About Off The Track 4x4

We are George & Shelly, a married couple from Sydney, Australia, who love 4WDing, camping and travelling this great country of ours.   We love sharing our adventures and hope to inspire others to travel as well.    Join us on our journeys around Australia!  If you like what you read, please share our posts with family and friends and don't forget to follow us on social media. ..... making memories one track at a time  -Proudly Sponsored by Cost Effective Maintenance-

Roadside Membership … what you need to know

We are always asked what insurance we have and what precautions we use when travelling, well let me tell you … we would never travel without our NRMA Roadside Membership. We hear and read a lot about NRMA Roadside Membership and it appears many people don’t fully understand it, so here’s a short comparison of their various covers and what that gives you.

For example, did you know that their base cover “Classic Care” will not cover most 4WD’s or anything they are towing? Did you know that you are covered Australia wide?

Of course this particular comparison relates only to NRMA (which covers NSW/ACT), but every state has their own affiliated motoring organisation and they probably offer similar memberships.

We have both been NRMA members for years and have used our membership numerous times …….
🔧Our old Prado broke down on one of our outback trips and we were towed from the breakdown point to Condobolin, Condobolin to Dubbo, Dubbo to home, home to our mechanic – all covered by NRMA. Would have covered accommodation in Dubbo as well, but we had friends we could stay with.
🔧Shelly’s old GTi wouldn’t start and the NRMA turned up to the train station carpark to check it out, couldn’t be fixed on the spot so was towed to our auto-electrician about 30km away.
🔧Our old Prado ran out of fuel 10km from the end of the M1 freeway (George’s fault!!) NRMA turned up and towed us to the nearest petrol station.
🔧Our old Prado alternator went and was towed to our mechanic.
🔧Back in the day, Shelly may have had numerous call-outs for keys locked in cars!
🔧Our friend used his RACQ membership when he blew his engine on a Cape York trip with us, covered a significant part of the cost involved in accommodation, flights, car transport etc.

As you’ll see, your membership offers a lot more than just ‘roadside assistance if you breakdown’.

We personally wouldn’t be without our membership, it’s come in handy many times over the years and it’s a great ‘peace of mind’ when we are travelling, but it may not be right for everyone.

Note: Please do your own research and speak with NRMA directly before taking out any cover, this is our view on the situation only. All details are accurate at this point in time and are as we understand them.

2019: Our Year in Review

We say it every year, but wow, where did the time go!  What a busy year that was, everyone says it and it’s true, the older you get the quicker time flies by. That’s exactly why you need to make the most of every day, live out those fantasies, tick off the bucket list items, laugh, have fun, explore and make memories.

We started 2019 in the Wilpena Pound campground in the Flinders Ranges. In fact, we were both already in bed at midnight! We spent the night drinking at camp by ourselves, with Shelly giving an impromptu concert of singing and dancing! George thoroughly enjoyed the concert (though he may deny that if you ask him!) and i’m sure some of our camping neighbours did too!

Fast forward 12 months and we are sitting at camp surrounded by friends, at one of our most favourite places ever …. Fraser Island.

Now let’s take a look back over the year that was 2019 …..


2019 Trips

January

We woke up on New Years Day in the Wilpena Pound campground in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. We’d packed up on Boxing Day and headed to Coffin Bay for a few days, before driving up to spend a week or so in the Flinders Ranges. Now summer is certainly not the time to be camping in outback South Australia, with temperatures reaching 48 degrees at one stage, but we survived (and the pedestal fan that Shelly packed wasn’t such a stupid idea after all was it George!).

January also saw us head back to the Hunter Valley Gardens with friends to see the Christmas lights. This is something Shelly had wanted to see for ages and they certainly do a good job, well worth the visit.

April

A last minute decision to head off for the Easter long weekend break saw us wake up on Good Friday, hook up the camper trailer, chuck the dogs in the car and head off down south. We had no idea where we were going to stay, we just started driving! We ended up near Tumut in the Riverina region of NSW, at the foothills of the Snowy Mountains. We found a great free camp in the forest, right on the water with plenty of room for the pups to run around. You may recall that last year we took the dogs away camping with us for the first time and they didn’t even last the whole weekend before they were taken home! Well we are happy to report that they were both surprisingly well behaved this time and had an absolute ball swimming, running around and 4WDing in the bush. I think they have now proved they can be well behaved and may be invited to join us on another trip at some stage!

By pure chance we also met up with friends, Tracey & Mark, and ended up spending our second night camping with them and their friends. Being the social butterfly that she is, Gelly in particular enjoyed her newfound friends to hang out with!

April also meant another trip up to the Hunter Valley to see the Hunter Valley Night Glow at Roche Estate. We caught up with Shelly’s cousins Lauren & Emma to enjoy a night of food, markets, wine, beer, fireworks and hot air balloons.

July

It started with a weekend trip up the central coast for Shelly’s best mate Adam’s 40th birthday party. As this was the week before we left for Birdsville we used this as our chance to pack everything in the camper trailer so we booked ourselves into a caravan park at Mannering Park for a couple of nights. Even though it was cold and it rained on and off we had a great long weekend and did some exploring of the local areas as well.

Friday 12th July saw us leave for our first ever Big Red Bash! More on this later ….

