A Weekend Swimming

With the mercury forecast into the 40’s we felt it necessary to head north and be near some water. Due to some life admin we weren’t underway till the early afternoon (in the peak of the heat). Now as much of an off road weapon Bone’s is she does fall short in the comfort department on an extremely hot summers day, so an impromptu swim in Lake Eildon was very welcomed before we climbed back into the sauna and continued on.

After passing through Mansfield we decided not to head north and up through Whitfield and Cheshunt but instead to head east then north through State Forest. We didn’t know it yet but this was a perfect decision as getting of the blacktop and into the bush we noticed a significant drop in the temperature.

Hilux

Bones

After airing down at the beginning of Buttercup Jeep Track we climbed the loose rocky track to Bald Hill. As we were travelling on our own I make sure I take the time to air down my tyres as although the track conditions were good it is a lot easier to not get stuck than to have to air down in an unsafe position. It also looks after the track and does wonders for the comfort level in a leaf sprung Hilux.

LakeWilliamHovell

Lake William Hovell

From Bald Hill we headed north along Cambatong Spur then on to Evans Creek track which lead us all the way to the beautiful site of Lake William Hovell. Lake William Hovell takes its name from Australian explorer William Hovell, who trekked through the region in 1824. Construction of the reservoir was completed in 1973. After another much needed refreshing swim we drove up river to find a campsite.

KingRiver

King River

About 4 or 5km up river we found a great spot right next to the King River and decided to call it a day and setup camp. A short 50m walk further upstream led us to an amazing waterhole and you guessed our final and nicest cool off for the day, before settling down to a relaxing evening in a near perfect camp spot.

 

HiluxCamp

Bones, Southern cross swag, King River

Our morning started with a return to the waterhole for a wakeup swim followed by some breakfast and a bit of camp chill time. We were looking at another high thirties day and it was warming up fast. With camp packed away we headed back to Lake William Hovell and found another delightful place to swim, before we drove north through the King Valley and beside the King River to Cheshunt.

SwimmingHole

King River, Waterhole at camp

From Cheshunt we decided to go south and visit Paradise Falls. To the carpark of Paradise Falls is about a 20 minute drive along a well maintained gravel road. There is a 500m walk down to the falls on a very good trail consisting mainly of stairs. The falls do not flow all year round and while we were there in January it was barely a trickle coming over. Some may have been disappointed but we loved it as we were able to lay back and watch the slight breeze deform the waterfall causing the small lizards and other insects move hastily to keep themselves on the cool wet stones below. I feel seeing it in both states being just a trickle and in full flood have different beauties to offer and we will return towards the end of spring to hopefully witness the other.

LakeWilliamHovell2

Lake William Hovell

It was now early afternoon and time to start heading back home. This time we drove to Whitfield and headed back towards Mansfield. This is an amazingly scenic drive winding through hills and forest. As we were close to home we made one final stop to swim at meeting of the waters in Buxton. Victoria is spoilt for choice with freshwater swimming options although some are a little further away they are definitely worth the effort and it’s a great excuse for a quick overnighter especially on these really hot summer weekends.

 

Take care, Mat

Bones the Hilux

Hilux1

The early days, just after purchase August 2015

 

I thought I would take a moment to introduce to you Bones, my trusty Hilux. We’ve only been together for a couple of years but have shared some good times and she is yet to let me down, no surprises there it’s a Hilux. Bones is a 1993 2.8L diesel single cab Hilux, solid axles front and rear with leaf springs all round. I have owned three different generations of Hilux and to many peoples surprise this would be my favourite. I gave up comfort and power for simple mechanical reliability, not to mention saving a few pennies while I was at it.

Hilux2

Aluminium tray, Suspension and tyres fitted.  Canopy in the background on my old new ute!

 

This vehicle is built as a weekend tourer with the capability of longer trips with some slight changes. One of my main aims is to have a comfortable, ready to go, easy to setup vehicle to maximise outdoor opportunities. I find if everything is well organised you are more likely to head away on short notice as packing and unpacking is not so much of a chore.

Below is a list of current mods, including some brief descriptions about them and why I chose them. I will also add a future plans list because lets face it who has ever seen a finished perfect 4WD.

Hilux5

Bones’s current state

 

Suspension

As with most utes comfort is not there strong point from the factory, I learnt early on with my first Hilux a good suspension setup changes a vehicle drastically. I fitted a 50mm lift, using Dobinsons leaf springs and Bilstein shocks. I also fitted an adjustable torque rod and a dropped drag link, these were recommended to me to bring some correct geometry back to the front end. The bilstein/dobinson combo gives a superior ride over stock with good flex off-road. Caloffroad in NSW supplied the kit, this is the second kit I have bought from Cal and both times he has gone out of his way to answer any questions and make sure he supplies exactly what I am after.

