EVENT: MURCHI­SON/AEV JEEP DRIVE

We team up with the Murchi­son/aev crew and take a ride on the wild side with the JK ute.

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - WORDS MATT RAUDONIKIS PHO­TOS NATHAN DUFF

OUR drive of the Murchi­son Prod­ucts Over­land JK pick-up (page 62) took place dur­ing a week­end drive event put on by Stu­art Murchi­son and his team. The event was held at Swan Gully 4x4 Park, west of the Gold Coast. With eight well-mod­i­fied cus­tomer Jeeps tag­ging along, plus a few of the shop’s own spe­cial ve­hi­cles, it was a great week­end to show­case the work done at MP and spend time with the cus­tomers do­ing what they love do­ing: driv­ing Jeeps off-road.

Also in at­ten­dance for the week­end was global sales man­ager of Amer­i­can Ex­pe­di­tion Ve­hi­cles (AEV) Chris Wood, in Aus­tralia to catch up with our two AEV dis­trib­u­tors – Murchi­son be­ing one. Aus­tralia is one of the big­gest markets for the Jeep Wran­gler out­side of North Amer­ica – and we love to mod­ify our Jeeps – so this makes us an im­por­tant mar­ket for AEV. Chris uses any chance he can to head down here to see what’s hap­pen­ing and where the mar­ket is head­ing. Of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est on this visit was the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of full­size US pick-up trucks, as well as the growth of the RAM brand.

Notable ve­hi­cles in at­ten­dance in­cluded the sil­ver TJ ‘Stock­man’, which was Murchi­son’s take on the Aussie farm truck and is now owned by a cus­tomer.

Stu­art’s black TJ Brute re­ally lives up to that name. It rolls on mas­sive 40-inch Treps and is set-up for crawl­ing or hard­core tour­ing. With a per­mit to drive it on-road for this event the black Brute made a scene driv­ing down the high­way

to Swan Gully, and it took no pris­on­ers on the most chal­leng­ing of the tracks there.

The only non-jeep on the trip was the RAM 2500, which was sup­plied by SCD Amer­i­can Ve­hi­cles in Bris­bane. It is SCD’S demo truck, but the crew at MP waved the AEV wand over it and fit­ted a front bar, three-inch dual-sport sus­pen­sion and Katla al­loy wheels. AEV does a full range of prod­ucts to suit the RAM, all avail­able through Murchi­son Prod­ucts.

After an early ren­dezvous at Murchi­son’s shop, the drive that Stu­art and the crew set had us head­ing south­west of Bris­bane to Boonah, in the Scenic Rim re­gion – we fol­lowed the Cam­banoora Gorge track south along the Con­damine River to the New South Wales bor­der.

This track is marked as 4WD only as it has a steep climb up the range, and once down on the Con­damine it has 14 river cross­ings that vary in depth de­pend­ing on re­cent rain­fall.

From the south­ern­most point we headed back north along the spec­tac­u­lar Falls Drive to Boonah, be­fore travers­ing in to Swan Gully. The Cam­banoora Gorge and Falls Drive cir­cuit is a great lit­tle 4x4 day trip within easy reach of Bris­bane and is suit­able for soft road­ers if the river lev­els are low.

Swan Gully Park on the other hand is steep, gnarly and best-suited to well-mod­i­fied 4x4s with ex­pe­ri­enced driv­ers – just what we had lined up here. With our late af­ter­noon ar­rival some chose to hit the tracks as soon as camp was set up, while we sneaked off with the pick-up to shoot the fea­ture pho­tos.

The only ve­hi­cle left in camp on Sun­day was the RAM, as its sheer size would have re­stricted it on the tight tracks. But the Aev-equipped Jeeps tack­led them with rel­a­tive ease, of­ten ‘spot­ted’ by Stu on some es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult sec­tions. There was one in par­tic­u­lar that was the cause of some butt-clench­ing, as the JK crabbed into a rut on a very steep de­scent.

Murchi­son Prod­ucts runs cus­tomer trips like this a few times a year as a way to build closer re­la­tion­ships with its cus­tomers. The trips would have to be good for busi­ness too, as driv­ers come away want­ing more equip­ment for their Jeeps. Any­thing bro­ken or dam­aged on the tracks will also find its way into the MP work­shop for re­pairs the fol­low­ing week. There are also plans in place for a Ram-only trip with SCD in the fu­ture, too.

There was no such dam­age to any Jeeps on this trip, and it was en­joyed by all – a win-win sit­u­a­tion for ev­ery­one.

What’s the col­lec­tive noun for a group of cus­tom Jeeps? A great camp­site at Swan Gully Park. One of 14 cross­ings of the Con­damine for the Black Brute. AEV’S Chris Wood en­joy­ing his time in the Aussie bush.

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