If you’ve ever been to Vivid, which is held in Sydney each year, you’ll love GLOW, which is currently running at Sydney Zoo from 13th May – 18th June 2022. Yes, you don’t have the amazing backdrop of the Harbour Bridge or the Opera House, but you also don’t have the 50,000 other people pushing past you!
There is so much to see and the kids can be really interactive so they will love it. And yes, the big kids loved it too! This is said to be the biggest and brightest light festival in Western Sydney, with over 50 light sculptures, a 12 meter twinkling light tunnel and plenty of other attractions.
Included in the ticket price, every child receives a UV torch and map so they can join in the Secret UV Safari trail of hidden animals and artwork.
Whilst you are walking through parts of the zoo, most animals were in darkness and you could not see them, although we did see a few kangaroos feeding along the way. However, you can walk through Australia’s largest reptile house and see the reptiles including a glowing UV scorpion.
KIIS Eye Ferris Wheel
After you’ve wandered around on ground level, for $8 you can enjoy the view from above on the ferris wheel.
GLOW Ice Rink
Tickets $20 per session.
Glowy Golf by Carnival Cruise Line
Test out your Putt Putt golf skills on this fun course.
Ochre Face Painting
Painted by Aboriginal guides using glowing ochre.
There are lots of other cool interactive activities like the drums which activates a colour and light show, Kinetic Swing which gets brighter the higher you swing, the Neon Garden and Trumpet Flowers which light up and play music as you interact with them.
Of course if you want to grab a feed they have some food trucks there including the amazing BlackBear BBQ and even the 4 Pines Bar, plus glow in the dark fairy gloss and glowing lightbulb drinks.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
Runs from 5:30pm – 9:30pm each night from 13 May – 18 June 2022 They do try to stagger the entry so when purchasing your ticket you book in for entry at 5:30, 6:00, 6:30, 7:00, 7:30pm.
Adult (16+ years) $25 ($30 at gate)
Child (3-15 years) $25 ($30 at gate)
Infant (0-2 years) FREE
Don’t forget if you haven’t yet used your Service NSW Discover vouchers, you’ll get entry for FREE if you redeem one.
OK so yes, we are a little late in getting this sent out this time, it was 99% written and we finally had a chance to finish it so thought we may as well send it out, albeit very late!
Wow, what a year … Covid was still hanging around and we still ended up back in lockdown and with all our big trips cancelled again! At least we managed to start the year with a holiday … certainly not the way we wanted the holiday to end though (maybe that was an omen for how the year was to pan out!).
Anyway, here we go, let’s take a look back over the year that was 2021 ….
Just prior to Christmas we headed off to South Australia to spend the Christmas and New Year break exploring the beautiful Eyre Peninsula. We literally just made it across the border in time as they once again snapped shut due to COVID. We had our friends and followers messaging us updates and we were constantly checking our phones, but we managed to cross over safely just in time and start our holiday.
We spent a week camped at Streaky Bay and then moved onto Whyalla for a week. Anyone who’s been following for a while knows what happened in Whyalla and how this all turned out, but more on that later! This whole area of South Australia is beautiful and one you should all visit if you get the chance.
This was a special year for George as he turned 50, so as part of our ‘Festival of Fifty’, Shelly planned a weekend away at the Hunter Valley for George’s birthday, complete with plenty of taste testings, a Segway tour and Hot Air Ballooning (the latter was cancelled on the morning due to high winds so we are still yet to get back up there and do that!).
As another part of George’s ‘Festival of Fifty’ we headed up to Mannering Park (just north of Sydney) for a camping weekend away with family and friends. Shelly had been instructed many times that there were to be no parties at all to celebrate George’s 50th birthday …. well a surprise weekend camping with 20 or so of your closest friends doesn’t really count as a ‘party’ does it!
All turned out well and George loved it as people started arriving, some he hadn’t seen in years. We all had a great weekend together and even managed to make and decorate an offroad 4WD track cake for George whilst there (thanks Suzie, Deena and Tas!)
This is the month we headed back up to the Hunter Valley again for the Sunset Sounds Concert, it felt great to be back out and seeing live music again after so long. Daryl Braithwaite, Ian Moss, Ross Wilson and Shannon Noll (amongst others) put on a great show as always and even the soggy ground (literally sinking into mud up to your ankles!) didn’t worry us.
April was when boarders opened and we were able to fly to Adelaide to pick up the Prado with it’s new engine! This was a quick 3 day trip, but we still managed to do a little sightseeing along the way. We flew down on the Friday and picked up the Prado and camper and then went to the quaint little town of Hahndorf … best fudge ever! We then visited the worlds largest Rocking Horse in Gumeracha, as well as their onsite animal farm. We spent that night in the Rydges Resort, right on pit lane of the famous Tailem Bend racetrack, such a great hotel with good facilities, awesome service and even millions of dollars worth of cars on display in the foyer! We spent the next night camping in the bush and made it home on the Sunday night. Big drive, but it was good to finally have the Prado and camper back home in Sydney with us.
Shelly’s birthday month and wanting to do something different to celebrate we headed to Canberra for the weekend for a private behind the scenes tour (just the 2 of us) at Canberra Zoo. It was a cold start to the day at a chilly -4 degrees but the day just got better and better from there.
We had a full day behind the scenes tour hand feeding lions and tigers and bears, exploring the tiger enclosure, patting a cheetah, lunch with the giraffes, feeding and playing with otters and meerkats and so many other animals. At $695 per person it’s certainly not a cheap day out, but we both learned so much and had the best day, with some once in a lifetime experiences. Highly recommend adding this one to your bucket list!
June marks the start of all our trips which were cancelled for the year due to lockdown. First up, a weekend away at Blue Lagoon Beach Resort in Bateau Bay being hosted by The Duck and Ricko. CANCELLED!
Next up …. Big Red Bash CANCELLED! Keep in mind that we originally purchased these tickets for the 2020 concert which ended up being cancelled. Whilst the concert did end up going ahead in 2021 we weren’t able to get there due to Sydney lockdown. The Big Red Bash organisers have been great the whole way through and have carried over our tickets yet again to 2022!
