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The Holiday season in Far North Queensland is a time of heat, humidity, and often deluge. This year has been a little late on the deluge so far, but we have had some short bursts of heavy rain and Cape York thunderstorms. Cairns is super green again, but on the inland side of the Dividing Range, things are still very dry, and the risk of bush fires is still high.

That said, it does now feel like the rain is coming, and with it, comes the rejuvenation and new growth. An exciting time for many and one of our favourite times to experience the outback or the Cape. Doing the Cape in the wet is possible with a bit of proper planning and if the weather is kind. If you do decide to take a bit of a risk then our advice is to make sure you have a good Plan B if the rivers do rise and you are stuck on the wrong side to where home is.

Laura RiverThe Archer river, and the Laura River are two places that cause most delays, but there are many others and you must keep a close eye out for any upstream rainfall.

With heavy rain, the Laura River can rise rapidly and can then take several days before it is safe to cross again. With sustained rain over several weeks, this river is the first one to cut off the Cape and can leave people stranded on the North side without sufficient supplies.

If you get stuck at Laura, the beer is cold at the Quinkan Hotel, and you can generally find accommodation there or over the road as well.

 Expedition134 Quick Release Straps

The Expedition134 QR (Quick Release) Straps are a dedicated Australian manufactured strap designed to work specifically with our external tie down points on the Expedition134 Heavy Duty Plastic Storage Box.

Our unique design of the clip revolutionises securing your storage box, not allowing you to over tighten the straps, but at the same time making it a simple push of the clip to undo. No more fighting with ratchet straps that are painful and often over tighten causing damage to gear. No more trying to undo a granny knot your mate did who reckons he knows ropes.

We have incorporated a double J hook which fits tightly and securely into the Expedition134 box dedicated tie down feature.

A large ‘S’ hook at the other end gives you a good solid general size hook to suite a large range of tie down points in your vehicle’s wagon, ute, roof rack or canopy.

The Expedition134 QR Straps are Australian made components which we have sourced to ensure they are strong and secure for your load.

With a load rating of 150kg each strap is more than capable of securing your Expedition134 4wd Storage Box. We have ensured the webbing and stitching used is UV resistant so the strap and stitching will not fray and deteriorate in the sun and heat.

The Expedition134 QR Straps come in a set of four and in a reusable calico bag for easy packing and security.

We manufacture these on the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland.

Have a look at https://openskytouring.com/product/expedition134-quick-release-straps/

King Shocks

King ShocksA big shout out to King Shocks Australia for some good old-fashioned service. As some of you may know, we’ve been running a set of 2.5” King’s Smoothies remote reservoir shocks in the 79 in conjunction with the JMACX coil conversion for the last 3 years. Recently though the vehicle has been feeling like a bit of a pig wallowing in mud when fully loaded and traveling through the slow stuff. One call to Brad at King Shocks Australia and he advised that the valving has all been revised for the 79’s since the time of our install, and if we could send them in, they would take care of it. The shocks were also due for a service, which extends the warranty for another 3 years, so it seemed like a good time to knock this job over.

As we are about to make the drive down for the Brisbane 4×4 show, we made arrangements to meet up with Brad on a Sunday, swap vehicles and he would take care of the rest, bringing the 79 back to us on the Monday! Can’t beat that for going the extra mile.

Tyre User Review – Nitto Trail Grappler

For the past two years and 45,000 kilometers of touring and off-roading, Ben has been running the Nitto Trail Grapplers on the 79 dual cab. He just called it time on them and this is what he had to say about them:

Nitto Trail GrapplerThe Nitto’s were great. One of the best tyres I’ve had to date for off roading. I never had a flat with them and chose them for the sidewall strength after blowouts on the previous tyres. They were great in mud, rocks and even sand. For the use I was doing though, which is more ‘touring’, with a good amount of proper offroad stuff, I decided I didn’t need the noise of the mud terrain and they didn’t do so well with mileage on bitumen. At about the 40,000klm mark, I noticed they were starting to feel slippery with any sort of rain. At about the 45000klm mark I had a front wheel slide at slow speed on a wet bitumen road that saw the ABS kick in and me slide out into the opposite lane. That did it for me and it was in for a new set of tyres the following day.

Unfortunately, Nitto don’t do their hybrid Ridge Grappler in a 285/75/R16, but their sister company Toyo do. As I rated the Nitto/Toyo sidewall strength, I decided to run with the Toyo Hybrid tyre in the form of the Rugged Terrain. We will see how they perform over the next few years.

All up, I was happy with the Trail Grappler and would say that they performed to expectations. Muddies aren’t really designed for mileage so I probably got a reasonable return. I would definitely recommend them as a serious off-road tyre.

The new Rugged Terrain has already performed well at low pressures on a foray into the Herberton/Irvinebank area and I must say it is nicer in the cab with less road noise.

What we are up to

Webber bullet smokerFirstly, I broke the mould and took the Webber bullet smoker camping for the first time. This little smoker is super lightweight and breaks down into 3 pieces which made it easy to fit in. Normally we are pretty big on the old camp oven for doing roasts, but these things take it to the next level. A bottle of red, roast over the coals, and a glass of Penfolds port to finish it off made for a super night away on the banks of the Walsh River.

Next up, a big welcome to the Expedition134 family to Jamie Hazelden and his company Jamie’s Touring Solutions at Landsborough on the Sunshine Coast and to L&S Offroad in Darwin who are now stocking the Expedition134 boxes.

Jamie, who is also known as The Australian Bushman and is a co-host on several TV programs, has been running the Expedition134 boxes for the last twelve months or so in his custom 4×4 Mitsubishi Canter truck as he travels the countryside, and loves them.

If you want to see a list of stockists, they can be found on our website here.

As this newsletter goes out, Ben is on his way from Cairns to Brisbane carting down a load of our custom box seals and all our stuff for the Brisbane 4X4 show in March.

rear canopy of the 79The rear canopy of the 79 has been stripped out of everything, including the fridge, just to fit it all in. Leaving the fridge behind just doesn’t seem right but it had to be done.

The camping gear and one esky of essentials, has also been whittled down to the bare minimum as Ben and Abby make the most of the trip and head inland taking 4 days to enjoy the country via Hughenden, to Barcaldine, and down to Morven before turning East to the Coast.

And, if you are after a bit of inspiration to replace a heavy set of steel drawers with a removable DIY ply-based frame setup and four boxes, one of our Victorian customers recently said he had saved about 50kgs with this removable setup in a Nissan Patrol wagon. Lots more gear has been able to now be fitted in for family travel. For more ideas, take a look at our Gallery page and if you have any photos of your setups, we’d love to see them and show other people just what can be done to help fit out a vehicle for touring using Expedition134 boxes.

Expedition134 boxes

Bundle and Save

Thinking about a few items why not look at our Expedition134 Kits where you can save. Our new Expedition134 Box and QR Straps are available as a combo deal as is some multiple Expedition134 Box buys. Whether it’s our Caravan and Camper Trailer Kit or Emergency Kit we have you covered.


Check out more of our Newsletters here:

Welcome to Expedition 134

We’re excited to introduce the new Expedition 134 website, the new home for Open Sky Touring.

This change is another step in our journey to consolidate our branding and name in the marketplace.

While things might look different, the passion to make the toughest and most functional gear possible hasn’t.