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Justin Walker relives a few 4x4 Australia highlights

By Justin Walker, 18 May 2017 Opinion

Justin Walker 4x4 australia 1 nw

JW loves the outdoors so much he edited two recreational mags at the same time.

IT’S HARD to forget my time on 4X4 Australia.

It was my first full-time journalism gig and I snuck in to 4X4 HQ in 2005 initially as sub-editor, with Deano as the 4x4 Australia boss back in those days. I loved (and still love) working on the mag; the combo of a great editorial team, regular contributors, loyal advertisers and an off-road touring community that was seriously passionate about everything four-wheel driving saw me stay until 2011 (and I’m still writing as a freelancer). I spent the last 18 months of my tenure at 4X4 Australia as editor.

My time in the big chair at 4X4 was fantastic, if a bit tumultuous. At the same time I was also tackling the same role at Australian Geographic Outdoor mag, which I still edit to this day, so it was pretty frantic (not helped by a painful staff issue and senseless ‘title review meetings’ with publishers) but enjoyable at the same time.

4x4 earthquake
Funnily enough – or rather, sadly – being the editor meant I spent more time than ever behind the desk, as opposed to being out in the bush exploring in a 4x4 – my main passion that remains to this day.

I always used to grit my teeth a bit when I sent some lucky contributor on an epic adventure, with the biggest teeth-grinding decision sending now-editor Matt Raudonikis on what looked to be an amazing two weeks driving the Canning Stock Route in a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen (I thought this a great time to remind him of my generosity!).

Really, though, those decisions weren’t that hard, as I was just stoked to be producing what I reckon is still the best off-road touring mag in the country, with a top team of contributors to keep it all running smoothly.

4X4 Australia: The Early Years

Some highlights of my tenure as editor include a frantic (read: crazy) three-day visit to the USA for the launch of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, a vehicle that boosted the US off-road icon’s stature in the marketplace. The crazy part? The entire 72 hours encompassed both the flight over to the US, the one-day/one-night drive experience, and then the flight back.

Jeep Grand Cherokee
Another highlight was having the chance to be one of the first Aussie journos to drive the then all-new Nissan Patrol. It was a left-hand drive jobbie that was delivered under darkness to Robbie Emmins’ 4X4 Training & Proving Ground at Werribee, Victoria. Photographer Mark Watson and I flew down for a day of testing the big bopper on the tough tracks down there. It was a great exclusive at the time.

Great trips, great people and awesome vehicles to test each week aside, my favourite memory as editor of 4X4 Australia was being a part of a hugely passionate community – one that I am still a part of today, and that the magazine still appreciates.