That’s not a 4wd – This is a 4wd

The Prado

When we moved to Townsville, my husband bought a second-hand Prado. We needed it to tow the boat (as my little RAV was having a hard time), and we wanted something we could do more adventurous trips in.

The Prado was already set up with a long-range fuel tank, so we did not need to worry about that, but it did need some other extras. My husband went all out getting the mods done to make it capable of going off road. That included a 2-inch lift with old man emu suspension, snorkel, bull bar, winch, roof rack, side awning, drop slide fridge, road shower, a set of Drifta drawers for the back and the list went on and on. The car morphed from a comfortable dirt road only 4wd into something that could cope with a bit of rougher track and we could happily take camping on our adventures.

Our first real trip was to Fraser Island. It coped well and we did not really have any problems with it. The set up was fantastic and the convenience of having everything out of the back of the car was great. A whole new experience for us Pozzie adventurers! The Drifta drawers were amazing, I could keep all my food and cooking stuff in them and they gave easy access without having to dig through plastic storage boxes. The fridge was also amazing and was just at the right height for me with the drop slide.

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Yes we do eat a lot!

The Prado performed well on the sand, once we had mastered the tyre pressures and because it was relatively light had no problems getting places. We did have a couple of hiccups that I will elaborate on in a future blog, so you will have to wait.


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Camping Set Up

After taking the parents to Fraser (our second time) we decided we were ready for a bigger trip, so we started planning our trip to the Cape. We ensured that the Prado had its full check over and added a cargo barrier (just in case we had a mishap), breathers and a bra to cope with water crossings and the all-important UHF radio and spare before we set off. We also made sure we took a Drabble with us in case of mechanical emergencies, (see Jump, Snatch, Blow and Winch). The trip up was good. The Prado did the hard yards, rescuing the BT-50 numerous times on the Tele Track and we thoroughly enjoyed getting stuck, getting out and generally running amok. The Prado did everything we asked of it, but we wanted more.

Campfire discussions were had with the other two couples we made the trip with. We began discussing and weighing up the pros and cons of a new 4wd vehicle, 79 series Landcruiser or 200 series Cruiser or another type altogether. Many a robust discussion was held around the campfire fueled by XXXX Gold tinnies and our own biases. Do we get a 200 series (for comfort) and chop it, or do we get a 79 series for practicality? Do the 200 series have too many electrical gadgets to go wrong? Are the 79 series cruisers too utility like (and uncomfortable)? These were answers we needed so we decided we would do our research once back home.

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Well anyway it seems like the Prado got a whiff of us wanting to trade her in. She must have overheard our campfire talk and got a bit upset, so she thought “I will show them!” On the way to Chilli Beach her alternator packed in (I think she did it on purpose!). Well that put us in a bit of a situation. After many discussions of what to do – put the generator on the roof (yes that was a real suggestion!), use solar panels, strip the car down etc. my husband strapped the solar panels to the roof, duck taped the wires down the side of the car and onto the battery and off we set for Cooktown. Luckily it was near the end of our holiday, so we drove from Chilli Beach to Cooktown without aircon (hot and sticky), windows open, red dust covering everything and not stopping (even for a call of nature). Luckily for my husband I sang all the way so he had music!!!!!

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Definitely a technical modification

Research, Research and More Research

So back home (with the alternator fixed) it was time for some of the famous Holmes research. My husband and I did our homework, spoke to heaps of people, took a few test drives and went to see our local (friendly) engineer (Mick at AEV) about the pros and cons of modifications to both the 200 series and the 79. It was decided that the 79 series Cruisers were the better option for our requirements (and minimal mechanical knowledge), spares would also be easy to come by as they are the most used vehicle in outback Australia. We also agreed that the 200 series Cruisers were too computer reliant which would not be a good thing if we were stuck out in the middle of nowhere with a failure.

So, after taking the 79 series for a test drive, we agreed this was the way to go, but only if we could change the manual gearbox out for an auto (getting on in life and like the easier option). Our local dealer was a little vague about when they were getting a graphite one in stock and could not tell us until we had paid for it, so we ended up getting one from John Coles at Atherton. Service was amazing, and we got a discount! We made the trip up to Atherton and picked up our stubby little dual cab.

