Aaron’s first article with us was published in July 2016 and over the years, his valuable contributions have gained a loyal readership. He’s now amassed 60 blog posts with Snowys and we’re still counting.
Aaron is a top bloke and a total legend in all things off-road! To help mark the occasion, he agreed to give us a little behind the scenes snippet, so let’s get into it…
Aaron also maintains his own blog at 4WDing Australia.
How did you first come to hear about Snowys and our blog?
Way back in the day, I was walking through a local camping store on the hunt for some better gear and I spied a self-inflating mattress that looked amazing. I’m not sure if it’s weird to try them out, but I did anyway and was instantly in love until I found the price tag moments later. At $350 and being the miser I still am, I thought I’d live with the average foam mattress I was using at the time – from a cheap swag.
I did however take note of the brand and type, and when I got home I looked it up online. I came across Snowys selling exactly the same product for $250, with free delivery. I remember wondering if they were a legit business and did some research before taking the plunge. Long story short, I bought another one a few months later for my wife, and we’ve been buying gear online from Snowys ever since.
Side note: a few months later, Aaron wrote a review about that mattress!
An iconic scene from the Pentecost River crossing on the Gibb River Road.
Your Snowys blog tally is currently at 60, which one is your favourite?
Wow, has it been that many?! I’ve written lots of posts for Snowys that have been fun to do. I think the Building the Perfect Touring 4WD probably takes the first prize. I love looking at other people’s setups, and learning what works and what doesn’t. There’s something about building and owning your own 4WD. Nothing else compares to being set up and ready to head away at a moments notice.
Aaron knows a thing or two about mechanics.
You seem to understand engines and mechanics. What is it you do for a day job?
I know enough to be dangerous! There are some things I enjoy doing, like building up a 4WD, but doing vehicle servicing and general maintenance is not high on my favourites list. I’m a qualified mechanical fitter by trade but have moved into the Maintenance Management field for fixed plant equipment.
Aaron’s very first car was, of course, a 4WD – a maroon Toyota Hilux.
Did you camp as a kid and what is your first memory of adventure?
I did a bit of camping as a kid, but not nearly as much as we do now. I recall very clearly a camping trip down to Peaceful Bay when I was young, where it rained for about 36 hours non-stop. Half of our tent ended up as a swimming pool and things became quite difficult. We still had an amazing trip but it cemented the fact that in average weather, camping can go bad really quickly, especially without the right gear.
Fast forward a bunch of years and my first car was a maroon coloured Hilux. It was cheap, bulletproof, drank fuel like no tomorrow and had an extremely rough ride, but I loved it. I have some truly amazing memories from that 4WD and I still miss it from time to time. I think it was then that my love for adventure took hold.
It was a lucky escape when Aaron had a failed wheel bearing at Steep Point!
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve seen or had happen on a trip?
Hmmm, interesting question. I had a bad run with our previous 4WD on a trip to the Shark Bay region several years ago. Prior to that our 4WD was always super reliable, and it was a big surprise to have so many issues in one run. I burnt a set of vee belts out and then had our spare set come off numerous times whilst a fair way away from any help.
The kicker though was a failed wheel bearing coming back out of Steep Point. It was caused by the stub axle spindle cracking open, and the locknut unwinding. We came over a hill, and I put my foot on the brakes and had nothing. Despite having rebuilt the wheel bearings myself not long before, and having spare bearings available we couldn’t fix it. The car ended up on a tow truck back into Denham where we waited a few days for parts to arrive. I can look back now and have a chuckle about it, but it was pretty stressful at the time especially with a young kid in the back.
With a bit of know-how, Aaron kitted out his Isuzu Dmax 4WD to travel Australia.
What is your one bit of absolute essential gear?
For us, it’s all about the 4WD. Without it, we wouldn’t have been able to have half as much fun as we have. It makes remote places more accessible and you can put some distance between other people. Plus, the cheaper travel because camping reduces accommodation costs just makes it the ultimate travel upgrade.
We love nothing more than finding a pristine beach away from everyone else and digging in for a few days, and you can’t do that in a 2WD vehicle. On a smaller level, a fridge takes the cake. The idea of going back to an icebox is scary!
Dirk Hartog Island is Aaron’s top spot! The barge has room for one 4WD with a trailer.
What’s your top spot and what’s on your bucket list?
There are so many places that I love and at different times of the year. I reckon Dirk Hartog Island might take the cake though. It’s a pristine island with limited visitors, great 4WD tracks and some of the best scenery in the world.
There’s still a heap of places I haven’t been, and my annual leave balance is always the limiting factor here! I think some of the 4WD tracks in the Kimberley would be at the top of my list though – particularly the Munja 4WD track and Oombullgurri. Access isn’t easy! It’s very remote, but the scenery is next level and the fishing as good as it gets. I guess the word adventure probably covers it pretty well.
Aaron’s wife loves camping as much as he does and is usually the one who does the research to find incredible spots like this remote camp at Carrarang, WA.
Where do you go to get your info before a trip?
Anywhere and everywhere. I use Google, forums, social media, mates, and blogs. Also, WikiCamps, which is probably the best investment you can make, and sometimes we just follow our noses.
The Gibb River Road is on many people’s bucket lists and it’s worth researching to find the most current information on the conditions.
Do you prefer cooking over a campfire or using a camping stove?
Then I gave it a crack and loved it! With two young kids now in tow, it’s the perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon at camp. If we are in a hurry we’ll use the stove, but if there is time we really like the camp oven or different BBQ arrangements over the campfire. We’ve also fallen in love with a Weber -that has been a total game-changer.
Nothing beats a slow-cooked roast in a camp oven.
What’s your hands-down most favourite camping meal?
I’m not normally a big breakfast person, but a giant cook up in the morning is probably my favourite meal. Hash browns, sausages, bacon, eggs, toast, baked beans, cooked spinach, mushrooms and some fried tomatoes make for an awesome start to the day. It’s even better when you do it together (with another family for example) and the kids get involved.
Who could go away without this little guy!
You now have a couple of kids and family camping is where it’s at. Do you ever squeeze in a boys trip with mates?
Honestly, no. There’s been one occasion where I’ve gone away without my family for a charity event, but I never go away without them. We like to do things as a family, and my wife would probably kill me if I left her at home with the two kids. She loves camping and is often the one to find great spots and get them booked in.
Whether you’re new to 4WDing or camping, Aaron’s advice is to head out with the right gear and the right attitude!
What’s the one tip you have for someone who’s never camped before?
Head out with the right gear and attitude. Camping seems to have this stigma of being a cheap and uncomfortable way to explore the country.
The right location with good weather, quality camping gear and some good friends or family and you’ll never look back. There are so many amazing pieces of camping gear on the market today that there’s really no reason to be uncomfortable. Plus, it’s the ultimate break away from technology and the hustle and bustle of day to day life.
If you’ve never been camping before or have had a bad experience, get your ducks in a row and give it a try.
Aaron is an absolute champ and we’ve loved sharing his stories and advice. Here’s to many more years!
Which of Aaron’s articles is your favourite?
About the writer...
If it involves four-wheel driving, Aaron loves it. When he isn’t writing for his blog, 4WDing Australia or the Snowys Blog, you’ll find him camping and driving around Western Australia.