We’re sticking with the West Coast theme this week to feature Rusty and Gemma from MOTTley Travellers. These two off-road enthusiasts from Western Australia have recently packed up their life and begun their ‘Monster Lap’ around Australia. Within a few weeks of their adventure, in the heart of the Great Victoria Desert, Rusty got down on one knee amongst the spinifex and red Aussie dirt and asked his gorgeous lady to marry him. Check out their Instagram page to hear the full story! Enjoy Rusty and Gemma’s story!
Names and Blog: Gemma, Rusty, and MOTT the 79 Series Landcruiser – aka MOTTley Travellers
City and State you live in? We’re Sandgropers from Perth, Western Australia.
Describe yourself in 5 words: Adventurers, Water junkies, Off-road Enthusiasts
What are you up to right now? After two years of planning and preparation, we’ve just started our big lap adventure!
What is your current off-road vehicle including your set-up/living arrangements?
Our 4×4, known affectionately as MOTT, is a 2012MY 79 Series Dual Cab VDJ79R GXL Landcruiser. MOTT has a 300mm chassis extension and is fitted with a custom built canopy. Our canopy is split into two sections, one side for adventure and the other for all our kitchen and living needs, with an Adventure Kings Rooftop Tent, finishing up the set-up for our sleeping quarters. Other main modifications include a 2” West Coast Suspensions upgraded GVM lift, Boss rear load assist airbags, Superior Engineering underbody protection and leaf hanger plates, and 35” Mickey Thompson BAJA MTZ’s on 16*8 King Terra steel wheels. MOTT has also been remapped, runs a customised Pacemaker King Brown 3” stainless exhaust, and has upgraded driveline components ranging from the flywheel to clutch and tail shaft so, despite his big frame, he’s still got more than enough torque to get anything done off-road.
How old were you when you started your 4WD adventures?
Rusty started to learn driving in the bush around age 6 with Gemma getting a handle on off-roading around age 18, but we’ve kicked our adventures up a notch in the last few years since we have been able to build our dream 4×4.
What was your first 4WD/touring vehicle?
Rusty learnt to drive in a family owned 1979 L series Subaru before owning a 1999 LN167 5L IFS Hilux. Gemma’s first 4×4 was a 1997 RD28T GQ Nissan Patrol which she only recently sold because we didn’t need two trucks for our big lap.
Who inspired you into this ‘adventurous’ lifestyle?
Gemma – I’m not sure. I’ve always loved nature and had a sense of adventure from a young age. As a very curious person, I’ve always wanted to see more and know more about our beautiful country. Completing my Environmental Biology degree gave me the opportunity to meet likeminded friends to spend time adventuring with, and I guess my passion grew even more from there.
Rusty – My parents were always keen for my younger brother, Kev, and I to engage with the outdoors and instilled in both of us a great appreciation for the natural environment from an early age. My Uncle Max regularly took my brother and I out bush to run the dog and to learn to drive, and my grandparents used to take us out 4x4ing and exploring as well, so I guess a combination of influences from all these special people meant I was destined to get into off-roading myself.
What has been your all-time favourite 4WD track in Australia and why?
To date, our favourite adventure was traversing the Baxter Cliffs using the Western Australian Telegraph Track. It was the longest, most remote trip we’ve completed so far and it was great to test and improve our skills. This route has some of Australia’s most amazing scenery, and it was an honour to follow the path of legendary explorer John Eyre and his companions, as well as those who opened up this area during the telegraph line construction.
The most bizarre experience you’ve encountered on your travels?
Gemma – About a year ago we did a trip into D’Entrecasteaux and Mount Frankland National Park. The area had so much rain over winter, and there was just water everywhere! The sides of almost every track were lined with large pools of water, there were deep water crossings where we’d never seen water before, and the rivers were full and flowing. Growing up in WA and being used to seeing signs of drought on most trips this one was just bizarre. We aren’t used to seeing so much water everywhere!
Rusty – Well it’s not really bizarre but it was bloody funny; we went for a quick drive with some mates and close family stopping at a local river that has a small rope swing. At the time it was the middle of summer, so this particular river was very low and basically only a trickle, but regardless Gemma decided to have a crack on the swing for a laugh and wasn’t aiming to get wet. Needless to say, it was good I’d told her to give me MOTT’s keys out of her back pocket before she took off, otherwise they would have ended up going swimming with her as well.
Fondest memory of exploring Australian tracks?
Wow, that is a very difficult question! We just have so many great memories from our adventures!
Gemma – If I had to pick only one, it would be a trip we did over summer with our mate Matt. We stayed at the most pristine beach and had the place all to ourselves. It was hot and sunny, and there was no wind. We did some spearfishing and spent all of our time in the water or on the beach relaxing during the day and cooking delicious meals at night.
Rusty – My fondest memory to date would probably have to be our first trip in MOTT. It was only a quick weekender down south but we were blown away by the capabilities of the vehicle, so we instantly knew we had made the right choice for our big lap adventure rig, and we were accompanied by some of our closest mates who made it special. Plus we caught some ripper crayfish (lobster) for tea which of course only improves any good camping trip even more.
Describe your ideal campsite.
Remote, close to a beach with great dive sites, and either completely by ourselves or with a small group of close mates. Preferably in summer too; as we don’t handle the cold too well.
Australian Tracks are on your bucket list?
Anne Beadell Highway is our first track then a whole lot more; Googs, Canning Stock Route, Old Tele Track, etc. Hopefully, we get to catch up with you guys from Winch and Unwind too.
Advice to new 4WD enthusiasts?
Gemma – Don’t be scared to get out there and give it a crack! There are plenty of beginner tracks around so make sure you research your tracks before attempting them. For new off-road adventurers, it is best to travel in a group with other more experienced 4wd enthusiasts, and there are many off-road groups and communities you can be part of.
Rusty – Ask questions. Asking experienced members of the off-road community, that you know and trust or have shown proficiency off-road through another medium, can often provide you with valuable information relating to many aspects of the off-road adventure. Experienced and mature off-roaders will provide similar information on 4×4 tips/trips/techniques, aside from the old Toyota vs Nissan million dollar question of course, and most are more than happy to assist those new to off-roading; don’t forget we all started out as novices at one time or another.
Name one product you wouldn’t leave home without.
Gemma – My Tupperware! I would never go on an adventure without it. I love being organised and getting the most out of all food we take on a trip. Having Tupperware containers in our canopy kitchen draws and the Waeco ensures I can keep our food organised and properly sealed, even on the most corrugated roads. Also a pair of bathers! I make a point of going swimming on every adventure…Even if the water is freezing.
Rusty – WD-40! I always make sure we have at least one can of WD-40 in our canopy. It’s one of my absolute all-time favourite products and always comes in handy considering its versatility. Plus some lip balm! Yes, I know it doesn’t sound very manly, but I’ve got massive lips, and with the amount of water based activities we do the last thing I want is a set of monster chapped lips.
Tell us something about yourselves that not many of your followers would know?
Well both of us are avid AFL fans and love watching any game of footy, unfortunately, though we barrack for different WA teams, arch rival teams in fact. Rusty is a diehard West Coast Eagles supporter, and Gemma is a purple bleeding Fremantle supporter, so while with everything else we are very, very similar, when it comes to the footy we have got different ideas. It’s best for others to just stay out of the firing line when the Eagles and Dockers play.