September

This was a girls weekend away for Shelly, her sister Kylie, all the female cousins, and a few friends for Kylie’s 40th birthday. We booked out a house in Woodford in the Blue Mountains and spent the weekend catching up, eating, drinking, playing games and decorating cup-cakes! This amazing house was actually a 100 year old church which had been converted into a holiday house.

November

Another 40th birthday celebration, this time a weekend P&O cruise. Generally the short cruises don’t dock anywhere, but this one docked in Eden and we were able to go ashore and visit the Food Festival. It was a great weekend catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. We had a group of 13 and we all had a fun weekend of laughs and maybe a few cocktails!, celebrating Ellen’s Fabulous 40th!

December

This year we decided to spend Christmas and New Year at one of our most favourite places …. Fraser Island. We first visited in 2006 and have been coming back ever since. After a few days to ourselves (the Island was fairly empty) we had friends join us after Christmas …. as well as the rest of the crowds!


Big Red Bash

Ever since the first Big Red Bash in 2013 Shelly has been wanting to attend. For those that may not know, this is the world’s most remote music festival, held at the base of Big Red (the largest sand dune in the Simpson Desert) in Birdsville, QLD. Well finally we made it and wow, what an event! This would have to be by far the best run event we have ever been to. They basically throw nearly 10,000 people together, camping in the middle of the desert for 3 days. There are concerts from mid afternoon every day, as well as other entertainment to keep you occupied. The headlining act this year was Midnight Oil! The whole event ran so smoothly. Our friend Stewy joined us (with his daughter and nephew) and we all had the best time, they say that once you go you will be back ….. and yep we caught the bug, we already have our tickets for BRB 2020!

As well as attending the Big Red Bash we also spent 3 days camping at the Boulia Racecourse to see the Boulia Camel Cup – they say it’s the Melbourne Cup of camel racing! We’d always wanted to attend a camel racing meet and now we can tick that off the bucket list. So what’s it like? Well, lets just say it’s horse racing in slow motion …. really slow motion!

We also visited Cameron Corner (where the borders of NSW/QLD/SA meet) and Haddon Corner (where the borders of SA/QLD meet), Burke’s Grave & The Dig Tree (Burke & Wills), Innamincka, Birdsville, Winton, Longreach, had a beer in the Birdsville Pub and touched a fossilised dinosaur bone in Winton!

Over 16 days we traveled 4,838km, through 3 states, spent $1,290 on fuel and $210 on accommodation.


The 4WD’s & Camper Trailer

We are always spending money on these vehicles, they are money pits! And this year was no different!

We sold the old Prado

Early this year we made the hard decision to sell the old Prado. She was on the market for quite a while, but we always knew that a vehicle like this would have to attract the right buyer. For a start, not everyone wants to buy a 23 year old car with nearly 300,000 km on the clock! Anyway, after a few months on the market, that right buyer did come along, a young guy and his family from the central west region of NSW. He’d done his homework, he’d seen our website and knew exactly the life this car had lived, there was now no hiding anything!

It was sad to see her go, she’d brought us so many years of memories. She was what started our whole 4WDing and travel adventures together. It was this Prado that got George into 4WDing in the beginning, Shelly learned to drive off-road in the Prado. When we first started travelling together we slept in the back of the Prado, free camping or staying in caravan parks as we traveled around, all of the dogs have gone 4WDing with us and the kids grew up knowing this car. She took us on so many amazing holidays and to places across Australia that we would never have gone to without a 4WD. We spent our 2 month honeymoon travelling in the Prado, as well as many weekend trips with friends.

So many fun memories, it was really hard to watch her drive away with her new family, alot of memories drove away with her that night. But hopefully the old girl still has a lot of life left in her and this new young family can start making memories of their own.

We bought Leia!

By far one of the most exciting things that happened this year was buying Leia! For years Shelly has been talking about one day owning a Hilux, something George wasn’t entirely on board with. Anyway, as talk turned to selling the Prado we had to make the decision of which car to replace it with. It need to be Shelly’s daily driver, but we also liked the idea of having another vehicle to drive off-road on the weekends instead of taking the 150 out, so this eliminated any smaller hatchback purchase. George would have loved another 150 or even a 120 series Prado, but he reluctantly gave in and agreed to buy a Hilux!

The day we picked her up!

After alot of looking we found one for sale up in Newcastle, it was full of the goodies we would have added anyway so it was the perfect buy for a great price ….. only thing was we hadn’t sold the Prado yet, but it was too good to miss out on. So off we went with our mate Liam and headed up to newy to pick her up.

Upon returning home she was given the full once over by our mechanic and treated with various products from Cost Effective Maintenance ….. these guys follow our pages and when we bought Leia they posted us a pack of their products to use on her!

Shelly knew exactly how she wanted this car to look and after throwing a fair bit of money into it she’s nearly there! The first major mod was removing the cage on the back, modifying the backboard and shortening the tray. Luckily one of Shelly’s friends, Paul, was able to do this for us so we saved a bit of money there.

