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CTEK XDrive competition Moreton Island



This weekend was created memories of a lifetime for both the winner and the XDrive team.

Thanks to all our sponsors for a successful trip and we look forward to next time ….

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Our recent trip to Moreton Island on the weekend of the 15th to the 17th May 2015, was undertaken as part of a prize from one of our sponsors, CTEK and we were engaged to take the prizewinners on an adventure.

Moreton Island is the third largest sand island in the world. The island is approximately 95% National Park and is about 186 square km. 37 km long from North to South and 9km at its widest point and we saw most of it, this weekend, driving the full length of the island and crisscrossing it several times. The Aboriginal name for the island is Moorrgumpin, meaning ‘Place of Sand hills’.

We had four novice Four Wheel Drive, drivers on the trip, Todd, Andrew, Steven and Fawzie as well as myself and a colleague Dave and his son Sam. Paul from Bainbridge Technologies would join us on the Saturday.

The weather was not exactly playing nice for the month of May, with some rain forecast. Although Moreton Island is one of the wettest parts of Queensland with annual rainfall of some 1567mm. This could work to our advantage as it would ultimately pack the sand down a little bit and make ‘sand driving’ a whole lot easier. Bear in mind that Moreton Island has no paved roads and our novices would certainly get to experience the thrill of driving on sand. Thanks to our new Trico windscreen wipers, we had clear vision all the time.

Our XDrive LandCruiser 100 series was fully loaded with two fridges, stocked full of all the essentials we would need for the weekend trip. We would also be relying heavily on our batteries over the weekend, one being Century batteries and two being Optima batteries and we were grateful to have them ensuring everything would run smoothly. We were set for a great weekend.

We arrived nice and early, at the terminal and met up with our lucky winners. The barge was full for the trip across, so we quickly loaded up and went upstairs. Once the ferry had left the Port of Brisbane and headed across the water, we went down to the lower deck and dropped our tyre pressures on our Cooper Discover STT tyres in anticipation of the barge ‘landing’ on the beach. We also handed out our XDrive GME TX6150 hand held two-way radios, as this ensured that we would keep in contact no matter where we were on the island.

Disembarking from the ferry was quick and after hitting the beach just North of Tangalooma, originally part of the whaling station, we turned sharp left and headed north to our destination, Bulwer under the guidace of our Hema HN7.

Moreton Island Wreck

The run up the beach was pleasant with an outgoing tide and plenty of sand to drive on. We made the quick 30 minute run up the beach, stopping to view the concrete ‘gun placements’, which were a remnant from the second world war, when Moreton Island was a strategic location to protect Brisbane from a Japanese air strike. During its peak 900 troops were stationed on Moreton Island, to protect the approaches to the Port of Brisbane, with both anti-­‐aircraft guns and mine control buildings.

Before reaching Bulwer, we took time to visit the concrete ‘gun placements’ which were a remnant from the second world war when Moreton Island was a strategic location to protect Brisbane from a Japanese air strike.  900 Troops were once stationed on Moreton Island to protect the Port of Brisbane, with both anti-aircraft guns and mine control buildings.

We arrived at a group of wrecks at the beach access to Bulwer, and stopped to have a quick look around. Inside one of the wrecks were the remains of a sea turtle, still quite intact, although missing one ‘flipper’. We explored the wrecks briefly and then moved on to our accommodation at Castaways in Bulwer.

We had booked to stay in the permanent tents situated amongst the trees. These tents take camping to a whole different level of luxury and are known as ‘glamping’ with comfortable beds and their own ‘en-suite’, we quickly took care of the paperwork and unloaded some of our supplies and clothing into the tents. We also put some of our supplies into the fridges in the ‘communal area’, which has all the cooking facilities and space to eat and relax.

Since Steven had elected to catch the later ferry across to Moreton Island due to work commitments, we made a return journey to Tangalooma to fetch him. This time we took the inland track and visited Cape Moreton and the Lighthouse.  The lighthouse has an interesting but turbulent history. It was constructed by the convicts of the day using local sandstone and there are numerous gravestones which tell the tale of life and death on the island which was certainly not the idyllic place we visit today.

High Tide
After collecting Steven, we took a turn and visited the Tangalooma Resort for a while and then it was time to head back to camp. By this time the tide was turning pretty quickly and the light would soon be fading, so with radios at the ready, we were on our way.  The beach had taken quite a pounding from high winds and surf over the past week and as such now that the tide was in, we found that there was very little beach to drive on, thus forcing us to drive on the narrow verge above the high watermark. Even this proved difficult at times with the verge becoming too narrow and forcing us to ‘drop’ off the rather steep ledge onto the sand, and then time our run between the waves as they pounded in. Our novice drivers learnt quickly that following orders was essential, and to their credit, they shadowed our vehicles and safely negotiated some rather large ‘drop-offs’ and wash aways.

