Show Notes for Podcast #95
Brad McCarthy on Australia, Land Cruisers, and Having Fun Along the Journey
Matt Scott and Scott Brady interview Brad McCarthy, founder of MAXTRAX about the wonders of the Australian outback, picking the right vehicle for the adventure, and remembering to find joy in any journey.
I am driven to explore; it’s in my genes. I have an innate desire to see what’s over the horizon, down the track or around the next bend, and I just love exploring our amazing planet. The more remote, challenging and treacherous the adventure, the better.
So, 30-odd years ago, when I finally got sick of constantly having to retreat from challenging tracks in my Ford Laser, I bought my first four-wheel drive (an ex-Army Land Rover), and I’ve been exploring Australia by 4WD ever since.
*This article is an excerpt from here
Scott is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal and is often credited with popularizing overlanding in North America. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and includes three circumnavigations of the globe. His polar expeditions include two vehicle crossings of Antarctica and the first long-axis crossing of Greenland. @scott.a.brady
Matthew is a leading expert in automotive adventure. He has extensively explored the world's most remote places by 4WD and is considered an industry authority on overland travel. He is the only American to ever become an editor of a major Australian 4WD publication and has over 15 years of competitive auto racing experience. @mattexplore
This episode sponsored in part by
Scott Brady: Hello and welcome to the Overland Journal Podcast. I'm your host, Scott Brady, and I'm here with my co-host, Matt Scott.
Matt Scott: I'm kind of over here.
Scott Brady: Yeah?
Matt Scott: I'm here.
Scott Brady: Exactly.
Matt Scott: We're here with Brad McCarthy, Australian explorer, also the MAXTRAX guy.
Scott Brady: Yep.
Matt Scott: Yeah.
Scott Brady: We're very- We're very lucky. Very lucky to have Brad on one of the most prolific travelers and all of Australia. He started the dirty weekends book series, which anyone who has traveled Australia knows that it is a wealth of information for traveling the back country of Australia and amazing stories. Brett and I've done some fun adventures together; Matt And Brad have done some fun adventures together. In fact, we drove across Australia all the way to Perth a few years ago across the Great Australian Bight and everything. And that was a fantastic trip. So thank you so much for being on the podcast.
Brad McCarthy: Thanks for having me, welcome.
Matt Scott: Well, where should we start? So I want to know about well, actually, I know all of these things, but-
Scott Brady: But they're fascinating.
Matt Scott: So they're really fascinating. So you've always kind of been in the four wheel drives, started off as a plumber, and then guidebooks and then max tracks and then running major company. And just the trajectory of Brad has just been like, up. But I think the coolest thing with Brad is Brad always makes time to explore right?
Scott Brady: You've never gotten away from your- what you love.
Brad McCarthy: It's in my DNA.
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Brad McCarthy: I've got to see what's over the hill around that bend. And I've been like that since I was a kid. I think it started when my old man used to look after knocked down sugar mills and power stations and those sort of things back in the day, and he'd drive my brother in the car and he would go for drive to have a look at a job. And that job might be 1000 kay's (kilometers) from home, but we'd have a packet of biscuits and a couple of cans of soft drink and that'd be it, y'know? So but he would be- we'd be driving to somewhere, to a town somewhere. And it's a dirt road and he'd turn off the dirt road, we drive down to a beautiful beach, something like that. And I think that was ingrained in me from a young age. And it just it just went from there. So you know, when I was 15 I was offered an apprenticeship as a plumber. And at that stage, unemployment in Australia was 11% and my old man said "Get a job as a plumber. You'd be 19, you'll have a plumber's license to print money. And if you don't like it you can go and do something else." Wasn't what I really want to do with my life. But you know, the opportunity was there, I took it. And I did that for about 20 years, got to the point where I was working in major construction sites, you know, hospitals, shopping centers, hotels, casinos, that sort of stuff. And the weekend would come and I would head for the hills. It was my escape from you know, the noisy city to the beautiful natural environment we have in southeast Queensland and I just over the years build up this knowledge of all these amazing places within a three or four hours drive from my home. Because I only had weekends to spare, I had two or three days to go and explore these places. So I'd go to the local government map shop and get the forestry maps or the National Park maps and plot a route and look at the map and go oh, there's a, there's a waterfall there. There's a patch of rain forest, there's a, there's a few creek crossings to make it interesting and I just go exploring and I just loved it. But in the back of my head I was sort of thinking of I spent a lot of money on fuel and repairs and gear and why am I doing this it was basically building the skills, building my knowledge of the place and that became valuable, you know, I'd get to a job on a Monday, the car be dirty, I'd still have all my camping gear in the car and on the roof. And guys would come up on the job site and say, Oh, Mack, where have you been? I say Fraser Island or the conondale is or Sunday National Park. This is pre internet. This is like the mid 90s I'd have a photo album. So I'd bring a photo and show him the showing the place that I was talking about. And they were like, wow, how do I get there? What do I need to know? So in the end, I ended up with these fact sheets. So had a mud map and the details of you know, where it starts, where it finishes, how far it was, what the terrain was like what the highlights of the place were, and a little mud map with a number 1, 2, 3, 4 along the map showing you where to go, what to see. And you know, I was on the job at one stage. I had, I was looking after a major casino building in the middle of Brisbane. And there was I had 50 Plumbers working under me and I had a folder with all the plumbing stuff in it and I had another folder with all the dirty weekend stuff in it. And I'll be constantly handing out faxes to people and one day I came out of a site meeting and the head architect for this job sort of pulled me aside and said "I heard you're the man to talk to about places to go for driving in southeast Queensland? " And I said "yeah," he said "We've just bought a Land Cruiser and a camper trailer." And he said, "I want to get the family into it. I want to know what's out there. But I don't know how to find it." I gave him a couple of factsheets over the next few months. And he came in one day. And he said, "We're hooked to yours. What else have you got?" And I said, "What else you want to do? What do you want to see?" He said to me, "You should put this in a book." He said, "This is gold. You can't find this anywhere." And that was to me the light bulb moment to go, I can go and do what I love, and hopefully making a living out of it. And so I spent the next 12 months basically going out, doing the trips, meticulously mapping every turn, every bridge, every gate, every cattle grid and I don't like to backtrack. So I tried to make the tour starting at A and finishing Z and not coming back or backtracking. Spent the next time I was doing it -I'm still a one finger typist- So I spent the next the next 12 months every night working on my next door neighbor's house on these little tiny computer typing up spreadsheets with the distance between the trip notes, the details, and then the GPS coordinates for every single trip and I launched the book at the Brisbane full drive show, In 1999. I had a wall of photos, my old 60 series cruiser covered in dirt and people just coming up looking at the photos picking up the book and going take my money. And I went I'm onto something here. I ended up doing six editions of that guide. And in the meantime, I did a guide to Fraser Island, which is the world's largest sand island and one of my favorite places.
Scott Brady: So beautiful. In fact, if I remember your story correctly, it was Fraser that got you your first role drive, wasn't it?
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, yeah. Well went on a day trip from the Sunshine Coast to the Fraser Island and I was just blown away that something so magnificent, it's the world's largest sand island. Well, National Park, you know, it's got over 100 freshwater lakes, some of them surrounded by rainforest, beautiful white sand, just a magnificent paradise. The traditional owners call it K'gari, which means paradise. And it truly is, you know, so we went there, and I went, this place is three hours from my house. I'm getting hauled off. So I bought an ex army Land Rover and the old soft top-
Matt Scott: You usually don't tell people.
Brad McCarthy: I tried to keep that on the downlow.
Scott Brady: It all started with a Land Rover. I think that makes all of us here.
Brad McCarthy: And then I'm driving my mates Land Cruiser one day and I'll be like "Sell that" so that was what really got me into and I thought if this is three hours from my house, I'm coming back, you know, before the dawn I'm coming back, and I've probably been to Fraser Island 50 times in the last 30 years and I can never get enough of the place. It's just it's magnificent. And it's it's one of those special places in the world. And for me, it's in my backyard. And so it makes it even better.