Our weekend camping trip with friends up the Hunter was also …. CANCELLED!
Now this was the big one, we’d planned and saved so much for this trip as we had booked onto a 3 week tag-a-long trip with Great Divide Tours to visit Arnhem Land as part of George’s 50th birthday present. And yep, you guessed it …. CANCELLED! We’ve now booked onto the same trip leaving in 2022.
After so long of being in lockdown and not being able to go anywhere, we arranged a weekend 4wding and camping trip to Lithgow with a few mates. We were all looking forward to finally being able to get away, but this time it wasn’t Covid which caused the issues, but the weather! After a week of torrential rain and a weekend of predicted rain and thunderstorms we ended up cancelling this trip.
Thankfully we were able to get away over Christmas. We left on Christmas Eve and drove up to Urunga (just south of Coffs Harbour in NSW) where we were camping over the break with friends. Whilst it rained at some point every day (so the ground never dried up) and our campsite was more water and mud than grass, we still had a great time! The weather most days was great and we spent a lot of time at the beach, 4WDing or out exploring.
A purchase of gum boots definitely made life around camp a little more bearable!
Weekend 4WD Adventures
To be honest, between lockdowns and weather, we really didn’t get too much 4wding in this year. We did start the year off with a quick trip out to Lithgow though to rescue a mate who had got himself stuck, yet again! We won’t mention any names LIAM!!!!
We were relaxing at home one afternoon when we get a message from Liam to say that he is stuck in the bush nearly 2 hours away from us. We couldn’t leave him there and we know he’d do the same for us, so we grabbed our recovery gear, jumped in the 4WD and headed off to find him. It certainly wasn’t the easiest of recoveries, he was stuck pretty good and there were times when we thought there was no way Liea was going to be able to get this 3 tonne Patrol out. But after a couple of hours of trying we finally managed to get the Patrol out and we all made our way home safely.
The only actual 4WD trip we got in was one up to Lithgow with our mate Trent and two of our followers who joined us for the day, Wayne & Meg. It was great to meet up in person and spend the day doing what we all love. Another long time follower who we feel like we know, but have never actually met is Hapy and he turned up to say a quick hello and meet us too!
Another strange year of lockdowns and all, but we still managed to get out and about exploring our local and semi local areas. There is so much to see within a couple of hours of Sydney and here are just some of the places we visited this year, starting with the Cataract Dam, one of the oldest and most picturesque dams in Sydney. We visited the HARS Aviation Museum in Albion Park and spent a few hours exploring and learning about the planes. Goulburn may not be the most exciting town around, but there is actually a lot to do around the area and a lot of history. We spent a day exploring. Of course, we can’t forget the day Shelly took George on an ‘A Country Practice Tour’! For those that remember this popular show from the 80/90’s you might want to take a drive out to Windsor and surrounds and you’ll see some of the place featured in the show. Check out our blog post here.
As mentioned earlier, we spent a weekend in Canberra for Shelly’s birthday and whilst the highlight was the private tour of the zoo, we also visited Old Parliament House and the War Memorial, as well as staying for the evening Last Post Ceremony, a highly moving and emotional service which was great to experience.
After years of driving past we finally spent a day at Mt Tomah Gardens, unfortunately a small area was still closed due to the bush fires which devastated the area, but it’s a beautiful property. What else do you do on a Saturday morning, head up to the Central Coast, call into the Hawkesbury River Oyster Shed and have oysters for breakfast! That was the start to our day which also included visiting Aboriginal Rock Art, visiting a Distillery and seafood by the water for early dinner. Another weekend we drove down south towards Wollongong, we went out to Warragamba Dam which had just started spilling so that was quite interesting to see and most recently we spent a day at Scenic World at Katoomba, followed by a visit to the Three Sisters at Echo Point and a short bush walk.
The 4WD’s & Camper Trailer
150 Series Prado
If you follow our social media channels you would be well aware of our dramas that happened over the Christmas/New Year break last year when …. the Prado died!
It all started when we decided to take a quick drive out to the lighthouse at Point Lowly (about 30km or so out of town) before leaving Whyalla, but the Prado had different ideas and we didn’t make it that far. Whilst driving up a small hill, towing the camper, the 4WD lost power, white smoke started pouring out the back and things just didn’t feel right. George pulled over straight away, oil was pouring out of the catch can and the engine was making a noise it really shouldn’t be! We knew straight away things weren’t good, we weren’t 100% sure at that point in time what had happened, but had suspected a cracked piston. We later found out that this was the case. Unfortunately this is a known problem with these engines and we’ve since had one of our followers and another friend have this happen to them.
Luckily we have NRMA Premium Care (never, ever travel without this as it covers you Australia-wide), so we jumped on the phone and an RAA (SA equivalent) patrol vehicle was dispatched to come pick us, the Prado and camper up. We were lucky that we were right off the side of the road, it wasn’t an overly busy road and we even had a nice view! Overall it wasn’t too bad a place to be stranded for a couple of hours.
You can read our blog post about the whole experience here, but long story short, we were stuck in Whyalla for a week whilst everything was sorted and while we worked out what to do next. We had initially wanted the Prado and camper shipped back to Sydney and have the work done locally, but the shipping and transport costs were unbelievably expensive so we were recommended a mechanic in Adelaide and decided to go with him. We also had the issue of how to get the camper home as we couldn’t get a hire car with a towbar and brake controller (at one point we even went car shopping and test drove a Commodore as it was potentially going to be cheaper to buy a car and tow the camper home with us than it would be to have it shipped back to Sydney!). Eventually it worked out and Tim, our wonderful RAA patrolman, towed the Prado to Adelaide and we followed in their Landcruiser towing our camper, and both were dropped off at Auto Masters (they even stored our camper for us). Tim then took us to the airport to pick up our hire car and we made our way back to Sydney.
Finally in April we got the call that the Prado was ready, borders had opened and we were able to fly over and pick up the Prado & camper.
