4WD & Camping
In the next few months, the Johnson’s 4WD Nissan Y62 Patrol will be heading to the Simpson Desert. Nathan will join ten other vehicles in convoy from Nidigully out to the Simpson Desert and back again with approximately 20 Scouts.
This prompted a deep dive into how the Y62 is set up and what impeding maintenance it required before heading off on an adventure. The last major trip to the Northern Territory was completed in June/July 2021. While the vehicle is still relatively young, the stresses and pressure on the suspension and drivetrain have taken its toll on the original bushes. A close look at these bushes in the rear showed that they had fatigued and started to crack and split.
This was cause for an upgrade in the suspension. The control arms in the rear have all been upgraded to SuperPro bushes, and a Dash Off-Road suspension lift was sourced and installed front and rear. With the extra height, we were able to increase the tyres. We fit the Federal Xplora RT tyres to ensure we maintain excellent traction on and off the road with added sidewall protection and durability.
Another item on the agenda was installing a dual-battery system. Nathan had been considering options and ideas for quite some time. Having seen other Y62 setups, it was time to combine the research and ideas. Having sourced all the electrical components from Hulk 4×4, the gear list is below.
With a permanent 12v system in place, the fit-out of other items was on the cards as well. This included awning lights, tailgate lights, communication devices, a recovery winch and an air compressor.
- Hulk 4×4 DCDC Charger
- Hulk 4×4 Flush mount Anderson plug and volt gauge
- Hulk 4×4 Dual USB outlets
- Hulk 4×4 8-way Switch Panel
- Neuton Power Slimline Li-ion 100ah battery
- Stedi Rock Lights – Roof Rack mounted and tailgate-mounted
- Starlink Roam satellite Wi-fi Broadcaster*
- Permanent mounted 12v air compressor*
- Hulk 4×4 9500lbs Synthetic Rope winch*
- Single drawer and fridge slide*
*At the time of publishing, these items are still to arrive.
While this won’t be the end of the equipment list for the Y62, the intention is to set it up as a competent touring/tow vehicle. One that can be fully self-sufficient with or without a caravan or camper trailer in tow.
If you would like to see our progress, stop by the workshop, and Nathan can show you the setup, and we can design a solution tailored to your needs if you’re in the market for an upgrade to prepare for adventure.
We’re often asked what mechanical preparations and performance improvement accessories were in place in the Johnson’s 4WD Repair Shop Nissan Y62 to prepare for an off-grid adventure in June and July of 2021.
Nathan and Alan Johnson trekked off to the Northern Territory for an epic adventure.
A convoy of vehicles filled with friends saw them journey to Lorella Springs Wilderness Park.
Six months of preparation led to transforming a soccer-Mum-4WD into an off-road weapon.
Some items considered include communication, vehicle protection, camping shade, 12v battery system, water storage, fuel storage and food.
To achieve an ideal set-up while being cost-conscious, careful consideration meant the balance between needs and wants was carefully measured.
From a stock standard Nissan Y62, below is a list of the items fitted to the vehicle:
- Dirty Life Theory 18×9 Wheels LT275/70R18 Dick Cepek Fun Country Tyres
- Ironman 4×4 steel bulbar winch compatible
- GME XRS-330C Uhf and AE4705B Antenna
- Cel-Fi and Hi gain antenna for mobile phone reception
- Hired satellite phone
- Hulk 4×4 powerpack with 120ah AGM battery
- Fold up 160w solar panel
- Oztrail 80lt Dual-Zone fridge freezer
- Rhino-Rack backbone and Pioneer Platform
- 23 Zero Falcon 270-degree awning with sidewalls
- Oztent RS-1 Swags
- Coleman twin burner gas stove
- Hulk 4×4 basic recovery kit
- Hulk 4×4 20l water jerry cans x 3
Facilities were used, and hot showers were had along the way, thanks to the itinerary factoring in stays at holiday parks throughout the journey.