Matt Scott: I mean, it's just literally a run up the beach for you now. Pretty, pretty handy. When was the first time you were on Fraser Island? Like for your own trip? Like when did you start doing the guidebook to Fraser Island,
Brad McCarthy: That would have been 2001. The first trip was probably mid 80s? I think when we went on a tour and then I think I bought the ol' Landy in about 1988 or 89, something like that. It's one of those things where near where I live on the Sunshine Coast now and it's it's a 15 minute drive to the ferry and then it's 100 Kilometer drive up the beach and then a 20 minute drive on the ferry and I'm on Fraser Island. So added I've got 125 kilometers of beach that I can drive on and numerous kilometers of tracks to explore and forests and lakes and it's just heaven.
Scott Brady: And what's that beach that you drive on before you get on the ferry to Fraser?
Brad McCarthy: Teewah Beach.
Scott Brady: Ah, that's it. I drove that Earth cruiser on that. That was fantastic.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, it's an amazing place.
Scott Brady: So cool.
Matt Scott: I mean, the whole area of southeast Queensland like I don't know, I have a soft spot in my heart for it because of you. I mean, just all the times I've been over there and the things I've been able to see that you know, going to the Glass House mountains and I don't know, I mean, I guess I really encourage like any of our any of our listeners that if you're looking for a beautiful place to explore, and you don't maybe necessarily have the time to drive across Australia or to Cape York or do the Simpson or whatever, southeast Queensland is when truthfully, one of the most beautiful places on the planet, I think, to explore by four wheel drive
Scott Brady: And Brisbane, what is the-
Matt Scott: Yeah, Brisbane! Such a special place.
Scott Brady: It's my favorite city in Australia.
Brad McCarthy: I mean the 32 Alembics too.
Scott Brady: Oh, really? That's exciting.
Brad McCarthy: Very exciting, a lot of infrastructure happening at the moment, you know, road upgrades and rail upgrades and all that sort of thing. So bit of roadworks, not around but we're I'm on the Sunshine Coast, it's not really affecting us at this stage, but yeah, it is an amazing part of the world. I think it's just its location, its latitude is such that you get the tropical and the subtropical species and also the temperate species. So the diversity of wildlife is quite amazing. And the same with the flora you know, the plants can sort of grow in Brisbane and the southeast Queensland region don't grow too much further north or too much further south. You know, the population of southeast Queensland is probably about 5 million people
Matt Scott: Significant.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, in Queensland itself is- you know if you combine, say California, Arizona, and Nevada and Utah, they'll all fit into Queensland. And so, y'know...
Scott Brady: It's a big place.
Brad McCarthy: It's a big place!
Matt Scott: It's crazy, like when you leave Brisbane how long it takes you-
Scott Brady: To get anywhere?
Matt Scott: Yeah! I mean, I remember the first trip we did. Well, not your first trip, but the first trip I did up Cape York with you. It felt like we were driving for two weeks straight. And then all of a sudden Papua New Guinea is there. Go any farther and then you're like, I don't want to go back!
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, it's a big place and that's just Queensland. So you know, it's a drive across the West Coast. We've done a few trips where it's a good solid week if you're nonstop driving to get to the West Coast, you know, from Brisbane to Perth is about 4200 kilometers, so pretty much, y'know, New York to San Fran on July. You know, not much in between.
Scott Brady: I mean those're dirt roads.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, there's a lot of dirt, yeah.
Scott Brady: You can't go east to west on pavement unless you're along the coast.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah.
Scott Brady: If you're in the middle, you're on dirt.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, Highway One, basically circumnavigates the country. And if you want to get through the middle it's uh, it's dirt. There's highways, that're maybe four lanes wide, and every now and again, there's a there's a tarred section with some aircraft landing strips on it for the Flying Doctor.
Matt Scott: Yeah, I always try and, you know, remind people that it's not that the infrastructure in Australia is poor. It's not, it's just that it's different. You know, you're on a two lane highway, and then you're still going through the small towns, it just takes longer to get places, you know, that the Bruce Highway, for example, you know, that runs from Brisbane, where does that end? Does that go all the way to Cairns?
Brad McCarthy: Cairns, yeah.
Matt Scott: That's- for most of it it's two lane. And that's the major road in Queensland. And I mean, I think that's wonderful and awesome. But you know, Americans tend to get this opinion, like, oh, well, I'm gonna go over there and I'm gonna drive from Brisbane to Cairns in a day, and then I'm gonna go to-
Brad McCarthy: Uluru?
Matt Scott: Uluru the next day, and you're like, no
Brad McCarthy: No you're not!
Matt Scott: No, no, no, no, no!
Scott Brady: No chance
Matt Scott: not happening, so...
Brad McCarthy: Everything is a long way apart, most of the population, I think 90% of populations along the coastline, and focused on the big cities like the capital cities of Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, everybody- everyone would know. The rest of the country is fairly sparsely populated in a lot of little country towns. It might be 15 people.
Matt Scott: Wonderful people, let 'em know.
Brad McCarthy: I mean, so we've kind of talked about where you came from. We've talked about traveling, you know, a little bit in southeast Queensland, but what I know Brad for, and I think, you know Brad for are these massive trips where you're gone for a month or two months, and you don't necessarily bring a lot of like, luxury stuff with you, so to speak.
Scott Brady: Not at all!
Matt Scott: Like you're not in an Earth Romer, you know, you're usually in a Land Cruiser. And then you have a swag and you throw it on the ground and you're going like it charges you you know, like, I think everybody around you knows, like, Brad has to get out and you come back with this, you know, this fire in you. What was that- What was your first big trip? Like, what was the transition from southeast Queensland Brad to...
Scott Brady: Crossing Australia?
Matt Scott: To crossing Australia and doing these crazy adventures.
Brad McCarthy: Once I had the success with the southeast Queensland book, I thought, well, you know, there's a need for this right around Australia. You know, people -most people- are working. I've only got a few days to have a break. And you know, as I said, Queensland is a massive state. So the plan was to do a guide for each region. So the next guide I did was central Queensland. So it's a coastline between Bundaberg and say Bowen on the East Coast and out as far as those Carnarvans and the great sandstone belt out in the Central Queensland area. So I did that guide. And then the plan was to do a guide for North Queensland to Cape York, and then do one for the Northern Territory. One for the Kimberley region in northwestern WA.
Scott Brady: I've not been there yet. Heard it's amazing.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, it's a magnificent place.
Matt Scott: Hint, hint. Brad, we haven't been there.
Scott Brady: Have you not been there yet either.
Matt Scott: No!
Scott Brady: Oh, yeah.
Brad McCarthy: Just give me a call!
Scott Brady: That's been the universal thing. If I ask people who are well traveled in Australia, like what's the most remote, beautiful? They all say thats Kimberley.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, it's an amazing place. So you know, so the idea was, I would just do a series of guides around Australia. I'll just keep doing laps of Australia and updating the book every couple of years. And the books were selling well, so I was like, I can make a good living. And I can be doing what I love every day of the week, y'know? And that was the plan. And then I was doing the field research for the North Queensland and Cape York guide. And I drove out onto this remote beach and I was on my own. I was meeting with a mate in-
Matt Scotta: Do you remember what beach it was? Cause I want to go there.