This whole experience was one that we certainly wish we hadn’t of gone through, but we were constantly overwhelmed with the support and offers from help we received from EVERYONE. Tim & Vanessa (Whyalla RAA) were absolutely amazing and went out of their way to help us from the very minute they picked us up – as far as even lending us a vehicle to drive around in whilst we were there! From the moment we posted that this had happened we had our followers, family and friends offering help and advise. One follower even called and spent an hour on the phone running through their experience with us. Everyone was getting in touch with us to offer help with towing or mechanics or share their stories, it was so overwhelming how much everyone wanted to help us … people that didn’t even personally know us. And to our mate, The Duck, who rang us the next morning and told us he’d already spoken to a mate who owned a mechanical workshop in Adelaide, explained the situation and he was awaiting our call, we can’t thank you enough! It was hard to even contemplate leaving our vehicle with someone we didn’t know, but to have a personal recommendation was great.
Once we picked up the Prado and drove home to Sydney it was due for the first service on the engine so off to the mechanic it went to check that all was ok.
Unfortunately that wasn’t the only time we saw the Prado on the back of a tow truck this year … whilst driving down the motorway near home one weekend things didn’t feel right so we pulled over, went to check wheels and saw that the wheel nut was lose so went to tighten it ….. only to find out that it was not lose, it was not connected at all! The whole wheel stud had sheered off and the front drivers side wheel was being held on by one nut. Luckily we pulled over as that could have ended very badly for us and potentially others on the road. No-one wants a wheel coming off while doing 100km down the motorway.
No major mods for Leia this year, just a few new stickers and a pink recovery hitch! So apart from a few trips to the mechanic, she really didn’t live up to her name of ‘the bottomless pit’ like George calls her … certainly not compared to the Prado this year!
Unfortunately though in one of our recent storms, she did get hit by hail and needed a trip to the smash repairer to make her pretty again! Luckily insurance covered all of this. Interestingly though, the Prado was parked about 5 metres behind her and didn’t get any damage!
And lastly both of the vehicles received new personalised number plates this year, something we’d been thinking about for a while, we love the look and are happy with our colours we picked as they suit the vehicles more than the old plates.
As we were preparing for our big trips this year we sent the camper off to Cub for a full major service and once over. We’d also been having a few issues with the zipper the last few times we’d used it so we had new zippers installed around the door and some more lighting and USB points beside the bed.
Off The Track 4×4 updates
As always, we did a few giveaways this year, including our huge Christmas Giveaway with prizes totaling over $1,000. We couldn’t do all of this without the support of all the great businesses who we work closely with, but special mention must go to our sponsors, Cost Effective Maintenance and our great mates at Auto Parts Co.
Earlier in the year we teamed up with AMD Touring, Australia’s first dedicated Australian-made 4×4, camping and caravanning store and have been working closely with them since. So if you want to buy some Aussie made camping or 4×4 accessories, check them out!
As mentioned previously, we were also lucky enough to meet a few of our followers this year, Wayne & Meg and Hapy. We also met Peter whilst we were camping at Christmas. It’s always great to meet people in person after so long of interacting on social media! We have a few plans in place for the new year (Covid dependent) which will hopefully mean we can meet a few more of you!
Camp Cooking group
Our Camp Cooking Ideas & Tips Facebook group that we run is still going well. This started back in April 2020 and we’ve now got over 9,500 members.
Track to Nature …. Essential Oils
Last year we started Track to Nature Essential Oils and the way these are being incorporated into our lives grows each and every day. So many people are benefiting from the use of essential oils to help lead a more natural life. It’s even helping with our dog’s wellbeing, from calming them in thunderstorms, to helping ease itchy skin and upset tummies. If you are interested to see how doTERRA Essential Oils can fit into your life (particularly your camping, travel & outdoor life), feel free to contact us to discuss – or join our Facebook group
I’m sure you are all well aware, but we do have our own merchandise which we sell (our magnets in particular are so popular!) and we are also affiliates for a number of companies. Whilst we do receive commission for the sale of some products via our affiliate programs, there are many which we don’t. If you check out our website, we have been able to set up discount codes for some companies, which enable a discount for you and nothing at all in return for us. If there is something in the 4WD or camping sector that you are looking for, please remember to check out our shop and see if it may be available. Or feel free to contact us as we do have a lot of contacts in the industry and are always happy to provide our opinion and knowledge and/or point you in the direction of someone we know and trust who can help you.
Our Sponsors and Supporters
Of course we couldn’t end a year without saying a big thank you to our vehicle sponsors, Cost Effective Maintenance. These guys are the most friendly and helpful people you’ll find and they’ll go out of their way to talk you through any problems you may be having and try to offer a solution. If you haven’t checked out their range of products you really need to! Use code “4x4OTT” to receive a 10% discount off all items (excluding Value Packs) – we know that plenty of you are using this code, so keep it up!
And to Jack & Jason at Auto Parts Co, you guys are the best! They have the best range of products and can generally source anything we need. They go above and beyond to help us out and are always willing to throw us some goodies for a giveaway and/or give us something to try out. Don’t forget to Use code “OTT4x4” to receive a 5% discount off all items on their website (except already discounted items).
Lastly, as mentioned previously, there are so many companies which are always happy to donate to our giveaways and we appreciate that they trust in us as much as we believe in their services and products. Most of these are just small companies themselves, yet they are always willing to help out, so make sure you check out their pages and send some love their way too!
George turned the big 5-0 and we were able to mark the celebration with a camping weekend away with family and friends.
Our nephew, Levi, graduated from pre-school … how cute does he look in his little outfit!! He’s not our little baby anymore, this little man goes off to big school next year.
As for the kids, Tre bought his first house, such an achievement for anyone in these times, let alone someone in their early 20’s. He was busy renovating it to rent out as an investment property. Min, moved out of home and into a rental of her own and has been busy putting her stamp on it and making it the perfect little home. We couldn’t be more proud of both of them.
And lastly, our mate Stewy, who we do a lot of travel with, welcomed a new baby daughter into the world with his partner Lisa. A huge congratulations to them all, including Stewy’s eldest daughter, Rori.
