortage of storage; we found more than ample cupboard space, as well as extensive under seat and bed storage all within the van’s living area. Add this to the large front tunnel and boot hatches, and you will even be able to bring a second kitchen sink! However, opening one of the storage hatches will indeed reveal a second, pull They’ve thought of everything, including a second kitchen sink.

out kitchen sink, complete with a gas BBQ as a convenient outdoor kitchen, so you had better cancel that order at the plumbing shop. The features of the Numbat do not stop there. While ‘Explorex’ing’ our way around the Numbat, we were pleased to see a top of the line Redarc Battery Management System installed. Hooked up to 200 amp hours of AGM deep cycle batteries and 300 watts of solar input, the Numbat will be sure to keep the ‘soft drinks’ cold in its 190L full sized Dometic upright fridge. Apart from the standard inclusions the Numbat still offers near on 1000kg payload in tandem axle configuration.

We use the fully galvanised steel over wood or aluminium as the wood will rot and the aluminium can crack. Everything is bolted or screwed into the metal - that’s what sets us apart from the rest,” Mitch explained. To sum up, if you are looking for a slightly more compact van but do not want to give up any of the features you would find in larger vans, we highly recommend checking out the Explorex Numbat 540XOR. Call in and see the team, located at 66 Prestige Parade, Wangara. Here the sales team can show you all the features their extensive model range have to offer the outback traveller looking for a van that will go the distance.

All electrical services in the Numbat are controlled and monitored through the builtin electrical distribution panel, complete with resettable circuit breakers, which we found to be a nice touch. Here you will also find the built in AM/FM, MP3 CD player, perfect for listening to Macca on those Sunday mornings around the camp. To find out more behind the Numbat, we met with Mitch Dunn, Marketing Manager for Explorex. Asking how Explorex got started, Mitch told us, “We started in 2003, building a few mining vans for a drilling contractor. At the time we were based in a shed. They liked the vans so much, they asked us to build ten more.” We consider Explorex to be another great Western Australian success story. Growing from their humble beginnings, Explorex has built their operation and reputation to be one of the industry leaders in off road caravans. Located in their purpose-built Wangara factory, Explorex are the only off-road caravan manufacturer left in Western Australia, meaning you can actually come and visit your van as it is being built. “The biggest thing for us is obviously that we use a steel frame - one of only three or four manufacturers in the whole country that actually use a steel frame. Western 4W Driver #112




66 Prestige Parade, Wangara Phone 08 9302 2295 â&#x20AC;¢


for the future By Nick Underwood

It’s 2.30am, when all freshly-minted retirees should be deep in a wellearned slumber and I wake with a head full of actions required before departure three days hence.


t’s been a busy few months passing the Western 4W Driver baton and overseeing the construction of our home on wheels with a plan to be completed well before this point and shaken down prior to our Flinders Fossick. As it turns out, our new camper will be unfinished but usable and, as the rego suggests, snugza bug in a rug.

Why the change in off road accommodation? For 12 years now our canopy with rooftop tent and rear kitchen has been the ideal camper. It’s seen seriously remote country and been our home amid some of the most pristine and stunning landscapes in Australia - places we could never have towed an off road camper. So point number one - we prefer four wheels, not six. Point number two - we’re not as agile as we once were so scaling ladders with full bladders on freezing desert nights needs to take a back seat to comfort levels more appropriate to our retiring lifestyle. The decision was made at Ningaloo Station when we borrowed our mate Plugga’s hard floor Cub camper for a week on the beach.

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Entertaining at Koonalda at the new digs.

We were sold on the space it provided big floor area, queen size bed, big annex area, outside kitchen and heaps of storage space. The only thing we didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want was it hanging off our towbar, so why not build one to fit on the back of the 79? From that point, the concept bloomed. Our transport of delight would include an indoor dunny, shower attached, slide-out kitchen and more USB charging points than you can poke a cable at (because Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m such a tech-head). In the months that followed, design fever wrung the creative juice from me at all hours with much measuring, drawing and squeezing everything in to the centimetre. Finally we took our plans to Darcy out at Option Engineering in Northam and construction began. To keep the weight down, the structure of the camper would be alloy on a steel subframe fitted to the chassis mounts. The biggest challenge for Darcy was to figure out how to incorporate an effective strut system, given we wanted our slide-out kitchen at the rear where a strut would normally reside. With that problem solved, construction gathered pace. Weeks later the canopy was at the local cabinet maker for interior fit out in marine ply, then off for a lick of exterior paint to match the vehicle (without matching all the scratches). When 96

Western 4W Driver #112

In fabrication mode all alloy on a steel subframe. Wiring everywhere as the electrics take shape.

the big day came, the old canopy was lifted unceremoniously from the cruiser and the new one ceremoniously settled into place. I snuck back to Perth with the old camper perched precariously behind on the trailer, relegated to second fiddle to our new hard floor fold-out. Next step was Auto Spark Osborne Park, where Tim and his crew wrestled with our I worked closely with the boys at Autospark Osborne Park. shopping list. All electrics in and on the canopy are separated from the rest of the vehicle, except of course power feed from alternator and solar. From a lithium iron battery (fitted elsewhere), wiring snakes out to a central fuse box, then on to lighting, power points, compressor, water pump, inverter and oven with a couple of spare leads for future add-ons. While we were at it the 79 got a headlight upgrade and a couple of bar lights for Meticulous work by Autospark Osborne Park

Linda and Steve at Original Canvas pulled out all the creative stops to come up with a custom-built covering.

maximum spread close to the vehicle. As with everyone involved with the build, Auto Spark went the extra mile with all wiring braided and sheathed to reduce its visual impact. Separate to this system, an electric winch which operates the hard floor foldout is connected to the vehicle battery and operated with the vehicle running to reduce battery drain. Merging with the electrical work (and under increasing pressure to meet our deadlines), the vehicle was shuttled out to Original Canvas in Wangara where Linda and Steve measured up and began the canvas work. While based on a hard floor fold-out design, dimensions in this application varied to suit the extra height off the ground and Velcro replaced permanent fixing points to allow the canvas to collapse correctly on fold-up. Western 4W Driver #112


Waiting for canvas.

After several visits and some trepidation over whether the thing would close up easily with so much canvas in the mix, I took the set up to its next appointment at RV Lithium Systems Australia (aka Install-agadget) in Kenwick. Gadget is probably a bit of an understatement for cutting-edge lithium iron battery technology built to suit a given space and linked to Redarc’s flagship management system. Confirming Phil Bianchi’s impression in a previous edition of this august magazine, Paul Kearns is a guru and perfectionist when it comes to powering up caravans and campers and in a few days a 200 amp/hour battery was constructed and squeezed in with 3mm to

Inside it’s all luxury with queen bed for my queen and lighting and storage galore. Note the Porta loo for no more boots on, naked midnight dunny runs.

spare and hooked up to the management system. With power to all points in the canopy, the final stop was at Off Road Equipment where an Easy Slide drop down fridge slide and ARB compressor were installed. With less than a week to go to departure, we threw ourselves into a flurry of furnishing Canvas is a tidy fit that will tighten up more over time.


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and fitting and finally, with no hope of a shakedown, took off for a couple of weeks in the Flinders. So what exactly have we ended up with? Starting at the top with the unit folded out we have a queen size bed under Australian canvas with power points either side. At the end of the bed, a standing space gives access to toilet (which can be moved to suit) and storage lockers. Sliding out from under the bed, two large drawers for clothes include a collapsible box-shaped laundry bag which increases in size in the drawer as clean clothes are used up. When full, the bag can be lifted out and off to the laundromat. Lighting inside includes a dimmable main light, a touch light in the standing space and overhead lighting at the end of the hard floor. A short, wide, three step ladder leads up to the bed and doubles as a step ladder outside to help with closing up. Hard floor area is a massive 2400 x 1800mm - enough to set up table and chairs with room to spare in inclement weather. Three windows in the bed area and one at the end of the hard floor let in ample light and breeze, while barring the wildlife with midgieproof mesh. There’s a canvas door either side with the right hand door leading directly out to a shower with its own base fitted to the hard floor, fully enclosed and well off the ground. No more struggling to get clean feet from shower to boots for these little ducks. To close the whole set up a strap runs from the rear of the hard floor, over the tent to a small 2000lb Warn winch fitted on the roof rack which draws the floor up and over into the closed position some 300 mm lower than our previous rooftop set up (our carport breathed a sigh of relief). Moving outside to the canopy access, gull wing doors lift to reveal a range of compartments sized to suit specific items - all easily accessible.

Dirty clothes ready for washing.

His ‘n’ her’s clothes drawers include collapsible vinyl laundry bag which expands as clean clothes are used up.

A Warn winch controls the ups and downs. RHS is seriously compartmentalised.

Starting at the front on the right hand side, a 53 litre water tank with clear hose to show fill level sits below a tunnel space Western 4W Driver #112


which runs clear through to the left hand side. This will accommodate long items such as rods to assist with the transport of fish from ocean to plate (he says with eternal optimism), step ladder, axe, fuel cans and, dare I say it, generator for when the sun donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t shine and we want to stay longer. Next step back is the Engel 32 litre on a Piranha slide and sharing space with the canopyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s power base. Squeezed behind the fridge is the lithium iron battery, while above the fridge sits the Redarc manager complete with extractor fan to circulate good air in hot conditions. More on this system later. Moving rearward, dedicated spaces for chairs, table and other gear sit above an MSA slide-out (all the way) tool drawer complete with strip lighting plus an additional drawer for spares and other kit. Front locker below this side houses compressor and recovery gear while rear locker is for rubbish. The entire side is illuminated by LED strip lighting on the gull wing door. The left hand side of this set up is the living area, which comes with a full length Susie loves her new kitchen. Note windshield for cooktop.


Western 4W Driver #112

Kitchen has much more surface space than our old set-up.

awning, 2.5m wide with individual mesh walls which can be configured to act as a windbreak or fully enclose the space with its own entrance. Full skirts on the vehicle stop wind coming under and completely mozzie-proof the entire space. The kitchen area, as with the large interior, bed and toilet, continues to fulfil our wish list. At the front a 900mm insulated vegie and bottle storage drawer slides out under the tunnel. Next door our National Luna fridge now sits in a drop-down slide for much easier access and above this space an awning storage space also includes a 600W inverter. For our drop down slide we chose the Easy Slide from Clearview Vegie drawer will be insulated to keep vegies (and liquids) cooler.

Stainless steel work top folds up to hold drawers in.

How we survived without a drop down fridge slide we'll never know.

accessories. While it’s not a light piece of kit, it’s seriously robust with minimal side to side movement, smooth action and best of all Susie can poke around in it without the need to step up or employ block and tackle. Continuing to the right a stainless steel drop-down bench also serves to secure a set of the ubiquitous plastic drawers plus large built-in drawer with paper towel and oven above. To the side, plate, cup and glass

storage sits next to a water hose connected to a 75 litre tank (both polyethylene tanks from Rota Moulding in Midvale) under the vehicle via pressure pump and filter. Lastly a stainless steel kitchen slides out 1300mm to reveal two utensil drawers, a slide-out washing bowl holder, three burner Thetford stove with moveable wind guard and fold out bench space extending the whole to 1800mm.


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USB and lighter power socket complement the inverter and lockers on this side are for gas bottles and additional pots and pans.

The shakedown

Slide-out kitchen has two utensil drawers and a slide-out washing bowl holder.

Lighting on this side is all LED with a strip facing out from the gull wing, two facing in (all dimmable) plus a strip inside the storage area to further illuminate the interior.

Fast forward to the first day of a two week tour and there’s no room for failure. Getting used to a new set up can be daunting, especially when it’s much more complicated than the previous. Starting with opening and closing the camper, my beloved was the winch controller while I hustled from side to side ensuring canvas was tucked in and everything was happening as it should. Stressful and frustrating till we got the hang of it when with a few alterations like shock cord to pull the canvas in as it closed, we felt a lot more confident.

AN ELECTRICAL LEAP OF FAITH Ironically our extended stay up at Ningaloo last year also highlighted the limitations of our wet cell dual battery system. Extreme temperatures in high winds coupled with a few cloudy days left our solar panel literally ‘under the weather’ and our power supply heading south at an alarming rate. Truth be told we were probably asking too much of the system in the first place with two fridges on the go, but there you go - needs must.

to us in custom mode is an absolute boon. Initially we were looking at one battery split in two and with dimensions approximately 500w x 400h x 80d each until Paul at RV Lithium Systems found a better space for it and it became 450w x 400h x 180d. Our 200amp/hr LiFePO4 battery was built linking eight single cells together and featuring dual circuits so if the battery hits a low of 20% it will turn off all accessories and recharge.

In our new system we knew we’d need more output and better charging options given we plan on propping longer and more often. We also knew weight would be a big consideration given we were carrying, not towing, our new home. Consequently it was a no-brainer to go down the Lithium Iron (LiFePO4) path. Lithium batteries are much lighter. For example a 100a/h Lithium weighs around 12kg compared to a 100a/h AGM at 32kg. In our case we get a whopping 200a/h battery weighing just 25kg when its equivalent in AGM would be closer to 100kg. Lithium batteries, as you are probably already aware, have a much longer life cycle, have far greater usable energy and recharge three times faster than lead acid. What you may not have known is that LiFePO4 batteries can be built to fit different spaces which 102

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The eight cell Lithium battery went in with 3mm to spare. Manager30 clings to the top while panel for the monitor includes a fan for high temps. Paul at RV Lithium Systems is a creative genius on battery system fit-outs.

Nearly all the improvements to our camping life as incorporated in this design worked a treat. Interior space, privacy, bed size, toilet and shower are excellent. Living area with drop-down fridge, vegie drawer and slideout kitchen are a vast improvement over our old set up, apart from what my beloved has named the “snapping cupboard of death”. The aforementioned plate, cup and glass storage area is a bit difficult to get at and the experience is further sullied by a roller door that snaps shut unannounced and much to her chagrin. As you can well imagine, this space is now my domain and will remain so until it’s fixed. Weight? Not yet measured, although I’m confident it will come in under our 3900kg GVM.