Brad McCarthy: It's a place called Cape Bowling Green. So it's south of Townsville. But back in those days, it was quite remote. And I drive it onto this beach and I started- 'cause there was a- there's an old lighthouse and some graves and that at the end of this peninsula, so it's just this sandspit that pokes out into the Coral Sea, and it's about 30-40 kilometers long. So I'm driving along the beach following what I assume was a little Suzuki or something, It was only leaving a very shallow high track, and I'm in a three and a half ton Land Cruiser and I started to bog down through this sand and I thought "This isn't good." And then I look ahead and I see dead mangrove trees coming down to the water's edge. I thought "mangrove mud, that stuff's not real good." So I tried to turn the car around to leave and I broke through this crust of sand into this black mangrove mud and the car just bellied out and I thought "Oh, this is gonna be fun." So I got on the radio. No one within * of the radio, nobody around this is pre satellite phones and mobile phones. So I thought well, this is it. So I had a hand winch I didn't want to go any further forward I want to get- I tried to get back on the tracks and just couldn't get any traction and the wheels are just spinning in midair. So got the winch out, got the Hand Winch out and the old tirfor. Found a tree up on the sand dune and ran every single rope and strap that I had out to that, tied it on, got it going. Put the tension on it and pulled the tree out of the ground. Then there was another tree on about a 45 degree angle and did the same thing. Tire dipped all the way down into the ground. So then I'm gonna have to get the tire out from underneath and unbury the tire and winch off the tire, right so. And of course it's sitting on the belly and the tire was under the back of the back of the fuel tank so I had to dig all this slop out from the car, Get the wheel out, y'know, dig a trench, hook it all up and start winching off the spare tire. So in the meantime, you know, this is hours going by and the tide started to turn, so the tides lapping under the car. So I'm dealing with all this slippery, greasy black, oily mud and it's, you know, 30 degrees and sunny and I'm just working my butt off to try and get this car out with this hand winch and you know you're doing- you've used a winch?
Matt Scott: Sure!
Brad McCarthy: And it's doing half an inch at a time and making a little bit of progress. But I was shoveling dry sand in and I was- I put the floor mats in I was shoving whatever I could in under the tires. I was picking up bits of driftwood and like logs and things and shoving them in to try and get up onto the sand, everything you know, things that slide off and get jammed underneath and have to try- had an air Jack- trying to to jack the car up to get the debris out. And so it got to the point where it's probably six or seven hours, I eventually started to get the backup onto the sand again, so jumped in and just reversed over the winch and the cables have just got the hell out of there up on the high ground. And I just laid on the beach and so it really sucked! There's got to be a better way than that. If you had your wife with you or your family with you'd be getting divorced, because such a traumatic thing, nearly lost the car, I'm looking at the high tide and the high tide marks, you know, six feet above the roof of the car and I'm thinking, "I'm a goner, and I'm gonna be walking back to the nearest town." So eventually, you know, I got it out. I just thought "Never again!" If I'm traveling solo around Australia, and I know I'm going to be encountering these situations all the time, I want something that I can rely on to get me out every time. So that was the impetus for MAXTRAX. So I spent the next couple of months doing the research on that guide book and then I came home and you know what I've been getting 4x4 Australia Magazine since day one and I trawl through the magazines and there was nothing that sort of was designed to do that job, you know, and I thought, "Well, I want it, so I'm going to make it." So that was a whole you know, four year process of "How do I do it?" I went home and I was doing some renovations on the house at the time and I had the back stair treads, the timber stair treads, that were about a foot wide and about two inches thick.
Scott Brady: You still have those by chance?
Brad McCarthy: Yeah!
Scott Brady: Oh, wow.
Brad McCarthy: So I thought you know-
Scott Brady: Version one!
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, because the issue was, like when I was shoving things under the tire, because everything was greasy, there was nothing, the tire couldn't grab onto anything, it just- everything was just sliding all over the place. So I thought "I need grip, whatever it is it's gonna have grip on the top of it." So I got some stainless steel plates, made up of about probably three inches square radius, the corners about half an inch, bent the corners up about three quarters- about half an inch, or three eighths of an inch, and then fitted and bolted them on to these timber stair treads. And then the next time I did a trip, I took these with me and once you got onto the metal teeth, the tight- the cover just launch out of the hole. And I'm like, that's what I need. These things were hardwood, and they were heavy, you know, they were probably 20 kilos each. And once its covered in mud and crap, you know, it's 35 kilos each. So I thought I need something that's light. So I had so what I did basically was I write my wish list of you know, I want handle so you can carry it, maneuver it or if you have to use it- there's a shovel, if you're digging in sand, it's got to have grip on the top and the bottom, it's got to have ramps, so you can jam it under the tire, the tire can actually grab hold of it. It's got to have those features that make it- that make it work, I want to be able to take only about, to take 20 of them. So if I'm going somewhere remote, and I know I'm going to be in trouble, I've got an portable road on the roof. So I had my wish list and actually created a magazine ad. And it was basically a photo of a car parked in the middle of a salt pan in the middle of Australia and instead "Ever been bogged? Here's a solution." And it had the list of the features of the MAXTRAX. And so that was my spec sheet and I wasn't sure what to do next, I was sort of lost as to how do I produce this because I want 20 or 30 of them. I just happened to be watching a TV show one night there was a guy came on and he just walks down the street with a microphone and a cameraman and walks up to someone says "G'day I'm Brad, what's your name?" and gets their life story out of him over the next half an hour. And he happened to- I happen to turn it on one night and he's talking to this guy who was an industrial designer. And the interviewer said, "So what's an industrial designer do?" And he said, "Well, if you get a TV or a toast, or a lawnmower or car, an industrial designer designed that product." So I got the yellow pages out, and there's three or four industrial designers in Brisbane and one of them who had won, already won, four Australian design awards, I thought, "Well, these guys know what they're doing." So I'd got on the phone the next morning and said, "I've got this idea there's this product that I'm trying to make, you know, can you help me?" and they said, "that's- that's what we do! Come and have a chat." So I went in and then we spent the next probably three years making proto- designing it, making prototypes. So we would get a block of, of HDP so high density polyethylene and CNC the profile out of it, and then we'd go and test it and go oh, that's not quite right. You know, it's not ideal, needs this needs that and we made about half a dozen prototypes and sort of got to the point where we think that's going to work. Went and tested it and went "Yeah, that works." And then the next thing was making the tools a mold and that was like a big investment and a big plunge and I had a few people say-
Scott Brady: Yeah, you mortgaged the house.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah. I had a few people say to me "You sure about this?" And I was like "Well I want it and if I've got a need there's probably other people who have a similar need so I think if I if I do a righte I think it might be a product that I can sell." Went and saw the bank manager and he said "So what's your plan?" I said well "make 'em and and hopefully someone buys them!" And that was it, so you know remortgage the house. Mortgaged the house and went had the tool done and then once we had the tool then we could test the material. So we- the guys obviously an industrial designer and had relationships with the plastics supplier. So Dupont, you know, a German company called * plastics and a couple of Australian companies were making different versions of nylon. Yeah, all the experts had said you know, "We think Nylon is the right material for this product, what it's got to cope with, the conditions it's going to be used under and all that sort of thing." So they all gave us samples of material and we had maybe five or six grades of their different variants of nylon. And we trailed them, put them in the tool and we ended up with all these different boards in different colors and different materials that we went out and tested and basically did the Goldilocks until we got it just right. Which took a while was probably 12 months of testing and refining and testing and refining. And then we went, "Yeah, we think that's the material." And then we went and set off on a 10,000k lap around Queensland. So we basically left Brisbane drove to Cape York over to the Simpson Desert across the Simpson Desert, and back to Brisbane in a month. So 10,000 K's in a month towing a camper trailer,
Scott Brady: Which pretty much guarantees getting stuck.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, and in the height of summer, so you know, out in the desert, it was 50 degrees Celsius, and up north, it was probably high 30s. So the sands like lava, you know, and it's, you're guaranteed you're gonna get stuck. So every time we got stuck with more or less set up a tripod with a camera on it film the video of us using the MAXTRAX to get out. So at the end of the trip, we had probably 10 or 15 instances of actually doing a legitimate recovery using the boards. So then we went to the Ford drive show in Brisbane, almost the same spot where I had launch the book about obvious earlier, had the MAXTRAX on display and I had a pallet of MAXTRAX sitting there, had the 100 from the trip covered in red dirt, and we had the screen playing with all the recoveries on just on loop. Ron Moon came up and had a look at- standing there looking at the video. And I was talking to a potential customer, and Ron Moon was the editor 4x4 Magazine, very experienced guy and he's looking at the video and he's shaking his head and I'm standing behind him seeing him shaking his head like side to side thinking, "That's not good. Ron Moon shaking his head, y'know?" And I went up and I said "Oh, Ron how are you?" And I'd sent him books over the years to give me a plug in the magazine. And he said, "Brad, is this yours?" And I said "Yeah, I said, I saw you shaking your head," and he goes "I'm shaking my head thinking "Why didn't I think of this?"" There are so many instances where this would have just saved me so much grief, you know? And he said, "This is sheer genius." He goes, "You're gonna sell a million of these." I said, "I hope you're right, because I put the house on it." And that was it. So he said "Send me something, I'll play with it and I'll give you a roundup in the magazine!" And it sort of went from there. But the hardest part was, initially, was convincing people that two bits of plastic could get your car out. A lot of people we're like "That's not gonna work."