Upon arrival at Lorella Springs, a seven-day stay completely off-grid was experienced, with no power backup. The 120 ah battery was used for night-time lighting, and the 80 ltr fridge was topped up at all times thanks to driving and solar power.
The fridge was initially packed and set to fridge/freezer mode. This was set up on purpose to enable food longevity. Meal planning meant that items could move from the freezer to the fridge each day and be thawed in time for dinner.
After seven days, the freezer settings were changed, and a fridge/fridge mode was set. Allowing an additional seven days of safe food to consume.
The 270-degree awning with the sidewalls attached made for a perfect area to retreat to and set up the swags under. Most mornings, a pack-up occurred so the next campsite could be explored. The awning and side walls also prevented dew, allowing for an easy swag pack-up.
With only two passengers in the Nissan Y62, the available room in the back of the vehicle was used to store the fridge, battery pack, water, swags and camping gear.
On the two-week adventure, roughly 6,400kms were travelled. An experience that made memories, explored Australia, and reignited a thirst for adventure in remote areas.
You don’t need all the best and latest gear to enable adventure. Sometimes it is the simplest setups that offer less stress and happier memories.
In true 4WD fashion, we love to get out and about to explore our region. Our latest adventure sees us in a convoy of six heading into Byfield National Park to spend the weekend at Five Rocks (17th & 18th of October 2020).
We set off from Rockhampton in the weary hours of Saturday morning with an aim to beat the traffic jam currently being experienced at Big Sandy. We headed east to Yeppoon and then north to Byfield. Our crew of adventurers were driving vehicles that ranged from a one-week-old brand-new Prado to a fully decked out Rodeo, Navara D22, Hi Lux and an older model Prado.
When travelling into this area of Central Queensland, your vehicle needs to be equipped to perform. This includes having recovery gear on hand as well as a communication method (UHF) because the phone reception is not much chop.
With non-existent wet weather at present (October 2020), the challenge to drive up Big Sandy in powdery sand proved to be an exciting obstacle to start the trip.
Prior to tackling the obstacle, our convoy stopped at an area before reaching sand to let the air down in our tyres. Our usual ‘go to’ for sand driving is 15psi however we had been recommended to drop to 12psi due to the lack of wet weather and known powdery and loose sand on Big Sandy.
As we headed into the approach of Big Sandy, a group of 4WDers had found themselves struggling to make headway. When we asked what they had their tyre pressures at, they responded by letting us know they weren’t quite sure as they didn’t have a gauge.
We sat and watched the group attempt to ascend Big Sandy, which was indeed challenging. We saw a car bury itself in the soft loose sand and shortly realised we couldn’t communicate with the group as they didn’t have a UHF onboard. Using alternative communication channels, aka the ‘foot falcon’ up and down Big Sandy, we eventually had the all clear to climb.
With low tyre pressures, capable 4WD’s and a little skill, we all made it to the top to continue our adventure.
When travelling on one-way tracks, it’s important to have a UHF and look for the signs which state the channel in use in the area. If you don’t have one fitted to your vehicle, a handheld is an alternative solution that can be just as effective and critical.
When leading or tailing a convoy, communication is key. Whether it be to let oncoming traffic know how many vehicles are in your convoy or to warn your convoy of upcoming hazards or directions to take.
Apart from Big Sandy, the tracks to Five Rocks are simple, albeit a little bumpy. Some tracks are boarded to make access a little easier on your gear. There is a lot to explore around Nine Mile Beach and Stockyard Point and the lookout is breathtaking, giving you views of the Capricorn Coast group of islands and forestry.
We had an amazing weekend with our family, we met new people and enjoyed the disconnection offered thanks to the lack of phone and internet service. It’s fantastic to surround yourself with likeminded people who share your passion for 4WDing and adventures and it’s even better when they’re your family.
If you’ve been on an adventure recently, we’d love to hear about it!
Looking forward to meeting you out on the tracks soon.
You’re interested in camping but might not quite know where to start. The great news is that you’ve taken the first step to researching what is set to be a fun filled activity for yourself, your mates and your family.