Cost? Well north of 50 grand, which sounds like an awful lot, but when we take into account it’s all custom-built, exactly what we want and comparable to many top end camper trailers without the associated towing issues, we’re more than happy with the result. Next stop, back up to Ningaloo where it all began and where our new wandering life begins. A big thanks to the following for their outstanding input to this project: Darcy at Option Engineering, Northam Leon of Avon carpentry Tim and Jamie at Autospark Osborne Park Linda and Steve at Original Canvas, Wangara Paul at RV Lithium Systems Australia

At 40% it will turn all accessories back on again. This Lithium iron battery will also charge in temperatures up to 65°.

We like the remote display module that, at the press of a button, shows current levels, how long they’ll last and where charge is coming from at any given time plus a heap more specific detail. On our trip, overnight with fridges, lights and occasional music the battery never dropped below 88% (and if I’d backed off the freezer at night it would have looked even better.) Over 36 hours at rest with only a bit of solar input the battery slipped below 80%. So far we’re seriously impressed but the true test will be back up at Ningaloo at the end of August when we’ll be propped in one spot for ten days. We’ll run daily monitoring and report back in the next edition.

The benefit of this scenario for vans and motorhomes is obvious. Note: Lithium batteries (many from China) also come in standard sizes for direct battery replacement in areas other than under the bonnet (where the heat will kill them). What was crucial to the effectiveness of our battery system was an equally efficient management system and we went straight to Redarc for their Manager30. The Manager30 is right up there at the sharp edge of battery management with a charging profile specific to Lithium batteries as well as lead acid. Whether the input is from 240 volt, vehicle alternator or solar, the Manager30 automatically selects the most appropriate source and when possible, goes for solar. Now when we want to draw down fridges on house power prior to departure it’s just a matter of plugging into the Manager30 instead of changing power cords on fridges and all the rigmarole that goes with it. Apart from these great features, the Manager30 is also a dual battery isolator, load disconnect controller and a remote monitor. Paul out at RV Lithium Systems Australia likes the fact it draws all inputs through one unit and says the storage mode for lithium is exceptional.

Among many features the Redarc Manager monitor displays current rate of charge and source of charge. You'll see more when we test the system out over 10 days up at Ningaloo. Western 4W Driver #112


From major fit-outs to the smallest job, we won’t compromise on quality. Custom battery systems Electrical diagnosis Batteries Air conditioning Starters and alternators Immobilisers Lighting Battery management

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For: fridges, solar, battery management, brake systems, inverters, chargers and lighting. 5/115 Howe St, Osborne Park, WA 6017

Ph: 9443 3411

A day trip to

HORIZONTAL By Chris Morton


If you have a bucket list there is one activity that needs to be on it. A visit to the Kimberley Coastâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Horizontal Falls in the Buccaneer Archipelago is undoubtedly a truly epic experience. Unless you have the funds available to book a berth on one of the various cruises into the area, I would suggest you get in touch with the team from Go Horizontal Falls Tours (GHFT) and prepare yourself for a full day of adventure.

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Yindi, our pilot, had lots of stories and information to tell us about the history of the areas we flew over.

ur day started with a pickup by the company bus, who collected us from our caravan park. A quick trip around town and we headed out to the airport to meet our pilot for the day. Yindi, a Kimberley local with 20 years flying experience, gave us a quick brief on our intended flight path as well as the obligatory safety information. She was piloting a Cessna Caravan - a single engine turboprop capable of carrying 14, with a range of just over 1900km. Yindi kept us well informed as we flew across the Dampier Peninsula and into the Buccaneer Archipelago, pointing out key points and telling us local stories. The view from the

The view of Horizontal Falls from the plane was breathtaking.


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plane above gave us a real sense of the sheer size and remoteness of the area. Although themselves spectacular, the falls can become quickly lost to the rest of this stunning landscape. Ten minutes from the falls we landed at Cockatoo Island. Along with Koolan Island, Cockatoo is the location of the most pure iron ore ever found at 68% pure. Pure enough that raw ore can be welded together. It is estimated that there is still 22 million tonnes of reclaimable ore left at Cockatoo. Working on todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s spot price of approximately $130USD per tonne that is about $2.86 billion dollars. Enough about the iron ore. Go Horizontal Falls Tours operate two boats from Cockatoo Island with each boat capable of carrying 20 passengers and two crew.

Three plane loads made up our tour with one plane load of guests being split between the two boats. The boats are WA built weapons on water. 11.9 metres long and equipped with three 250 horsepower Yamaha outboards (they have the same amount of power as a formula one race car), they have a top speed of 40 knots (thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s about 74km/hr). The deck is covered with shade and the seats are extremely comfortable. The crew ensure that everyone is well hydrated with water and soft drink for the entire trip. They even have some microfibre towels for those guests sitting in the first row of seats to cover their legs from the sun.

With the engines off, we drifted quietly through the mangroves.

Ben drove the Sealegs straight out of the water and on to the beach to pick us up. Western 4W Driver #112


The water gets higher very quickly as the tide rushes through ‘Wide Gap’.

Transferring out to the boats at low tide is a pretty unique experience. The team utilise a Sealegs tender which can drive onto land, pick up a load of passengers and then drive straight into the water and cruise out to the waiting boats. It took us just over an hour, cruising at around 25 knots to reach the falls. This was by no means dull. Ben and Bianca, our crew for the day, kept us well informed about what we were seeing along the way. Horizontal Falls has to be seen to be believed. One million litres of water per second surging through a 5-6m gap in the cliff face. The sheer power of the water movement demonstrates mother nature’s absolute control of the planet. Ben skilfully guides us through the falls multiple times, each pass a little different with the surging tide. He holds the boat in position for 30 seconds right at the mouth so we can really appreciate the power at play. As we make each pass, the sky above us is abuzz with other operator’s helicopters and planes, all taking their turn to witness nature’s spectacle. In what seems like no time at all, 45 minutes has passed and we are making our way to Slug Island (true story) for lunch. Our trip back to Cockatoo Island took in a route that is only accessible at high tide. Ben kills the engines and we drift through a mangrove forest, surrounded by sheer 108

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cliffs painted in the Kimberley palette of rich oranges, reds and browns. A resident salt water crocodile decides to remain in the mangroves, preferring to watch us from cover. All too soon we are motoring past the ship loading facilities of Koolan and Cockatoo Islands, marvelling at the massive change in sea level with the incoming tide, evident by the lack of visible structures. Yindi soon has us back in the air for the return leg of our scenic flight, taking us directly across to the tip of the Dampier Peninsula and then almost following the bone rattling Cape Leveque road below. I have to say, having just driven that road back from Pender Bay the previous day, I much preferred flying over it. Speaking with Go Horizontal Falls Tour’s Bree Cardilini, their Marketing and Business Development Manager, she admits that this is a brand new venture for them. Utilising 20 years of cruising experience from their sister company The Great Escape, they found it very easy to transition into a day trip tour business. The owners of The Great Escape realised that due to its remoteness and the difficulties posed with getting people into the area (your options are plane or boat) that there was definitely a market for people wanting to see the Falls who couldn’t justify the expense of

even a four day cruise (their shortest duration available). GHFT offers people a more affordable option of a scenic flight across the Buccaneer Archipelago and then an almost full day boat cruise which is then topped off by getting up close and personal with the Horizontal Falls. Bree concedes that everyone is very aware of the vast distances most of their guests have travelled to be there and everyone at GHFT is mindful of that when you are on the tour. They go out of their way to ensure that they provide guests with the best experience possible. From the moment you are picked up, that is clearly evident. Bree is also responsible for recruitment and tells me that they are always looking for that special type of person. "Anyone can follow a set of instructions however we are looking for more than that. We recruit people who can use their initiative and can make everyone feel special."

A quick stop-off at a small island on our way to Horizontal Falls.

The Team at GHFT have created a truly remarkable and unique Western Australian experience. If you can find the time I cannot recommend this tour enough, you will not be disappointed. Western 4W Driver was not paid for this article and were full fare paying customers.

The 'J' curve in the rock is one of the spectacular landmarks we saw from the boat.

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Tommy Ningebong By Phil Bianchi

Tommy Ningebong.


ommy Ningebong was born at Well 9 on the Canning Stock Route circa 1900. He lived all of his life in the Wiluna, Carnegie Station and Carnarvon Range area; working as a stockman, tracker, horse breaker, dogger, camp cook and gardener. The spelling of his surname is Ningebong and not Ingebong as thought by many. He however, preferred to be known as Tommy.

Photo courtesy of Keith Quartermaine

Tommy didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see himself as an Aborigine living in a whitemanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s world; he saw himself as a person living within the Wiluna district community and was welcomed and treated as such. He was held in high regard by Wiluna identities, with many willing to provide assistance and help him fight bureaucracy to protect his rights. Tommy was never initiated; he left his tribal group when quite young.

Ingebong Hills, 2006.

Photo courtesy of Phil Bianchi

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His first brush with white men occurred during the construction of Well 9 on the Canning Stock Route in 1908 when explosives were detonated. His terrified mother grabbed him and they ran off. Henry Ward snr was at Windich Springs circa 1912; Tommy and two other boys were there and offered jobs. Tommy first worked as a stock boy on Millbillillie Station, then lived with Fred Pope near Granite Peak Station. Pope taught him saddlery and horse handling. By 1919 Tommy was breaking horses for Indian Army remounts and the Australian Light Horse. Tommy was a strong man; in the 1930s, locals encouraged him to enter the shot put event at the Wiluna sports day. In preparation for the event Tommy practiced by throwing a small anvil. When it came to his turn he found the shot was half the weight of the anvil, he put it so far he embarrassed the competition.

Tommy Ningebong working sheep on Earaheedy Station, 1950s. Photo courtesy of Norma Ward

On one occasion during fencing on Millrose Station, the fencers were unable to get a cart, loaded with fencing wire across a lake. Picking up three coils of wire at one time, one on each shoulder and one around his neck, a total weight of around 150 kilos, Tommy took them across. Tommy was an expert tracker and bushman; he first rose to prominence through his expert tracking abilities; skills that enabled him to lead a police party through the desert in search of and the eventual arrest of the murderers of Joseph Wilkins, killed in 1936.

L to R. Bruce Small, Tommy Ningebong and Sue Small. Photo courtesy of Joy Smith


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Ningebong was then engaged to act as interpreter at their trial. At the trial he said he found Wilkins’ dead horse at Well 13 on the CSR, he recognised it by its white face and one eye. He followed the horse tracks to Well 15 and lost them and went back to Wiluna. Returning with Constables Larsen and Pollard, they found the body of Wilkins. Ningebong’s horse yard at Blue Hill, Aug 1998. Ningebong recognised Photo courtesy of Yvonne Coate Wilkins’ red hair and the saddles and saddle bags, in give a new blanket to the dogs. He gave particular the britching of the pack saddle his dogs strange and amusing names such by the number of holes it contained - he as Lizarder, Wanderer, Sweet Apple and had previously seen Wilkins do the riveting. Red Apple. He knew from previous experience that one of the tracks at Wilkins’ death site With the support of Pope, the Wards, belonged to an Aborigine named Maloora. Cresswells and other local families, Tommy Following these tracks they arrested applied for a pastoral lease of 134,530 acres the murderers, Maloora and Yalyalli at west of Well 5 on the CSR. The application Well 17. Tommy was then asked to be was approved in 1956 and he called it Blue interpreter at the trial translating for various Hill Station. Blue Hill was part of Tommy’s Aboriginal people. They were found guilty tribal country, which centred on CSR Well 9. and sentenced to death; this was later Tommy had a very adaptable attitude, commuted to 10 years gaol. he didn’t mind whether he worked with In the mid-1930s Tommy was driving a Chevrolet some 30 miles from Millrose when it stopped. Undeterred he hitched a horse to the front of the Chev and standing up in the vehicle, steering it with one foot and steering the horse with long reins, he returned to the homestead. Ningebong loved his dogs; he would keep a ragged and torn blanket for himself and

sheep or cattle and was always working or fixing things. He didn’t see clothes as fashion; he would save money by patching and repairing them and would continue to wear the same clothes until they were completely worn out. He usually wore shorts in summer and long’uns in winter. Watch and pocket knife pouches hung from his belt. Tommy did

Ingebong Hills, 2006.

Photo courtesy of Phil Bianchi Western 4W Driver #112


Tommy’s name at Talbot Rock Hole, 2006. Photo courtesy of Phil Bianchi

not like socks, he would wear the sleeve section; the bottoms had been cut off. If he was given new boots he would want a larger size so the air could get to his feet, or he would just cut holes in them. When Tommy wanted supplies he would place an order with Gilly Isbel at H. Eves and Co. storekeepers in Meekatharra. Because Tommy couldn’t write, he and Gilly developed a system where Tommy drew pictures of what he wanted, with Gilly interpreting the list and supplying the goods. Some of the drawings Tommy used included: • Lemon and melon jam - Tommy drew a lemon and a melon, if that wasn’t available Gilly would send apple jelly. • Matches - a square box and a single match with a flame. • Tobacco - a face with smoke coming from it. • Tea - a packet and a billy can with a spout on it. • Flour - a big bag with no ears. • Sugar - a bag with ears. • Soap - a hand with a cake of soap in it. His cigarettes were always rolled with three papers, looking more like a cigar. Bill Creswell from Granite Peak remembers Tommy being well liked. He recalls, Ningebong being Fred Pope’s offsider and working for various pastoralists around the district doing jobs such as fencing, mustering and well sinking. Tommy was in charge of feeding the pigs at Prenti Downs, he developed a liking for them, often cooking them Johnny cakes. 114

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Being an enthusiastic worker, the only way to get Tommy to have a day off was to tell him it was Sunday every two or three days. A Native Title determination over his country, on 6 June 2016, included Ningebong as one of the Common Law Holders of Native Title for the Birriliburu People. Tommy died peacefully at Prenti Downs on 5 November 1978. A number of geographic features are named after Tommy: • Ingebong Hills north east of Pierre Spring Well 6 on the CSR. Tommy Ningebong.