Matt Scott: People like hated them at first over here, like it was like, "I'm not using those that's never gonna work!" With such a-
Scott Brady: Its a learning curve like anything new, any new technology.
Brad McCarthy: I was like that in Australia, you know, people were very skeptical, but they'd look at the video and go, "Oh, seems to work." And then people would buy them and go and use them and then come back or send us an email and say, "Holy cow, I would have lost my car on the beach if I hadn't had the MAXTRAX."
Scott Brady: Oh, that was what it was for me. I mean, I had used them successfully. But I always had a winch or I- y'know there were some other way to get out. But yeah, when we were in the Canning Stock and 14 hours we were stuck. We built a road. And it was the only way we got out. We were so deep in the mud.
Brad McCarthy: That's basically how it all came about. And then it just went from there took us took us quite a few years to sort of get a roll on and actually get people believing in the product. And then because they're bright orange and they're big, and people put them on their roof rack, we would have people ring us and say "My mates got some of those orange things. Do you sell them?"
Matt Scott: Those spiky orange things.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, So that's how it started. It just sort of went from there. And you know, then we went to SEMA in 2010.
Scott Brady: I remember that!
Brad McCarthy: That was quite memorable for us because we rocked up and I just had three or four mates with me and we booked it in and we got to see him and walked into the exhibition hall in Vegas. And I was like, "Oh, we're playing with the big boys now!" You know, Ford was there, TWAD was there, Goodyear! All the big brands, ARB and TJam and everything and all the Australian four-wheel drive equipment companies and I was like "We might be out of our depth here!" You know, we spent a couple of days in the Home Depot car park building a pyramid out of plywood to make a sand dune. Our display at SEMA was a- we had an FJ Cruiser all sign written and we had it bogged in the sand dune with the MaxTrac sticking out of the front of it and we use real sand so we had boxes of boxes of red sand that we made the sand dune out of. People were just coming up and shaking their head and we picked up probably half a dozen international customers at that show and a couple of awards for best new product in the in the off road space. So we you know, we walked away from SEMA thinking "We can play with the big boys, you know, we've got the right product and we've done it well." You can do it. It can be done.
Matt Scott: So that 10,000k trip, was that, at the time, the longest you had kind of been out in a four wheel drive?
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, that was probably the the longest- that was a month and it was yeah, a month just living out of the car. You know, I mean, I've done a lot before that, so my car was pretty well set up. I had a good fridge in the back. I just used to sleep on a stretcher, and just boxes of food and spare parts and tools. And that was about it. But it was I was driving the Toyota. So reliability wise, I knew that I didn't have to take too many spares. And if I did need something there wasn't help not too far away. Yeah, despite Queensland being quite vast, there is a Toyota dealer in every town just about.
Matt Scott: And you're Mr. Landcruiser.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, well, I was telling people if you want to go there and come back alive, it'll be a Land Cruiser.
Scott Brady: There's a great Australian commercial that they ran and it was it was like a border checkpoint to go out into the desert and you know, people would drive up in some lesser vehicle and they turn them around and send 'em back! They would only let the people through with a Hilux or the Land Cruiser, it was a clever ad, it was a very clever ad.
Matt Scott: Until very recently there there just weren't that many vehicles other than Land Cruisers that truthfully could put up with-
Scott Brady: Structural-
Matt Scott: -the surrounding conditions.
Scott Brady: Yeah, sure.
Brad McCarthy: Well I mean Land Cruiser arrived in Australia in the 50s when they're building the snowy mountains hydroelectric scheme. So, Lesley T Sue had their contract for that, imported a heap of them from Japan and they were the 40, shorty 40s. And they were mountain climbing through the snowy mountains, and people sort of kept them afterwards. I mean, this thing's unreal.
Matt Scott: There's the Land Rover guys in Australia who love to tell that same story too. Because on the a snowy mountain hydro project, they were actually the first vehicles that I want to say their series ones. And then they became Land Cruisers for a reason.
Brad McCarthy: So yeah, it's but it's funny because when you like, you know, the Great Dividing Range lands on the east coast of Australia, pretty much from top to bottom. And once you cross that mountain range, it's pretty flat all the way to the other side of the country.
Matt Scott: It is.
Brad McCarthy: There's a few little bumps along the way, but it's pretty flat and lots of sand. And once you cross that mountain range, you can pretty much guarantee 90% of the vehicles you pass will be a Land Cruiser of one variation or another.
Scott Brady: So what's been your favorite Land Cruiser then?
Brad McCarthy: I'm driving a 300 series now and it's pretty damn good.
Scott Brady: So you got to talk about this.
Matt Scott: We don't, look we don't get it. We're not going to get it here. I guess we're gonna get the Lexus version. But-
Scott Brady: LX 600.
Matt Scott: It's pretty... different.
Scott Brady: Yeah, we don't get the lockers. We don't get the E-KDSS. Diesel like you do.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, it's a beast. It's like I've had all of them. And the last cars or 200 series that we had were really good. Yeah, the V8 twin turbo. Plenty of power, quite comfortable. But the three hundreds is just that next step up, you know, they've had 12, whatever years to refine it, and it's, it's got the kdss and it's the rides amazing. The interior, they've really stepped up, you know, the interior is quite high end now. And now it's got adjustable suspension, so you can have comfort mode if you feel like it or you can have Sports Plus or custom or whatever,
Matt Scott: That is pretty cool.
Brad McCarthy: It is pretty cool. And you know, you've been there Scott, you've been there, Matt, you know that the corrugations out west and up north can be pretty severe. You know, it can be driving on corrugated road for a couple of days solid.
Matt Scott: I remember one time we're on the road north of Adel's Grove that goes up towards, you know, heads up north.
Brad McCarthy: Up the gulf, yeah.
Matt Scott: Yeah, and I took a beer cam and I put it in between the corrugations and I like got down on the ground and I'm like, "I can't see the beer can anymore."
Brad McCarthy: And they shake everything to pieces. So we did- actually I got the car just before Christmas, and we went for a run up to a place called Lauryn Hill, which is sort of remote Northwest in Queensland. And most people don't go there that taught me because it's 45 degrees Celsius plus but I said "We're going there because there'll be no one else there." And there wasn't! We did about 9000 K's in that trip and we were getting about 10 and a half liters for 100 ks which is amazing economy for a car of that size. And you know we weren't nursing it so, um...
Matt Scott: And they run on a V six diesel hybrid?
Brad McCarthy: No just V6 diesel twin turbo. So more power and torque than the V8 a lot more comfort comfortable ride and just an all around much better vehicle. Really. There's a lot of kickback from people with the V8 saying oh-
Scott Brady: I don't know it looks great. It's I think it's I think it looks better. I think all the technology they brought in at the factory available lockers now. It's just so much better.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, it's a nice car, but my favorite of the lot is my 1943 jeep. Yeah. You've actually got to drive that thing. You know the cruiser you're almost sitting in your lawn chair watching it.
