OUR drive of the Murchison Products Overland JK pick-up (see November issue) took place during a weekend drive event put on by Stuart Murchison and his team.
The event was held at Swan Gully 4x4 Park, west of the Gold Coast. With eight well-modified customer Jeeps tagging along, plus a few of the shop’s own special vehicles, it was a great weekend to showcase the work done at MP and spend time with the customers doing what they love doing: driving Jeeps off-road.
Also in attendance for the weekend was global sales manager of American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) Chris Wood, in Australia to catch up with our two AEV distributors – Murchison being one.
Australia is one of the biggest markets for the Jeep Wrangler outside of North America – and we love to modify our Jeeps – so this makes us an important market for AEV. Chris uses any chance he can to head down here to see what’s happening and where the market is heading. Of particular interest on this visit was the growing popularity of full-size US pick-up trucks, as well as the growth of the RAM brand.
Notable vehicles in attendance included the silver TJ ‘Stockman’, which was Murchison’s take on the Aussie farm truck and is now owned by a customer.
Stuart’s black TJ Brute really lives up to that name. It rolls on massive 40-inch Treps and is set-up for crawling or hardcore touring. With a permit to drive it on-road for this event the black Brute made a scene driving down the highway to Swan Gully, and it took no prisoners on the most challenging of the tracks there.
The only non-Jeep on the trip was the RAM 2500, which was supplied by SCD American Vehicles in Brisbane. It is SCD’s demo truck, but the crew at MP waved the AEV wand over it and fitted a front bar, three-inch dual-sport suspension and Katla alloy wheels. AEV does a full range of products to suit the RAM, all available through Murchison Products.
After an early rendezvous at Murchison’s shop, the drive that Stuart and the crew set had us heading southwest of Brisbane to Boonah, in the Scenic Rim region – we followed the Cambanoora Gorge track south along the Condamine River to the New South Wales border.
This track is marked as 4WD only as it has a steep climb up the range, and once down on the Condamine it has 14 river crossings that vary in depth depending on recent rainfall.
From the southernmost point we headed back north along the spectacular Falls Drive to Boonah, before traversing in to Swan Gully. The Cambanoora Gorge and Falls Drive circuit is a great little 4x4 day trip within easy reach of Brisbane and is suitable for soft roaders if the river levels are low.
Swan Gully Park on the other hand is steep, gnarly and best-suited to well-modified 4x4s with experienced drivers – just what we had lined up here. With our late afternoon arrival some chose to hit the tracks as soon as camp was set up, while we sneaked off with the pick-up to shoot the feature photos.
The only vehicle left in camp on Sunday was the RAM, as its sheer size would have restricted it on the tight tracks. But the AEV-equipped Jeeps tackled them with relative ease, often ‘spotted’ by Stu on some especially difficult sections. There was one in particular that was the cause of some butt-clenching, as the JK crabbed into a rut on a very steep descent.
Murchison Products runs customer trips like this a few times a year as a way to build closer relationships with its customers. The trips would have to be good for business too, as drivers come away wanting more equipment for their Jeeps. Anything broken or damaged on the tracks will also find its way into the MP workshop for repairs the following week. There are also plans in place for a RAM-only trip with SCD in the future, too.
There was no such damage to any Jeeps on this trip, and it was enjoyed by all – a win-win situation for everyone.