Photo courtesy of Bill Creswell

Seat made by Ningebong from mulga and fencing wire. Photo courtesy of Phil Bianchi

• Ningebong Mill on Granite Peak Station. • Ningebong Waterhole local name for a waterhole near Ningebong Mill. • Tommy Bore on Millrose Station. • Tommy Bore on Earaheedy Station. • Tommy’s Rockhole in the Carnarvon Range, again a local and unofficial name. When making a damper Tommy used a piece of canvas 18 inches square; he then made a bowl sized depression in the ground and laid the canvas in it. This was his wash dish, after completing his washing ritual; he would then tip the water out and use the other side of the canvas which was covered with a dirty layer of caked flour dough. Tapping the canvas in place in the depression he would mix the ingredients for a damper. When mixed he kicked away some ashes in the fire, placed the damper on the ash bed and with his boot covered the damper again.

chairs had not been moved, the hut had been built around them. In his advancing years Tommy worked for the Linkes on Carnegie and Prenti Downs Stations as gardener. He refused to take sit-down money (welfare) preferring to work. Tommy had an infectious giggle, he would finish each sentence with a ‘eh’, even if the subject wasn’t particularly funny; one couldn’t help laughing with him. Tommy Ningebong; what a wonderful man, a man with a charming eccentricity, he was highly regarded in the Wiluna district and a gentleman. My regret is that I didn’t have the opportunity to meet him; it would have been wonderful to listen to his stories. Further information regarding Tommy can be found in the book, Tommy Ningebong: Bushman, Tracker, Drover, Stockman and Pastoralist, by Phil Bianchi and published by Hesperian Press. Tommy Ningebong’s grave at Wiluna cemetery. Photo courtesy of Phil Bianchi

Dogger Peter Muir had a strong friendship with Tommy. He described Tommy’s camp as basic, with a bough shed and furniture in the style of Saltbush Bill. The furniture was made from mulga logs and rails. The table was made of squared rails supported by four posts sunk into the ground. The chairs were made of mulga and were so heavy they were almost impossible to lift. On one visit Muir saw that a small hut had been built, he also noticed the table and Western 4W Driver #112



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wild trax with IAN ELLIOT

Luigi Cappa Tour Fully Stretched My column in Edition 108 last year described a trip put together by Terry Bentley where we went beyond the confines of the Luigi Cappa Tour tripnoted in the second edition of our 4WD Days in the Goldfields booklet. This Easter Terry planned to explore tracks even further east of Lake Cowan and invited a whole heap of the Wildtrax mob to join him.


e departed Karragullen on the Wednesday before Easter, lunched at the Hyden Bakery, topped up fuel at Norseman and with 653km on the odometer, overnighted out past the old Buldania Mine on a promontory perfect for camping overlooking islands on a picturesque salt pan. Our first night away from the city we lounged around a camp fire while the dingoes welcomed us to their domain with the haunting chorus that lets you know you’re well and truly in the outback. Perfect. Next day we retraced our 2018 route, avoiding the gypsum deposits that had

trapped us previously and locating a good track down to the edge of Lake Cowan. After carefully testing the surface, we wheeled all seven vehicles out onto the lake for a group photo. While there I noticed many vehicle tracks heading out across the lake. Terry traced these some distance with his drone but with 7.5km to the other side and no knowledge of how firm the crust might be out in the middle, any attempt at crossing was deemed to be way too risky for us to attempt. Lake Cowan was named by the explorer Charles Cook Hunt on 7 September 1864 after a member of his party, John Cowan, the son of York Resident Magistrate W. Cowan, one of Hunt’s supporters. The explorer never reached its shores but sighted its expanse from a peak on its western flank that he called Mount Thirsty, no doubt for obvious reasons. The lake prevented his explorations from being extended any further eastward at this latitude and he retreated to his depot at Cave Hill. Hunt carried out four eastern expeditions and I’ve always been fascinated by his visit to

Tracks weave their way across unnamed salt pans. Western 4W Driver #112


Colourful “Peregrine Gorge”. A granite pinnacle makes an outstanding landmark at “Coffin Rocks”.

Red Hill on the shores of Lake Lefroy on 20 June 1865 when he wrote: “ is one of the most curious places I have ever seen, and, had I any geological knowledge, would doubtless afford me much pleasure, and perhaps benefit...” Gold was found at Red Hill by prospector Percy Larkin in December 1896. The Red Hill Gold mine began operations the following year and had a decade of lucrative production. By 1966 Western Mining had established Australia’s first nickel mine there. Later taken over by BHP Billiton, Kambalda continues to give and give and Hunt could have begun our gold boom nearly thirty years earlier than history records. From the lake edge, delayed somewhat by our leader becoming tangled up with old fencing wire on the track, we retraced our route of last year past the site of our rainstorm camp to a dramatic little ravine I’m calling ‘Peregrine Gorge’ because of the pair of Peregrine Falcons we saw here


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last year. Sadly, they weren’t in evidence this year so Terry’s drone wasn’t in danger as he piloted it around this spectacular spot. Our next camp was at the frog lagoon that amazed us last year, but there was no metallic pobble-bonking this time. The lagoon was bone dry and my musical frogs were well buried. One of our party found an old signpost here indicating that the rocky outcrops that we wanted to revisit were known as ‘Coffin Rocks’ to the bushies that knock around this remote region and next morning we headed that way, but not before scoffing a few of the traditional Good Friday Hot Cross Buns. Several of the group agreed with me that it

A stake in a sidewall prematurely ends the life of a tyre.

A very healthy dingo watches us pass through its domain.

seemed crazy not to make these delicious morsels available all year round and I put forward the argument that, if the cross had something to do with it, this could be left off or they could be renamed “Hot Plus Buns”, as the adornment looks more like a plus sign than a crucifix. (Coles Stores please note.)

cleared drillers’ tracks but all came to dead ends. One track seemed to be leading us NE to Lake Rivers, a substantial salt lake named in 1963 during an army field check after one of the party, but it too left us in the wilderness. This was disappointing although it did allow us a good sighting of an exceptionally healthy dingo.

After Sue’s superb sausage rolls for morning tea at the rocks and a wheel change for our unlucky leader who’d found his first stake, we headed northwards into new territory to seek the track to Cherternerlynyer Lagoon. The origin of this name (possibly Aboriginal) is not recorded, but it was shown on an 1897 plan as the starting point for lease 70/745 applied for by a bloke named Bostock. This would probably have been Mr G.H. Bostock, who took over the managership of Dempster’s Station and Frazer Range when Andrew Dempster left the Esperance Region in 1890. Anyway, we never made it that far because our track petered out about 10km short. We tried a few recently

After running out of tracks to try (we all had radial tyres and the vegetation hereabouts didn’t look conducive to cross country driving), we retraced our route some 30km westwards to a new mining road that has been recently constructed trending due North. Reasoning that this would probably take us up the 36km to the Trans Access Road, we followed it until Terry found us an excellent campsite where we had a much needed spell. Next morning, after Terry dealt with a second staked tyre, we zipped up to the Trans Access Road and headed East along it to a track that would take us South again to rejoin our intended route. Passing the Coonana turn-off gave

Convoy parked at the edge of Lake Cowan. Western 4W Driver #112


You don’t need to sit close to one of Paul’s campfires.

me the opportunity to reminisce about the fabulous few days I was lucky enough to spend in the bush hereabouts hunting with locals in the 1980s when I was Coordinator of the Aboriginal Place Names Survey. A gravel pit just after our turn-off confused us momentarily, then, as the lead vehicles located and set off down the correct track, one of the group had to attend to a staked tyre which prompted a morning tea opportunity. Down the track a bit amongst the lead vehicles it was interesting to observe our leader looking bemusedly at a heap of instant coffee he’d piled up on his mug. He’d forgotten to remove the lid which gave a laugh to those of us who witnessed it. Wind whips the surface of a pan gnamma.


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Continuing South through very pleasant country we came to Uraryie Rock, an extensive granite boasting an impressive gnamma brim full of water as well as shallow puddles on top. This rock was visited and its name recorded by explorer W.P. Goddard in 1890. Forty years later, a soak fed by runoff from this rock was recorded as Udarra during surveys by R.M. Manners. I can only assume that both men were told the name of this place by Aboriginal informants but heard the same name differently, a common confusion in the recording of traditional feature names. It was here that Kevin Coate, our much valued ornithological oracle, spotted a Black Breasted Buzzard circling above us and no doubt eyeing off Terry’s drone also circling at a lower altitude. Further South we noted the track that we’d hoped to come through on but did not explore it as we were running short on time. We tried a route Terry had mapped out on Google Earth past Harris Lake , named during the 1963 army field check probably after one of the field party, but once more ran out of track. Recently cleared drillers’ tracks got us back onto the main drag and down to our planned exit route following a mapped track down past

Wadabuna Rock and Noondiana Swamp to Pioneer Tank (all names recorded by surveyor R.M. Manners in 1930). At the turn-off we were pleased to see that recent mining development had vastly improved the track so we set off down it confident that it would take us down the 60km to Pioneer Tank. Our confidence lasted only a third of that distance where the mining development ended abruptly and the old track was seen to disappear into heavy regrowth. We persevered by following an old overgrown fenceline track for another 5km before this became impassable. I volunteered to drive over to a small lake situated SW of our position to search for any traces of the old Pioneer Tank track as shown on our maps. There was no trace at all so we gave up and headed back North and turned NE before camping overnight at a convenient roadside clearing. On Sunday we continued NE to an intersection with the Balladonia Zanthus Road a good 70km NE of where we had hoped to join it. Our right turn and progress down this track was pretty swift. Despite its twists and turns the roadway was in good condition and made for a very pleasant drive. We passed Spy Hill and Lignum, both names bestowed by surveyor Manners in 1930. An isolated plain noted by Manners was named Manners Plain in 1974 in

Excerpt from Hema’s WA State map.

commemoration of his 1930s survey work. From this a side track arcs away SE down to Emu Point Tank on the Balladonia Rawlinna Road, but we ignored this turn-off and continued on down to Pioneer Tank, “Fox” enjoys a cuppa. a bone dry turkey dam. Here there was no trace of the northward track shown on our maps and it looks as if it’s many years since the dogger went that way. The remaining 70km down to lunch at the Balladonia Servo was uneventful apart from 40km of the worst bulldust I’ve experienced for many years. From there our journey home was mostly highway travel, although we camped amongst dingos one more night near the northern extremity of Lake Johnston. Our leader received a well-deserved cheer for all his many hours of tracing tracks on Google Earth to put together this very enjoyable trip through the greatest eucalypt forest in the Southern Hemisphere. His drone sequences of this trip are now available on You Tube. Thanks Mate.

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What’s in a name? with IAN ELLIOT


Money in Names

ack in the late 1890s when the lucky ones who’d struck it rich on the WA goldfields gathered in London bars to boast about their fossicking escapades, they were often joined by explorer William Carr-Boyd who had not had similar luck. This quite extraordinary character, in addition to presenting maps of his Australian explorations to the Royal Geographical Society, was looking into the possibilities of writing and publishing a book describing his outback expeditions, of arranging the flotation of his patenthorseshoe company and of delivering public lectures on the glittering possibilities available to investors in the WA goldfields. There were rumours that he raised his drinking funds by offering to add the names of Londoners to his maps. His method was said to be simple, and it appealed to the vanity of the average Cockney with currency to spare. Supposedly, Carr named mountains, rivers, lakes, plains, etc., after the persons who bunged in the boodle! All explorers are known to have curried favour from their backers by naming features after them but Carr’s approach seems to have been to cut straight to the purse. As far as I can tell, if he actually did this, none of these names appear on current maps. Pondering the possibilities of Carr’s cash for captions concept started me wondering if any WA features were ever named after the money itself. A quick look through the gazetteer revealed a Penny Brook, a Lake 122

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Penny and a Halfpenny Well (the latter pronounced ‘haypny’ for those readers too young to recall pre-dollar days). I also found a Two Quid Well (‘Quid’ was slang for a pound), a Two Bob Hill and a Thirty Bob Well (‘Bob’ being slang for a shilling). ‘Deener’ (probably from the Middle Eastern Dinar) was another slang word for the shilling, while sixpence was a ‘Zac’ and threepence was a ‘Trey’, but I found none of these in the gazetteer. The latter reminds me of a yarn where a mate of an Albany groom left his wedding present at the reception consisting of threepence and a condom, a gift the local newspaper listed as a ‘silver tray and meat cover.’ Recalling with nostalgia our fiscal slang of yesteryear, I wondered that no slang terms, besides the American ‘Buck’ have arisen in connection with our Aussie decimal currency. However, a check on the net showed how out of touch I’ve been. Apparently there’s a whole range of slang terms arising mainly from the vibrant colour of our paper money. Most coins are referred to as ‘Shrapnel’, the five dollar note is known as a ‘Galah’, the ten dollar note is known as a ‘Tenner’ (or a ‘Pavarotti’ since he was a tenor), the twenty dollar note is known as a ‘Lobster’, the fifty dollar note is known as a ‘Pineapple’ and the one hundred dollar note is sometimes called a ‘Granny Smith’. Nice to know that the Aussie sense of humour endures.