Scott Brady: There is not a photo that exists of you driving that Jeep where you are not grinning ear to ear like with bugs sticking out of your teeth and everything. I mean, I remember when you first bought it, it was some- it was a crazy story. You were just going to have one for like a prop. And they couldn't deliver it and then you bought one.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, well, we- when we were doing- we actually make- we're gonna make a video for SEMA for the first year at SEMA and the storyline was that we had, there was a- a Jeep bogged in the jungle up in North Queensland. We went up to Cape York to film it. And so we had a couple of all islander guys who were the natives who find the maxtrax while stuff on the beach. Theres this Jeep stuck in the jungle full of coconuts and coconut palm fronds and they find that they go and stick the maxtrax in and back it out onto the beach and drive away. And I had the actors organized, had the film crew organized and we had them flying into this remote airport and they had a couple of nights coming up in their cars to be support. We're leaving on the Thursday to go to the Cape to meet these guys on the Monday and last minute the guy that was going to lend me his jeep said "I can't do it. I've got a family thing, can't do it." So madly got on the web and found one in Rockhampton, which is about halfway up the coast. And this guy had one-
Scott Brady: Lucky!
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, this guy had one and he said "Oh, yeah, it's it's not registered, but I can get it registered." So we got there on the Friday afternoon. I said well can you get it registered on Friday I don't want to be at the transport department trying to register a seventy year old Jeep that's left hand drive no doors, no seat belts you know and so I did that we got there took it for a drive around this new estate up the hill and put it in low range and just went "Yeah heres the money you know see you later!" So we took it out there, we did the ad we've actually had the ad in the can before we finished and then we finished- we did the rest of the Cape in the jeep and drowned it in one of the rivers and revived it, drove it and just went- well I got back from the Cape and the wife said "So you selling that Jeep?" I said "No way in hell!" That Jeeps going nowhere!
Matt Scott: And you still have it?
Brad McCarthy: I still have it yeah! So it's done a few- we've done a few big trips and it's been to the Cape again and it's been across the Simpson and it's been across the Great Australian Bight, the trip we did. We've taken the Bights across there.
Matt Scott: I remember that!
Brad McCarthy: Yeah? And you know, it's been to Fraser numerous times and we also have a couple of other sand islands off the coast of Brisbane that we take it to and you know after Glasshouse Mountains, as you said, Matt, and it's just it's just so much fun. You know, you can't help but smile- everyone that drives it talks about it.
Matt Scott: Remember the motor not running, putting it in low range and then you turning it, moving it forward by the starter. It's just such a different vehicle to what we get these days.
Brad McCarthy: It's amazingly capable like for something that's that old. They just nailed that design, like it- sometimes it puts the Land Cruisers to shame when you put it in some, some situations-
Matt Scott: Well I mean there was genesis for all of those things, right? They saw this, you know, I mean, their land rover was- wasn't the original Land Rover built on a Jeep?
Scott Brady: On a chassis from a jeep. Yeah.
Matt Scott: Yeah, yeah.
Scott Brady: And it's, it's a great machine. And it's just yeah, it's so much fun to be driving along the beach, you know, at 60 mile an hour with no doors, no windscreen, they seatbelts.
Matt Scott: No roll bar.
Matt Scott: I think the really cool thing is like, you always kind of describe Australiaas a bit of a nanny state. You know, you can do this, you can't do this. You can do this, jump this high, whatever. But then for some reason the jeep is legal.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah. I don't know why. Apparently, the rule is if it didn't come with seatbelts, it doesn't have to have them. So they pull up, the police, a few times and they're like, "Where's the seatbelts?" I'm like, "You serious? This car is 75 years old!"
Matt Scott: So- so when I roll it, I'm kept in the car and rushed.
Scott Brady: Exactly. That is such a fun vehicle that you've got what other thing, vehicles or equipment that have just delighted you like that, other things that you've had in your travels
Brad McCarthy: 40 Series Cruiser, and y'know, most of my cars have been for work purposes. You know, for big stuff. I've had a good 100 series. That was the original one. And that's 2005? No sorry, it wasn't original, but 2500 series?
Matt Scott: Yeah cause you rolled that up North.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah. Well, we had a collision with a sleeping driver on a bridge. The sleeping driver wasnt me.
Scott Brady: Thats terrifying.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah it was pretty bad. I had the family in the car, wasn't very nice. But we got out of it. I think if we're in the car, we probably wouldn't have. But in a cruiser, you know, we this guy fell asleep and cleaned us up. And we rolled down the highway about 10 times and ended up on the wheels, and thankfully, no serious injuries. The car was a write off though. But yeah, so the 100 series is- that's been the workhorse pretty much since day one. It's done a lot of miles. And just reliable. You know, we did some testing. The Australian Army invited me out when they were implementing, or they're doing the G Wagen Testing Program. And they rang me and said, you know, we're going to be doing this testing trip through the Simpson Desert, and we're going to put MAXTRAX on the vehicles do you want to come and make sure we're using it properly? And then, of course, hand straight up, Yeah, I'm there! I'm meet you in Ellis springs! And so we did this, we did this trip the first time and there was a few mechanical issues with the G wagons. And at that stage, the cruiser- this is end of 2012, so you know, the cruiser was seven years old at that stage and done quite a few miles and you know, cross the Simpson Desert, cross country, no worries at all, no mechanical issues. And then we did another one with 10 G wagons in February of the following year. So you know, the hottest time of the year, same deal. You know, the G wagons, pretty much every G wagon had some other issue. And-
Matt Scott: I still love them.
Brad McCarthy: The cruiser- they look great, but give me a Land Cruiser anyday. So you know, the old Land Cruiser, it just did it again. You know, no issues. Amazing. So, you know, I probably- I spent probably more time in that car than any of them. You know, it's sitting in the garage at the moment. Every time I walk in. I'm like I should take it for drive but I hop in the 300 go "Oh maybe not."
Scott Brady: I think it understands
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, I think it might.
Matt Scott: It's in retirement now! It's live in a nice life up on the beach. Gets polished on Tuesdays.
Brad McCarthy: I'm driving one of the six will drive long range patrol vehicles when we're done the G Wagen Testing and in that rough terrain, because in the middle of the Simpson, yeah, and we're going cross country and a lot of its ogles so you know, there's this shrub and the sands blowing from away. So you're driving through and it's walking pace, y'know you cant drive any faster cause it was just so rough. And you know, I'm in the wagon and getting belted around and then I hopped in one of the G wagons and the difference was amazing. When we finish those trips I said to this friend who had set up this business doing six wheel drive conversions with the aim of building some six wheel drive Land Cruiser patrol vehicles for the military. I said dude, you know, if you wait for the military to order you will go bankrupt. It'll take you 10 years before you get a military order. I said "well then will build me a six wheel drive 200 series." So he did.
Matt Scott: Was that the first one?
Brad McCarthy: Yeah. So I got the number plate 6WD because every time we'd pull up somewhere people go: "Is that a lazy axle? Is that a real six wheel drive?" Yeah its a real six wheel drive. And it was, yeah, it's great for that sort of long distance expedition stuff, you know, you can carry five adults and all the gear and do it comfortably and go anywhere, basically.
Scott Brady: Yeah, I was so impressed with how that vehicle did because we were remote when we did the Australian Bight. I mean, it was tight trails, and really remote.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, no, it's a good machine, but a little bit on the thirsty side, especially when we're paying the price of fuel we do down there.
Scott Brady: Yeah, sure.
Matt Scott: You were saying it was like 30 liters?
Brad McCarthy: Yeah. We did the Madigan Line. Mick, that friend of mine who was building the long range patrol vehicles based on the on the 70 series cruiser. He wanted to test his vehicles on the same route that we did the G Wagons, and so we're doing that and some- they had some issues, or they had some problems. And they had to wade in Ellis Springs. So- friend of mine and I went solo through- across the Madigan line in the six wheel drive. And we were using 35 liters for 100k. Cause someone had towed a trailer across and just chewed the dunes to pieces. So it was pretty rugged. It's a heavy vehicle. It's about five tonnes, so...