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What a cutie! (and the car, heehee!)

The Cruiser (aka my husband’s truck)

Now the real fun began. We wanted the chassis extended so we went back to see Mick at AEV in Townsville and had long chats with him over the best set up for the new vehicle. He did try to convince us to go to a six-wheel option (with a fully working 3rd axle) but we decided that was probably a bit overkill for us. He informed us we could get the chassis extended by 300mm and change out the manual gearbox for an auto. So, we dropped the vehicle into him and he started work on it. While in the shop we got him to put a 3-inch lift on, JMACX coil conversion (which rectified the rear tracking alignment), a brake booster, GVM upgrade and all our accessories including; snorkel (standard Toyota one is rubbish apparently), bull bar, winch, batteries, long range fuel tank, steel rims and new tyres and the list went on and on! (again!).

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JMACX Coil Conversion

Although extremely happy with the service it is slightly disconcerting to see your brand new hardly been used vehicle chopped in two before they reattach with the extension!

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Just to give a big plug here, the service and quality of work we have received from Michael and the team at Australian Expedition Vehicles (AEV) has been outstanding. Nothing has been too much bother for them and they are extremely knowledgeable, helpful and good at dealing with clueless Pozzies.

Then it was time to work out the canopy. The guys at Allytech built this for us and arranged to have the Redarc Battery Management and inverter installed. Of course, it had to have a rack for the tinnie (with and ATV winch because I am getting on a bit and like the easy life!), lithium battery, a potable water tank and the tray for when we did not want the canopy on.

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Canopy by AllyTech Townsville

Then we ordered the drawers from Drifta and when they arrived my husband and I had to install them. That was fun! Just getting the canopy off the back was an art in itself, on our sloping block we had to find genius ways of stopping it from falling over! Drawers installed, along with a 90ltr fridge slide and generator slide, we soon realised that the pull-out table was a bit too high for me to do anything on! So, I had to source some steps otherwise I would not be able to see what I was cooking.

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Hmmm cooking could be difficult

After buying solar panels, hot water system, gas bottle holder, and umpteen bits and pieces we finally had a car (took about 6 months from purchase). Must say though the husband is very happy and informs me that it will only need a few extra bits before our big Kimberley trip next year!

You know what they say; “Happy husband (and truck), happy life!”

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The Love of My Husbands Life!

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Women Can Fish Too

Fishing should be a recreational past time that is accessible to all: men, women and children. So how do we fare in the fishing equality stakes in Australia?

Well let’s start with the media. Australia has an abundance of fishing shows, IFish, Hook Line and Sinker, Fishing Australia, Escape with ET, Creek to Coast, Fishing Australia, Fishing Addiction (and the list goes on!). These shows all have one thing in common, they are hosted by men and filmed from a male perspective using male gender noun and pronouns. Rarely do you see women on these shows and if you do catch a glimpse they are usually either bikini clad models or introduced as somebody’s wife.

So, what is my point? Well guys believe it or not women can fish (in their own right, on their own, without male assistance) too! Now do not get me wrong, I am not a raving feminist that thinks all men are oppressors of the female species. Quite the opposite actually. I have a very supportive husband who is very patient with my fishing obsession event though he does not share my degree of passion for the sport (he is long-suffering). I also realise that physically there are some things I cannot do as well as men (such as use brute strength to undo a jar of jam). But I can fish! I love fishing, I would be out on the water 24/7 if my bank balance (and marriage) allowed.

So, what can we do to address the gender inequality in the fishing world?

Let me share with you my experience of being a woman who lives and breathes fishing in a male dominated region of Australia.

Boats

I found my love of fishing in Darwin. We moved to Darwin in 2007 and no sooner had we settled in we decided that we should buy a boat. Well why not? The only safe way to enjoy the water in Darwin is in the confines of a boat (due to the big lizards with teeth they had up there). In truth I did not know that many people in Darwin and certainly knew less about fishing.

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Our new boat

Once on the water I quickly realised that fishing was my thing. I would convince my husband to take me out as much as possible onto the pristine waters of Darwin Harbour where we fumbled around trying to work out the best places and ways to catch fish. I must say not many fish were caught in the four years we were in Darwin, but it did confirm my feeling, that fishing was my passion.