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the things you see! with (TRUTHFUL) PHIL BIANCHI

Vets, Bones and the Scan Man Last year out on the Connie Sue near Point Lilian, I was scrambling up a breakaway heading for an art site. The climb was steep, much like the climb up to Canning’s Cairn on the CSR. Wearing my size 15 Flash Harry hiking boots I made a steady pace puffing my way to the top. Suddenly my ‘million dollar hi-tech hiking boots’ locked together.

and was losing a bit of ‘red radiator fluid’ here and there. Thankfully no tyre plugs needed, just surface patches.

Walking down the slope was murder, it had me wishing humans came with diff locks. Once at ground level I started an inspection and discovered I had lost a fair bit of bark

and exercises, I’m on the road to recovery. But not before another visit to the Scan Man for cortisone injections and more squirming and cursing his ancestry.

The pain in my ‘right ball joint’ was grimacing stuff. Thankfully the 4W driving part of the trip had ended and we headed for home. Once home the fun began. First I saw the ‘Vet’, then the ‘Physioterrorist’ who after a few treatments, and me still walking like a one legged crab, said; “You need to see a ‘Bone carpenter’”. Bones wanted scans with contrast, so next stop was the he laces of the right boot had locked Scan Man. Have you ever had needles up with the speed lace hooks on the injected deeply into your knee’s cartilage left boot. I was leg cuffed and trapped area four times? After a few injections and and no matter what I tried I couldn’t separate me squirming around like a snake in death the boots. In an escape bid I tried flinging throes, he says, “Sorry but you need two my right leg outward seeking to snap the more injections to lace, no luck. This spread the contrast.” would have been the “I fell backwards and skidded Lucky for him he was only time when cheap head first down the slope out of reach. laces would have been among the rocks.” Armed with a fist full appreciated. I couldn’t of scans, I went back do a thing; I fell backwards and skidded to Bones, “You’ve got a torn MCL (Medial head first down the slope among the rocks. Collateral Ligament); it’s outside the knee My mates saw me fall but were too far away joint and not the ACL.” “Didn’t Nick Nat to ‘catch me’. have an ACL go?” I replied. “Yes but they I waited a few moments for the ‘sawdust’ hurt heaps more,” he said, leaving me to settle before attempting to get up. My feeling like I was a sook. He then says, initially concerned but now grinning mates “We can sort you out with an arthroscopy. were at hand. One of them muttered, Oh a couple of bits of ‘rust’ have shown up “At least you saved your camera”. I had around the patella, which is normal for a apparently shot my camera holding arm in person of your birth date.” Cheeky bugger: the air to save it, instead of worrying about “… normal for a person of my birth date”. my head. Don’t all photographers do that? Bones did his thing and after some physio


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Truthful Phil’s boot with speed hooks squashed.

Wondering if this was a rare incident, I did some research online. I also spoke to an Australian sales manager of a reputable brand of footwear. I found that almost every major brand has speed lace hooks. The manager went through with me what I was doing before the laces locked up.

Goodie’s boot with speed hooks cut off.

We agreed that most people don’t walk with both ankles almost rubbing, but there was a risk. I fell while I was trying to pick a walking line when the laces made contact. Just to reinforce this problem is not a rare occurrence, Goodie, a mate of mine, while collecting firewood on a recent 4WD trip had his boots lock up the same way. Over he went, landing in a prickle bush. Many prickles were picked out, but many more were too small to see; he suffered for days. While exploring the internet I found, websites, blogs and Facebook pages devoted to accidents and the dangers of speed lace hooks. Folks it doesn’t matter how expensive or hi-tech your hiking boots are, if they have speed lace hooks, cut the hooks off or crush them with pliers. I feel that in many ways I was fortunate that my injuries weren’t far worse. Can you imagine what dramas would have unfolded if I had sustained broken bones or a head injury? The nearest medical help by driving out was a day away; even RFDS help was problematic with the nearest airstrip being Warburton. Take care folks, remove these dangerous hooks if you have them or better still don’t buy boots with them. Or I can get you in touch with Bones, the Physioterrorist or the Scan Man.


Western 4W Driver #112


Time to light the fire, roll out the swags and have a drink.


was always delighted when the day was done to open the door and step down from the cab of the trusty 4WD that had carried us about during the day. There was a special enjoyment to this simple activity if we had been traversing the back roads of the Murchison, Gascoyne and southern Pilbara. My pleasure was not due in any way to comfort; after all, comfort becomes a secondary matter when science and discovery occupy first place. No, it was just because in those arid parts of the largest of the Australian states, when you stepped out of a vehicle on to the ground, you could imagine that you were putting your foot on to exactly the same land surface that had been trodden by the socalled giant extinct fauna that had roamed

the continent 100,000 years or more previously. The great age of the actual land surface was demonstrated not only by its shin-cracking hardness, but by its baked red hues demonstrating the stresses to which the iron compounds contained in the sands, soils and rocks had been subjected through the ages. The long red dunes that cross the Western Australian landscape further north may have only stood in their current locations over the few past tens of thousands of years, but in their time, they too have seen many events pass by. The first time I ever looked closely at the red sand grains making up the heart and soul of the continental dunefields, I was amazed

Western 4W Driver #112


to see that they the windscreen wiper would get rid of that mostly had a thin but consistent coating of carcass! a red iron compound. Ah well, we love the Inside, the grains that wildlife, but hopefully outwardly appeared in its proper place. to be a solid red And evenings are colour, were actually made for sitting made up of almost around the campfire clear quartz. As you and enjoying the know, there are conviviality that a absolutely zillions flickering ‘bush TV’ of them scattered generates rather across Australia, let than dodging leaping alone on the rest of marsupials, be they the continents, which giant or otherwise. gives substance to Short-faced kangaroo stood approximately In fact, and this is the perennial quiz 2 metres and weighed up to 240kg. another quiz throwquestion that asks, away, it is said by some that the big reds and ‘what is the earth’s second most common greys are remnants of the giant animals that element?’ Silicon is the answer just in case populated the continent before humans someone asks, and that is because sand, decided to make their homes here, just quartz, and relatives have a chemical like the crocodile is a dinosaur remnant. At formula written as SiO2 – silicon dioxide. one time, known because of their skeletal And my point is that many if not most of remains, Australia did have goannas as them are lying in the position now, or so big as Komodo Dragons and pythons that close to it that it doesn’t matter, to where would make an Amazonian Anaconda seem they were when the land was populated like a garden worm. I’m waiting for some by giant fauna, including emu-like birds, palaeontologist to discover the bones of one of which, and the last to disappear an extinct giant crocodile that was the size on our continent, was christened by of a ‘B-double’, but I only want to see the scientists Genyornis newtoni, (named after photo thanks, not the real thing. But back to Alfred Newton a 19th century Cambridge the big-birds; we are all familiar with the big lecturer with a huge interest in birds and flightless birds we currently share Australia who wrote many publications about them). with, the Cassowary and the Emu which When it’s all boiled down, I’m rather glad according to science are both closely that the Genyornis family still don’t wander related (I’m not sure if they have been our back roads. Apart from generating an asked themselves). Apparently, they once interesting set of ‘danger’ signs like the walked about beside even bigger flightless ones we now have depicting a leaping birds of cherry-picker size. These giant kangaroo underscored by the phrase ‘next birds have been called 'mihirungs', a name 5km’ a big population of giant birds is only based on an Australian Aboriginal word likely to excite the odd twitcher or a country for ‘thunder birds’. Perhaps the Aboriginal panel-beater. And that is to say nothing People did not encounter too many of about the huge Short-faced Kangaroo that these creatures, because I’m sure that also lived in the neighbourhood. One of they would have passed down wonderful these bouncing on to your bonnet in the stories about them if they had – but see dark could ruin an otherwise calm trip, to say nothing of the state of the bonnet of below! After all, they explained to their own the 4WD after the trespasser had been satisfaction the well-preserved therapod removed. And don’t think that a quick flip of dinosaur footprints preserved in the rocks 128

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in the Kimberley; and these were made so long ago that no-one was about to watch what the critters were up to.

Indian Ocean. This is not because some wading egg-layer in Madagascar had an accident, but rather because the kinds of places that they In the mob of large once inhabited are flightless birds that being eroded due are now found to careless human inhabiting the land-clearing. Lack of southern hemisphere vegetation stabilising of our globe, the the soil lets ancient emus, cassowaries, unhatched eggs ostriches, rheas make their way down and kiwis, you have to the sea and into probably noticed the swirling currents The extinct mihirungs or thunder birds that they have small that eventually were also called demon ducks. heads. If you have deliver them to our ever driven along behind a mob of emus beaches. Elephant Birds have been extinct striding down the road and waited for them since about the mid-16th century so we to turn off into the scrub so that you could have some references to exactly what they safely pass, you’ll know that there is not looked like and the reaction of humans to too much inside that head - which is mostly their presence – mainly they ate them! The taken up with eyes. Why they don’t just same fate removed Moas from the wildlife take to the scrub when you turn up, go in crossing signs of New Zealand. a few metres and wait for you to take their photo I’ll never fathom out. No, they prefer a 20k run in front of you down the track that, because of your rubber tyres, you are confined to, rather than a quick turn left or right, whichever is the more suitable, and the resumption of the activity that was occupying them before your arrival.

What unites this widely dispersed group of flightless birds known as ‘ratites’ is not their three-toed feet that would link them back to the Kimberley dinosaur footprints, no, it is because they all have a broad flat bone in their breasts that has no keel to which flight muscles would ordinarily attach. Consequently, with no attachment for the strong muscles required for flight – we have the explanation for why emus can’t fly. Extinct New Zealand Moas and the Elephant Bird of Madagascar are also ratites, and aren’t we glad they don’t appear on any wildlife crossing signs! Remarkably, every once-in-a-while an Elephant Bird egg washes up on a Western Australian beach after a long and lonely voyage around the

Surprisingly perhaps, we also have a visual record of our giant flightless birds in Australia thanks to Aboriginal People’s artistry. In the rock engravings of the Pilbara, giant birds are depicted beside other giant fauna including the Short-faced Kangaroo that did such damage to the bonnet of the 4WD. Kimberley rock paintings show huge birds that could well be Genyornis as do paintings in caves on Cape York peninsula.

I do find it exciting to step out of the cab on to the same land surface that these huge characters frequented. And as far as the Murchison goes, where this story began, a river crossing there was the site where the jaw-bone of a giant marsupial wombat was discovered. I imagine that this animal, almost as large as a Volkswagen Kombi, would have looked horrifying on a ‘wildlife crossing’ sign. Now what a souvenir that sign would have made! Pity that there weren’t too many sheds around at the time when they lived with a wall that could accommodate such a sign. Western 4W Driver #112



Kiwi ROX


tunning work utes are starting to come out of Australian body shops and now it’s New Zealand’s turn, with the Kiwis unveiling two dynamic upgrades from Retro Vehicle Enhancement (RVE). The first is a Holden Colorado that sprung from Holden NZ’s marketing team and was then passed to RVE. Now wearing Colorado ROX badges, the ute has 35inch Blackbear mud terrain tyres arced by custom-made monster flares.

RVE is an Auckland-based operation that has been going for more than 50 years as a designer of aftermarket vehicle products. For the Colorado, it used suppliers from the US, Poland and Taiwan with some of the more challenging components made by RVE’s CAD engineering.

It also has a 150mm suspension and body lift, Rock Sliders with removable drop steps, a carbon-fibre bulging bonnet, and hand-crafted bespoke front and rear steel bumpers. The ROX also has a rear deck cargo system and 500mm tray extender, extended roof bar with retractable lights and a roof basket. Inside is front and rear RVE leather-covered sports seats. The ute retains the standard Colorado’s 3.5-tonne towing capability.

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The second ute massaged by RVE is a Mercedes-Benz X-Class X350d that received the company’s EXY EXTREME package. The build was done by RVE on the design of Pickup Designs that also worked in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz NZ and Christchurch NZ dealer Armstrong Prestige. It has a body kit with new bumpers and wheel arches, diffuser and headlight and tail light frames that are finished in a black structural protective paint. The suspension is raised with a 100mm body kit and a 300mm suspension lift and 18-inch wheels with Black Bear mudterrain tyres. The exterior also has a tonneau bar and side steps. Inside is a Nappa leather and Alcantara upholstery.

RVE will make 250 of the EXY EXTREME utes that will be sold in other markets, including Mercedes-Benz’s home market of Germany. This ute also gets the TUV certification that allows it to be sold in new-car dealerships. Pickup Designs’ EXY EXTREME is one of three designs available, with the EXY PRIME and EXY OFFROAD also applicable to the X Class. These are marketed through RVE International in Australia and NZ.

For further informa

tion, contact RVE's

Phone 08 9279 5466 Email sales@tleng 132

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WA Agent:

Colorado Up-specs H

olden has introduced a new Colorado series headed by the LSX that transforms from a limited edition model to a permanent line-up of the ute range into 2020. The LSX is Holden’s new entry-level ute primarily aimed at work, but because of its budget price and no-frills features, will appeal equally to the leisure market. The LSX is joined for the MY20 model range with changes to the flagship Z71 version that now adds fender flares and a bash plate as standard features, along with a new ‘soft drop’ tailgate. The mid-range LTZ 4WD is also upgraded, adding leather-trim seats with the front ones now heated. A new fleet customer focused, tow bar equipped LTZ+ variant is also available with its payload re-rated to just under 1000kg. That means it is now accessible to customers seeking to acquire a Colorado via novated leasing. Both Colorado Z71 and LTZ also gain a premium DuraGuard spray on tub-liner as standard equipment.