Scott Brady: Like a TRX.
Matt Scott: I think the TRX would have done a little bit better in the dunes.
Scott Brady: Yeah, well, you jump from one to the next!
Matt Scott: I think we should talk about what the Madigan Line is for people that don't necessarily know what it is. I mean, obviously, it's a remote northern route across the Simpson Desert.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, so the Simpson Desert is one of those bucket list items for people in Australia with a four wheel drive, you know, it's, it's about 600ks across. It's the world's largest parallel Sand Dune desert. So there's about 1100, parallel sand dunes that run south, south east to north, northwest. And on the eastern side, in Queensland, they're sort of really high, it might be 60 meters high and two kilometers apart. And then as you get further across the desert, they get lower and closer together. So it's a bit of a challenge, everyone that's got a four wheel drive, it's, yknow, "I want to do that before I die." And there's a few routes across most of them were put in by mining companies looking for oil, back in the 50s and 60s. There's a couple of routes that most people take but the Madigan Line, you have to get permits, you have to get permission from the traditional owners to cross their lands and it's fairly remote. Most people don't go that way it was put in- it was actually plotted by an explorer called Cecil Madigan. He was an Antarctic explorer originally and then he did a camel trek across there in the 1930s. It's named the Simpson Desert after the manufacturer of washing machines. He was the president of the South Australian Geological Society. Geographical Society, sorry. And so named the desert-
Scott Brady: After a washing machine!
Brad McCarthy: Yeah! Simpson is a desert named after the washing machine! He basically crossed it on camels and his camps were plotted some years later by one of the Four Wheel Drive Clubs way back in the day and so there's a star pick it with a sign saying camp 16 or whatever it may be. So it's basically drive across the desert, just doing the dots. And you know, these days with GPS, it's quite easy to navigate. But back in the day, it would have been, you know, on a compass bearing and you know, you can't drive straight on sand dunes and so quite challenging! So not a lot of people have done it. And now with some of the restrictions, it's becoming more and more difficult to actually get a permit to do it. That's one of those things where it just feels- and for me, I love that sense of remoteness, I just love that it's no other human being for however many 100 Kilometers.
Scott Brady: Recharging?
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, it's just- I think when you're in those environments, your senses are all heightened. You know, you hear everything, you smell everything. It's just one of those places where you feel alive. And for me, I do. I just- that really brings me to life when I'm out there. And that's why I enjoy it, I suppose. Any chance to go on an expedition i'm there!
Scott Brady: Yeah. And the other one is the French line?
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, the French line.
Matt Scott: It's kind of the standard.
Scott Brady: It's more of a standard cross.
Matt Scott: I mean, not that it's still not fun and amazing and that you shouldn't do it when we say standard crossing. It's still big!
Brad McCarthy: It's still a challenge for most people that have never done much sand driving, you know? It's the same thing your still crossing 1100 sand dunes but it gets a lot more traffic, so you have to be aware of oncoming traffic over the dunes. Everyone's on the same radio channel. And then there's another road, sort of down the bottom of the desert called the rig road. And that was actually put in for the drilling rigs to get out into the desert. So it was clay- kept all the Dunes so they dug the clay the clay pans and kept the dunes but that's all eroded in the last 60 years. So that's pretty challenging as well. But the Madigan's probably the toughest route across the Simpson, but the most fun.
Matt Scott: And what's the track that goes north?
Scott Brady: The Canning Stock?
Matt Scott: No, no in the Simpson.
Brad McCarthy: Hay River?
Matt Scott: Hay River, yeah, yeah!
Brad McCarthy: Then theres the K1 line, and then there's the Colson Track that runs on the western side.
Matt Scott: Colson track! That's the one I'm doing! Cause you've done that one before.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, done pretty much all of them a few times! Its one of my favorite places to do, The Simpsons. Cause it is that- it's that sense of excitement of heading into the wilds, you know, where you're self reliant? You know, you have to you have to be on your game and you have to be careful and be well prepared and know what you're doing because, you know, you can come to grief. Yeah, people have come to grief out there.
Scott Brady: Well if I remember, you were in a UTV one time and nearly came to grief.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, well, it was funny. We were testing the six wheel drive Land Cruiser patrol vehicles. And we come in from the French Line heading north to- there's a tripod in the middle of the desert, the geographic center of the desert. And the plan was to get to that tripod and then get to the Madigan Line which is about 100 Something Ks further north and then head out towards Ellis Springs in the middle of Australia. We had a cameraman with us- was filming it for the the content and the commercial for the product. The guys that we were traveling with were army so six o'clock in the morning, they're gone and we'd had a late night editing and downloading footage and stuff and we got to bed at midnight. And so we wake up and they they're up the track somewhere. So I got on the radio I said "Do you want to wait for us because we're trying to film this! This is a bit we want to film going across country through the middle of Simpson Desert." And they said " Oh we'll will wait for you." Anyway, long story short, the cameramen and I were in the Razor, and got separated.
Matt Scott: Who was it again?
Brad McCarthy: A mate called Tom. It wasn't Jordy.
Matt Scott: Okay.
Brad McCarthy: We got to the point where we're following tracks and then the tracks split, because there's two other vehicles and- three other vehicles sorry, and they split and we went left and off we went. Followed this track, and after about an hour and a half, it petered out. And we sort of went, "I don't really want to backtrack, I don't like backtracking." So I just went- I had my phone with the HEMA maps app on it. And I knew we were about 100 Ks, sort of south southeast of the GSN. And I said, "We'll just head north northwest, you know, we'll get there eventually." The guy that was with me was sort of like "Really?" So after about five hours we got to this area, and it's hard to believe, but it looked familiar. It all looks the same, but I got to this part and I just had this sense that this looks a bit familiar from when we're out there with the G Wagons, and because we'd been there in the G wagon convoy. So I said, I think we're getting close. So I turned the phone on. And we're about five kilometers east of the GSN and so we drive across to the to the tower expecting these guys to be there and they weren't there! And the guy was with was starting to panic a bit like we're in the middle of the Sipmsons, it's literally the center of the Simpsons!
Matt Scott: Thats as remote as you get!
Brad McCarthy: And we're it! We had we had water, but we didn't have any food, and it was wintertime so night times freezing. So we only had T shirts and shorts on and it was like "What are we going to do?" And I said, "Well, you know, we'll gather up some firewood" which theres not a lot of it, it's basically just spinifex. I said "We'll just get as much stuff that could burn as possible while it's daylight." You know, you don't want to be walking around in the dark with all the snakes everywhere. I said, "We'll get as much stuff as we can, we'll build a pile and then we'll just set the fire." Point the car and the direction these guys will be coming from. We took the seats out and sat 'em in front of the car cause it was quite breezy, and just lit the fire and just sat there and waited, you know. And then about nine o'clock at night we saw headlights past the dunes. And turns out they're about 20 kilometers away, and they took about another three hours to get to us but the whole time we were there I was thinking this is- the moon was out, and it was just fantastic!
Matt Scott: Yeah, this is awesome!
Brad McCarthy: This is amazing. He was starting to panic. And he said, you know, "What are we gonna do without any commerce?" "We'll be fine, we got five wheels on the Razor, we can burn 'em smoke signals if we need to." And then a jet flew over between probably Ellis Springs and Sydney and I said, you know, "We're gonna write SOS in sticks on the trypan and light that at about eight o'clock tomorrow night. They're gonna see it!" We looked like idiots standing there lost, y'know? It all turned out for the best, the caravan arrived at about midnight. I sort of said I was I was hoping you guys wouldn't come for a couple of days. I was I was loving it! Yeah, that was just I mean, that's just probably experience that I didn't panic. I just went you know, we got to get there. And this is how you do it and just navigate by the sun and you know, pull out the technology when when you can.