Beach Driving Course XDrive

 When one of the drop-offs was far too steep, we dropped onto the stream bed and with a quick turn onto the beach and a race against the tide saw us splash through eventually arriving at the beach exit to Bulwer with only a few minutes to spare, before the ‘road’ would have been impassable until the tide turned once again. The light was fading by now but thanks to our Hella spotlights, we arrived safely back at camp. This experience became known as the “high tide adventure” and one of the highlights of the prize.

The Desert
 Paul from Bainbridge/CTEK was due to arrive the next morning and after a good nights sleep, we headed back to the ferry to collect Paul who was going to spend some time with us and meet Todd the Bainbridge/CTEK prize winner.  On the way to meet up with Paul, we took a short detour through the Middle Road to visit The Desert.  There were some eager visitors doing ‘sand surfing’ and Todd and his mates wanted to take a closer look.

CTek prize winners get the grand tour of Moreton Island by chief driving instructor at XDrive Brisbane

Paul, in the meantime had disembarked and called us from his mobile phone. Well, all I can say is “don’t rely on mobile phones when you are on the island” as this was a classic example of how mobile phones can be unreliable when travelling. After many calls backwards and forwards and a few runs through Middle Road, we eventually met up with Paul on the Eastern Beach.  On this side of the island the wind was blowing gales so we moved on and travelled further south, passing a skull of a whale which had washed up on the beach.

TIP:  Driving on the beach after it has rained does not present any real challenge besides the main issue of keeping your speed down and being on the look out for wash-aways or items that may have been washed up during the high tide.  It is a good idea to keep in mind that people sun tanning or fishing on the beach do not always hear vehicles coming above the noise of the wind and waves.  As a Four Wheel Driver, it is imperative that we keep a look out for people or animals on the beach especially in high season.

Paul, in the meantime had disembarked and called us from his mobile phone. Well, all I can say is “don’t rely on mobile phones when you are on the island” as this was a classic example of how mobile phones can be unreliable when travelling. After many calls backwards and forwards and a few runs through Middle Road, we eventually met up with Paul on the Eastern Beach.  On this side of the island the wind was blowing gales so we moved on and travelled further south, passing a skull of a whale which had washed up on the beach.

We decided to travel further south to once again look at some of the artillery points from the second world war and on the way down , we passed the skull of a whale, which had been washed up on the beach. Driving on the beach after the rain, really does not present any challenge, the main issues are to try and keep you speed down to a reasonable level and look out for any washaways or other items which may have been discarded or washed up on the beach. At this particular time of year we did not have to worry too much about others on the beach, however, in season, looking out for people walking and fishing or simply sunbathing should be a priority. People often forget that they cannot easily hear vehicles above the noise of the wind and the waves and people are also easily distracted, so as a Four Wheel Drive driver, it is our job to look out for other people on the beach.

We had a quick stop to look at some of the ruins from WW11 and then we were off again, heading for the lagoon further south and some shelter from the wind so we could enjoy lunch. We finally found a spot a little inland and sheltered behind the Mirapool Lagoon. Paul informed us that his vehicle had just ‘thrown a drive belt’. So whilst we prepared a quick lunch some of the guys tried their hand at a bit of softball, whilst Dave, Paul and myself diagnosed the issue on Paul’s vehicle.

The Mazda BT50, has two drive belts, one had broken completely and the other was hanging on by a very small portion. We decided to loosen the belt slightly to take a bit of tension out of the belt, in order to hopefully nurse the vehicle back to the middle of the island. Since we were so close to Kooringal, the most southern town on the island, we decided to take a chance and see if we could source perhaps one belt from there. However, luck was not on our side and there was no hope of finding a belt here. We decided to take a slow drive back up the western beach and hopefully nurse the vehicle back to Tangalooma.

Luck was not on our side, before we even entered back onto the beach, the second belt snapped as well. Now there was no choice, the BT50 would have to be towed all the way back.  With our Bubba Rope hooked up and GME TX6150 hand-held radios close by, we set off.  Once we got the vehicles up to a comfortable speed, with a flick of a switch, we locked the LandCruiser’s Wholesale Automatic‘s Torque Converter up in third gear and watched the temperature of the automatic transmission sit at a comfortable 75° whilst we monitored all the vital signs on our REDARC gauges.