This liner was developed for its extra convenience and utility for customers. Holden’s general manager of LCV marketing, Andre Scott, said more than 60 per cent of Z71 and LTZ customers fitted tub liners. “So we took the initiative to factory fit a premium product that delivers a quality fit, and a more functional and better-looking solution for our customers,” he said. “The new DuraGuard tub-liner surface minimises cargo slipping and sliding around in the rear, and it’s a seriously tough and durable liner that produces fewer warranty claims according to US experience on large pick-ups.” “The addition of the DuraGuard tub-liner means that MY20 Z71 and LTZ Colorado are the only pick-ups that retail for under $70,000 to feature this premium technology as standard equipment.” Holden has also introduced an accessory pack for Colorado owners designed to simplify any customisation. This resulted in accessory packs known as Tradie, Farmer, Black, Rig and the range topping Xtreme. “These enable Colorado to connect effectively with potentially a much larger customer base,” said Mr Scott. As an example, the Tradie pack includes a towing package, side and rear steps, a roof tray, 12V auxiliary power, floor mats, canvas seat covers, weather shields, bonnet protector and cup holders.

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Mahindra No Tractor I ndian vehicle and tractor-maker Mahindra has updated its seven-seat XUV500 SUV that gets a new seven-slot grille, chrome highlights, a larger chrome surround, a light-strip of daytime running lights and fog lights with a redesigned front bumper. There is also a new tail gate and tail lights and a new rear bumper. The 2019 upgrade includes a tweaked mHawk 2.2-litre turbo-petrol engine with a fifth-generation turbocharger for 103kW/320Nm. It is mated to an Aisin six-speed automatic transmission and allwheel drive is an option. The suspension - designed in partnership with Lotus - has also been revised for greater comfort and improved handling. The suspension upgrade and additional noise damping is claimed to dramatically reduce the noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) inside the cabin. The XUV500 is available in two models W6 and W10 - that both come standard with alloy wheels, cruise control with a multi-


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functional steering wheel, Arkamys audio system, a conversation mirror (deleted on the W10 with sunroof), reach adjustment to the steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlights, puddle lamps and fully automatic temperature control. In addition, the W6-grade features premium cloth upholstery. On the W6 models and above, Mahindra has also added hill hold and hill-descent control and electronic stability program with rollover mitigation. The W10 model is also equipped with a 7-inch full-colour infotainment system with voice commands and turn-by-turn sat-nav system. The brand, which also owns SsangYong, has a five-year warranty with a four-year capped-price service program. Mahindra opens its range with the W6 version priced at $26,990 drive away. The W10 AWD is $34,990. The sole WA dealer is Bunbury Mahindra.

Light it up with Narva


utomotive lighting specialist Narva has released new LED lights for vehicle and caravan interiors. There’s a range of types on offer, including pendant lamps for reading, interior downlights, courtesy lamps and ceiling lights. Pendant lights are available in either warm white (3200°K) or cool white (6000°K) colour temperatures and have a built-in touch-sensitive switch with a blue night light and a dimming function. All metal parts are chrome, fittings have concealed mounts and styles include glass and frosted-glass reflectors. The new range of downlights have a compact profile design and are easy to install with mounting screws concealed behind decorative trims. Some versions have integrated switches with on/dim/ off and a blue night light, while others are turned on by a traditional wall-mounted switch. These lamps have either warm white (3200°K) or cool white (6000°K) colour temperatures.

There’s also LED ceiling lights including circular, square and rectangular shapes with some models also equipped with integrated touch switches with blue night light and dimming functions. These are 12V or 10-30V multi-voltage options, have very low current draw and come with a five-year warranty. Narva has also launched a seven-pin flat trailer socket that has a built-in heavyduty battery connector. It is designed for camping, caravanning or boating enthusiasts who regularly tow vehicles requiring battery maintenance to the trailer or caravan, to power on-board equipment. The 7-pin trailer plug delivers power to operate the standard stop, tail, reverse and licence plate lights, while also providing a built-in, heavy-duty battery connector that delivers up to 50 amps of power to the battery to charge, maintain or power equipment such as fridges.

Narva’s courtesy lamps are suitable for surface mounting and have an even, non-directional light output. Features include a built-in, touch-sensitive switch with blue night switch and dimmable output and the choice of warm white and cool white colour temperatures. Western 4W Driver #112


Seltos Small SUV Y et another small SUV is on the horizon with Kia planning the launch of its Seltos in October.

It shares its platform with sister company Hyundai’s Kona and along with the Kona, goes into showroom battle with the Mitsubishi ASX and Nissan Qashqai.

The Seltos is built in India and Korea (we get the Korean build) and arrives with a 110kW 2.0-litre petrol four mated to a CVT automatic for the front-wheel drive version, and the more enthusiastic 130kW 1.6-litre turbo-petrol and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with all-wheel drive. Though sharing the Kona platform, the Seltos is 150mm longer (at 4315mm), the same 1800mm width, is 70mm higher (1620mm) and has a 10mm longer wheelbase at 2610mm. It has a 190mm ground clearance, up 20mm on the Kona’s 170mm.


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Depending on the grade, there are three alloy-wheel choices - 16-inch, 17-inch and 18-inch - with 205/60R16, 215/55R17 or 235/45R18 tyres. Kia said the Seltos would have suspension tuning designed and tested in Australia for local conditions and drive demands. Cabin features, depending on the version, include a large 10.25-inch central touchscreen that can be customised to display up to three applications simultaneously, Bose eight-speaker audio, sound-mood lighting that pulses with the music coming through the audio, and UVO Connect telematics system for live traffic and news and a link to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Prices and specifications will be announced closer to the Seltos’ launch in October. It is likely to follow the Kona pricing which now ranges from $25,500 to $39,000.


Out of the Bog Having read about the Queensland invented Bog Outs for some time we were keen to try them out. To test them properly we needed the following: • A sandy beach P • A willing victim ... sorry, a bogged vehicle P • Something to anchor the Bog Outs to P

Kyle bogged the back wheels on the Ranger down to the axles for us to test the Bog Outs.


s it turned out, the stars aligned when we were on Eighty Mile Beach. Kyle willingly bogged his Ford Ranger and we positioned our LandCruiser to act as an anchor. Once set up, the recovery took seconds. The system is quite ingenious in its simplicity. The bogged vehicle’s tyres grab onto the Bog Outs, which look like a rope ladder, using the vehicle’s own torque to extract itself. The use of Dyneema rope and

the lack of any hardware (metal shackles etc.) makes the system extremely safe. Bog Out provides a cheaper alternative to a traditional winch as well as being more flexible in that you can use the system on either the front or rear wheels. You will need to carry a sand anchor or bury a spare tyre in the event of needing to recover on your own on the beach. The kit we purchased contained two Bog Outs and two Dyneema rope extensions as Western 4W Driver #112


We attached the Bog Outs to the wheels of the bogged vehicle ...

... and the other end to an anchor point - in this case, our LandCruiser.

well as four soft shackles. I will be adding another four soft shackles to make attaching to the wheels quicker and easier. Everything packs away into a couple of supplied bags and weighs next to nothing. We would highly recommend carrying a set of Bog Outs in your recovery kit. They are available from The vehicle popped out of the sand instantly and removing the Bog Outs was easy - itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just a matter of having someone pull the rope off to the side as you continue to drive slowly. The tyres grab on to the Bog Outs and simply pull the car out of the bog.


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Once fitted, the Roadcruzas looked great. Utilising an all-terrain pattern very similar to other brands, the tyres generated very little road noise and felt like they gripped the wet road quite well. Just over 10,000km later we checked in for an update. “In the course of our three week trip we drove on just about every type of surface; bitumen, gravel, rock, sand and mud. While towing on the bitumen we ran the rear tyres at 50 PSI and the fronts at 40.” At the end of their trip the tyres didn’t really show any visible wear and tear and road noise was still at a minimum. “I’d be more than happy to fit these tyres again when required. The retail price is quite reasonable and given their performance over the last three weeks I cannot fault them,” our Prado driver said.


he team at TWD 4X4 in Osborne Park asked Western 4W Driver to road test a set of Roadcruza RA-1100 A/T tyres and provide them feedback. Having only just put new rubber on our LC200, we fitted a set to a 120 series Prado prior to an extended trip up to Kakadu where they would cover the widest range of road conditions.


Roadcruz-ing T

China by Yinbao Tyre Group (who supply OEM tyres to Hino, Futon, Kawasaki and Komatsu - just to name a few). G SPORT TYRES is the national distributor for Roadcruza and have been selling them for the last two years. Stephen Gurman, TWD 4X4 Sales Manager says, “In the last two years we have established some very loyal clients who will often travel to Perth to get replacement tyres or to fit new vehicles with the Roadcruzas. It’s a real testament to the tyre’s toughness and reliability that our customers are using them in some pretty harsh conditions and love them.” The tyres tested were an LT265/70R17 Roadcruza RA-1100 A/T with a 10ply sidewall rating. TWD 4X4 stock the complete range of Roadcruza and will have something to suit your needs. Find out more product information at the Facebook page – Roadcruza Tyres Australia.

The Roadcruza RA-1100 A/T are a tough tyre, sporting 10 ply sidewalls and a semi Roadcruz-ing aggressive tread pattern which makes them ideal for bitumen and off-road use. They are manufactured in

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THE ULTIMATE 4WD SPECIALISTS Supplier of passenger, commercial and 4WD tyres. Stockist of major 4WD brands such as Roadsafe 4WD, Dobinson 4WD products, Uniden Communications, Ultravision Lighting, Redback Exhausts. Fully equipped workshop able to supply and install an array of 4WD products and upgrades to your vehicle. Suspension rim and tyre packages starting from $2699.00 supplied and installed.

Unit 3/100 Frobisher St, Osborne Park 0433 965 557

Is this really such a fun job?


This heading is probably enough to send a ‘shiver up the spine’, or at least bring a grimace to the face of most travellers – especially those who are new to this type of modern ablution facility.


ndeed, this dreaded job is certainly not the most enjoyable part of camping, but properly disposing of our daily human waste is a job which just has to be done! Yes, if you have moved on from the days of taking a spade and toilet roll for a walk in the bush and you now have the ‘luxury’ of a chemical toilet / porta potty / eco loo, then things are somewhat more ‘civilised’, but even then, there are guidelines which should be followed to make the system work well for you and others.


To ensure your portable toilet system operates efficiently, make sure you use your Thetford or other chemicals according to instructions and put a couple of litres of clean fresh water into your unit with the chemicals. Don’t try to skimp, because they need those volumes to break ‘things’ down and do the job properly. Nappy treatment

products containing sodium percarbonate (or other bio-stimulant products) are also popular alternatives to the other chemicals. When using these modern ablution facilities, please do not put any other waste/rubbish, including disposable nappies, sanitary pads, ‘wet wipes’ (that do not easily break down), into your cassette or the dump point. Such items can, unfortunately, clog up the system, putting it out of action and unusable until the blockage can be cleared. If you want to use ‘wet wipes’, a good idea is to place them into a plastic bag (keep a few bags close to your loo) and then put them in your rubbish. Depending on the capacity of your cassette toilet and the amount of waste accumulated, it is generally necessary to empty the unit at least every 3 or 4 days – much longer and the effect of the chemicals starts to wear off and unpleasant odours can start to emerge. Western 4W Driver #112


When it comes to dump points there are more and more of these facilities being set up in towns and popular camping spots around the country. The CMCA, KEA Campers and local authorities are to be congratulated on this initiative. Camps 8 and 9 Books and other medium have a list of dump point sites around Australia.


When emptying your unit, always ensure you hold the cassette outlet as close as possible to the dump point hole, or even into the neck of the hole, to minimise ‘mess’ and ‘splatter’! In most places a tap/hose is supplied to wash down the facility after you have used it, to rinse out your cassette unit (at

Empty the cassette - keep the neck of the cassette close so there is less mess.

least a couple of times) and put a couple of litres of water into it with your new lot of chemicals for ongoing use. Where only one tap/hose is provided, do not use it to top up your drinking water tanks. The hose wouldn’t be food grade and shouldn’t be used for drinking water for that reason. This may not be potable drinking water and in any case, serious contamination can occur in these situations because of where this hose has been – washing down the dump point and cleaning the insides of cassettes, etc. A dump point which is left closed up, clean and tidy by the way, makes it much more healthy, hygienic and pleasant for the next person who uses the facility compared to a filthy/obnoxious mess like 144

Western 4W Driver #112

Wash down dump point with own water if none supplied.

we have unfortunately come across a couple of times in our travels. Use your own water supply (sparingly, of course) to do the wash down job if no other water is supplied. Another thing to remember at dump points, this should not be a communal activity! The unwritten rule here is to use the dump point one at a time – it is total ignorance or just plain bad manners to be ‘dumping’ two (or more) at a time – let alone the embarrassment of splashing someone with your toilet waste!! Stand back and let the other person finish their job. You can certainly have a sociable time with others who may be standing back in a queue, but only one at a time at the site please! By following these dump point guidelines, you have made this essential chore that much more pleasant for yourself and others … and you can now once again get on with your holiday! Close dump point lid when you have finished.

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Western Cliffs Having virtually half of the country’s coastline stretching around our vast state makes for a great variety of coastal landscapes. Nearly every conceivable type of marine coastal environment can be found if one were to explore the whole lot and amongst it, there’s some rugged cliff country especially in the far south east beyond Esperance and in sections along our western side.


ather than describe every kilometre of these stretches, we’ve chosen to cover a couple of the more visited and iconic western cliff areas well known to serious rock-hopping fishos. In the last edition it was the Cape Cuvier stretch and

this time round we’re focusing on what is commonly called the Zuytdorp cliffs.

This impressively rugged 150km stretch starts just north of Kalbarri in the Gascoyne and runs up to False Entrance and the iconic Steep Point at the southern end of the Shark Bay region. Most West Aussies would know the name originates from our early European maritime exploration and the wreck of the Dutch ship the Zuytdorp that ran aground on these cliffs in 1712 trying to reach what is now Indonesia. The rugged and spectacular landscape is characterised by cliffs that are often over 150 metres high and the single highest point being nearly 250 metres above the waterline. Before you start researching and gearing up for an exploratory off road trek or fishing

Rough underfoot and high off the water. Not for the faint hearted angler.