How we spent Christmas
As we were away for Christmas we held our ‘family Christmas’ weekend on 11/12 December. On the Saturday we went to George’s sisters house for lunch with his family and Sunday was spend with Shelly’s family at our house.
Christmas Day was spent camping at Urunga. A perfect day of seafood cooked on the Weber and a few drinks. Even Santa (and his dog!) popped in to visit us at camp!
What’s planned for 2022?
2022 is basically a rerun of what 2021 should have been!
We will hopefully finally do our Hot Air Ballooning which was cancelled.
In July we have the Big Red Bash at Birdsville (which was actually tickets we purchased back in 2019, but Covid ruined our plans 2 years in a row). Fingers crossed, third time lucky! The lineup for this is great with JIMMY BARNES headlining!!! Plenty of other great Aussie bands
The Rolling Stones Review starring: Adalita, Tex Perkins and Tim Rogers
In August/September we have our postponed Arnhem Land tag-a-long trip with Great Divide Tours. We are excited to have the opportunity to explore this remote area of Australia. We’ve never visited the top end of NT, so very much looking forward to this amazing experience.
As 2021 was such a strange year we weren’t able to get out and do too much 4WDing, so hopefully 2022 brings lots more weekend adventures in the bush and a few more weekend camping trips. We know the content on our page may not have been too exciting this year, but it’s hard when you are in lockdown and don’t do anything! Therefore, we are hoping that less restrictions will mean more great adventures we can share with you all.
As always, thank you to each and every one of you who supports us and seems to enjoy what we do! Many of you have been following for years and we really do feel like we know you, we all know what social media can be like at times, but our ‘people’ are the absolute best!!! Knowing that we can do something we absolutely love doing and then share it with others and they enjoy it too is amazing. The messages we get saying how inspiring we are or how people wish they could do what we do or wished they travelled when they could, asking for our opinion or advice on products or holiday destinations … sometimes it’s a little strange to think that we are just doing what we love, yet people look up to us! And the support we got with our Prado issues was overwhelming to say the least, we really do have the absolute best bunch of followers anyone could ask for!!
We know it’s been another difficult year for many and we only hope that we have in some way brought a little something to otherwise trying times.
Don’t forget, if you see us out and about, don’t be shy, come over and have a chat, we always love meeting new people or some of our followers. And please, spread the word – LIKE, COMMENT & SHARE on our socials and lets inspire even more people to get out there and explore.
We do hope that 2022 is a better year for you all, filled with good health, fun times, new adventures and lots of magical memories.
Our favourite time of year is nearly here …. yes, Christmas is on it’s way and after the year we’ve all had, it’s nice to have something to look forward to.
If you are looking for some awesome gifts to buy for your friends and loved ones, here are some ideas for you. As you know, we work closely with quite a few companies and some offer special discounts for our followers, some we are affiliates for and others are just great companies we want to spread the word about!
Of course, like every year, we are running our mega Christmas Giveaway again. There are some great products which have been donated this year and we have a mega prize pack valued at over $1,000! So if you want to score yourself some of these great products for free, head over to our Facebook page to enter.
Cost Effective Maintenance
First up let’s start with our amazing sponsors, Cost Effective Maintenance. If you haven’t already, check out what these guys have to offer. Basically they aim to 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.
If you’re experiencing any of the following issues, give the guys a call and have a chat.
Overheating Diesel Engine
Common Rail Injector Rattle
White Smoke at Cold Start
Diesel Engine Sludge
Diesel Injector Rattle
Black Diesel Engine Oil
Maximum Power – Minimum Engine Wear
Petrol Engine Sludge
Don’t forget to mention our code, “4x4OTT” (or use it at checkout for online orders) for a 10% discount.
Slide n’ Dry Pegless Clothesline $12.90 plus postage
At only $12.90, plus postage, these clotheslines are the best! No more carrying bulky clotheslines or rope or pegs, we keep a couple in the camper and use them all the time.
Aussie made, designed and manufactured in Melbourne. Each packet 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!
This Australian made Travel Journal is jam 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.
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.
APC is an Australian owned retailer of 4WD parts and accessories. 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!
These guys are our go-to for everything!, particularly all of our suspension. Definitely worth checking them out next time you need anything for your 4WD. Give Jack or Jason a call and tell them we sent you!
If you’re looking for Aussie made, you need to check out these guys. AMD Touring is Australia’s first dedicated Australian-made 4×4, camping and caravaning store and we teamed up with these guys not long after them starting up. They’ve got a great range of prodcuts available and if you have something particular you are looking for, hit them up and they may be able to source it for you.
This site literally has something for everyone … kids, adults, Aussie Made items, travel gifts and practical items for all your caravanning and camping needs. Check out their huge range of available online, or if you happen to be in Victoria, you can visit their store located at 66 Melville Street, Numurkah.
This small business offers a range of items for the female 4WDers in your life … anything from tumblers, clothing, Esky, stubby coolers, air fresheners, UHF radios, makeup and overnight bags, stickers etc. Check their website and/or Facebook page as items change all the time (and of course there is plenty of pink and purple items!).
Swig Cups by Love Your Travels …. Shelly loves hers! (she has the pretty sparkly charcoal one!). These are little magic cups that are insulated and keep your hot beverages hot and your cold ones cold! Perfect for frozen cocktails!
Macca’s BBQ Seasoning Rubs …. You know that guy “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, in the oven or slow cooker. We’ve personally tried them all and love them! There are four flavours to choose from – Great Southern Lamb, Captain James Chook, Great Barrier Beef, That’ll Do Pig.
We use this handy little product and love it. The Shower Ezy‘The Complete 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.
If you like to travel, you can’t go past Hema Maps for all your maps and GPS needs. 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 are on detailed Hema maps, which feature roads, 4WD tracks, topographic information and points of interest. Of course, if you want a full on-road/off-road navigation system, check out the Hema HX-2 Navigator. Check out their full range of products via the link below.