Next we threw some money to the boys at ARB Penrith and Leia was fitted up with her snorkel, side steps, under body protection, extended diff breathers and most importantly, her rear air locker! The last major expense was new suspension in the form of front and rear Bilstein shocks and 2” raised springs, complete lower control arms and all new bushes, ball joints and camber pins. Thanks to Auto Parts Co and Sydney Suspension.

We love her …. yes even George has learned to love her now too! Click here to see the Project Leia page and her transformation so far.

150 Series Prado

After spending all our money on the new car there wasn’t much left to spend on the Prado! He did get a re-tune and dyno early in the year though.

Cub Camper

Luckily the camper is relatively maintenance free and doesn’t require much, but we did buy a port-a-loo and shower to take travelling with us! Oh and the repaired awning after we riped it in Birdsville. We did also buy our Darche -12 degree sleeping bags …. so warm and so glad we bought them before the desert trip to the bash!

Lastly not camper trailer related, but the dogs bought George a swag for fathers day!

We haven’t tested it out yet, but we think it may come in handy to chuck it on the back of Leia for a quick weekend trip.


Weekend Adventures

This year we had a lot of weekend adventures, particularly after we purchased Leia, we were out every other weekend in her! We also spent a bit of time exploring around the local area we live in, as well as further afield. We all travel far and wide and see these great places, but there is often quite a lot of interesting places to visit in your local areas. Our area actually has a lot of history, you just need to go searching for it, which is what we tried to do this year.

Shelly spent a bit of time exploring the central coast of NSW with one of her friends, such a beautiful area and a bit of history aswell.

In June we took a group up to Morisset to have a play in the bush and to visit Ward 21, an old asylum for the criminally insane. Nowadays this is in ruins and overrun with weeds and graffiti, but back in the day it housed some of the most criminally insane people in Australia.

We had a relatively cold winter this year and there was a fair bit of snow around. On 10th August we took the dogs for a drive up to Lithgow so they could see snow for the first time (yes, they probably didn’t care, but mummy was excited, especially when it actually started to snow on us!). We all rugged up, jumped in Leia and only drove an hour from home before we started seeing snow. We headed off into the bush for a drive in the snow and to have a play. The dogs absolutely loved it! Gelly even ran off to go for a walk with some random strangers!

Later in August we joined Great Divide Tours on a tag-a-long tour to explore the Coxs and Kowmung Rivers area. As we spend so much time 4WDing by ourselves, it was nice to spend the day meeting new people.

Later in the year we found a some great 4WD tracks down near Mittagong where we could have a play. We had so much fun, we ended up heading back down with Liam the next week to have another go.

Pretty spectacular scenery around this area, as well as some awesome 4WD tracks, with barely anyone else around ….. now this is our idea of the perfect day out!

A day trip up to Lithgow with Liam in October really tested out the vehicles as we found some new tracks. George doesn’t get scared 4WDing very often, but there were a few moments this day!

In December we took a day trip down to Kiama to catch up with our friends Leah & Brendan from Track & Tide Adventures. Just over 12 months ago they packed up and took off travelling around Australia in their camper trailer. We hadn’t seen them since just before they left, so it was great to catch up on their adventures over the months and find out what is planned for the next year. Check out their website and facebook page to see what adventures these guys get up to!


We changed our name to Off The Track 4×4

In January this year we changed our name to ‘Off The Track 4×4’ and over the next few months we started to change our logo and name on our website and various social media platforms. We are happy with the change and it brings about a whole lot of possibilities for us for the future.

The huge news is that Cost Effective Maintenance came on board and are now officially sponsoring both of our vehicles. We have been using these products since we first purchased the 150 Prado and cannot recommend them highly enough and we are so happy to be partnered with this great company. They’ve even given a discount code for our followers to use, so check out their website and use ‘4x4OTT’ and you can save 10% off all items (excluding value packs).

Throughout the year we had a few competitions and giveaways running on our Facebook page and we thank those who entered, but most importantly those who helped out providing various items, particularly Coral from Shower Ezy who is always happy to be involved (go check out the website, they have some really handy items for sale!).

Our Christmas giveaway was by far our biggest and we are so appreciative to everyone who was involved in this giveaway, we love to spread the word about these great little Aussie companies and are glad to be working with you all.

Early in the year we did a sticker giveaway where we posted out about 70 or so ‘Off The Track 4×4’ stickers to our followers, it’s been great seeing these on some of your vehicles! One even got posted to one of our followers in Berlin! – we’ve gone international, how cool is that!

We also want to thank our wonderful mechanic Adam from A1 Autohaus for keeping the 4WD’s running and mechanically sound, the guys from Auto Parts Co for always helping us out with sourcing products for us and giving us new things to try. And lastly, the guys from Cost Effective Maintenance for their support and great products. Again, we can’t recommend them highly enough.

We’ve had so many new followers this year and have actually met a few of you in person which was great, it’s nice to know that people enjoy what we do. We are so grateful to all of you. We do it because we love it, but we also like that we can share it with everyone else. We love sharing our adventures and we love that we can inspire others to get out and explore as well.

So what’s next ….. There are a few ideas floating around of what’s next! But for now, we’ve been very busy this year establishing relationships with various different companies to enable us to give something back to our followers. Check our our Facebook shop for the products we are currently selling and details of discounts that some of the companies are offering exclusively to Off The Track 4×4 followers.


