WORDS BY GRAHAM CAHILL, PHOTOGRAPHY BY WES WHITWORTH
We’ve floated the idea of an Action-style offroad battle DVD trip a number of times but when it came to crunch time, nobody could agree on a formula that would work. Then when Bushman Boyley our producer came up with the idea of a Girls Vs Boys competition we all knew he was on to a winner. ‘Course, secretly the lads were pretty unnerved; getting beaten by a team of girls was a very real possibility. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, least I didn’t think so but then I wasn’t competing; I was judging.
We were rolling into this trip off the back of filming in the Glasshouse Mountains so for once, travel distance wasn’t an issue; lazy couple of hours and we were there. Boyley and I arrived at LandCruiser Mountain Park just after midday and spent the afternoon cruising around making sure we knew where each course would be and how it would run.
We finally finished up just on sunset ready for the day to kick off bright and early tomorrow. By this stage, Shaun, Justin and Brenno were already up at camp high on the hills out the back of the park, the fire was going and they were into beer number two. Also enjoying an amber ale and looking slightly nervous but all smiles were of course, our three competitors.
Tamara, Renae and Nikki had the good fortune of being drawn out of a hat consisting, I’m told, of several hundred hopefuls all wanting to have a crack at the title. When you look at the odds they got bloody lucky and were not going to miss out on this for anything. They were so stoked to be there that it was contagious. Pretty soon a couple of beers turned into a couple more and a great first night was had by all.
As a rule, unless we are standing at the bottom of a death hill looking directly up, I don’t really get sweaty palms before a challenge. Camp Road though is without doubt the most nervous I’ve felt before jumping behind the wheel of Shorty for the first time in a very long time. Not because the terrain concerned me (in fact Camp Road is just about the perfect gnarly 4WD challenge in my books, loved it) but rather because there were eight pairs of eyes, two camera men, a stills photographer and a bloody drone all ready and watching to see if I would make it. Oh and Adam told me just before pushing record that I’d better make it in one go because he wasn’t going to make it look like anything else in the edit. Talk about pressure! Turned out old Shorty walked up, double locked and no remorse we made it easy. I did however put a nice dent/scratch in the front right quarter…chicks dig scars right?
Adam and I figured we would get Camp Road done first up, great way to determine just how everyone drove, how the rigs would perform etc. My main concern was Justin in the GU. That is a touring rig through and through. I mean it’s tough as old leather but it is heavy, really heavy and that canopy is a work of art. It really didn’t have any place crawling up Camp Road. I was keen to get as many eyes on the rig as possible on the way up to avoid damage and I think that was achieved despite a knock to the rear tool boxes, which Justin knows are going to take a hit from time to time.
Tamara has driven Camp Rd more than all of us combined so it was no surprise when she piloted the little tractor up with zero drama. Nikki was as nervous as a mullet in a tank of barra, to her credit though she wheeled with no sign of backing down and but for one very large hole, would have driven from bottom to top unaided. Now Renae, or Ballsy as we all got to know her as, doesn’t do much low range work.
She races a class 8 GU in the off-road racing circuit and is used to going hard and bloody fast. This slow stuff was foreign to her. The unlocked GU did struggle on the deep ruts and given she has had it since new with barely a scratch; I think I was panicking way more than her about panel damage. She too gave it a red hot go, getting so, so close. In the end the boys took line honours at the Camp Road Challenge and were off to a good start.
We came up with the idea for the water challenge after having seen it late one night at an outback pub on a weird Japanese game show on the telly. Now to be honest they carted the water slightly differently, we won’t go into that but regardless, our take on the idea using the 4WDs would work just the same. Using the dry river was a stroke of genius on my half as it played off against the dusty dry creek bed which ordinarily would be rushing with water. Given the dry conditions it was now bereft of liquid, our 4WDs carrying their precious cargo represented hope that one day the mighty river would run again. Nah, what a load of bull, it was just really bouncy; perfect!
At the outset, I was fairly confident the girls would come out on top as I figured they would have a far greater care factor and patience. I couldn’t have been more correct. All three girls really took their time and actually drove with a great deal of precision. I say all three but the truth is Nikki just went in hard and hoped. Despite throwing me around in the cab like a rag doll, she actually didn’t finish too bad. When I saw how much water they had collected though, I have to admit to thinking it wouldn’t be hard to beat. I didn’t count on Brenno.
Brenno’s tactic was to get through as fast as possible and not spend too much time rocking around, thus keeping maximum water in the bucket. It didn’t work, not at all. Brenno finished with little more than a bee’s spit in the bottom of the bucket. Justin perhaps did the best out of all six punters. But Shauno got stuck then busted a guard off the Dirty 30; the lads were never in the race. They lost and lost convincingly. That meant we were one a piece going into the third challenge.