Getting outdoors and seeing the beautiful surrounds available in our own backyard is nothing short of amazing. We’re lucky and privileged to live in such a gorgeous country which means there are ample opportunities for fun and adventure within an hour or so from home in Central QLD.
Sleeping under the stars whether that be under canvas or open is a blissful feeling and with the right preparations, is comfortable, relaxing, and addictive.
As you begin your adventure preparations and initial explorations, you’ll find out what works for you and your family. Every set up is different and unique and you’ll find some really innovative inventions along the way which may or may not serve you. As experienced campers and having travelled all over QLD with family, friends and with the Mount Archer Scout Group, it’s our pleasure to put together a ‘get started’ list for our customers.
To cater for our immediate family of five, our camp food storage consists of 2 x 60L plastic containers, a 75L camp fridge / freezer and a 40L camp fridge. Camping is not meant to have the full kitchen pantry and fridge on board, and it is essential to meal plan, including snacks, to ensure you take exactly what you need and have minimal wastage.
One 60L container is used to store snack food, coffee, tea, sugar, cereal, sandwich spreads etc. and the other is used for meal preparation ingredients such as dinner bases, sauces, salt, pepper etc.
The larger fridge is of course self-explanatory. Milk, butter, fruit, sandwich meats, other meats, eggs etc.
The second smaller fridge is for storing beverages.
In the absence of a fridge, eskies work a treat as well however you’ll need to monitor the ice and have a plan in place to replenish if planning a longer trip.
Food Preparation, Cooking & Eating
This list will depend heavily on what your meal plan is however a basic kit with a little bit of everything could include:
- Cast iron camp oven and gloves (brilliant for campfire cooking)
- Gas burner stove
- Fry pan or wok
- Saucepan (for boiling water as well as cooking)
- Cutting boards
- Sharp knives
- Cutlery, plates and cups
- Washing up tub or bucket
- Fold out table to prepare food, cook and wash up
Hygiene & Health
- Hand wash or sanitizer
- Baby wipes
- Chux cloth
- Dishwashing liquid
- Body soap (if showers are available, do not use soap in waterways)
- Towels (if showers are available)
- Insect repellent
- Toilet paper
- Camp toilet and pop up en-suite (if there are no bathrooms where you are going and you are not prepared to toilet in the bush)*
*Ensure your bush toilet is away from the campsite and waterways (100m). Ensure the hole dug is 15-30cm deep and covered once complete.
It is essential to do your research prior to arriving at a camp site to ensure campfires are permitted, especially if your meal plan is reliant on this cooking method. Sometimes there are fire restrictions or bans.
The season you are camping in will determine the amount of water you need to take. For example, in summer, you may drink 3-4L a day however in winter it could be 1-2L. However, if you’re winter camping and planning an extensive hike, this needs to be accounted for as well. A simple formula to work out how much drinking water to take is:
(Number of people x average litres per day per person) x number of days camping
Example: if our family of five is camping in winter for 2 days, this is what we’d take:
(5 people x 2L each per day) x 2 days = 20L
Once your drinking water is taken into consideration, if where you’re going has no water for dishwashing or cleaning, it’s essential to take additional non-drinking water.
- Sleeping bag (weather appropriate for the season you are in)
- Swag or tent
It is handy to have a 3 x 3m or 3 x 6m gazebo to ensure shade during the day and shelter from rain, especially if you are in swags and there is no awning off a tent for you to seek cover under.
Camp chairs are ideal as they’re compact to pack up and they take up minimal room
- Rubbish bags
- Personal clothing, shoes, and toiletries
- First aid kit
- Camp shovel
It is critical that you leave the campsite with all rubbish removed and if possible, in better condition that what you found it. Avoid glass as well because when it breaks, it can be difficult to locate all the broken pieces in the dirt and grass. This may result in injury to an animal or another person which is not worth the risk.
Everyone’s camping experiences are different, and we hope that with a little help and advice, you can have exciting adventures camping with your friends and family.