Celebrations

There were a few celebrations this year with Shelly’s sister and many of our friends turning 40. The parties kicked off in May for Liam’s 40th, with a great old school house party. Many of you would have seen or heard us mention Liam before as he travels with us quite regularly and is always out 4WDing with us ….. I think he enjoys hanging out with us so we can winch and snatch him out every time the Patrol gets bogged! Sorry Liam! Seriously though, this Patrol is a magnet towards water!

Next was Adam’s 40th in July. The party was the week before we left for our Big Red Bash trip so we hooked up the camper and headed up to the central coast and stayed in a caravan park for the weekend, using the time to pack the camper ready for the big trip. Another house party (in the cold and rain!), thank god for the fire pits scattered around! We also met one of our followers at this party, it felt like we already knew you, but nice to meet you in person Scott!

In August we celebrated the first holy communion of our niece, Tahlia, and also George’s sister, Monique, celebrated her 50th birthday. Both were celebrated with a lovely lunch with family and friends.

August also saw us attend our friend Oli’s engagement. This was another backyard party, but the setting was beautiful and the atmosphere was certainly one of fun and love.

September was Kylie’s 40th (Shelly’s sister) and as mentioned earlier we headed up to the Blue Mountains for a girls weekend away. It was nice to catch up with cousins we don’t see too often and spend a few days just chilling together in a beautiful (but very very cold!) location.

The last big celebration for the year was that of Shelly’s friend, Ellen. We celebrated Ellen’s 40th birthday on a weekend cruise with 13 people.


The not so good stuff ….

As we all know, life isn’t always about fun and laughter, sometimes you are forced to face reality and all the sad and unfortunate things that come with that.

In March Shelly lost two aunties within a week or so of each other. Everyone gets older and everyone leaves this earth at some stage, but it never gets any easier losing a loved one or seeing your loved ones go through heartache. We will never forget you Aunty Judy and Aunty Margaret xx

Life threw another curve ball our way in September when George learned of the passing of a friend, someone he used to work with. What made this worse was that we’d both seen the news reports about the accident and had no idea that we knew the person involved. This passing was sudden and unexpected and two young people lost their lives. They left home one morning having no idea what lay ahead, and unfortunately they never returned.

As if we hadn’t endured enough throughout the year, we ended the year with hospital visits for family members, the sudden death of a friend of a friend and lastly, the sudden and unexpected passing of another of our friends. Only 41, he went to sleep one night, never to wake up. This one left everyone in total shock, it’s hard to comprehend how life can be so cruel as to take someone so young and leave grieving family and friends behind.

Finally we ended the year with the horrendous fires that are burning throughout the country, some relatively close to home. While we endured weeks of smoke and ash falling around home, we had friends and family members being evacuated from their houses and another friend out there fighting them with the RFS. It’s been a pretty scary time for a lot of people.

Yet another reminder that life is so, so short and you really must live every single day to the fullest.


Other stuff

George spent a fair bit of time travelling with work again this year, including working at numerous 4WD shows at Gunnadeh, Eastern Creek and Maitland. August saw him head up to Rainbow Beach for a week to attend sales training.

We also met Graham, Shauno and Jock from 4WD Action and spent a couple of hours chatting and having a few beers with them one night. Great guys and for anyone who knows Shelly’s ‘plan‘, she was quite excited that night! Didn’t get a pic with them on the night though so Shelly had to hunt them down at the 4WD show the next day for a photo!

That same night we met The Duck from The Camping & Off Road radio show on 2GB. If you aren’t already listening to his radio show (available on Podcast as well) or his other Podcast “The Duck and Ricko’s Red Dirt Podcast” you really should check them out! Great down to earth guy who loves doing exactly what we do … escape the city and explore our great land!

How we spent Christmas

As we were heading to Fraser Island we held ‘family Christmas’ with Shelly’s family on 15th December with everyone heading to our house for Christmas lunch and presents. Our little nephew, Levi, is three now and really starting to get into the whole Christmas thing, so it was quite fun watching him with all his presents.

We celebrated Christmas with George’s side of the family with a dinner at his parents house. Lots of presents for exchanged and it was nice to see our our niece and nephew excited about opening their presents.

Christmas Day was a quiet one with just the two of us relaxing on the island. It’s not Christmas without decorations and presents, so of course Shelly decorated the campsite for us! We also saved one present to give to each other on Christmas Day.


What’s planned for 2020?

The main thing is to enjoy ourselves and have fun! Other than the Big Red Bash, we don’t have any major trips planned, so we will see what happens. We do head up to Queensland early in the year for another 40th birthday party and hope to have plenty of weekends away as well.

Big Red Bash!  Yep, we are going back again! So excited for the artists performing in 2020. It’s always been one of Shelly’s bucket list items to see John Williamson sing ‘True Blue’ live and now she will get to see that. John Williamson performed solo on top of Big Red for the first ever Big Red Bash in 2013 and now he’s back for the first time since then.

