SCOTT Cam’s love affair with the Aussie bush started when he left home on an eight-year adventure at the age of 23, just after finishing his carpentry apprenticeship.
This article was first published in 4x4 Australia’s June 2012 issue.
“I went around Australia in an old Nissan Patrol G60,” Scott remembers. “It was a three-speed with a top speed of about 80 clicks, and I travelled around Australia for about eight years, just cruising and working and driving, stopping in one place for three or four months, or a year, and swagging all the way. I had a great time, just living the life.”
Scott didn’t have much of a route plan.
“I just followed my nose. Originally I went over to Western Australia to watch the America’s Cup. So I did the Nullarbor and swagged along the way, and I ended up detouring here and there. I went all the way up the west coast, and then came back down about three-quarters of the way, and then made my way inland.
“I didn’t take any particular route; I worked in the bush, I heard about work here and there and I went there.” Scott was inspired to embark on his journey of discovery by the adventures of his older brother, with whom he had done his apprenticeship.
“My brother travelled around Australia with two mates in an old Series II Land Rover when I was 15. We grew up with Land Rovers. I had a 1972 model Series II ute. [My brother’s] might have been a bit older than that… this was in 1977, and he wouldn’t have bought a new one.
“When he went around Australia, I was so inspired by that. I tried to smuggle myself into the back of the vehicle… I had to go back to school, but as soon as I was able to I got a vehicle and off I went.”
Scott had that G60 Patrol for the whole eight years away. “We used to swag on the beach for a month at a time. I made friends and we’d find a little spot and set up camp, and then go fishing off the beach… we’d be eating fresh snapper and all that.”
It wasn’t all just lazing around though. “I worked and I had good jobs and I had bad jobs: I was boat building, I was maintenance manager of resorts, I was doing all sorts of things, working on cattle stations and working on sheep stations. I love the bush and so I just had a great time.
“I’ve just about been all over Australia, because I’ve crisscrossed the country. I’ve done the Simpson, I’ve done the Stony, Camerons Corner, Birdsville, Oodnadatta Track, I’ve done all that – but I’ve never been to Tasmania, would you believe?”
Scott learnt many lessons on the road over the eight years before he returned to Sydney, but he says one thing stands out as the most important. “Without a doubt, be prepared for anything. Tow a trailer with preparation in it. If you think you’re not going to get three flat tyres, you’re wrong. You’ll get three flat tyres.
“When I was a kid I saw [Australian artist and TV adventurer] Jack Absalom; I used to watch his TV show. Anyway, I was driving in the middle of the dunes in northern Western Australia – and you know what it’s like in that country up there, there are sand dunes and there’s nothing else – and then the vehicle just stopped dead in the middle of the dunes.
“We worked out it wasn’t an electrical problem, and [eventually] discovered it was fuel. I said, ‘I reckon the fuel pump has s**t itself’. So I remembered when I was 10 years old I’d seen Jack Absalom gravity feed the fuel pump.
“I was towing a boat at the time, and I had roof-racks – big cage racks over the top of the fourby. I put a jerry can on the roof, pulled the fuel hose off the boat, and stuck it in the top of the jerry with rags wedging it in, and then ran the fuel line down with the hand pump – you know, the bubble pump – into the side of the bonnet straight into the carbie.
“We pumped it to get it going, to prime it, and it turned over and… it started!
I could not believe that it started! Once we got it going – and the line was primed – it just gravity fed. We did 600 kays, just changing over the jerry cans. That was one of those million-to-one shots.”
These days Scott drives something a little more comfortable than a G60 Patrol, but his Lexus LX470 isn’t merely a luxury wagon; it’s been transformed into a dual-cab chassis.
“I’ve had it about five years now. I bought it standard and then got someone to do the bodywork for me. Then I put on the tray and did the timber work on the sides. It’s been a great vehicle because I go to the bush a lot and I tow a bit. So I needed a big V8 with plenty of room for the kids and all the stuff I’ve got.
“I’ve got a big box trailer with a lot of gear in it, and a couple of motorbikes and things like that. When I go to my farm in Mudgee, and I’ve got the ute full and the box trailer reasonably full, and you’re going up hills like Mount Victoria, the old Lexus struggles with it sometimes.”
That old farm in Mudgee is where Scott and his family get away from the hustle and bustle of living in Sydney.
“That’s why I’ve got the place at Mudgee,” Scott says. “My grandfather had a 50-acre place where we used to go and just hang out. To me it was 50,000 acres, because I was a kid, and so I said to my wife – we didn’t have any money at the time – we’ve got to get ourselves a bush property, so we can go and swag and take the kids to the bush and get a fire going.
“I did that when my [first] son was about two. As I say, we had no money, and so I begged, borrowed and stole, got a bit of money from my job, borrowed some money from the bank, and I bought a little block at Mudgee – 135 acres for $30 grand – which is fantastic.
“It’s a s**t block, but I bought the joint across the road seven years ago, a much bigger place, a 1000 acres with a house on it, and it’s a nice little property. It’s got a lot of mountains and four-wheel drive tracks and bush and a lake…
“I don’t get the chance to go on big drives, but we do go out to the bush a fair bit. We go down the south coast [NSW] and we swag and camp down there, and we do a bit of beach fishing.
“When we’re at Mudgee for, say, three weeks, then we’ll go on an adventure from there. We’ll take off and maybe go overnight and we’ll drive west to various places. You know, we might drive to Dubbo and go to the zoo, or go to Wellington Caves or drive on further and keep going.”
Scott’s a Toyota man through and through. He has an old LandCruiser ute, kitted out with bar, winch and UHF, and an unregistered HiLux on his property that’s about to click more than half-a-million kays. But when the Lexus is retired, Scott says he’s considering a switch of brands.
“I’m looking at turning [the LX470] over at the end of the year and I’m looking at getting a Dodge Ram… the 6.7-litre turbo-diesel,” he says. “I need a good towing capacity, and that’s got a great towing capacity, as well as a great payload – a tonne, I think.”
If he does get the Ram, one of the first places it’s likely to journey to is Tassie.
“We planned to do a trip to Tassie, and I was working as a chippy at the time, I had my own business for 25 years, and I had some dramas with the job we were doing and we had to give the trip away to my wife’s brother and his wife. We paid for it and everything. That was about 10 or 15 years ago and I’ve never done it since.”