Here is a comeback story for you! After the result of a freak near-fatal accident in 2014 while out driving tracks in the Glasshouse Mountains, our featured Adventure Seeker, Matt Andrews, now suffers from epilepsy which has limited the time he spends behind the wheel but hasn’t minimised his passion for the off-road life. Matt and his supportive partner, Shareene, love the outdoors and make the most of his illness by smartly accessing situations and taking turns of the driving so they can continue to explore Australia. He admitted that it wasn’t just his Colorado that took a solid bashing from the accident, but his confidence to get back behind the wheel did too. Understandable right?!
Matt is an example of ‘never giving up’, and we hope you enjoy his Q&A. We certainly found inspiration from his words. Our best wishes are with Matt and Shareene for their life of adventure ahead.
Name: Matt Andrews
City and State you live in? Toowoomba, QLD
Describe yourself in 5 words: Joker, Honest, Thankful, Emotional, Happy.
Tell us something that most people wouldn’t know about you.
I suffer from epilepsy which was the outcome of a 4wd crash. It took some time to regather confidence to tackle the hard stuff again, but I enjoy ‘wheeling’ that much I will not let it stop me!
What are you up to right now?
I’m currently planning the next big trip! To be honest, madly planning and prepping for our wedding early next year, but that still doesn’t put the monthly weekend trip away on hold which is what I love so much about this lifestyle.
What is your current off-road vehicle including your set-up/living arrangements?
My current off-roader is a 2002 GU Wagon TD42T. At the moment it would barely scrape under the “tough tourer” category with a 4″ lift, 33 inch BFG muddies, front diff lock, rear drawers and full-length alloy roof rack, plus the run of the mill bar work, sliders, snorkel, etc.
Camping setup varies from where we go to what we are doing, so we alternate between our double dome swag and gazebo to our Mars Ranger soft floor camper.
How old were you when you started your 4WD adventures?
This is a tough one to answer! Growing up on a farm in very hilly terrain the hubs were almost always locked in especially when there had been the slightest bit of rain. As a kid, I remember heaps of trips to Jimna SF, Inskip Point and Freshwater.
I got serious about four-wheel driving around the age of 22 when I bought my first 4wd after going through my street car phase.
What was your first 4WD/touring vehicle?
My first 4wd was a 2010 Holden Colorado dual cab which I originally bought to tow my boat. Within a month I found myself seeing what it was truly capable of locally out the back of Flagstone Creek and then fortnightly weekend trips to Glasshouse.
Who inspired you into this ‘adventurous’ lifestyle?
My family for sure! I was lucky enough to do the big lap when I was seven thanks to Dad taking long service leave. School loaded the oldies up with what I needed to learn in Grade One so I was basically home schooled on the road for 6-7 months. I think at that age I was just old enough to understand what it meant to get out and see Australia, and it’s something I have never forgotten.
At the age of eight I got asked by my Nan if I wanted to visit my uncle in Bamaga, and as soon as I was told we would stand on the tip of Australia, I was there with bells on! Granted we cheated at the time and flew up, but I still have the photos of me standing at the famous sign!
What’s your all-time favourite 4WD track in Australia and why?
One of my all time favourite tracks would have to be the track from Kingfisher Bay to the Kirrar Sandblow. The reason why it appeals to me is that it gets tight and twisty, overgrown and in the thicker parts of the rainforest it because very dark, spotlights on kind of dark.
The most bizarre experience you’ve encountered on your travels?
The weirdest thing I have come across is on Bribie Island, and at the high tide of all things…A friend and I were in convoy heading back towards the main cutting trying to get off the beach before the tide got any higher and we noticed a Jeep followed by a Hyundai Santa Fe coming towards us. Because the tide is way up, there wasn’t enough room for us to simply pass each other, so I stopped to let the Jeep through. He kept going and pulled into a group of cars maybe half a kilometre up. The Santa Fe got stuck due to stopping and just bottomed out in the soft sand. My mate and I had a hell of a time explaining to the girl driving not to plant her foot because she was bogged. To put you in the picture, both front wheels were spinning in free air in the trenches they had made but she still had the go pedal pinned to the floor. We asked her if she had any recovery gear, “No” was the answer we received. So we snatched her out and got her to stop on my Maxtrax to avoid her sinking again. She thanked us both and then proceeded to tell us that was her brother in the Jeep who passed us! We looked back down the beach, and there he was standing out the front watching to see if she got out!
Fondest memory of exploring Australian tracks?
My fondest memory is having the dingoes on Fraser come right up to my window of the fourby and start howling while waiting for the barge. To see such a pure Dingo up close like that is one of the greatest things to witness!
Describe your ideal campsite.
My ideal campsite would be beach front with a crystal clear creek running right next to camp, well shaded and with a stunning mountainous or rocky cliff face backdrop.
Australian Tracks on your bucket list?
My bucket list probably reads the same as everyone else’s haha! OTT, Frenchman’s line, The Simpson Desert, Oodnadatta Track, Gibb River Road and parts of the high country just to name a few.
Advice to new 4WD enthusiasts?
My advice to new comers would be to learn up on the terrain you are going to tackle before going. Most people give the beach a crack first, and most of the time they haven’t aired down which is the majority of their problem. Watch some tips, get the basic recovery equipment and learn how to use it, invest in a good quality tyre deflator and always have a compressor with you. Apart from that, be cautious on what you are doing and just have fun! The most misleading thing would be the stuff on 4wd dvds. They make it look easy but what isn’t mentioned is it probably took them 2-3 hours to pass that 100m of track, not to mention they don’t show the footage of them checking the depth of a big hole which is seriously important if you are a good couple of hours from any real help.
Name one product you wouldn’t leave home without.
This might seem a bit cliche, but I always make sure I have my mobile phone with me. While I always have all my recovery gear stuffed in the back of the patrol, there are just some things that can go wrong that you aren’t prepared for, like breaking a steering rack or punching a hole in your fuel tank without realising. Granted you may not always have phone service, but you can hike it to somewhere where you think you might get service.
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