Western 4W Driver #112


trip to the area, be aware that much of the stretch is very difficult to access. Limited distance and exploration can be gained from the southern end at Murchison House Station just north of the river but the rabbit proof fence halts any significant run north. And then it is very rough going in any case.

years since my first forays there in the late 70s and early 80s in regards to management of the area and even the route but the unrelenting landscape of course is still the same. In those early days fishing was simply mind-boggling and if you were the only visitors camped there (as we sometimes The more attractive Shelter Bay - good reward for fishing effort. were) it really did and accessible feel incredibly part for serious 4W remote. Nowadays, for those who do their drivers is to venture in from the top end at homework well, the fishing can still be very Steep Point, Australia’s most westerly point productive, although it does take some of the mainland. I say attractive because not greater effort and preparation to reap the only is it an interesting off road challenge rewards. Fuel, water and self sufficiency are but also because of the potential for some still vital to a trouble free camping / fishing of the best land based, cliff and sports trip to the area, even though the level of fishing in Australia. ‘remoteness’ has diminished somewhat. Many changes have occurred over the Fishing wise, your level of success will improve greatly if you team up with These waters are treacherous and someone who’s a regular or at least can need to be treated with caution. Falling in is not an option. give you all the right background. It’s the sort of place where meticulous preparation and the right equipment are essential. Lots of anglers who go in ill-prepared for the first time leave disappointed after watching others catch big mackerel, sailfish, cobia, tuna and the occasional bottom species. In the warmer months there’s nothing to do but fish and it requires a great deal of stamina and perseverance to be able to front up in 36 degree plus temperatures and fish the cliff top for long hours. The two most productive ways to fish the Point are by ‘spinning’ with lures and ‘ballooning’ with large baits. A good way of explaining these things and outlining how it works would be to run through a typical day. In the cooler winter months things are 148

Western 4W Driver #112

different but in the warmer summer with the breeze at your back the typical day would start with a pre-dawn coffee and bite to eat (before 5.00am) and then down to your spot on the cliffs that you would have claimed when you first arrived (the rods tend to be left there for the entire stay). An early morning cast with a bait such as a pilchard is worth trying in the hope of a snapper, while waiting for the light to get to a point where the lures will become effectively visible. Once this happens it’s time to start belting out bigger minnow lures or lead head jigs and working them right to the base of the cliffs. The first morning hours are prime time for Spanish and shark mackerel to roam past looking for baitfish to attack against the cliffs. The sight of a big, 15kg Spanish mackerel flashing across from nowhere and smashing the lure in a swirl of white water and powering away for a hundred metres or so, is awesome. Once you’ve experienced it you’re hooked and you can’t wait to do it all again or return to the Point for more. If the moon phases are

right (such as just after the new moon) it’s likely that the action will be more consistent and frequent. Once the breeze starts to freshen (usually at your back) most anglers change tack and prepare to launch a balloon. This involves sending out a large bait (such as a tailor or large gardie) suspended twenty metres or so below a large 70-80cm balloon filled with party gas or a mixture of helium and air. The breeze drags the bait, skipping enticingly across the surface, out to deeper water perhaps a hundred metres out. From there it’s a simple case of sitting back and keeping a watchful eye on things until it’s hit, sometimes by mackerel that spear out of the water like missiles and attack the bait in mid air or perhaps by a rampaging tuna or sailfish that takes the bait and powers away into the deepest sections of the passage. Unfortunately one of the more prevalent changes to fishing at the Point or the cliff surrounds is the patrolling sharks taking hooked fish. Sadly, like other well frequented fishing locations this has

Late afternoon ballooning from the Steep Point cliffs.

Western 4W Driver #112


become a frustrating fact of life. It’s possible to explore further south from the Point to spots such as Crayfish Bay and Thunder Bay but check with the local rangers or local knowledge before heading off to False Entrance and these spots. If the harsh cliff top landscape becomes a little wearing (there are no trees) it is possible to wander around to the east where the cliffs drop down to just a low ledge. Here it can be a chance to cast chrome lures at big tailor that cruise the surf break or even drop in for a swim.

not cliff fishing, it’s a welcome change from exposure of the cliff tops.

The rugged and harsh cliff line country found here and at various spots along our west coast is not for everyone. Many would prefer the comfort and serenity of a beautiful stretch of beach, something we’re very spoilt to enjoy in so many places here. Nonethe-less, for many others, this sort of landscape holds much interest and given the deeper water that lies adjacent, often holds greater A younger author with a Steep promise for the fishing Point staple. Big Spanish opportunities. Make no mackerel are a regular catch. mistake however - this kind of coastline takes Further around to the east and accessible no prisoners when it comes to being swept by vehicle is Shelter Bay, a sandy, sheltered, sand spit and bay across from Surf Point off the cliffs or rocks. Visitors need to be or the southern-most point of Dirk Hartog watchful, cautious and take no risks if the Island. A popular spot to camp for those seas are slightly rough or the swell is up.

Watching a big bait being dragged across the top by a balloon and waiting for the strike.


Western 4W Driver #112

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Breathe Easy with AirMini


bout 18 months ago, after finding I was falling asleep during the day, I was diagnosed with sleep apnoea. The initial tests showed I was waking up 56 times an hour (no, that isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t a typo) and my snoring was keeping everyone awake. Fast forward 18 months and I have been using my ResMed Airsense 10 CPAP device without any issues. I wake up refreshed and no longer need to sleep during the day. Travelling however, posed a new set of problems when I was dependant upon battery power for many of our overnight stops.

offered a more versatile solution. The unit is small, and uses bugger all power. I opted to also buy a Medistrom Pilot 24 Lite CPAP battery which is rechargeable via 12 volt and takes the load off the caravan system. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also compact and easy to transport when travelling (think plane travel) and with the optional battery pack, can be used during flight. They offer a great alternative to the bigger machines and are available from ResSleep. (

Introducing the ResMed AirMini CPAP device. Given the option of upgrading our battery system in the caravan to a lithium solution or buying the AirMini, the mini

Backpack, Hiking pack, Laptop bag


recently needed to update my aging laptop bag with a new one. Always on the lookout for items that serve multiple roles, I stumbled upon the 5.11 Rush24. 5.11 are well known in the defence community for producing high quality and rugged gear and it is for these reasons that I chose the Rush24.

The main compartment has an overall capacity of 33 litres (despite the 24 designation in the name) and is surrounded by smaller, functional compartments and storage spaces. Festooned with industrial strength YKK zippers, the pack can serve as a daily commute laptop Western 4W Driver #112


bag or be quickly converted to a day or even overnight hiking pack. Ergonomic shoulder straps and generous strap length makes the pack sit comfortably regardless of the wearer’s build with a sternum strap and a padded back making those longer walks just that little bit better. A wide opening admin panel and multiple internal pockets and compartments make

this pack extremely functional regardless of the activity. The pack’s well-built finish and design means that it will be a long-term addition to my equipment list. My pack was purchased from The Kit Bag (, a long term Perth business who specialise in defence and emergency services equipment and clothing.

Snap happy


nyone with a camera knows the frustration of finding a decent camera bag to carry not only the camera but all the other extra ‘bits’ that you may need as well. I have endured this first world problem for quite some time, culminating in a recent trip to the National Motoring Museum for a 4x4 event. On my return I promised myself that I would find a better camera bag. I did. While looking to replace my laptop bag (refer to backpack review) I also found the 5.11 Push Pack. Now it is not strictly designed to carry a DSLR, in fact it is designed to carry a compact sidearm (pistol) and other essential military everyday carry items. Don’t let its military heritage

put you off. You see, soldiers have to carry quite a lot of gear and so they demand the best possible solutions for doing so. For us civilians this means that all this R&D benefits our minor (in comparison) requirements. Not only could I carry my Canon (no pun intended) 6D, three spare batteries and multiple SD cards, I could also carry either two GoPros mounted on extendable handles (plus a spare battery) or a single Go-Pro and a flash unit for the Canon. Access is quick and the cross body sling allows for these expensive items to be carried securely. Highly recommended and again I purchased mine from The Kit Bag (www.

Organise your cables


nother first world problem recently reared its ugly head. Cables. Or more accurately, cable management. With all the different devices we carry on a daily basis as well as when we go on holidays, cable management can be a nightmare. Enter Tactical Geek. The company produces a wide range of items designed to make your life that little bit easier. My first 154

Western 4W Driver #112

purchase was their Block D EDC (Every Day Carry) Wallet – 32G version. Now, you can call it a man-bag or man-purse, but I like to call it awesome. The wallet is designed to carry an iPad (or similar device – mine being the 10” iPad Pro) as well as charging cable, business cards, notebook and pens. I use it for business visits, allowing me to carry essentials and providing a mini road office.

The inclusion of an integrated elastic organiser is just brilliant, making cable and pen management a breeze. This led me to purchase three of their TCM Elastic Organiser Boards. Approximately A5 in size, the boards are covered on one side in criss-crossed elastic strips. These allow you to secure cables and other items onto the board while still maintaining easy access to them. They are designed to then be slipped into a bag (think laptop bag, daypack or camera bag) preventing

your myriad of cables and other items from becoming entangled. Check out these and some other great items at Go Camping and Overlanding ( on Erindale Road, Balcatta.

Mood lighting via the sun


uring our last visit to see the team at Ranger Outdoors in Bentley I had a small box thrust into my hands with these simple instructions, “Give these lights a try on your trip to Broome and let us know what you think”. The Luci Solar String Lights and Mobile Charger were packed carefully in the caravan and then promptly forgotten about until we reached Barn Hill Station. Sitting under the awning of our van listening to some very chilled out tunes being sung live by Terry Bennett, we dug the lights out and strung them up. What a great set of lights. There are ten LED light bulbs on approximately six metres of cable. The wind up container has an integrated solar panel and battery for charging during the day as well as controls for brightness. The other end is a USB plug (male) allowing the unit to be plugged into any 5 volt USB socket (in case you have forgotten to place the unit in the sun). There is also a USB socket which allows you to plug your phone into it for a ‘save the planet’ solar recharge.

They aren’t quite bright enough to read by, however they do add quite nicely to that ‘chilled out’ ambience you are looking for when camping. At $64.99, they are great value and available from Ranger Outdoor, Bentley. For edition #112, subscribers can save $5 and grab them for $59.99.

The unit provides a soft, warm white light which makes for a very relaxed addition to your camping illumination requirements. Western 4W Driver #112


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Well 'dunny' everyone!

Trackcare and Kunawarritji Rangers Install Toilet at Well 33


unawarritji Rangers wanted to upgrade the visitor experience at the popular Well 33 camp site, which is utilised by people travelling the Canning Stock Route as a stopover point. Now, through a collaborative project with Trackcare WA a toilet has been constructed at the site. This was a great project where the Trackcare volunteers, Kunawarritji rangers and the RAWA school students worked together to complete the job. With the rangers and volunteers constructing the toilet and the students completing a mural on the side of the new facility for everyone to enjoy.

New toilet being installed at Well 33.

Source Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa

The rangers look forward to building an ongoing relationship with Trackcare, working together and sharing skills and knowledge on future projects.

Mural completed by students. Source Track Care WA

Great work team!

Source Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa Western 4W Driver #112



Western 4W Driver #112

“I asked why they, (the National Motor Museum) don’t do something for the 4x4 industry, and was told ‘put up or shut up’, so I did …” “The aim (was) to get the National Motor Museum to recognise the 4x4 industry as a legitimate player in their field. I think we did it!” – Trevor Manning, OAM, event organiser.



Gathering By Ben Broeder

The National Motor Museum, in Birdwood, South Australia

Western 4W Driver #112



cool, overcast Sunday morning saw the inaugural Celebrating 4x4 Gathering kick off on the 19th of May at the National Motor Museum in Birdwood, South Australia. Trevor Manning, his wife Sue and their daughter Toni kicked off the event months ago, along with help from other four wheel drive clubs and members. Toni also happens to be the Club President for Summit Trax 4x4 Club, the primary club behind the event. 4WD clubs from all across South Australia made the trek to display all manner of vehicles, camping arrangements and to participate in a damper cooking competition. Our editor, Chris, who had only just the previous weekend been a guest judge at a club damper bake-off in Kalgoorlie, was invited to also cast his taste buds over the Birdwood competition as a special guest judge. When asked as to which competitor had produced the best dampers, Chris, rather diplomatically, declined to answer.

One drawcard for those who were there, was to see the last drive of ‘Milo’, four wheel drive celebrity John Rooth’s long suffering green Toyota LandCruiser. Roothy had donated Milo to the National Motor Museum to be part of a new exhibit in the museum displaying 4WD culture and history in Australia. “We are a social history museum; it is about the vehicles … but really and truly it’s about the people. The people behind these vehicles are far more interesting than the vehicles themselves most of the time,” said Paul Rees, Museum Director, National Motor Museum. We caught up with Paul and asked what the biggest challenge for the museum was in hosting this event. “The thing that made us nervous was that we had never had so many guests sleeping over at the museum before,” says Paul. However, these concerns were soon laid to rest once the museum learned the skill sets and experiences of those attending, who

Roothy drives ‘Milo’ for the last time before donating the LandCruiser to the National Motor Museum.


Western 4W Driver #112

Preparing damper for tasting. Damper cooking is underway.

the majority of, all had first aid and rural fire service experience. Over 100 club members’ vehicles were on display for the weekend, with clubs presenting displays, photos and information about their respective clubs. Walking amongst the rows of vehicles and campsites revealed a wide range of vehicles; from the biggest and latest on the market through to collections of veteran Land Rovers, LandCruisers, Suzukis and International Scouts. With something at the event for everyone, there were excellent local boutique wines and craft beers on hand, along with a coffee van for any early morning hangovers that may have resulted from Saturday night’s live music entertainment. Those seeking a more relaxed, quieter atmosphere were able to stroll through the world class motoring exhibits on display in the National Motor Museum.

future, however the organisers, amazed by the enthusiasm and attendance for this year’s event, have indicated that plans are afoot to create a future event as an annual or two yearly fixture in the 4W driving calendar. The Leyland Brothers’ vehicle, used in their West - East Crossing Expedition, is on display at the museum.