The Scrubba Wash Bag is your tiny camping washing machine! It 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.
Click here to see a short video of how this works.
Navigator is an outdoor caravan, camping & adventure brand that provides a whole range of accessories and products to make your life easier. The pictures below are the dog bed, dog lead, dog car seat buddy, dog travel set, collapsible bin, shovel, folding stool and kitchen buddy. And that’s not all they offer, there is a whole range of products available … and yes, we have many of them!
Safety is number 1 when travelling so why not invest in a SPOT Gen4 Satellite GPS Messenger, we never travel without ours.
Always tracking your GPS coordinates, the SOS feature enables the GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center to give your exact location to local response teams at the push of a button. You can also preset ‘check in’ and ‘custom’ messages to send to 10 family/friends via text or email, again including your exact location. Plus, there’s a Help/S.O.V. function that alerts your preset contacts that you need assistance (but not a life threatening situation).
For all you wine lovers out there, does your wine glass keep falling over? Well here’s the product you need, check the Winerest Camping Chair Wine Glass Holder!
Designed & developed in Australia so that it can cope with our harsh outdoor elements. 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’.
Are you or someone you know new to 4WDing? Why not gift them a 4WD Training Course? Or alternatively book onto one of the many day, weekend or extended trips offered by Vic and the team at Great Divide Tours. They offer gift vouchers so this could be the perfect idea for someone.
Check out these pink and black soft shackles from Sabre Offroad! This 8mm soft shackle is designed to be safer, stronger, lighter and easier to use alternative than metal shackles. Rated to 9,000kg, this is a seriously strong soft shackle. Yes we may have these shackles in Leia!
Anyone heading off-road will need a tyre gauge, so why not check out the Bushranger® Tyre Gauge designed to accurately read tyre pressures, and control deflation on your tyres. Easy to read dial and comes with it’s own carry pouch.
As you all know, 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! So if you are stuck for gift ideas this Christmas, maybe check out some of these companies and give a little back to the small businesses which have all suffered these past few years.
Happy shopping and wishing you all a great Christmas!
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Ok, so you’ve just purchased your first 4WD and are ready to hit the tracks, you’ve been driving for years so what’s the difference in driving on dirt right …. WRONG!
There is so much that can and does go wrong and you need to be aware of that. This 4WDing gig can be dangerous, every time we hit the tracks we know there is the potential that things could go wrong, very wrong.
We don’t want to scare you, but you need to be aware that heading off-road without the proper recovery gear and the knowledge of what you are doing can end badly in terms of vehicle damage, injury or even death. You can take all the precautions in the world, but sometimes things just don’t go to plan.
Please take a few minutes to read through this and hopefully it will give you a few pointers on what to do and where to start. But don’t be afraid to ask questions (even if you think it’s dumb or people may laugh at you), we all started out as newbies at one point in time and no-one expects you to know everything.
The most important thing when heading off-road is tyres. These are the single most important thing that can make the difference between you getting past an obstacle or not. Yes lift kits and lockers all help, but if you need just one thing, it’s tyres. Think about where you are heading and how often. A one-off day on a fire trail can be done on your road tyres, but if this is something you’ll be doing more often look at a good set off All-Terrain tyres (or Mud tyres depending on what you do).
Always remember, when you head off-road or onto the beach you must let the pressure down in your tyres. It can mean the difference between getting a puncture or not, it can mean the difference between getting through or getting bogged. Off-road it can make for a far more comfortable ride, it’s less harsh on the vehicle and it’s better for the tracks.
It takes a little trial and error to work out what works best for you, your vehicle, your tyre size and style and the terrain you are driving on … it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ type of thing, it all has an impact.
For more information, see our previous blog post here
Have a basic Recovery Kit
Before heading off-road you should at the very minimum have a snatch strap, dampener, rated shackle, (and rated recovery points on the vehicle) and a tyre gauge. Remember, you will need to let your tyres down before going off-road or on the beach, so how will you know what to let them down to without a tyre gauge? Also keep in mind that you need to reinflate them afterwards, so if you aren’t anywhere near a servo, carry your own air compressor as well.
Most people are happy to help if you are in trouble, but if they are helping YOU, always offer to grab and use your recovery gear first. No-one wants their gear lost or broken or have to go home and clean it when they were helping out a stranger. It’s common courtesy to always use your own gear (or at least offer) in this situation. Check out this recovery set
Make sure you have RATED recovery points
No, we aren’t talking those little tie down points on the front of your 4WD, they are not a rated recovery point, they are simply used to tie your car down during transportation. You may be surprised to know that most 4WD’s don’t actually come standard with any form of rated recovery point.
You need to invest in a proper aftermarket recovery point suited to your vehicle which is suitable for snatching and winching. Ideally you’d have one on the front and the rear of your vehicle to ensure if you are stuck you can be snatched out either way, but ONE at the very minimum is required before you even think of heading off-road.
Check out the guys at APC and they can help you with all your needs ….. If you use our code “OTT4x4” they’ll give you a 5% discount (off all items on the website, except already discounted items).
Know how to actually engage 4WD
Read your vehicle manual and learn how to actually engage High and Low range (or lock your hubs if you have manual locking hubs) and do some research into when and why you would use both of these gears. Also be aware that many of the newer vehicles have traction and/or stability control that you may need to manually override when off-road, particularly on sand.
Know what to do in a recovery situation
At some point in your 4WDing life you will get bogged, or you will need to be involved in the recovery of another bogged 4WD. Before you even contemplate a 4WD recovery, do your research and know exactly what to do, take all the precautions and know the risks.
Recoveries are dangerous and things can and do go wrong and result in damage to vehicles, injury to persons and unfortunately death. This is serious stuff and we cannot say this enough … you really do need to know what you are doing.
Don’t go by yourself
This is particularly important when you are first starting out. Even now, there are places we would never head into by ourselves, even if there may be other vehicles around. You just never know what may happen (just a while back a mate got himself stuck at Lithgow and luckily managed to get enough phone reception to contact us and we were able to drive out and help him – keep in mind that this was a 1 ½ hour drive each way for us, plus the recovery. Had he not had phone reception or had we not been available, he could have been spending the night there alone stranded in the bush).