With COVID having grounded us temporarily, now is the time to prepare for adventure.
To see our range of tried and tested camping gear available instore or online, check out our online store or call to discuss your individual needs.
Always remember the 5 P’s
Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
Plan out your camp trip, do your research regarding the amenities, time of year, weather etc. and have enough resources to make your first camp trip and every one after it, memorable for a lifetime.
As keen adventurers, four-wheel drivers and campers always looking for a weekend away, Christmas time and a short workshop closure for Johnson’s 4WD Repair Shop meant we could venture further than just a couple of hours away for the weekend. Approximately 5hrs west of Rockhampton, we landed at the Takaraka Bush Resort at Carnarvon Gorge for six nights of camping bliss.
Takaraka Bush Resort has wonderful and accommodating managers as well as great facilities. Unlike other family friendly parks which cater to children at movie time, Takaraka saw some great Australian flicks for all ages ranging from The Castle to Red Dog.
In Summer, Takaraka considers itself ‘off peak’ and when questioned why, the heat was determined to be the most considerable factor. We thought ourselves lucky to get a camping spot for so many nights in such a beautiful location just after Christmas however, this does definitely appear to be the least popular time of year to visit as the park was scarcely occupied. This had an added bonus for us though as there were no lines for bathrooms, showers or the laundry and there was an immense amount of space to relax in.
On the topic of heat, we can honestly say that the majority of the time spent there had lovely weather and the nights were beautiful. The only real struggle on the occasional day was between 10amish and 4pmish and this could be easily overcome with a swim, fans, misting sprays or a lunch time shower.
To tackle the sites of the gorge, it is best to plan your trip and daily distances well. There is so much to see and explore it can be easy to head off track and run out of water or food if the plan wasn’t maintained and we came across a few holidayers in this boat.
To see absolutely everything would be close to a 30km walk. Some on flat ground and some quite rocky and hilly. There is fantastic signage and information available to assist you in planning your adventure to suit you and your family’s fitness. For us with a 5-year-old, the 12km hike was really stretching the friendship and this was our longest hike of the trip.
As a keen and self-titled, ‘Amateur Smartphone Videographer’, I took great pleasure in capturing our moments in Carnarvon Gorge in short video stories which you can find on our YouTube channel. The link to each video is below:
Setting up camp and exploring our surroundings (2mins 43secs)
12km Hike to the Art Gallery and Wards Canyon (5min 2secs)
Recovery day and a visit to the Rock Pools (1min 37secs)
10km Hike to the Amphitheatre and Moss Garden (3mins 54secs)
3km Hike to Mickey Creek and an afternoon at the Rock Pools (3mins 11secs)
Many thanks to Takaraka Bush Resort (www.takarakka.com.au/) for their hospitability and facilities, and to Tap Edit Go (tapeditgo.com/) for teaching me the skills to capture and compile these moments on my smart phone.
Even though we’re more than just 4WD’s at Johnson’s 4WD Repair Shop and love all makes and models, a large part of our role in providing support to our customers is giving advice on recovery gear. We frequently hear from our customers about their experiences assisting other avid 4WDers as well as tales of being helped themselves. As we all know, there are times when we just can’t get moving alone.
It’s always a good idea to 4WD in groups, or at least with another capable vehicle. A capable vehicle isn’t necessarily one which has 35” tyres and the best winch on the market. A capable vehicle is one that has good recovery equipment on board, especially if this gear can get a lone 4WDer out of a tricky spot.
Most manufacturers of 4WD recovery equipment put together starter packs and full recovery kits. A starter kit is very handy to have, especially if you are just starting your 4WDing journey and aren’t quite sure where this road will take you. Once you become more adventurous, we recommend a full recovery kit as an essential part of your 4WDing tool kit. Having this on board is as critical as a spare tyre.