Artists for next year are

  • Paul Kelly
  • Ian Moss
  • Tim Finn
  • John Williamson
  • Kate Ceberano
  • Shannon Noll
  • Dragon
  • The Radiators
  • Mi Sex
  • Wendy Matthews
  • Thirsty Merc
  • Marc Gable
  • Glenn Shorrock
  • Bjorn Again
  • Steve Balbi
  • Chocolate Starfish
  • Ross Wilson 
  • Vika & Linda Bull
  • Caitlin Shadbolt

Of course we will have plenty of weekend and short trips away and days out 4WDing in Leia!


Thank you to all of our family, friends and followers for their support over the past year.  Thanks for following our adventures and interacting with us, we even personally met some of you this year which was great and we also gained a few new camping friends!

If anyone sees us out and about make sure you come over and say hi, we love meeting new people and sharing stories.


As we look back and reflect on this past year, we are thankful for the love and friendship of our family and friends.

Wishing you all a very happy and safe New Year. Hope the year brings you many new adventures and memories ….. Bring on 2020!


75 Mile Beach

75 Mile Beach is the name given to the main beach on the eastern side of the island and it runs the length of the island. But this isn’t any old beach, 75 Mile Beach is also a gazetted highway with speed limits and all normal road rules apply, and police do definitely patrol and enforce this.

It also functions as a runway and landing strip for planes! So driving along this beach you you do need to be experienced and alert as you need to keep a constant look out for people, children, other vehicles, washouts and hazards, dingoes and planes!

It’s quite an experience the first time you are driving along and you see a plane coming in to land in front of you!

Driving along this beach is also dependent on the tides and this alone can change the landscape from one day to another. Dips and washouts can appear from one tide change to another so you do need to be alert. There are definitely many parts of the beach that are completely inaccessible and covered in water at high tide, so if you are planning a trip you must be aware of the tide times for the day and plan accordingly. As a general rule you should not drive 2 hours before or after high tide.

Whilst the beach is beautiful and a beach, you don’t want to go swimming here. There is a huge shark population that call the waters around Fraser Island home. But apparently the fishing is good, at any given time you will see fisherman lining the beach trying their luck.

Champagne Pools

Champagne Pools is one of the more isolated destinations on the island and you’ll find it on the eastern side, just past Indian Head. Once at the car park it’s a short walk via the boardwalk and stairs to get down to the pools.

Champagne Pools are just beautiful and you really must visit if you have the time. This is a group of naturally formed swimming holes which have formed among the rocks and as each wave crashes along the rocks, it foams and cascades down into the swimming holes.

With each wave, cool water bubbles and fizzes around you, creating the Champagne-like feeling.

To see this in it’s full glory you need to time your visit outside of low tide, but not at full high tide!

Due to the more remote location of the Champagne Pools, the travel time it takes to get there and the eastern beach being inaccessible at high tide, you must plan your visit well and check tides before heading here.

The natural beauty of Fraser Island

Hands up who’s never visited Fraser Island …. if you are sitting there with your hands in the air, what’s wrong with you! You really need to get off your butt and get yourself up to this amazing part of the country!

You’ll find Fraser Island located off the east coast of Queensland, about 4 hours drive north of Brisbane. Covering an area of 184,000 hectares, it is the largest sand island in the world. But it’s more than just a bit of sand surrounded by water, it’s one of the most naturally beautiful places you’ll visit.

You’ll find some of the most beautiful lakes filled with crystal clear fresh water, ancient rainforests, long white beaches, coloured sand cliffs, shipwrecks and a splash of history thrown in.

Fun facts about Fraser Island

  • Fraser Island stretches over 123 km in length and 22 km across at it’s widest point.
  • Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world.
  • Fraser Island is World Heritage Listed.
  • The highest dunes on the island reach up to 240 meters above sea level.
  • Fraser Island is home to 40 perched dune lakes (which is half the number of perched lakes in the world!).
  • It’s said that over 350 species of birds live on Fraser Island.
  • The dingoes of Fraser Island are the most pure strain of dingoes remaining in eastern Australia.
  • Fraser Island is the only place in the world where rainforests are found growing on sand dunes at elevations of more than 200 meters.
  • 75 Mile Beach is a gazetted highway and all normal road rules apply, and police do regularly patrol.
  • 75 Mile Beach is also a runway and landing strip for light aircraft.
  • Fraser Island’s dunes have the longest and most complete age sequence of coastal dune systems in the world.
  • At 200 hectares, Lake Boomanjin is the largest perched lake in the world.
  • Fraser Island is home to half of the world’s perched lakes.

How the island formed

An island like Fraser Island doesn’t just pop up overnight, it has been forming over many hundreds of thousands of years and is still evolving to this day. Many years ago the wind and ocean currents moved sands from all around the world and it began to accumulate in one place and formed an island, therefore Fraser Island is made up completely of sand. Over the years animal matter and debris started to form a base which then allowed plants to start growing. A sand dune is considered stable when plant colonies start to take root and you can see this towards the centre of the island, where you’ll find huge trees and rainforests growing in the more sheltered parts of the island.

Closer to the beach where the dunes are subjected to the more fierce weather elements you will see that they often only have a small covering of grasses and smaller plants that have learned to live with the constant battering of sand and wind.

Fraser Island Lakes

There are over 100 freshwater lakes on the island. The only area in Australia that has a higher concentration of lakes than Fraser Island is Tasmania. There are Perched lakes, Window lakes and Barrage lakes.