I would do anything to go fishing (well almost anything!). I was lucky enough to have a couple of work colleagues who also went fishing with their partners so I could share fishing stories and ask for tips and pointers on how to improve. After a few years the girls at work decided that a day out fishing (girls only) was just what we needed. After organising who, where and what we were going to do we left the fellas at home and headed out bright and early one Saturday morning to a beautiful billabong for a day’s fish.

Bang that was where I caught my very first Barra, thanks to an all girl crew, and become even more obsessed with fishing!

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My very first Barramundi

This was when I realised girls can do this stuff! It was also when I realised that the boat needed to transform and I needed to lift my game in the fishing stakes.

Fishing Clubs

We moved to Townsville in 2011 and I got very worried. I had left my fishing chicks in Darwin and moved to somewhere that was so much busier, too many boats on the water. How was I ever going to find the right places to fish, where could I go, who could I go with. My trusted husband was there of course and he put a lot of time and effort in to get me out on the water and find me places to fish. In fact, he was the one that suggested we join a fishing club, so that is exactly what we did.

We joined the Townsville Fishing Club and I became very aware that there were only a couple of women in the club who actively fished (and enjoyed it!). I became firm friends with one of the women and also made friends with a few of the fellas. When a few of the members moved clubs, we joined them and became members of the Alice River Fishing Club. This, again, was a male dominated club but I was made to feel welcome and slowly the club evolved into a more female friendly environment.

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It’s still a fish!

Clubs are a great way to meet like-minded individuals that share your passion. It can be daunting to join a club that is male dominated, but there is just something about fishing that makes most men forget your gender and talk to you like a normal human being. My advice would be to go and get involved, go to club meetings, speak to people (including the dreaded men) and get as much information from them as possible. Many times, I have been in a situation where my love and passion for fishing has seen me meet new people and break down the stereotypical views that some men hold on women and fishing.

Women Can

I was a little fortunate in the fact that I learnt a lot of my boat driving skills in Darwin where it was sparsely populated and so I did not feel the pressure as you would on some of Queensland’s busier waterways. I learnt very quickly how to drive the boat on the trailer, due to a healthy respect for the big toothed lizards in the water up in Darwin. This would stun a few blokes at the boat ramp (especially the ones that were holding and manually winching their boats on to the trailers). I have lost count of the times some bloke stopped and stared as I drove the boat up onto the trailer, some congratulating me on my skills, some just too dumfounded to speak (omg it was chick that did that!). For me, to be able to do these things is a matter of female pride and I have to admit I get a great sense of achievement when I do it right. I do not always get it right though, I still miss the mark sometimes and pray that no one is watching, but I do breathe a sigh of relief when it all goes well when I have an audience. Although, I must admit that I am absolutely hopeless at backing the trailer down the boat ramp! I definatley need a lot more practise at that before I am allowed to do it in public, (typical female I hear you cry!)

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Ladies Game Fishing Competition

I also had to learn to look after my own tackle and tie fishing knots. As previously mentioned my husband is not really that keen on fishing, so he would drive the boat and I would rig his rods and lures as payment for his services. I spent a lot of time practising knot tying and I must say some have failed me through the years. I also spent a fair bit of time in my local tackle shop (Fishing Warehouse in Townsville). Now I have to say these guys at the shop are amazing. They give me so much assistance and impart their knowledge to me on what bait/lure to use, where to use it, how to use it etc. They are an amazing friendly bunch even if they are all blokes!

It pays to get in with your local tackle store. They have a lot of local knowledge and will even assist you in how to rig your bait, lures and line etc. Make the most of the “woman” thing and pump them for their expertise!

Find a Friend

Fishing is always better when you can enjoy it in good company. I have been fortunate enough to have a few good female friends who love to fish. I met my current fishing buddy through friends in Townsville. Mad Mel they call her (and for a very good reason I might add). She is your typical independent, passionate fisher. She is very outgoing and is not afraid to get out there and give everything a crack (so much so she scares me at times!) She owns her own boat called Miss Adventures, because she is very accident prone and goes fishing on her own a fair bit.