EGG AND SPOON
Now, the truth behind this course is that I didn’t for a second think the punters would drive this without getting egg all through their 4WDs. So much so that Adam was keen to hard boil the eggs prior to handing them out. I figured that as soon as they worked out they were hard boiled they wouldn’t care, so I assure you, those eggs were the real deal. Oh and that super steep, off camber climb midway through, that was a hell of an obstacle in old Shorty I gotta say. Almost had me a brown undies moment when I first tackled it; had to reverse and have another crack. Practise makes perfect though and I did it in one go for the camera, like an eggspert (see what I did there).
The lads were up first and I have to say I was impressed with the agility they had getting around, not to mention their ability to keep that egg more or less in place. They set some fast times and only busted one egg. However, once again Brenno let the boys down by using some old bearing grease he found in the GU as glue to hold the egg in place. Couple that with the fact that he lobbed an egg at me as he came over the finish line meant he savagely let the team down on points scored.
The girls took their time and managed to drive the course with zero casualties and in doing so, posted reasonable group times just behind the lads. Of course this meant the victory would go to the boys had it not been for the points deducted from Brenno. The lads lost convincingly.
Nikki had a heart in the mouth moment up top of the course after we had finished when she took her eye off the line for just a split second and slipped into a very deep and very vertical hole on the driver’s side. Both passenger wheels were off the ground; it was a close call indeed. A quick winch from Shorty had her shaken but not stirred and back on solid ground. This now put the girls at two wins to the boy’s one.
Just as with the blindfold challenge, while setting up the mud course I found myself in deeper water that I’d wanted. See I was trying to add just one more mud hole to the course, something our competitors could really get their teeth into, when I bit off more than Shorty could chew. Yep, water in the doors up the seats, mud everywhere and me on the end of a snatch strap. Bugger; still I had fun.
Now I almost knew before even starting just who would win; my bets were on Brenno by a country mile, Shaun and Justin neck to neck with Ballsy very close behind followed by Nikki and Tamara fighting it out. That’s exactly how it did go down as well. As a result, the boys won the mud course on time ahead of the girls by nearly 30 seconds. However, once again I didn’t factor a Brenno into the equation.
On the way to the course he busted two guards off the GU, he fell head-first into one of the mud puddles while we were walking the course (and while he was wearing an $800 radio microphone too), his winch rope came undone during the course and was dragging on the ground and just to top it off, he blew the fan through the radiator and knocked the GU out of the comp! As a result of that hour of power, the boys had some severe point penalties which meant while they won the challenge; they got zero points for doing so. Girls still in the lead.
This is the one I’d been the most hesitant and consequently surprised about. See to me it wasn’t hard enough but then I didn’t drive it blindfolded. As it turned out, both Shauno and Tam said once they had finished that it was perhaps the single scariest thing they have ever done!
I had no idea who would win this one but if I had to place a bet I’d have said the boys. Despite a shaky start from the girls when Tam nearly drove directly into a tree, they just dominated. They completely wiped the floor with the boy’s time and could have stopped for lunch half way through and still won.
That left the girls well and truly in front with the cooking to go.
Being the judge of a cooking comp has two clear benefits; the first is you get to sit around the campfire enjoying a beer while others cook your tea and second, you then get to eat it. As far as I’m concerned I was the winner that night. Okay, so I have to come clean here; I actually thought the lads maybe just squeezed past the girls on the cooking front, that roast was utter perfection; however the buggers were so damn cocky about it while the girls were humble that I just had to give it to the girls team. That might be a bit one eyed but stuff it, the girls already had this thing won!
So, by no small margin, the ladies took out the inaugural 4WD Action offroad battle. Congrats girls! You know I’m going to make a bold prediction that we are not done with that style of event, it’s just way too much fun. I reckon we will hold another of these in the future and I’d be stoked if you won yourself a place to compete. All we need to decide moving forward is whether the boys are better off with or without Captain Brenno!
Landcruiser Mountain Park is an easy 2 hour drive from the Sunshine Coast or Brisbane via the small town of Kilcoy.
The park has been rated as one of the top ten places to camp in south east QLD and you are allowed to camp pretty much anywhere. The locations are literally million star. Some have toilet and shower facilities others just fire pits and a few are 100% bush camping at its finest.
WHAT TO TAKE
If you wish to tackle the more notorious tracks within the park, our advice is take spares and plenty of recovery gear plus a change of underwear. Otherwise you will need everything you would normally take camping. During the cooler months be advised it does get very cold at night being up in the mountains.
BEST TIME TO TRAVEL
LCMP has something to offer at all times of the year, don’t let the weather dictate what you do, just go.
FUEL AND SUPPLIES
Kilcoy is your closest for all supplies.
Trips are rated A though E, with A meaning only suitable to vehicles with an extreme level of off-road modifications and E meaning perfectly suited to all types of 4WD vehicles. Depending on just what you are interested in the park
ranges from A+ to E.
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