Hilux3

Testing the new suspension setup, South coast of WA

 

Wheels and Tyres

31×10.5R15 Mickey Thompson ATZ P3

15×8 -22 King Steel wheels in Black

These are the same wheels and tyres I ran on my last Hilux, be it a different size. I could not fault them, a lot of sand driving and a 10000km Kimberley trip and not one problem. I went with 31” tyres as I did not want to rob anymore of the Hilux’s power, it also places less stress on the drivetrain and does not require any mods.

 

12V System

The 12V system is simple yet works. I run two 12V batteries. A start battery located in original position under the bonnet and a second 100 amp hour deep cycle battery located in the canopy. The charging of the second battery is done via a REDARC BCDC1225 controller, which I would highly recommend. These units boost the rate of charge so your batteries are charged properly and also overcome any voltage drop from using long cables. There is also a provision to run a solar input, which is on my list of things to do. I find that this setup is good for one night maybe two without moving but anymore and it would require a drive/running the engine or solar input. There is also a 1000W inverter and a hard-wired CTEK MXS15 charger so I can plug into mains power at home or in campgrounds to top up as needed.

Hilux8

The kitchen/living side of the canopy

 

Hilux7

The storage side of the canopy

 

Other Mods

Steel framed aluminium cladded canopy (home built)

Rhino Rack sunseeker awning

Rhino Rack pioneer platform rack

Snorkel (EBay)

Runva 11000LB winch

ARB Bullbar

Narva Ultima 175 halogen driving lights

GME TX3100 UHF

For navigation I use an iPad running a combination of Hema maps and Memory maps

 

Future Plans

Turbo Kit (obvious for anyone with experience with a 2.8!)

More fuel and water storage (custom tanks or Jerry space)

Canopy Layout change

Front and Rear Diff Lockers (because everyone wants lockers)

Solar panels

 

That is about all I can think of for now; I will go into more detail on some of the areas above in separate articles/reviews as time goes on. As many of you will understand it seems as I cross one mod off the to do list another two are added! In the meantime Bones isn’t perfect nor complete but we will still be getting out and enjoying the great outdoors as much as possible. Thanks for reading, if you would like any further details on anything above feel to let me know in the comments.

Snow on the Bluff

P1000273

The Bluff, Victorian High Country

Pulling back the curtains we were surprised by a rather sunny warm day in late August, which was a welcomed sight. A decision was made to head to the Victorian High Country for a quick overnighter as the previous months of camping were non existence due to weather and other commitments. By the time we tidied up from a hearty cooked breakfast and packed up Bones (a 1993 Toyota Hilux who you will get to know) the clock was reading 11am. Not our best efforts time wise but with the warm sunshine upon us we didn’t mind.

Arriving in Mansfield in the afternoon, a bite to eat and a quick catch up with a friend who gave us some local knowledge on track conditions and places to camp and we were off. After grabbing some diesel additive as overnight temps were heading towards -5° we started heading east towards Mt Buller.

Turning South onto Howqua Track around 4pm the golden sun contrasting against the cloudless blue sky we realized we had limited light left. Wanting to reach our desired destination of refrigerator gap by dusk we had to get moving! Driving along beside the Howqua river at the end of a magnificent sunny day was a treat and still being winter there were very few other vehicles to be seen.

P1000255Heading East onto Bluff Link track we started seeing signs of snowfall on the track and dotted along the banks. The more we climbed the more snow we saw, upon reaching our campsite we were greeted by a reasonable covering of snow on the ground. It was by no means heavy but considering it was our first time camping in the snow it was the perfect amount. Camp setup was quick as darkness was approaching, after getting a fire going we settled in for the evening adding many layers as the night wore on and the temperature fell.

Clear blue skies and crisp air greeted us in the morning, getting out of the swag was a shock to the system. The reason we chose to camp at refrigerator gap was so we could pack up camp and be at the Bluff Walking trail with minimal driving. Some tea and warm porridge were made before packing up partially frozen gear with numb hands and driving to the base of the Bluff.

P1000259

The 1.5km hike to the Bluff was amazing. I had climbed the other side previously during summer but this was a totally different experience. The entire side of the Bluff had about a foot of snow covering it, sometimes more. There were small rivers of melting ice, icicles hanging from rocks and views of the high country getting grander as we climbed. Lucky for us there were some tracks from previous hikers who had compacted the ground and meant using my GPS for the most part wasn’t necessary. As we approached the summit we noticed the clouds were speeding past and soon we were surrounded in fog and a bitter wind was whipping around us. At the summit our views were partially blocked from the approaching weather and the wind made it a little uncomfortable, but we still took a moment to look around and take it in, as it was truly spectacular. There are some breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. I thought we should start to head down incase the weather really turned and with some careful footing we were soon back at the vehicle and the sun had returned.

P1000263

Some lunch was had before we started making our way home. This was a great one night away, a simple trip that didn’t require to much planning, a little luck with the weather and we had a nice break from the daily grind.