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Mad Mel in Miss Adventures

Now we are polar opposites. I am an original pom, not too fit, bit of an academic, work in project development, base career is an accountant, outdoorsy in a comfortable way. She on the other hand is an original true-blue Aussie, gives everything and anything a go, pretty fit, very independent, scrubs dunnies for a living (her words not mine) and calls me a bit of a princess (just because I have my finger nails painted on the boat!) We only really have fishing in common, but the friendship works! We work well together on the boat (that is mainly because she bosses me around and I let her!) and we get out there and have a crack.

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Fishing Buddies

We started entering fishing competitions together and I must say we have an absolute ball. Many of the fishing comps in our area are male dominated so we take great pleasure at turning up on sign in night to see a room full of men go silent as we walk in. You can almost hear a pin drop and you can see what is going through their heads … “hey love, looks like you are in the wrong place!” or “well this should be fun, what would chicks know about Barra fishing!”

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Cardwell Barra Bash

But being the fearless ladies that we are we get in, get on and mingle with the guys. I must admit that once they are aware of how much we love fishing we become part of the clique in no time. Luckily neither of us are shy so we just start talking to the other competition entrants and eventually get accepted. I do have an ulterior motive in that these guys usually know a lot about fishing so playing the unknowledgeable female can usually score me some good tips and pointers.

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Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

And the Point Is?

The morale of the story? Ladies put yourselves out there! There is nothing in our DNA as females that stops us from learning how to drive a boat, back a car, rig rods, tie knots or find fish. If you love fishing and want to enjoy the great outdoors, as Nike said, JUST DO IT!

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And if you need any help or a bit of encouragement, I am willing to impart my vast array of knowledge (just joking I don’t know that much, I will refer you to Mad Mel).

Check out Mad Mel Fishing facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Madmelfishing/

Station Camping

For our first ever station camping adventure we chose Goshen Station in North Queensland. Only 250km’s from home we thought this would be a good place to cut our teeth as they say.

Goshen Station is a working cattle station not far from Blencoe Falls through the Kirrama Range Road. The range road can get a bit rough and slippery and even though it was shorter in km’s to our trip on the highway it took much longer due to the twisty windy nature of the road. But don’t let that put you off, the scenery was amazing, looking out over the region through the rainforest.

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Cashmere Crossing

Once at the station we picked up our key and mud map directions to our campsite. The gate to the camping area is locked so you do not get any unwanted visitors (unless you count cattle!). We stayed at the “Kucha” campsite which was very private and we never saw another soul for the whole 3 days (although it was not in school holidays or a public holiday weekend).

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Our very own creek

The campsite was spacious and had a fire pit and seating, so we quickly pitched our tent and set about getting the camp fire going to cook dinner. Being June the evenings were chilly so I wrapped up warm (husband does not fear the cold!), set the pot on the fire with dinner and cracked open a bottle of wine (well it would be rude not to!)

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Dinner time

In the morning we woke up to a fine mist, but it soon burnt off to reveal a glorious view from our tent. Mornings like these make you thankful that the country you live in is so beautiful and that you can spend time relaxing and forgetting about the big wide world outside.

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Kucha campsite

After breakfast I dutifully traipsed down to the waters edge to try my luck at a spot of fishing. Now I knew it was probably a bit too cold for the fishes to give me some entertainment but I still tried anyway (diehard fisher woman, will fish in a 5cm puddle!). So after fishing for about 3 hours (in various different spots) I realised that all the fishes were still in bed so I returned to camp to see how my husband was fairing.

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Here fishy fishy

It is so easy to relax and forget the world in a place like this. I was so chilled out that I think I almost forget to put dinner on! We did have rain and it was damp for the three days we were there, but neither of us minded. It was just so unique for us to be away from people, enjoying each others company and forgetting about work, home and all the little pressures of life, oh and to practise my casting (can’t call it fishing because there were not any fish!)

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I would highly recommend a trip to Goshen as the area is beautiful, the cows are friendly and the river is perfect. Swimming was out for us (it was a little cold and we are acclimatised to the tropics even though we are originally whinging poms), but the river is idilic and no fear of salties, just freshwater crocs.

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Swimming is not compulsory

So for a true bush camp away form the world pop into Goshen Station, you won’t regret it trust me!
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