Event sponsors ARB 4x4 Accessories and Battery World presented displays of their latest innovations, along with the team from Redarc. There were no defined plans to hold this event again in the Western 4W Driver #112


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The Tatts Finke Desert Race is Australia’s largest and most prestigious off road motor sports event. The race began in 1976 and has grown over the years to become a real ‘bucket list’ race for off road racing enthusiasts wishing to pit themselves and their machines against the harsh Northern Territory desert track.


By Ben Broeder

ost of the grandeur and spectacle is based around the impressive street party, that the whole community gets involved in, as well as the events based around the race complex, just outside of Alice Springs. However, there is much more to this event, so we decided to take a closer look at the spectator aspect of this truly gargantuan event held in Australia’s Red Centre. We caught up with some of the dedicated spectators that camp along the 230 kilometre track to Finke. Seeing the amount of families and groups who make a weekend out of camping along the track is in itself breathtaking. The northernmost sections of the course are

Crossing the finish line at the ‘Finke’ is an achievement in itself.

Western 4W Driver #112


jam-packed for twenty to thirty kilometres from the starting line, gradually thinning out along the road to Finke. Andrea Dunston and her family first came to the Tatts Finke Desert race in 2016. We asked Andrea what keeps bringing them all back? “It’s something that everyone in the family enjoys. You’re obviously away from your regular life, you’re in the outback, you’re around like-minded people, everyone is here to have a good time. It’s very relaxed and very friendly,” Andrea said. We asked if there was any advice that Andrea would offer any first time Finke goers. “Be prepared for the cold. Nights are very cold, but other than that, come on out and enjoy it,” Andrea continued. Whilst camping along the track is somewhat of an Alice Springs tradition, and an extremely popular one at that, many of the campsites we visited would fit in quite normally to any regular 4W driving affair. With the exception of one we stumbled across … Mathew Jackson, a builder based in Alice Springs went all out for this, his first ever Finke Desert Race. His camp site consisted

of a two-storey scaffold, complete with viewing areas, plenty of eskies and a stereo system atop the lofty perch, which was even equipped with a staircase. With Slim Dusty blaring in the background, we spoke with Mathew about his impressive camp. “It was trial and error coming up with the layout and location. We’ve helped out with a car roll over and a bike crash this morning,” Mathew tells us, which all occurred just around the corner from his viewing platform high in the sky. The social aspects and meeting new people are what Mathew tells us will be bringing him back for the 2020 Finke Desert Race, perhaps with an additional storey to the scaffold? Another large part of the Tatts Finke Desert Race are the volunteers and officials who attend the event each year. Steven Hunter, one of the officials at the first fuel stop along the track tells us that he and his Army and Navy colleagues who jointly operate the fuel stop have been volunteering at the event for seven years now. “No-one expects to see the Navy in the middle of the desert,” Steven told us, “It’s always a bit of a novelty.” The fuel stop, like many of the official locations that we came across, is family orientated with partners and children coming along to enjoy the weekend. Tina Shembri, Team Leader for the Deep Well Checkpoint, has been operating checkpoint with her family for three years now. There’s very few events that you can get this close to the action... Mathew’s impressive scaffold has prime viewing of the course.


Western 4W Driver #112

campers and competitors, locals are glad to have everyone and the event in town. Locals go out of their way to help the visitors and the event alike.

There’s even time to have a read of Western 4W Driver between the action.

“It became part of the family. We all just love it, because we’ve been involved with it for so long, it’s a great race and great for the community,” Tina told us. Tina’s family have been involved with the event since 1980. Taking on volunteer roles, racing in the event on cars and bikes as well as having daughters in the roles as Finke Ambassadors.

If you are looking for a trip to take the kids along to, that you will see some great scenery, experience some unique camping and, of course, experience worldclass motor sports right at the doorstep of your swag, the Tatts Finke Desert Race is sure to be a winner with the whole family. Andrea and her family love the atmosphere of the Finke Desert Race

The Finke is certainly one of those events in Australia which is worth the trek to get to. The electric atmosphere that engulfs the entire Alice Springs community is truly amazing. Despite the town being all but over-run with tourists, The Dunston’s camp at this year’s Finke.

Western 4W Driver #112


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REBELS FOR A CAUSE When one buys an iconic vehicle like the (General Purpose - GP) Jeep, it comes imbued with a strong sense of identity and community. There’s also a touch of the rebel in the Jeep identity which is probably one of the reasons some of Perth’s Jeep owners prefer not to call themselves, or indeed, operate as a club. Under the neutral title of ‘Perth Jeep community’ aficionados of the brand keep in touch via social media and individuals within the group take it upon themselves to plan events bringing owners together on a fairly regular basis and often in big numbers.


o when I was invited recently to an annual ‘Go Topless Day’, my initial fleeting thought was that this could well be a sight for sore thighs, but unfortunately for my libido (and fortunately for my sagging pecs) this simply referred to an outing of soft top Jeeps.

Arriving at the meeting place in my Land Cruiser, I stuck out like a sore thumb in a sea of Jeeps. Somewhere north of 130 vehicles turned up for the day and the focus of this stage was a Show and Shine. And shine they did, from glaring lime green to deep black, all highly polished and sporting a dazzling array of accessories the Jeep brand is famous for. Some looked positively muscley atop 37 inch rubber while others harked back to Jeep’s origins. One in particular, Brian Pollitt’s 1940s military Ford GP re-built as a six wheel drive and motivated by a 239 cubic inch V8 flathead running through a three speed box (and which you might see more of in a future edition.) At the other end of the scale - decibel-wise, one Wrangler was

The Go Topless Day is one of two main events the community runs every year and this year’s occasion was a fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis - an affliction that impacts a family within the Jeep community here.

Western 4W Driver #112


simply transport for an enormous sound system with two subs side by side and necessitating the employment of two solar panels to try and match the power draw at full blast. Speaking to the event organiser Georgia Moore, I was surprised to discover the Go Topless Day is a world-wide event happening on the same date and, in the US, attracting up to 500-600 vehicles at any one location. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s community for you! With prizes handed out for the showiest and shiniest, this impressive gathering roared into life and convoyed off to Toodyay in the hills beyond Perth where a raffle was drawn for items donated by 4WD businesses and Jeep owners themselves. The day raised the tidy sum of $2380 - a great show of support for a very worthy cause. Then after a bit of merriment at the Toodyay pub it was back in the soft tops for the cruise back to Perth - Jeep owners going topless and having their day in the sun. I hope they packed the sunscreen. Georgia took the reins for the day. A big turn-out for the show and shine.

Heading for the hills.


Western 4W Driver #112

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am sitting here in my office at Melangata Station listening to the beautiful sound of rain on the old tin roof, and with just the hint of a little grin on my face, as I know that rain in June and July means there will be another spectacular wildflower season just around the corner. So here is the inside goss folks - if you haven’t done much wildflower hunting then this could be just the year to do it and this day trip could be incorporated when you start the chase. Before the rain turned up, my assistant for the season, Helen, and I decided to take the day off and head out and about to see some of the sights in the neighbourhood and our billion year old landscape. That’s right, you read correctly. Some of the oldest known rocks in the 170

Western 4W Driver #112

world are just up the road from Melangata - 4.2 billion years in fact, found in the Jack Hills north west of Cue. It’s always good to be able to accurately direct guests to the highlights in the area and have some local knowledge of what amazing things there are in our neck of the woods because modern technology and bloody Google maps are rubbish at it. We made a bee line to Walga Rock which is only about an 80km drive on a pretty fair outback dirt road and being one of the largest granite outcrops in Australia it makes for a rather spectacular destination. Unfortunately time was against us and with a full day of ‘research’ ahead, a visit to the wall of ancient Aboriginal art and a slow drive around the base was all we could manage to fit in.

The area is a day use area only but it is possible to park up and wander over the rock and if the views from the top of Melangata granites are anything to go by, I am sure you would feel like you are looking over the edge of the world at Walga Rock too. Next destination was the Big Bell township and old mine site. Slowly driving through the streets to read the signs and seeing the ruins that remain of what existed many years ago makes you wonder what it was like living in a thriving, bustling town with Murchison Lodge, in Cue, is said to be the biggest, free standing, double story corrugated iron structure in the southern hemisphere.

CLEWED UP with JO CLEWS hotels, businesses and shops that now lie abandoned and skeletal in the landscape of time. I have always admired Cue and its amazing old buildings and the restoration that has gone on in the past years has given the place a fresh and invigorated feeling that potentially means it will be here in another 100 yearsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; time and not go the way of Big Bell. We strolled through the former Old Gentlemanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Club that Herbert Hoover (American President number 31) frequently stayed at when travelling through the area in the late 1800s early 1900s. It is now home to the council offices and is open to the public during the week to view the extensive collection of photographs of the area that are now housed on the walls of this grand old building. Across the road is the visitor information centre which is housed in the old Municipal chambers. Here, friendly staff will advise you of where to head to next in your discovery of the historical gems that scatter the area. Walga Rock is one of the largest granite monoliths in Australia.

Western 4W Driver #112


We lunched on a fine burger and coffee at the ex hotel, ‘Queen of the Murchison’ guesthouse and café that has undergone extensive renovations and is now an affordable home away from home for the traveller on the Great Northern Highway and offers a lovely lunch menu for those pushing on. Next destination was an 80km blast south down the great northern highway to Mount Magnet and first stop in town was to one of the best butcher shops in the state to pick up some homemade cabanossi sausage and the fresh chorizo sausage for this edition’s recipe. The visitors centre and museum in Mount Magnet is second to none and many hours could be spent wandering through the most interesting displays and old machinery from times gone by. I made the mistake of choosing the back road back to Melangata from Mount Magnet instead of taking the long way round through Yalgoo. Yep, big mistake that was. Since the Dalgaranga mine has reopened, the road is just 60km of unrelenting corrugations that I could not in all conscience advise anyone to drive on, let alone towing anything. So at just under 400km driving it does make for a pretty big day out when you take the long way round. It’s such a shame the back road from Mount Magnet is so woeful as it makes a fantastic circuit without having to travel over much of the same country. You can also incorporate the Dalgaranga meteorite crater just to finish off your day of exploration in this amazing, historical, billion year old landscape. Even though it was a mission to get the main ingredient, we had certainly worked up an appetite and the end result was worth the drive. So as promised here is your recipe made from fresh Mount Magnet chorizo. 172

Western 4W Driver #112

Panino mix can be found in specialty stores. A pot full of goodness.

Creamy Chorizo Pasta

Will feed four hungry folk.

2 fresh chorizo sausages 1 brown onion finely diced or ½ bunch spring onions sliced ½ red capsicum, finely diced 1 punnet cherry tomatoes ½ cup panino mix or antipasto mix, chopped 300ml cream or sour cream ¼ cup Kalamata olives, chopped 1/3 pack dried spaghetti Method: Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and add the spaghetti to cook. In a large pan or small cast iron camp oven par cook the sausages, allow them to cool and chop into small pieces. In the same pan cook together the onions, capsicum, olives, panino mix and tomatoes until the onions have wilted and slightly browned. Add the cream and continue to cook over a low heat. Once spaghetti is cooked al dente, drain off water and add the spaghetti to the pan with the creamy chorizo mix. Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and allow it to stand for a few minutes as the pasta will absorb some of the liquid and the sauce will thicken. Serve with a green salad and crusty bread or just tuck right in from the pan. Enjoy. Tip - Dried chorizo can be substituted for fresh. Tip - Any other pasta can be substituted for the spaghetti. Tip - Panino mix can be found in specialty stores. Western 4W Driver #112




Factory 2, 4 melrich Road Bayswater VIc 3153 Ph: 03 9762 8004 EmaIL: WEB:


A Unique Alliance

Tending the Tracks alliance


t’s not every day that the sun rises over a campsite of 4W drivers and conservationists having a weekend out together, yet this happens regularly up the coast between Guilderton and Leeman where the Tending the Tracks alliance (TTTa) joins locals, Shires and the DBCA caring for this beautiful coastal area. TTTa weekend work teams are helping stabilise dunes and blowouts, formalising tracks and bollarding areas to develop nature camping sites. It’s a simple principle of giving back to protect these areas and to ensure they will be kept open for access into the future, not to mention the social; group camping, interesting local side trips and being part of a team doing key work in glorious surroundings. So how did this come about? In 2017 Track Care WA’s Graham Weber was invited to speak for just 7 minutes at the State NRM (Natural Resource Management) Conference. It sparked the interest of Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) Ecologist Dr Nic Dunlop. After the conference he and Graham hatched the idea, phone calls were made to Bruce Brinkley, Chairman, WA 4WD Association and John Collins, Chair, TrackCare and it was agreed that the 3 groups get together. What happened next was unique when over 80 members of Association clubs, Track Care, CCWA and locals came together for a field trip/campout/forum and workshop weekend at Jurien Bay. The

Harrop Inlet (Greenhead) workers and players.

synergies created lead to the formation of the Tending the Tracks alliance. Today the original partners have been joined by the 4WD Club of WA and the program is supported by funding from the Western Australian Government’s State Natural Resource Management Program. It is a vibrant, active alliance not only with the on-ground weekend projects, but cultural and environmental awareness events and special child and family focussed nature experiences. Find out more at: tendingthetracksalliance/ Or contact: Judith Brinkley 4WD Coordinator Alison Goundrey Community Coordinator

Wedge - Grey coastal track.

