Dirty Girls 4×4 Weekends Revealed!
By Janice Caza
I have a confession to make. I have never driven a four-wheel-drive, let alone taken one off road. But what better way to be thrown in the deep end than embarking on a three-day four-wheel-driving tour through the world’s third largest sand island – Moreton Island.
Global Jamboree has recently launched their Dirty Girls 4×4 Weekends, and yep you’ve guessed it – they’re dirty, girls only and a whole lot of fun. The three-day tour explores inland sand tracks, calm to rough coast lines and everything in between – all fully guided to cater to everyone from total beginners (like myself) to even the most seasoned four-wheel-drivers. As long as you own a 4WD (or know someone who does), this tour is for you.
Arriving on the island, the group of 30 ladies were buzzing with excitement, and that’s before their tyres had even hit the sand. All of them were eager to leave their husbands and boyfriends behind to finally get a chance at revving their 4WD without backseat drivers barking orders.
From young P-Platers to a lively group of 40-50 year olds, our group was definitely diverse. Some of the ladies were there to learn, others to escape their families, but most of all we just wanted a great time with our girlfriends.
I’ll admit, I started slightly terrified, but my confidence was quickly instated by our 4WD guides, who were there every step of the way to teach us in a positive and supportive way.
While the guides were mostly male, they did assure me they were here to merely serve, and that they did! Apart from rescuing bogged cars, they waited on us hand and foot topping up our champagne glasses, cooking breakfast and even putting on impromptu dances for our amusement (more on that later).
Our first stop was Castaways at Bulwer, which was a 30 minute drive from the ferry drop.
I was leading the convoy and as I looked in my rear view mirror I caught the simply spectacular sight of 15 four-wheel-drives cruising along the beach, with waves lapping close to their tyres. Each driven by a female, and despite some initial reservations, we all jumped right in to give it a go.
Five minutes in and we encountered our first challenge in the form of a narrow, curved track filled with soft sand. I’ll admit, my heart raised several beats. One of the cars got bogged, but Tour Organiser Bob Muller used this as a positive teaching opportunity and instructed us step-by-step on how to get out safely. Then it was my turn. I gripped the steering wheel with anxious anticipation, as Bob handed me the most useful piece of advice I would carry for the whole trip – “Drive it like you stole it!” That I did Bob. I can honestly tell you, there is nothing like flooring a 4WD through soft sand tracks, watching the golden spray shoot out from your tyres as you tear through what first seemed a daunting challenge.
We pull into Castaways, a luxury eco safari camping facility tucked away amongst giant melaleuca trees and just a short stroll from isolated beaches, the Moreton Island National Park and Bulwer Shipwrecks. Each tent sleeps between two to four people and is beautifully furnished with a comfortable bed, private ensuite and timber deck (plus you don’t have to pitch a tent!). The tour is also fully catered, including cooked breakfasts, morning and afternoon tea, lunches and button-popping meals at Castaways Restaurant.
After enjoying a barbeque lunch, we drove along the beach arriving to a guided tour of the Tangalooma wrecks. Snorkelling is included in the tour, as is equipment and fully buoyant wetsuit (which basically swims for you). We explored the rusting bones of old ship hulls purposefully sunk in 1963, spotting plenty of tropical fish, coral formations and even a wobbegong. After some underwater adventure, we headed back to the camping grounds for a delicious feast, followed by a relaxing evening filled with campfire stories, resounding laughter and (of course) champagne.
One of the most remarkable aspects of Moreton is how the scenery changes from almost Mediterranean facade to African safari and rugged beaches. Couple this with reggae beats pumping through my Jeep stereo, the wind blowing through my hair, sunlight dancing on my skin and the daily grind seems a million miles away.
There are a few freshwater lakes on Moreton, and today we ventured to Blue Lagoon – the largest and most easily accessible. Blue lagoon was formed through the natural catchments of rainwater over thousands of years, and the clear water is surrounded by white sand and natural bushland. This is the perfect spot for a swim to cool off, or just sit back and enjoy the serenity of this untouched paradise. Following this, we returned to our tents for a little R&R, complements of Global Jamboree, and were treated to a pamper package from Stefan before embarking on what went down as one of the most memorable bus drives I’ve ever had.
30 ladies, champagne, blaring music, dancing by our tour guides (or man slaves as we preferred to call them) on a 4WD bus bouncing through sandy tracks made for the beginning of an eventful evening. We arrived in time to watch the orange glow descend behind tree-covered mountains in the distance, while sipping on champagne and being treated to a selection of delicious canapés and tropical fruit. One rowdy bus ride later, and we were being wined and dined at Castaways Restaurant with a spectacular three course dinner and entertained by a live band. Let’s just say, some of those ladies were pretty excited to be away from their husbands.
Thankfully, day three was a lazy beach day (much needed after two days of adventure overdose). We ventured up to Honeymoon Bay, a stunning cove sitting beneath rugged cliff faces, which welcomed us with spectacular 360 degree views. We ate, we slept, we swam in clear rock pools and we explored secluded beaches. By Day 3 I had gone from a very flat zero in four-wheel-driving confidence to a steady seven, and growing by the hour. The tour was not just educational and supportive, but a WHOLE lot of fun. But the most important lesson I learned of all on my tour is that girls definitely do it better.
What you need to know…
GETTING THERE: Moreton Island is 40km off the coast of Brisbane. Travel time aboard the Micat 4WD and passenger ferry is 75 minutes, departing from Moreton Island Adventures at the Port of Brisbane.
STAYING THERE: Dirty Girls 4×4 Weekends start at $395 and include: two nights in a glamping tent, all meals plus sunset canapés, dinner with champagne wine and soft drinks. It includes a guided snorkelling tour of the Tangalooma wrecks, vehicle transfers and permits and a survival kit with a T-shirt, cap and snacks. Boys Only and Family Friendly Jamborees are also available.