Another reason to go with a mate is so that you have a spotter to help you. Quite often you are on such angles that you can’t even see where your 4WD is on the track. Having a spotter on a portable handheld CB will allow them to be your eyes and guide you.
This is an important one and if you are heading out in a group or doing alot of 4WDing as it will enable you to communicate with others. More often than not, you won’t have mobile phone reception. They are relatively cheap to purchase and there are so many on the market. Whether you buy an in car one with antenna or a portable one is your choice. To be honest though, you’ll probably end up having both if you do get bitten by this 4WDing bug!
Of course, if you intend on longer, more remote travelling you’ll want to consider other forms of communication as well, such as Satellite Phone and/or a SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger.
Don’t over commit
Even now, after all these years, there are still tracks that we look at and say ‘nope, not going up there’! It’s ok to say no if you don’t feel comfortable or turn around if things are getting a little hairy, it’s ok to take the chicken track. People look at some of the things we do and think we are crazy, but we now know what our vehicles are capable of and what both of our driving abilities are, it’s takes a while to gain all this knowledge so at first it’s totally fine to be afraid and err on the side of caution. Always ensure you drive to your own abilities, not other peoples.
If heading on the beach, take a shovel!
Sometimes a little bit of digging is all you need to get you going again, and if you are by yourself and no-one else around to snatch you out, you’ll be glad you had that shovel with you! If you intend to stick with 4WDing, considering investing in a set of TRED boards which are awesome on the beach, as well as the bush.
Water Crossings and Bog Holes
Everyone loves a bit of water, but 4WD’s not so much! Sometimes you have no choice but to drive through a muddy bog hole or a creek crossing, but always be careful. Walk it (if you can, think crocodiles!), measure the depth with a stick if you aren’t sure and consider a snorkel if you are going to be doing a lot of water crossings. Try your hardest not to drive through salt water (and wash your vehicle down afterwards if you do). It’s very easy and very common to write of your vehicle in water crossings or bog holes so always check them out before jump straight in!
Please don’t be a dick
Now this is an important one, one we shouldn’t have mention, but unfortunately we do. Us 4WDer’s can sometimes get a bad name and it’s always because of the minority of people thinking they are better than anyone else, doing the wrong thing and rules don’t apply to them. The truth is though that most 4WDer’s are friendly, respectful and helpful people who respect the bush and want to do whatever we can to look after it. Unfortunately, it’s the minority that ends up ruining it for everyone else and we have tracks closed down, tougher restrictions put in place and end up being totally locked out of certain areas.
This rule also includes rubbish and property. Whatever you take in should be taken out with you, never leave your rubbish for someone else to clean up. Always extinguish fires completely and do not light them at all in areas which do not allow them, or when there are fire bans. Do not damage other people’s property and DO NOT leave your toilet paper laying around, Dig – Do – Burn – Bury ALWAYS!
We are all responsible for looking after and respecting the bush, and with so many amazing places for us to explore across Australia, why wouldn’t you want to. It’s a real privilege to be able to jump in our vehicles and go to some of these places, so please think about this before you go ahead and ruin it for everyone else.
To mod or not to mod?
There are so many 4WD accessories out there today and you could spend thousands doing up your vehicle, but it’s not always necessary. Think about how you will be using your 4WD, where you will take it, how often you’ll be heading out, will you be hitting the hard tracks or a simple dirt road, heading to the beach, going by yourself or with others? Owning a 4WD can be expensive and you’ll realise this real quick if you start adding various accessories, so take your time and have a think about what you actually need and what you want!
Other things to keep in mind
Check the weather – don’t head out if you know it’s been raining a lot or if rain is anticipated. Not only is it dangerous, but if can ruin and potentially close tracks.
Are you allowed to be where you are? – just because your 4WD can go off-road, doesn’t mean it’s allowed to be there! Watch out for private property signs and gates.
Insurance – check if your vehicle is allowed to do what you’re doing and go off-road, particularly water crossing etc.
Track Closures – always obey track closures signs, note that not only can you be fined, insurance will not cover you if you are found to be on a closed track.
Keep water and a blanket/warm jumper in the vehicle just in case you get stuck. We’ve had one night where we didn’t get home till early hours of the morning due to being stuck on a track in the bush, so be prepared.
Always tell someone where you are going so emergency services have an idea of where to start looking should you fail to return home.
Carry a first aid kit in your vehicle at all times.
Lastly, we all need to learn somewhere and you can’t learn until you get out there and put yourself into the situation. But please don’t do it by yourself, head out with an experienced friend or join a 4WD club, many run their own private training courses for members and they have regular day/weekend/longer trips that members can join. Pick one that suits your needs and is in your area and if you contact them most will allow you to join a meeting or event as a trial to see what you think.
Alternatively (and this is what we both did when we started out), invest in a 4WD Driver Training course which will cover everything you need for off-road driving, as well as recovery. Courses like those run by Great Divide Tours run over a weekend and include accreditation (which can be used to save on your insurance).
Just remember, we all started where you are now. It just takes time to build your confidence and your skills, so don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be embarrassed if you get bogged. Most of us 4WDer’s are friendly people who are more than happy to help and we’d rather you ask for help, than potentially damage your vehicle or yourself. There have been many times where we’ve needed to help others out of difficult situations (bogged in sand, bogged in water crossings, rollovers etc) and George has even got in and driven other’s vehicles out of the situation as they weren’t comfortable doing so themselves. So definitely don’t think you need to know it all at first and definitely don’t think that you’re the only one to have ever found yourself in that situation, we were all there once! As long as you have your own recovery gear, are willing to accept help and/or education and acknowledge when you’ve f**ked up, we will all be there to help you out!
Note that this blog post contains some links that will take you through to an external third party company. On some occasions, if you do click through and ultimately make a purchase we will earn a small commission on the sale. Note that, although we may receive a commission, this is at no additional cost to you. Ie, you would pay the same amount if you went direct to the product provider.