Scott Brady: Yeah, cause you didn't want your battery to go.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, well, I didn't have a charger so the battery's about 10% on the phone. So I was turning it on and checking and turning it off, y'know?
Matt Scott: Brad now compulsively brings chargers with him everywhere.
Brad McCarthy: Well, the ironic thing was we had a bug out bag with a SAT phone and *, fire lighting equipment, times three, all that sort of stuff. And it was in one of the cars! You could be prepared, and then things can still go pear shaped. But I think the thing is, it's experience and it's not panicking when you're in those situations where- y'know it could have turned bad, it could have been really bad. If they couldn't have found us, who knows? I mean, it would have been, as I said, lighting the tires on fire and then lighting the buggy on fire, and then if that didn't work, y'know, walking back along our tracks to the main track and hoping that someone came along in the next week or so, you know? So yeah, it pays to be prepared, but sometimes you just gotta use the old gray matter as well.
Scott Brady: And do you still use- Do you still drive UTVs at all?
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, there's no- I mean, you can't drive them legally in Australia most places. You know, there's properties where you can take them and drive them. A lot of cattle stations that're the size of small countries that you can drive around.
Scott Brady: I just remember we were at sand dunes in the south by the Great Australian Bight and you were gonna demonstrate a rollover!
Matt Scott: Demonstrate a rollover?
Scott Brady: No, that's what he said! He says, I'm gonna go roll the UTV!
Brad McCarthy: We were gonna test some of the gear and we were gonna do a winching exercise so I thought, "Well, we'll just roll the Razor over and we could just winch that back on its wheels." But I hit a little bit harder, over i went and cracked a couple of ribs! I had broken ribs for the rest of the trip across the Bight.
Scott Brady: I remember!
Brad McCarthy: That's the second time that's broken my ribs, I think.
Scott Brady: That's why I was wondering if you still drive 'em!
Brad McCarthy: We call that buggy Tippy because it's been on its roof that many times.
Scott Brady: Well it rolled over one time when one of the other guys was driving it. You just- And you told him you said it's gonna roll over really easy. And sure enough!
Matt Scott: Yeah that was good!
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, no, I get to drive it occasionally. And it's always fun. But yeah, the Jeeps still the favorite.
Matt Scott: You've obviously had some changes. You have more time in your life now. What's like, what's next, like? Not next, like business idea, whatever. I want to know where you're going next. I want to know how I come with.
Brad McCarthy: Well, I think you know, I've got- as I said early on, I've got that DNA. You know, I've got that explorer gene. I remember a while back they isolated a gene and it's the risk taking gene and it's- only 20 percentage of us have it. And our ancestors were the ones that went out of the cave and looked over the hill.
Matt Scott: And we'll go over there.
Brad McCarthy: And brought back the food, you know!
Scott Brady: Or sell the boat all the way to Australia.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, exactly, exactly. Those people with that adventurer spirit and I've got it and I sort of class myself as an explorer because it doesn't matter to me whether I'm exploring a desert or an island or a jungle or a city, you know, it's exploring, its new things, it's new encounters, it's new people, it's new environments, new wildlife, you know, that whole thing is just novelty, I suppose. I can't get enough of it. So now that I've got a clean, empty calendar there's a lot of places on this big blue ball that I want to have a look at and experience for myself firsthand. You know, that trip that you and I did to Namibia, Matt, in the beginning- just before COVID.
Matt Scott: Just like opens your eyes? To like-
Scott Brady: Yeah, that was the last time I saw you was in Namibia, I just realized that.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah. So you know, things like that, where it's just so different to-
Matt Scott: No it was South Africa. We were in South Africa together after Namibia.
Scott Brady: Oh, that's right. So it's after that, yeah.
Brad McCarthy: So those new experiences, new places, totally different to where you live. You know, new cultures are just, I just love it. So Girlfriend and I are going to Italy for a month in August. And then when we come back I'm sort of planning a trans-Australia trip from the East Coast to the West Coast, straight through the middle in probably September, October.
Matt Scott: Yeah. And you're and you're like messing around with Van life now, too.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, yeah. We're up north Queensland in September last year. And there's a young couple that pulled up in one of the campsites and had MAXTRAX on the roof. So I went up and said g'day and had a chat and gave him a couple of key rings and stickers and patches. And I said to him, "Where you're heading and where you've been?" And they're doing the lap of Australia, having a year off and COVID, perfect timing, y'know? They said, you know, "We're doing the lap, we're going to go down to Melbourne, and then we're going to basically offload the van we're going to Tassie, and we're going to offload the van." And I said, "Yeah, I'd be interested in buying it off you if you can." So it's a Mercedes Sprinter short wheelbase four by four and that's, that's the way to travel. So I said "Leave it in Tasmania got a friend who's got a house in Tassie." And so they lifted down there and we did the deal and went down in April and drove around for a couple of weeks in Tasmania, and it's-
Scott Brady: It's so good.
Brad McCarthy: Oh, it's fantastic. You know, the weather in Tassie- it's an amazing place but it can be sketchy. You know, we had pretty good weather, but to be able to just pull up somewhere, climb into bed, not have to worry about setting up a tent. Doesn't matter if it's raining, If it's snowing, If it's blowing a gale, it's a pretty good way to travel. A bit better than sleeping on a stretcher next to the Jeep.
Scott Brady: And then we talked a little bit at lunch. You did a little sailing recently, and that was fun.
Brad McCarthy: Well, we- it's a couple of years back we- I've always wanted to do the Whitsundays, like the Whitsundays is a bunch of about 74 islands off the central Queensland coast. So, beautiful chain of islands and is very popular for sailing holidays. And you can sail yourself, so you charter the boat and you can grab half a dozen friends and just go where you like for a couple of weeks. And so we did that and had to have some sailing experience before you could do it. So we went through- the crew and I went and did a a sailing course a couple of weeks before so that we could rent the boat. We were out on Moreton Bay off Brisbane and the day we went out it was blowing 35 knots and we were the only boat out there! And we had a minor help. The guy gave us the basics and then let us go and we're just skipping across Moreton Bay at 35 knots. So I was just thinking "This is this is great." It's a whole other world. That's a whole other world. So you know, that's potentially in the future there's something on the water. And I've got a jetski that I go out- There's a little island off the coast and I go out to occasionally and you can snorkel and dive and swim around and lots of marine life and that's easy, because it's-
Matt Scott: Are you running the thing out to Morton?
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, we've been across the Morton island a couple of times.
Matt Scott: Thats like a pretty serious crossing!
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, it's about probably 25-30Ks across the bay.
Matt Scott: How long does it take on your jetski? You've got a pretty big one.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, it's about half an hour. If it's calm, if it's- the thing with Moreton Bay as it can chop up really, really badly. So you've got to go early in the morning and sort of get back before lunch. Because the breeze comes in and turns it into a washing machine in the afternoon. Yeah, but it's, it's one of those things- type of thing- it's exploring, you know, there's a nice river near where I am, and you can drive 50 K's up this river on the on the Jetski.
Scott Brady: So is that the Noosa River?
Brad McCarthy: No the Maroochy River. So you've got a lot of natural environment there. There's bits of it where you go up these little creeks and you could be in the Amazon, you know, and it's in the backyard. So it's that explorer- you know, I get on a jetski and I go, what's up there, and what's out there and it's, I can't help myself.
Matt Scott: That explorer gene, you know, somebody told me a long, long, long time ago, and it's stuck with me because you see correlation between like, well for you like father and daughter. I think it's so cool that Lauren's out there in her sprinter doing the same thing, and, you know, like Ray Hyland with his kids doing the same thing like it is, it's a certain person that just has to go, you know?