Perched lakes form when organic matter builds up in a depression in the dune. Leaves, dead plants, bark etc collects over time, slowly decomposing into the top layer of the sand and eventually forming a cement like crust which stops water from filtering through the sand. With the water being trapped it will eventually form a lake. Perched lakes are dependent on rainfall to maintain the water levels.

Fraser Island’s Lake Boomanjin is the largest perched lake in the world.

Barrage lakes form when moving sand dunes block off the path of a watercourse, creek or natural spring.

Window lakes form when a depression in the dunes exposes part of the regional water table. These lakes are generally found in dune depressions where the water table is higher than the ground surface level.

Fraser Island’s Lake Wabby is actually known as both a window lake and a barrage lake.

Whilst the lakes on Fraser Island are some of the most naturally stunning sights you’ll see, many of them hold nothing but water. Because of the purity and acidity of the water, they are not home to any creatures. There are a few lakes that do have fish and turtles living in them and a particular species of frog that have adapted to survive in an acidic and nutrient deficient environment.

Fraser Island History

Captain Matthew Flinders was one of the first white men to have contact with the islanders of Fraser Island in 1802.

In 1836 the ‘Stirling Castle’ was shipwrecked and after spending weeks in a lifeboat at sea, they landed on the island. The survivors lived on the island for a few weeks before being rescued. One of these was Eliza Fraser, the wife of the Captain, James Fraser. It was after Eliza, that Europeans named the island Fraser Island.

The Butchulla people are the indigenous people of Fraser Island and their traditional name for the island is K’gari (pronounced “gurri”), which means paradise. According to Butchulla legend, Fraser Island was named K’gari after the beautiful spirit who helped
Yindingie, messenger of the great god Beeral, create the land. As a reward to K’gari for her help, Beeral changed her into an idyllic island with trees, flowers and lakes. He then added birds, animals and people onto the island to keep her company.

The island is now referred to as both “K’gari” and ‘Fraser Island” (and “Great Sandy National Park”), and whilst the Native Title rights were handed back to The Butchulla people in 2014, the day-to-day management of the island is primarily the responsibility of the Department of Environment and Heritage (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service).

Fraser Island Logging history

Logging is a huge part of the Fraser Island story. Due to the abundance of timber available and the quality of the pines, logging on Fraser Island ran for quite an extended period of time, first starting in 1863 and continuing until the end of 1991.

Logging initially started near Wanggoolba Creek by ‘Yankee Jack’ Piggott. In 1913 the first State Government Forestry Camp was set up at Bogimbah Creek, later moved to Wanggoolba Creek and in 1920 this moved to Central Station. In 1918 building began on the first and only timber mill on Fraser Island at the McKenzie’s Jetty site. McKenzie Ltd. was responsible for this mill, a jetty and a number of steam locomotives and tracks servicing its logging areas. When the Forestry Camp moved to Central Station, there were workers and their families living there and a community formed, including huts, houses and sheds, a school for the children and nurseries and vegetable gardens.

Nowadays Central Station is a camping and picnic area, but it also includes plenty of information on it’s former life as a logging camp.

Fraser Island’s WWII Connection

Many wouldn’t know, but Fraser Island played an important role in WWII.

The Fraser Commando School trained personnel for the highly secret ‘Z Force’. These personnel lived on the island and were trained to operate undercover behind enemy lines. The ruins of the training school are found on the western side of the island near Kingfisher Bay Resort.

The Maheno shipwreck, located on the eastern beach, was also used during the WWI as a target for explosives training.

Maheno Shipwreck

The Maheno shipwreck is one of those must visit places on Fraser Island. You’ll find it on 75 Mile Beach on the eastern side of the island, not far past Eli Creek.

The ship ended up beached on the island during a cyclone in 1935 and has laid there wasting away ever since.

The Maheno was built in Scotland in 1905 and was the world’s first ever triple screw steamer. She was initially built as a luxury passenger ship. During World War 1 she served as a hospital ship treating and transporting the wounded from Gallipoli and the Western Front. She was later used by a shipping company for journeys between Sydney and New Zealand.

By 1935 the ship had been declared outdated and taken out of service and was sold to a scrapping company in Japan.

On 8 July 1935, while under tow to Japan, the Maheno became caught in a cyclone and the towline broke. After drifting in rough seas, the Maheno eventually beached on Fraser Island.

The ship was unable to be re-floated and no buyers wanted her, so she was abandoned on the beach and remains there today.

It is said that the locals put the shipwreck to use in the year or so after it washed ashore by holding weddings and concerts aboard. Years later the wreck was used as bombing practice during World War 2.

She has definitely been showing her age in recent years as the constant battering of waves and the environment take their toll on her. Our photos of the Maheno from our first visit to the island 13 years ago compared to now definitely show the deterioration.

Today, the rusting hull is all that remains and this is gradually being washed away with every tide, wave and storm that hits.

Definitely still one of our favourite places to visit and photograph on the island though.

Back in our happy place

We left home at 4am on Saturday morning on our drive up to Queensland. Leaving early we missed a lot of the traffic, but still had plenty of vehicles on the road and a few stops due to roadworks …. 🚧 the never ending roadworks that seem to be on that Sydney to QLD route!