The VRS Full Recovery Kit we keep in stock at Johnson’s 4WD Repair Shop consists of the following:
1 x 8t Snatch Strap
2 x 3.25t Bow Shackles
1 x 4.75t Bow Shackle
1 x Recovery Gloves
1 x 8t Tree Protector
1 x 20m Winch extension strap
1 x 8t Snatch Block
1 x Winch Cable Dampener
All packaged into a tough recovery bag.
VRS gear is designed in Australia and tested to the highest standards for strength and reliability and is suitable for recreational and competition use.
In addition to a full recovery kit, recovery tracks will help you out of a deep spot by providing the traction that you need to get your tyres moving you forward and as an added bonus, they can be used as shovel!
Hi Lift Jacks
When correctly used and with the right attachments, a Hi Lift Jack can be a life saver. Some of the attachments you may see are for a bumper or wheel attachment, as well as a base that will give you an extended footprint. Caution should be used every time you use your Hi Lift Jack and it is critical to read the user manual as well has have some practice runs in your driveway or garage a few times before you head off on a trip. Incorrect use of this item can result in serious injury.
When your vehicle is released from the factory, it will have tie down points. It is essential to understand that these are not rated recovery points and should not be used to recovery vehicles in a snatch situation.
If there is one thing you take away from this article, please note that a snatch strap hooked around your towball is not a recovery point and not safe. At a minimum, if you do not have a rated recovery hitch that fits into your towbar, remove your towbar tongue and place the snatch strap through the pin. A rated recovery hitch ranges between $50 and $70 and is really the best way to recovery from the back of your vehicle.
Rated recovery points installed in the front of your vehicle are best practice to use instead of the original tie down points. Become familiar with these aspects of your vehicle to ensure your safety as well as the safety of those with you, plus prevent unnecessary damage to your vehicle.
There are a lot of winches on the market and deciding what is going to suit your needs is more than just looking at the cost component.
When you research a winch, you will come across a wide price range and varying quality levels. Each have their advantages and special features and its critical to understand what you’re looking for in a winch and what your budget is before deciding. Seeking out experienced advice on the right product to suit your needs is essential. If you’re in the market for a winch and need some help, drop in or call Johnson’s 4WD Repair Shop. An extensive range is available and can be custom ordered to ensure you get exactly what you want and need.
If you are planning on using your 4WD for its intended use (off road 4WDing), I would highly recommend talking with someone who understands 4WD tyres and has the experience to back up their recommendations. Not all 4WD tyres are equal as there are different tread patterns required for different terrain and needs. The type of tyre you need will vary depending on if you’ll be towing, just cruising or extreme 4WDing.
With 5 years dedicated specifically in the wheel and tyre industry, Nathan at Johnson’s 4WD Repair Shop is more than happy to help you determine what tyre is going to suit your needs.
Getting the suspension right in your vehicle is worth discussing with a trusted mechanic to ensure you get exactly what is going to your needs and adventure plans. The options and price range for suspension varies as with everything else and is heavily dependent on what you’ll be using your vehicle for. The suspension set up recommended will be different depending on what your goals are, what you’ll be doing in your vehicle, what your budget is and how you want the performance to be.
At the same time as assessing your suspension needs, there may be a possibility that adding a lift is required as well to ensure better ground clearance and approach / departure angles. It is paramount to ensure that a lift complies with legal obligations and an experienced mechanic will act in accordance with the compulsion to ensure you’re not at risk of breaching what is allowed and provide you with accurate and relevant information to make an informed decision.
Regular and thorough servicing and safety inspections of your 4WD will ensure that if any issue raises its head or looks to become a problem in the future, you can be as prepared as possible and have the repair completed proactively and cost effectively. Maintenance routines are very important not only to keep your vehicle in reliable condition, but also to keep your safety and that of your family and friends a priority.
There is a lot of information available to support your research in what and how to use the tools available, as well as equip you with the exposure and potential skills required to tackle any terrain. If you’re in Rockhampton or the Central QLD region and need help, advice or products and services, please don’t hesitate to call, drop in, message or book online with Johnson’s 4WD Repair Shop.