Western 4W Driver #112




ore than any other vehicle, a 4WD is exposed to the elements that promote the creation and rapid spread of rust. Think beach driving, water crossings, salt lake environs and if you're an underground miner, salt concentration that reaches amazing levels. Despite our best efforts, the dreaded cancer can start in sills, roof gutters and around windows to seriously devalue our pride and joy and render it unfit for a trip over the licensing pit. So we hunt around for a panel beater among the many who know their oats. The problem is for the average punter when the fourby comes back with a nice shiny paint job we have no idea whether a decent job's been done underneath. Until now. There's a panel beater going by the name of Rust Worx over in Myaree where there's a strong focus on customer satisfaction and lifting the veil on what happens before that shiny paint goes on. We heard about Rust Worx when they brought Graham Cahill's Shorty Nissan back to its former shining glory. We don't know if it was a dare or the distraction of an adoring fan, but Shorty ended up on its side and in need of a jolly good straightening.


Western 4W Driver #112

The process that owner Gary Hughes and his team applies to every vehicle they work on is what stands them out from the average body shop. They start by cleaning and assessing how extensive the rust is. From there they cut the rust out and weld in new primed metal before treating the whole area with a rust preventative. Between the priming and the rust treatment the likelihood of rust reappearing in those areas over the life of the vehicle is massively reduced, but what really sets Rust Worx apart from the crowd is that they visually document the entire process for the customer. Each repair includes before, during and after photos so the customer can see exactly what's happened prior to that shiny new exterior.

That's what you call going the whole nine yards to ensure customer satisfaction. Graham was so impressed he took his Patrol ute in for a spruce up as well. So the message is, if you're looking for a professional rust extraction job or need a few dents smoothed out on your fourby, why not take it to a mob who will involve you in the process to the extent that you can see exactly what's happened through

every step of the process. That's peace of mind, value for money and customer satisfaction all neatly rolled into one.

If you're ready to give rust the flick, give Gary and crew a bell on 0487 682 113, check out their website at or drop down to Unit 13, 2 Playle Street, Myaree.

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Last year saw adventures further afield, heading out to Central Australia via the Oodnadatta Track, making it to Lambert Centre (the geographic centre of Australia) before heading back down to the Flinders via Finke and Uluru. He even managed a flight over Lake Eyre which he tells me is a must do for anyone heading into South Australia.

Ted Reid


e met up with Edward at Whale Song Campground, Pender Bay on the Dampier Peninsula. Edward, or Ted to his friends, was travelling solo on a 5 month trip across the top of the NT and down the WA coast to Albany. Ted came late to the 4WD scene, having purchased his 79 series LandCruiser only three years ago. He quickly set it up for touring with the inclusion of a Metalink SLR slide on camper, dual fuel tanks, dual water tanks (160 litres in total), GME UHF radio, GVM upgrade and 2” lift, automatic conversion and a 3” exhaust. He said that he loved how quick it was to setup and break down. Five minutes was all he needed to establish camp which is well suited to his annual nomadic adventures. A member of the Southern Highlands Tablelands 4WD Club, the first year he spent most of his time on the bitumen (clocking up over 27,000km), learning how the car handled and ironing out any bugs. He still managed to visit Carnarvon Gorge National Park before heading down to the Flinders Ranges via Lake Mungo.

This year Ted had already covered the Northern Territory and a fair chunk of the Kimberley when we met. His only deadline is that he needs to be in Sydney for a concert on the 14th of September. He is heading south down the WA coast and plans to see as much of the state as he can. When I asked him if he liked travelling solo he replied that it was a great way to meet people. Everywhere he has been to date he has always found people easy to strike up a conversation with. He has also travelled quite extensively overseas, telling me that he has gone from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean and Moscow to Vancouver. Travelling overseas you need to step out of your comfort zone a little, especially when you don’t know the language. He said that the universal need for a bed, food and a shower was a great icebreaker. At 69 Ted has set himself a limit of 76. That is when he will give up the self-drive Australian road trips and concentrate on his other passion, volunteering. He volunteers at the local primary school with one-on-one mentoring and helping to run the breakfast club. He said the motivation for the age deadline was from living across the road from a retirement home and seeing all the near misses of drivers that probably shouldn’t be. Safe travels, Ted. Western 4W Driver #112




n 1968 a young Ray Miles was sent as a National Serviceman to the battlefields of South Vietnam. He arrived at Fire Support Base Coral two weeks after the savage battles that made history there as a reinforcement for 3 RAR (Royal Australia Regiment), Charlie Company, 8 Platoon. He was assigned as a forward scout and spent most of his national service patrolling the deadly Vietnamese jungles looking for the elusive Viet Cong (VC) and North Vietnamese Army (NVA).


Western 4W Driver #112

Fast forward to 2006 and Ray is in attendance at Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park’s first ANZAC Day memorial. At the time there was nothing at the park and Ray and a small group of others wanted to rectify that. A Western Australian by birth, Ray makes the 5000km (one way) pilgrimage with his wife Coral every year to escape the Victorian winters. Colin Lewis, owner of Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park, graciously agreed to provide some space for Ray’s memorial, giving him the choice within the park. On the 18th August 2010 the wooden cross was erected and then blessed by Frontier Services. The original materials to build the memorial were donated by Bunnings Geraldton and labour from other park patrons eager to assist. Ray’s wife Coral is in charge of the administration behind raising funds and organising events for the memorial. Fund raising raffles in the park’s central grassed area, sausage sizzles on Vietnam Veteran’s

Day (August 18th – the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan) and bacon and egg roll sales after the Dawn Service make up the bulk of money raised for the up-keep of the memorial. Donations can also be made at the Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park office. In 2010 Tropical Cyclone Laurence hit the coast and caused significant damage to the park and surrounding region. The wooden cross was the only part of the memorial left undamaged. Ray suspects that there may have been some divine intervention involved. This year a new PVC fence has replaced the original picket fence to reduce the amount of maintenance required. Ray proudly tells me that new service insignia are being installed and should be in place prior to Vietnam Veteran’s Day. With a slight tear in his eye, Ray says that it has been a great experience to be given the opportunity to show his respects to all fallen service personnel and to provide a place for veterans travelling around the

country to remember our fallen. He doesn’t know of any other memorial that has been installed on private property. Ray isn’t sure how much longer he can continue the 10,000km round trip from Victoria. Double knee and hip replacements, a heart attack and cancer are all taking their toll on him. He cherishes his time at Eighty Mile Beach and feels confident in Colin and Jo Lewis and their team in ensuring that the memorial is lovingly maintained. If you are travelling between Broome and Port Hedland make a point of stopping (at least for a night) at Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park and pay your respects at the memorial that Ray built. A small donation never goes astray. Sunset briefly makes the cross glow, at the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them. Lest We Forget


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Western 4W Driver #112


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We Love Photography With Uncle Dick Stein


t’s cold and wet outside as I type this - but it isn’t in this delightful image of Karijini National Park. And I am so grateful to Lauren for sending in the picture - it gives hope of spring! Emotion aside, it’s also a great picture for a number of technical reasons: 1. All the leading lines of the photo are there, and they intersect brilliantly. Look at the way the bough of the tree echoes the slope of one side of the gorge - and then the root, bank and water shadow do the same for the other side of the rocks. 2. The picture is taken into the sun but cleverly dodges the glare and sunspots that Lauren would have gotten if the camera lens had been in direct light. There’s a little heat haze in the sky, but that’s what the country is like. 3.The multi-green river is instantly attractive and isn’t it fortunate that there is an underwater rock to break up the shallows. Not if you’re running a tinny in there at full speed, mind, but that’s why you keep looking over the bow … 4. Last but not least - measure the photo with your thumb - it’s got a 2:1 panorama aspect but in this case presented as a vertical pano. That’s unusual straight out of a camera - normally we just get 3:2 or 16:9 by sticking to the camera settings and sometimes our subjects demand different framing to look good. Full marks to Lauren here for realising that. Okay, I’ve looked outside and it’s still raining. Time to get out the map and see how far away the warmth and sunshine are.

Well done Lauren, you’ve won A $200 GIFT VOUCHER

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Western 4W Driver #112


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Western 4W Driver #112


Uluru Climb Closure By Ben Broeder



luru is one of, if not, the most recognisable icons of Australia. Being high on most people’s bucket lists to visit, gaze upon and for many, climb this awe-inspiring monolith. However, if you are planning to tick climbing the rock off your list, you had better get in quick, as the climb will be closing to the public soon. “We’ve talked about it for so long and now we’re able to close the climb. It’s about protection through combining two systems, the government and Anangu,” Uluru traditional owner and board chairman Sammy Wilson said. Some may remember that climbing has closed to the public at other times in Uluru’s past, only to later re-open due to dwindling visitor numbers. Whilst this may occur again, the removal of the climbing infrastructure makes this highly unlikely. Director of National Parks, Sally Barnes, also a member of the Board, said they had set the firm date of 26 October 2019. “We’ve chosen the date of 26 October 2019 to close the climb permanently as it is a date of huge significance to Anangu. On 26 October 1985 Uluru and Kata Tjuta were handed back to Anangu after many years of hard work by elders,” Ms Barnes said. Whilst the climb is not for the faint of heart, or those who are not in the best of physical

condition, it is well worth the sweat to make it to the top. Certainly a unique and soul stirring experience to complete. Since the announcement of the closure, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park has been strained close to breaking point with the influx of visitors and streams of tourists queuing to climb the rock. Authorities are reporting a dramatic increase in trespassing and travellers camping illegally and waste services struggling to keep up. It is strongly advised that those wishing to visit the park leading up to the closure, book early and consult with the local accommodation providers before planning to arrive at the rock. Even the overflow camping areas have been filled to capacity consistently over the holiday periods.

Western 4W Driver #112


With The Guys who can guarantee a good time

All you need is a 4WD, your sense of humour and a thirst for adventure!

Taking you to the edge!

e yet? r e h t e w Are

Written by kids ... for kids



e recently went on a holiday around Broome and one morning we discovered some interesting and unusual tracks around our caravan. We decided to investigate and figure out what sort of animal had made them. We guessed it was a lizard, so that evening when it was dark we went exploring with a torch and were surprised to find it was actually hermit crabs making the tracks! Since then, we have been looking for other footprints and tracks and having a great time discovering what animals are around us in the bush.

Sauropod tracks on Reddell Beach.

Our most exciting find was on Reddell Beach in Broome, where we found dinosaur footprints! Most of the footprints can only be seen at a very low tide, but we were thrilled to find this set of sauropod tracks quite easily. What interesting tracks have you seen?

The mystery tracks.

Kangaroo prints.

Mystery solved!

We have found and photographed footprints made by kangaroos, wallabies, lizards, turtles, bustards, bush turkeys, small birds and crabs.

Turtle tracks. Western 4W Driver #112



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Western 4W Driver #112


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Western 4W Driver #112



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Matt Browne

Hi Matt, ptation to We'll resist the tem tween the be draw any similarities and your ux Hil ur extraction of yo included. s ap str tch sna new baby generosity Instead we'll praise the you out of g tin let for e of your wif childbirth. the house so close to it didn't all Consider yourself lucky re stuck in happen while you we tead you ins t the puddle and tha l AND a gir by ba hy scored a healt ax. xtr set of Ma

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: Silly Snaps - C/- Western 4W Driver, PO Box 2384, Malaga WA 6944 Email: or Facebook:



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TRANSFORM THE WAY YOU RIDE Two wheels, two motors, no gas, no noise. The UBCO 2x2 will redefine the way you ride, work and play.

Electric drive

Whisper quiet

BIKES WA All-terrain performance

Light weight, strong build

Portable power

Easy to Accessorise

Digitally Connected

Road Registerable


With its lightweight frame and powerful, near silent Cart your gear from job to job with ease and adapt motors, the UBCO 2×2 gives you complete control the bike as you need it with clever accessory lugs Twoforwheels, two motors, noand gas, no noise. all your adventures, both onoff-road. locatedThe acrossUBCO the 2x2. 2x2 will redefine the you’re getting the cows in or commuting wayWhether you ride, work and play. The dual electric drive is smooth, ultra-quiet and to work, the 2018 UBCO 2×2 is ready to take on low maintenance; it can go through trenches, up whatever you throw at it. hills, over asphalt and down bush tracks without a All terrain and all performance, the 2×2 gives you second thought. And all of this with a running cost the power to go. The 48Ah Lithium-Ion power supply of under $1 per 120km. not only fuels the bike; it powers all your tools from your phone to your drill (at the same time). adventure awaits 2x2. All-terrain Light weight, The Easy with to the UBCO Digitally Road Electric Whisper Portable drive



strong build

With its lightweight frame and powerful, near silent motors, the UBCO 2×2 gives you complete control for all your adventures, both on- and off-road. Whether you’re getting the cows in or commuting to work, the 2018 UBCO 2×2 is ready to take on whatever you throw at it. All terrain and all performance, the 2×2 gives you the power to go. The 48Ah Lithium-Ion power supply not only fuels the bike; it powers all your tools from your phone to your drill (at the same time).

120km max range


charge time (0-90%)





Cart your gear from job to job with ease and adapt the bike as you need it with clever accessory lugs located across the 2x2. The dual electric drive is smooth, ultra-quiet and low maintenance; it can go through trenches, up hills, over asphalt and down bush tracks without a second thought. And all of this with a running cost of under $1 per 120km. The adventure awaits with the UBCO 2x2.

65kg weight

50kph top speed Exclusive WA Dealer for UBCO 2x2 Electric Bikes

Profile for Western 4W Driver

Western 4W Driver edition #112  

Western 4W Driver explores the Horizontal Falls, Indee Station and Whale Song campground. We visit Sandstone and the Flinders Ranges. UBCO'...

Western 4W Driver edition #112  

Western 4W Driver explores the Horizontal Falls, Indee Station and Whale Song campground. We visit Sandstone and the Flinders Ranges. UBCO'...