There was plenty of smoke and burnt out bush the whole way up the coast, these fires are so far reaching.

Even whilst we were headed off on holidays, others were battling the fires back at home. These photos below were taken by Shelly’s sister after she was evacuated from her home on Saturday. Taken on Grose Vale Rd looking back towards Kurrajong Heights & Bowen Mountain. Other family members were evacuated due to fires further down south. It’s such a scary time for all. As long as everyone remains safe, that’s the best we can ask for.

So here’s the stats for our first day

Our first day was a total of 936km and approx 10 hours driving (including stops) and the Prado averaged 13.6 litres/100km towing the camper. We arrived at our hotel for the night (AKA Danny & Cat’s house 😆) in the early arvo and settled in for a chat and a few beers. Danny, Cat and the kids will join us, along with a few others, on the island after Christmas.

Sunday morning we left at 6.30am to make the final relatively short drive to Inskip Point where we jumped on the barge to head over to the island and find a place to camp and set up home for the next couple of weeks.

The drive was fairly good with no traffic. Inskip was very firm (as many may know, this beach is known for bogging vehicles!) and once on the island, the beach run up to camp was easy and smooth, much easier than our last visit. We found a great campsite big enough to fit all of our group.

The bushfire is still burning down the southern end of the island, but thankfully you cannot really smell it from camp. We’ve had a juvenile dingo visit us at camp a few times already and saw one whilst driving on the beach so they are definitely around! Thankfully not too many people around though, we will make the most of this while we can as we expect the crowds to arrive from Boxing Day onwards.

Christmas Shopping made easy

So our favourite time of year is nearly upon us …. yep that’s right, only 31 days until Christmas! 🎄 🎁

If you are looking for some awesome gifts to buy for your friends and loved ones, check out these products below. We have joined forces with some of our favourite Aussie companies who we personally use and recommend and some have agreed to offer a discount just for our followers. Note that, unless stated otherwise, there is nothing in this for us, it’s purely just to share our love of these products and give a little back to you guys!

Click on the links below to be taken directly to the websites to order. If you want to try and score yourself some of these great products for free, head over to our Facebook page and enter our Christmas giveaway competition as a few of the companies below have kindly donated products! Click here for details on how to enter this great giveaway 👉http://bit.ly/2KcYZm5


Cost Effective Maintenance

Cost Effective Maintenance provide cost effective solutions to all your engine problems, but rather than just a ‘band-aid’ fix, they work to solve your engine problems in two ways ….. 1) Corrective Maintenance and 2) Advanced Preventative Maintenance.

Not only have we been using their products in our vehicles for years, both of our vehicles are also now officially sponsored by Cost Effective Maintenance. We’ve seen a noticeable difference in the Prado and the Hilux since using a number of CEM products, so we can certainly recommend them. Check out their website or give them a call to have a chat. They offer free delivery Australia wide.

Here are some common engine problems / mechanical problems which they can help you with:

  • Overheating Diesel Engine
  • Common Rail Injector Rattle
  • White Smoke at Cold Start
  • Diesel Engine Sludge
  • Diesel Injector Rattle
  • Black Diesel Engine Oil
  • Crankcase Blow-By
  • Maximum Power – Minimum Engine Wear
  • Engine Carbon
  • Petrol Engine Sludge

At Checkout, use code “4x4OTT” for a 10% discount.


Auto Parts Co

APC is an Australian owned retailer of 4WD parts and accessories. Check them out for all your 4WDing and camping parts and accessories and you’ll be impressed with their prices. As they are able to go straight to the importers and manufacturers, they can cut out the expensive middlemen and pass those savings on to you!

Over the years we’ve gathered a lot of our products from APC and most recently we ordered all of our suspension for the Hilux and the whole process was quick and easy. Definitely worth checking them out next time you need anything for your 4WD.

At Checkout, use code “OTT4x4” for a 5% discount


Swig Cups – $24

These Swig Cups by Love Your Travels are amazing, Shelly loves hers! (she has the pretty sparkly charcoal one!). And what’s better is that if you order using our code, YOU get a 10% discount!

These Insulated Swig Cups hold 400ml, are durable and tough, perfect for day to day life and an ideal camping accessory.   They will keep your Hot & Cold Beverages at their optimum temperature for hours. These Double Walled, Stainless Steel Swig Cups are made from 304 Stainless Steel and all cups come with a BPA–Free secure push on slide lid with a silicon seal.

Check out the ‘Love Your Travels’ website for the huge colour range available.

At Checkout, use code “Offthetrack4x4” for a 10% discount


Shower Ezy – The Complete Set – $34.50

This is a product we found a few years ago and we now use them in the car and for when travelling. There are so many uses for the various handy little products that Shower Ezy have available for sale. The showpiece seller though is ‘The Complete Set’, which really is the perfect gift for any camper or traveler.

This set comes in a range of colours and includes 3 x Silicone non-drip, non-spill bottles, 5 x stainless steel D-Rings, Aluminium carabiners, 1 x detachable body loofah. This is all held on an easy to carry lanyard made from Neoprene (wetsuit) waterproof fabric, making it easy to carry around your neck, hang over the back of the shower door etc.