Are you thinking of hitting the road this summer, you need to read this.
COVID has changed our lives in so many ways and one of these is the closure of international borders. This has meant that many people who would normally take their yearly trip to Bali or Thailand or jump on a relaxing cruise no longer have this luxury and are looking for alternatives for their family holidays.
This leaves no other option than to travel Australia, something we have been doing for years! There is a whole wave of new people buying 4wd’s and caravans and travelling this great country of ours. From our friends and contacts within the 4WD and camping industry we can tell you that they are all busier than ever trying to keep up with the demand.
Whilst this is all new and exciting for people, travelling remotely is very different to rocking up to a resort and having everything within arms reach.
Travelling remotely within Australia is something you do need to be prepared for, there are safety precautions to be aware of and you need to do your research and have an idea of what you may be in for … what will the road be like, will there be phone reception, will there be shops, how much fuel do I need, do I have enough water, how will I power my devices … these are all questions you should be asking yourself (and having an answer to!).
It’s a very different world out there, you can’t just pop round the corner to the next servo if the fuel is too expensive. Quite often places can run out of fuel and you’ll be stranded there for a few days until the tanker can make it into town. Bad weather can close a road for days or even weeks at a time, meaning not only you could get stuck, but supply trucks and fuel trucks are also stuck. What if there is no internet or ATM? Do you carry enough cash to cover a tank of fuel or some groceries? There are plenty of things to think about that you wouldn’t need to worry about in the big cities. Of course if you’ve never experienced this before you wouldn’t even think of it being an issue, but this is why you need to do some research.
Now this certainly isn’t the case with everyone, but there are a portion of people who think that it’s as simple as buying a 4WD and caravan, hooking it up and hitting the road – it’s not, and this thought process could lead to disaster. Obviously you always hope that things will go to plan, but you always need to prepare for the worst possible scenario.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
Check road conditions of where you are travelling. If you are travelling on an outback corrugated dirt road you need to know that your vehicle/caravan/trailer are set up for this.
Does your vehicle have the towing capacity for the caravan/camper you wish to tow?
Do you have appropriate tyres for where you are visiting? Do you have enough tread left for your journey? Are you carrying spares in case of a flat (and the tools to change it!)
Can you carry enough fuel to get you from A to B? (remember, fuel can be pretty scarce once out of the big cities)
Are you carrying water? Again, plan for the worst. What if you break down or get bogged?
Do you have a satellite phone or emergency device? Australia is a big place and there certainly isn’t phone reception everywhere, you may not be able to just jump on google or call someone for help. Maybe consider a SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger. A UHF/CB in your vehicle is also essential for outback travel.
Do you have a rough itinerary or idea of where you are headed? Always leave this with someone back at home and check in every few days. This way, if you fail to turn up as expected or fail to make contact, emergency services will have some idea of where to start looking for you.
Carry cash with you. Not everywhere has internet or EFTPOS or ATM’s and even if they do, they are quite often not working.
Carry adequate food – like the water, always plan for the worst case scenario.
Know the times of the year to travel, eg you wouldn’t head into the desert in Summer as it’s far too hot, the top half of Australia is cut off during the wet season.
Other Costs – Be prepared as food is more expensive in remote areas due to costs involved in freight etc and keep in mind that items like bread and milk are quite often sold frozen to prolong shelf-life. Of course, you don’t have the same variety as back in the big cities, so please don’t take it out on the staff in store if you can’t find everything you would normally purchase at home .
Road Trains are everywhere, do you know what to do if you come across one? These can reach over 53 metres in length and the dirt kicked up when you pass one is unbelievable, you need to be prepared for this or it can end in disaster.
Don’t rely solely on a map or GPS – Maps may be showing there is accommodation or a service station nearby, but these can quite often be closed permanently or only open for certain hours of the day.
Always carry a basic First Aid Kit and a Snake Bite Kit – should something happen, help can often be hours away and your first aid kit could potentially mean the difference between life or death.
If you do break down, ALWAYS stay with your vehicle – it’s much easier to find someone from the air if they are with something large like a vehicle, than individual people wandering around the bush. Remember temperatures in outback Australia can reach well over 40°C so you don’t want to be wandering around in the heat of the day.
Hope all of that gives you an idea of what you need to be prepared for. It’s ok if you don’t have off-road experience, we all started somewhere. You do need to do a little research though and see what you may be in for … ask questions of family or friends who have done this before, visit our site or ask people like us who have been doing it for years, maybe even consider doing a towing course or join a 4WD club, there are plenty of ways you can find help.
But above all, get out there and enjoy what our big amazing country has to offer, there is so much more than most people could ever begin to imagine!
Note that this blog post contains links that will take you through to an external third party company. If you do click through and ultimately make a purchase we will earn a small commission on the sale. Note that, although we may receive a commission, this is at no additional cost to you. Ie, you would pay the same amount if you went direct to the product provider.
– It’s inevitable that bugs, dirt and sand will become like seasoning to your meals! Yes, there are many times a bug has flown into dinner and Shelly has either picked it out or just stirred it into the meal!
– Baby Wipes are your best friend, we have them everywhere! They are our daily shower, they clean our hands, they wipe down tables and clean the benchtop, and they’ve even been used to wash cutlery and plates when we haven’t had water!
– Your feet will always be dirty, you just live with it!
– White clothing should never be taken camping!
– Swimming is perfectly acceptable to class as a ‘shower’.
– We can go days without a shower and don’t even miss it …… until you eventually have a nice hot shower and you realise what you were missing!
– If you travel the outback, be prepared to throw out your clothing upon return, as everything will end up a slightly pink/brown colour as it’s tinged with red dirt.
– There is this small window of the day where you are completely bug free – that changeover period between where the flies go to bed and the mozzies wake up. It’s that miniscule window of time, of total bliss, where there are absolutely no bugs around at all!
– Once you’ve done one outback trip your 4WD will forever bleed red dirt. No matter how many times you wash it or think it’s clean, it will never ever be that case again! The only way to rectify this is to sell it and buy a new one!