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, you can help yourself. I mean, my eldest daughter, she, as you said, she's still on the van life. I think she's been on the road for about six months traveling in Australia and her sister went down and spent a month with her doing South Australia and the Red Center recently, so yeah, they've got it but I mean, they were they were camping with us when they were babies, you know, for the first time we went to Fraser Island, Lauren was about six weeks old.
Matt Scott: You're telling me that story where they're going- really going up to Coober Pedy or something. They take this dirt track that's like 100 ks long, and it's like, "I don't know we might make it." And I'm like, yeah, she's definitely a McCarthy.
Brad McCarthy: She wasn't two for two- i said just ring me when you get to down the range, when you get to a town and got network just give me a call that actually go through! Otherwise I have to drive down and get ya!
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Scott Brady: Y'know, there's a couple things that we like to ask the people that come on the podcast. One of them is: are there any books that you have found in your life or business or travel or anything else that you've- other than the ones that you've written yourself, but is there is there a book that you you've really kind of identified with?
Brad McCarthy: There's quite a few actually, it's hard to nail one down but being an explorer, I like to read about the explorers. So I've read a lot of the journals of some of the Australian explorers and Australia was a pretty tough country to explore on foot back in the day, y'know, before aircraft and and all that. So Edward John Eyre, who just went through the middle of Australia, John McDouall Stuart, Matthew Flinders, some of the navigators, yeah.
Scott Brady: Matthew Flinders is an amazing guy.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, I mean, James Cook that- sort of discovered the East Coast, all of those guys, Captain Bligh, William Bligh, that survived that mutiny on the Bounty. And in Tahiti back in the day, you know, those guys, I've read all the journals and all the books about those guys. And I sort of- a lot of my friends have said, you were born 200 years too late, you know, you should have been born when those guys were out there, because you've got the same genes that they had! A lot of those books that I've read over the years, you just- I mean, like, John Eyre that walked across the track that we did across the Bight, he basically walked that in the height of summer, barely survived, but did it on foot. Y'know, 1700 kilometers, so you read those stories, and you just go. For me, the beauty I think of Australia is you can go to those places that are in these journals that these guys are discovering firsthand, and it's the same! 250 years later, you're looking at the same scenery that one of the early explorers saw and nothing's changed.
Matt Scott: Yeah, you can still go see like trees were like Burke and Wills like, etched their stuff into.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, so for me, that's probably one of the thrills- is to be in one of those places where Captain James Cook stood on that hill in 1770, looked up the coast and saw this, and I'm looking at the same view and it hasn't changed in 250 years! I mean, that a lot of those places you need a four wheel dive to get to and that's probably for me, that's why I got a four wheel drive. It's not to put all the gear on it, make it look flashy, and all that it's a tool to get me to those places where you can't get in an ordinary vehicle.
Scott Brady: Well, that's a perfect segue into the last question we'd like to ask, which is someone that's getting new to traveling, new to overlanding, what is a couple pieces of advice that you would give them having seen the world like you have?
Brad McCarthy: I think it's... preparation is key. Y'know, a good vehicle, a good reliable vehicle, you don't need to have 40 inch tires and six inch lift and all that, y'know, my first off road vehicle was a Ford Laser. And used to get that thing stuck a fair bit, you know, it was never meant for that sort of job. But I used to take it much before I had a full drive and, and it did the job. It wasn't as comfortable, I couldn't take as much gear but I used to have a sleeping bag in the back, an ax and a shovel and an esky and a gas stove and I used to- that was my exploration machine because that's all I had, And that's all I could afford but I still had to get out there and do it. So I think it's just- it's preparation. The vehicle is the key, but you can do it in a stock vehicle. Most places you want to go you can do it in a stock vehicle with decent tires.
Scott Brady: Like your new Jimny's, your fleet of Jimny's! Staged around Australia.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, that's an amazing little vehicle. We we built one and we sort of did as a tribute to the Jeep. So it's we've called the Jeepney. And we put the star badges on the side and on the bonnet. And it's just a great little car like it's so much fun, but it's like the Jeep but you've got doors, windscreen airbags radio, air conditioning, ABS, you're not gonna die.
Matt Scott: Just like the Jeep you drown that one and no one's broke too.
Brad McCarthy: True, yeah. Not my fault!
Matt Scott: Are we blaming the same person as the Jeep?
Brad McCarthy: No, no, yeah, They didn't seal the snorkel properly.
Matt Scott: You know, I mean, I think it's cool. You guys have both been a huge inspiration, you know, to me to get out and to explore. And I guess mine is kind of a- my questions a further refinement of Scott's. I think there's more young people that want to go explore now than ever, because the- I don't wanna say the barrier to entry is lower, but it's easier. You know, I mean, we have cars, we have reliable cars, we have all the equipment, all the gear, you know, what's your advice for young people that, you know, may get mired in the gear, you know, like, how do you keep it simple? I think that's one the things that, you know, I've noticed in your travel style is that you're pretty minimal. I wouldn't call you a minimalist, but pretty minimal. I mean, what drives you to get out and do it? And how can you offer some advice to the young people to avoid this stuff and travel?
Brad McCarthy: Well as I said it's preparation. And it's having a bit of an idea. When we do a trip, you know, we say we're leaving Brisbane on this date, and we hope to be back by this date, and in between who knows what's going to happen? You know, we work out a rough itinerary, and we plan to a certain extent, but things can change on a daily- on an hourly- on a minute basis, you know, so you have to be adaptable, I think, you know, having a good vehicle, a reliable vehicle, because the last thing you want to be doing is having to call someone when you're- when the car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. So that's probably the key. But as I said, you know, good tires are one of the main things, the first thing I would do on any vehicle is put decent tires on it, if you're going to actually use it off road, just tires. And then it comes down to just the basics, y'know, not driving too fast. Drive to the conditions. Not driving, when you're tired, not driving, when you're drunk, or you've been on something, you know, and just enjoying it. If you're gonna go spend the money to buy the car, put the gear on the car, go out and enjoy it, you don't have to do 1000 Kilometer expedition to have fun, you know, you can drive 100Ks and enjoy yourself for the day, but you're out, you're out in the wilds, you're out, you're out of the rat race, you're out of civilization, you're surrounded by nature, you might have an encounter with wildlife, you breathe in fresh air, you don't need to take a kitchen sink. I take the bare necessities to do the job. And it don't that to be flashy and it don't have to be expensive. It's just as long as you got the right kit, you can do the job and get in the car and go.
Scott Brady: Well, and it's probably because you didn't spend all that money on the kit early on that you were actually able to go, because you- then you had money for fuel you had time because you didn't have to work as much. So it made a totally different outcome for you.
Brad McCarthy: And the classic example is, you know, I've got a 300 series Land Cruiser. I've got a six wheel drive 200 series cruiser, and my favorite car is the Jeep because no seatbelts, no radio, no air conditioning, you know, because it's, you're in it. You're in the environment, you're surrounded by it, you know, you get the bugs in your teeth and your eye and you come back and you're grinning like a Cheshire Cat.
Matt Scott: Well, thanks for flying over specifically for this podcast, we know that's the only reason that you came. Thanks for all that you've done for the community, thanks for all you've done for me! We've all been on some amazing adventures together, and I can't wait to see what's next. And I think that we need to go to the Kimberley.
Scott Brady: I think we got to make that happen.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, well, I've got a big long bucket list, so I'll share that with you and see what you're in for.
Scott Brady: Sounds good. You know, Brad, you've been such an inspiration. And I'm so grateful for you- all of your support through the years and we're just- we're really proud of you. It's just amazing to see what you've accomplished for yourself and your family and the people that are around you. And we appreciate you being on the podcast and just sharing your experience. It shows that anything is possible with a Jeep, an old flat fender Jeep, and some bugs in your teeth. Smiling like a Cheshire cat.
Brad McCarthy: Yeah, thanks for having me guys.
Matt Scott: Yeah, appreciate it.
Brad McCarthy: See you down under!
Scott Brady: And we will talk to you next time!