There are also other products available to make your camping adventures easy ….. perfect for airline travel as well as the bottles are 98ml each.


Macca’s BBQ Seasoning Rubs – $9.99

For those that know “Macca”, the host of the TV show, What’s Up Downunder …. well he’s brought out his own range of BBQ Rubs. Perfect for your next BBQ or campfire cook up, or even just at home in the oven or slow cooker.

Available in four different flavours:

  • Great Southern Lamb
  • Captain James Chook
  • Great Barrier Beef
  • That’ll Do Pig

These are available from the Caravanning With Kids website. By ordering through the link below, we will earn a small commission, but this will be at no additional cost to you.


Scrubba Wash Bag – $69.95

The Scrubba Wash Bag is one of those great little Aussie inventions. It’s basically a little tiny washing machine …. well kinda! But for those who are travelling, free camping or living on the road, you’ll know that you can’t always be around a washing machine (or in fact, have access to a lot of water). Well that’s why you need this Scrubba bag!

The Scrubba Bag has a unique old school wash board inside, so when you add a small amount of water, your dirty clothes and a little detergent…your washing is done in minutes. Little tip, if you use wool wash instead of normal detergent you don’t need to rinse the clothes after washing so you save on even more water.

These are available from the Caravanning With Kids website. By ordering through the link below, we will earn a small commission, but this will be at no additional cost to you.

Click here to see a short video of how this works.


Slide n’ Dry Pegless Clothesline – $12.95

This Aussie made product is designed and manufactured in Melbourne and it’s one of those things that every camper needs! We recently purchased one and it’s so easy and compact and no more carrying around clotheslines that get tangled up and pegs that either get lost or are bulky to store.

Each packet of Slide n’ Dry Pegless Clotheslines comes with 12 slides that have 24 points to hold your washing and 2 bungee cords to secure it, all packaged in a handy zip lock reusable bag!

The slides are made from UV protected plastic so they won’t go brittle or fade in the sun! They are compact and lightweight, which means they are perfect for caravanning, camping, cruising, backpacking, hiking, overseas adventures…or even at home!

And for those environmentally conscious people, these are made with the highest quality materials with a PET 5 rating ensuring they are recyclable!

These are available from the Caravanning With Kids website. By ordering through the link below, we will earn a small commission, but this will be at no additional cost to you.


Winerest Camping Chair Wine Glass Holder – $16

For all you wine lovers out there, does your wine glass keep falling over? Well here’s the product you need, check this out!

This product is designed & developed in Australia so that it can cope with our harsh outdoor elements. Sun, dirt, sand, wind, water …. no worries, it is designed to deal with all of this!

This comes in a range of colours and can be used on most camping chairs and outdoor furniture. The arms of your camping chair should be thicker than 3cm and not ‘tubes’. 

These are available from the Caravanning With Kids website. By ordering through the link below, we will earn a small commission, but this will be at no additional cost to you.


Icy Pole Holders – $10 for a 4 pack

Perfect for kids (and big kids like George – he loves them!)

Easy to pop over your icy pole to keep kiddies happy and save on using paper towel or tea towels etc. These are made from high quality neoprene, double stitched at each end and sewn and glued…making them super durable … and machine washable.

These are available from the Caravanning With Kids website. By ordering through the link below, we will earn a small commission, but this will be at no additional cost to you.


Travel Journal – $24.95

This Australian made Travel Journal is packed with journal pages to document your daily experiences and look back on your memories in years to come. It also includes a plastic coated Checklist that can be used and re-used (simply tick the boxes with a non-permanent marker and then rub off after your trip is finished). There is also a plastic coated Address Book, as well as various Activity Pages which can be photocopied and filled in on each trip.

These are available from the Caravanning With Kids website. By ordering through the link below, we will earn a small commission, but this will be at no additional cost to you.


Log Book – $10.95

This 2 part A5 log book includes 160 entries of Trip Information, plus over 160 entries for logging your caravan/vehicle KM’s traveled and Fuel Consumption.

The front part of the log book allows you to note down where you stayed, rate it and jot down any notes to refer back to later. The back part allows you to keep track of the km the vehicle/caravan/camper travels.

These are available from the Caravanning With Kids website. By ordering through the link below, we will earn a small commission, but this will be at no additional cost to you.


Hema 4WD Maps App & Hema Navigator

Hema are Australia’s leading GPS navigation systems for on and off-road travel. We never travel without our Hema 4WD maps app and also our paper maps.

The app is well worth the money as it offers offline 4WD maps for the whole of Australia, right there on your iPhone or iPad ….. and you don’t need an Internet connection. The app utilises offline mapping and your device’s own in-built GPS receiver to see where you on detailed Hema maps, which feature roads, 4WD tracks, topographic information and points of interest to guide your travels off the beaten track.

Check out their full range of products via the link below.


All of these are items which we use and can recommend. We love supporting our small Aussie companies and if we find a great product which works for us and makes our life a little easier, then we are more than happy to spread the word!

We love being able to give back to you guys, so we have been busy lately working with various companies to bring you some discount codes to be able to give a little back to you ….. at the end of the day, it’s a win for everyone!

So come on guys, show them some love and check out the websites …. maybe you’ll find something you love too!