WOW! This year marks the eighth since I stepped down as editor of 4X4 Australia, a position I held for close to 100 of the magazine’s now 400 issues. So many memorable things happened in that time and I was fortunate enough to travel to so many fantastic off-roading destinations, all around the world; here are the few of the highlights.
THE FUNNY THINGS
A mix up at the printer saw several copies of the May 2005 issue of 4X4 Australia get bound up with a section from Ralph magazine. A 4X4 Australia reader phoned me to tell me he’d “been busted” by his missus looking at women in their underwear.
Then there was the photo of Ron Moon stepping down from a roof-top tent with no undies on. 4X4’s art director noticed the “problem” before the magazine went to print, so he photo-shopped some undies on Ron in the nick of time. But it wasn’t until we got the magazine back from the printer that we noticed Ron’s reflection in a lake in the foreground of the shot was still sans briefs.
I had only been the editor for a few weeks when I received an early morning call from my then Dep Ed Marcus Craft who informed me that 4X4 Australia’s long-term test Toyota LC79 Cab Chassis had been pinched from out the front of his apartment. It wasn’t a great start to the day, let alone my tenure at the magazine. Nevertheless, Toyota’s marketing manager Mike Breen took it in his stride and rather than getting upset he recalled a funny anecdote about the last time a Toyota press vehicle had been stolen… twice. But that’s a story for another day.
Another not-so-funny moment was when one of my journos phoned me from a NSW state forest to tell me a top-of-the-range Land Rover Discovery he was testing had caught fire. The good news? The fire burnt through a radiator hose, spraying coolant everywhere, so it self-extinguished.
Editing 4X4 Australia afforded me the opportunity to go four-wheel driving all over the world. Despite having been sandboarding in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, camping on Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, driving Lara Croft’s Defender in the UK and testing tyres in Death Valley in the US, my favourite destinations have always been right here in Australia.
I have driven so many fantastic vehicles in my time at 4X4, from luxury vehicles like LX570s and Range Rovers, to tough tourers like 70 Series Land Cruisers and GU Patrols. But the vehicle that’s given me the best memories is the Land Rover Defender.
For me, a Defender adds an extra element to any off-road adventure, and I have driven several of them including a 110 Wagon up through the Gulf Country, a 130 Crew Cab across the Madigan Line, and G4 Challenge Defenders in South Africa, Bolivia and Mongolia. Despite their reputation, none of them ever let me down (knock on wood).
The best thing about 4X4 Australia and four-wheel driving in general is the people you get to meet. The simple act of getting off one’s backside and getting out there and travelling – domestically or internationally – means you meet the most amazing people. I have forged many, many lifelong friendships through 4WDing, which is why I’ll always keep travelling.