The XDrive LandCruiser had recently been serviced and all the fluids had been replaced with top of the range, fully synthetic Nulon products, including the automatic transmission fluid, engine oil, transfer gearbox and differentials.  Apart from our oils and fluid replacement, we also replaced all the filters. For complete peace of mind on the trails, we always carry a complete hose and belt kit suited to our vehicle from Terrain Tamer. This kit is supplied with all the correct components in a convenient bag easily stored under the seat.

TIP:   I live by the old adage ‘oils are cheap, engines and mechanical components are expensive‘. Unfortunately, most manufacturers have ‘sealed for life’ automatic transmissions and people neglect to service these components. Remember our Four Wheel Drive vehicles are subject to far more extreme conditions than ordinary vehicles and all oils should be replaced on a regular basis.

Once we arrived at the Tangalooma Resort, we were lucky to locate a belt that fitted the Mazda and finally it could be driven under its own power back to camp.  Back at camp, Paul gave us a really interesting talk on Bainbridge Technologies and showed us a new product called ‘Power Top’ which was already set up in his vehicle.

POWER TOP by Bainbridge Technologies

Power Top is essentially a ‘dual battery system’ set up and ready to go. There are various options available ranging from a USB to cigarette lighter sockets and even their own unique socket, which stops the leads from falling out due to vibration.

Once settled in, we got the kitchen fired up and were ready to eat. There were a few other interesting guests from various locations around the world and so after dinner we settled in around the campfire with some wood that Dave had kindly brought from his farm. You are not allowed to collect any firewood on the island, so this needs to be planned in advance.

The rain came shortly after and so we once again retreated to the shelter of the dining area and again returned to our various discussions. Paul arranged to undertake a spot of early morning fishing and so we all retired to bed.

Sunday, was a little better, the wind from the previous night had dropped and the rain had eased up. Once again the wet sand was easy going for the vehicles and so after packing up we headed back towards Tangalooma. Todd and the guys wanted to try some fishing we stopped off at the wrecks to give the fishing a go. Fawzie decided that he wanted to give snorkelling on the wrecks a try and so donned his wetsuits and mask and snorkel and entered the water. The swim across to the wrecks did not look far from a spectators point of view but we did notice that Fawzie was getting smaller and smaller as he made his way across, he was also getting more and more tired and eventually opted for a ride in an inflatable boat that was running up and down between the wrecks. After a short ride in the boat, he was dropped off on the wreck and drifted down past all the wrecks looking at the sea life. He did end up a considerable way down the beach, when he finally got out of the water and had a fair distance to walk back to where we were parked. This just showed how fast and strong the current was, even on a relatively calm day.

Tasks that keep you prepared for next time  
When we were aboard the ferry heading back to Brisbane, the Cooper tyres on our vehicles had to be re-inflated before dis-embarking and driving on tar roads once more.  After fond farewells, we all headed back home.  Traffic was particularly heavy and in some cases we were forced into a bumper to bumper position. The XDrive LandCruiser coped well with this traffic due to our RDA EBC brake discs and pads we had recently fitted.

Tip – Important duties to carry out once you are back home that will make life so much easier before heading out on your next trip.

  • The Centuary batteries and our Optima Deep Cycle batteries were placed on the C-Tek Battery Charger  (the C-Tek battery charger ensures that all batteries are fully charged and ready to go at a moments notice. Owning one of these smart chargers ensures that your batteries are kept at their optimum charge which will allow your batteries to last longer and work well.
  • The LandCruiser was thoroughly washed and our Trico Windscreen Wipers were cleaned including our Hella lights and all fluids were checked and topped up using Nulon products. Our RDA EBC brakes were checked for wear due to the abrasion of sand and pronounced good for our next trip.
  • The GME 6150 hand-held radios were put on charge.
  • Our Hema HN7 navigation system was synced with our computer and all way points were logged for future reference.
  • Our Wholesale Automatic Transmission was checked, ready for use.
  • Our recovery gear from Terrain Tamer was repacked along with our first aid kit from First Aid Kits Australia.
  • We also repacked our SafeJack and Pull Pal.
  • Our Hi-Lift jack and Jack Mate was cleaned and greased and our Maxtrax repacked.
  • Our Bubba Rope was thoroughly washed and dried before being recoiled and stored for use next time.
  • The Sandgrabba Mats proved to be really useful and easy to clean as all the sand was contained.  This made cleaning the interior of the vehicle quick and easy.
  • Our Wittam synthetic winch rope and extensions were cleaned and re spooled on our Warn Winch and ready for use.
  • Red Arc supplied our solar panel which was cleaned and repacked and all our Red Arc gauges and DC DC charger were checked and pronounced fit for our next trip.

Thanks to all our sponsors for a successful trip.  We look forward to the next time.