– Always replace a beer when you take one out of the fridge, one for one every time! No-one wants to find no cold beers in the fridge!
– Hold back on the packing as you will always take more food and clothes than you really need.
– We love Zip lock bags! OK well Shelly does, but she’s converted George too!
– Zooper Doopers are not just for kids! Nothing better on a hot day than taking a nice cold ice block out of the freezer.
– Corn chips are a great firelighter.
– Lock up your food and garbage, hungry animals are hiding everywhere! Our very first visit to Fraser Island a dingo took George’s roll within about 15 min of us arriving at camp, lesson learnt! ….. OK maybe we did have another small incident with a cow at Mt Elizabeth Station in WA, but we won’t go into that!
– It’s perfectly acceptable to wander around a campsite, chatting to others, in your PJ’s.
– If you just expect that outback toilets will contain a frog or a snake, you won’t get such a surprise when you lift the lid!
– Always have a wet weather bag handy, nothing worse than having to throw wet or muddy clothes or snatch straps in the car.
– Some of the best adventures are the unplanned ones. Take that unmarked track to the river, take that detour, talk to the locals and take their advice.
– Sing and sing loudly and don’t worry who’s watching! It makes everyone happy (well maybe not those around you, but the one singing!!) Shelly is known to give many car and campsite ‘concerts’.
– Sometimes cheese and crackers and chips is a perfectly acceptable dinner.
– Always have a snack box in the car which is handy at all times, saves having to actually stop and rummage through food boxes all the time. Particularly if you have a Shelly who is always hungry!
– If you leave home and look at a tyre and say, ‘i really should change that before we leave’ ….. you probably should, otherwise you’ll be sitting on the side of a track doing it!
– It doesn’t matter how prepared you think you are, you will always forget something! Thank god for friendly camping neighbours who are always happy to help out!
– When free camping with no-one around, it’s amazing how trees, wind, rain, mice, snakes etc can all sound like a mass murderer coming to kidnap and kill you!
– Wild animals are cheeky and brazen and will take any opportunity to get to your food (and they don’t care how much mess or destruction they leave behind!). We’ve seen dingos actually walk into someones caravan, wild horses tear up a campsite and a snake chase a mouse into someones car! And don’t forget the cows, birds, wild dogs & even emu’s and kangaroos, all will take any opportunity. It’s hard sometimes, but never ever feed them, no matter how hungry or skinny they look.
– Always take ear plugs with you if you want a good night sleep, it’s amazing the many noises you may need to block out from time to time!
– No matter how much open space there is, someone will always set up camp right next to you!
– Aloe Vera, Tea Tree oil and Manuka oil are a must as they will treat so many issues.
– If you ‘wonder’ whether you should visit a place or do an activity, just do it! You’ll regret it later (we totally regret not doing the helicopter flight over the Bungle Bungles).
Back in 2019 we attended our first Big Red Bash and we loved it so much we got tickets for the next year. Unfortunately COVID resulted in last years concert being cancelled, but all tickets were carried over to 2021.
For those that aren’t aware, the Big Red Bash is a 3 day concert with camping onsite, held at the base of Big Red in the Simpson Desert, just out from Birdsville, QLD. It’s the world’s most remote music festival.
But it’s more than just a music festival, it’s a means to bring much needed spending to outback Queensland communities and also helps to raise money for charities. Each year, the Big Red Bash raises over $75,000 for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS).
One of the ways they raise money for the RFDS is via the ‘Nutbush World Record Challenge’. And guess what …….
THIS YEAR OFF THE TRACK 4×4 ARE JOINING THE WORLD RECORD ATTEMPT!
But that’s not all, this year we are also trying to beat the record for the ‘Largest Twist Dance’ as well!
In 2019, 2,330 Big Red Bashers smashed the World Record for the most people dancing the Nutbush! The current record for the Worlds Largest Twist Dance is 3,040 in the USA.
All records are adjudicated by The Australian Book of Records and every cent of our registration fee, plus all your generous donations, go to the Royal Flying Doctor’s Service to support their amazing work in the outback, ensuring everyone has access to medical aid, emergency services and other vital health care support.
Our Off The Track 4×4 team is made up of us, George & Shelly, and our mate Stewy.
Got some spare cash, want to donate to a good cause and support our team? Whether it’s $2 or $200, it all helps.
Recently we visited the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, which we both thoroughly enjoyed, it had been many years since our last visit so we were keen to get back there, there is so much history, you could literally spend a whole day walking around and reading everything. But this visit was different to previous ones as we experienced something we had never experienced before, we went to the Last Post Ceremony.
Neither of us knew about this until a guide at the information centre mentioned it to us, but we were definitely interested so we booked our tickets. The Last Post Ceremony is held daily in the Commemorative Courtyard at 4.45pm. You can be involved in this moving ceremony, where every night they share the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour.
We expected this to be a moving and emotional experience, but the tears started much earlier than expected, in fact before the ceremony even started! Whilst we were waiting for the ceremony to start we were speaking with one of the staff members and she told us a little about the story we were going to hear. She said that it was a special one as the family, including the deceased’s only child, was in attendance and would be watching and laying wreaths. The deceased’s 101 year old widow was also going to be watching the live stream online from home.
The ceremony started with the national anthem and was followed by a lament on the bagpipes whilst family and visitors laid wreaths. Next we were told the story of Flight Sergeant John McAulay Morrison, born in 1918 in Lismore, NSW. John applied to join the Royal Australian Airforce in April 1940 at the age of 22. He also had 5 brothers and all served during the second World War. In May 1940 John married and later welcomed a daughter. John was called up and enlisted in the air force in September 1940 as a pilot. Unfortunately, like so many others, Flight Sergeant John McAulay Morrison never made it home to his family and on 28 June 1942, at the age of 24, he was killed when the Kittyhawk he was flying crashed. His remains are buried in Grafton Cemetery.
Lastly, the ceremony ended with a reading of the Ode by Defence Force personnel and the sounding of The Last Post.