Tackling Aussie's toughest terrain in Nissan's toughest ute
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When presented with the opportunity to go on an off-road adventure in Australia, I jump at the chance to avoid the graffiti-covered alleys of Melbourne and see what the vast land of kangaroos and koalas has to offer. It is only after I have accepted the invitation that thoughts of spiders and snakes start to take over.
We are heading to the alpine region of Victoria with Nissan, to test the all-conquering Navara N-Trek Warrior ute that is designed to rival Ford’s Ranger Raptor. The plan is to take on the iconic Blue Rag Range Track that’s listed as one of the most dangerous roads in the country.
This is my first time off-roading, so I feel a little out of my depth among the seasoned motor writers who are sharing stories of great gravel-based drives over dinner. But how hard can it be?
At 8am we set off from our accommodation in the sleepy alpine village of Dinner Plain, with the serious off-road rubber pounding the pavement and an abundance of flies in tow.
It doesn’t take long to reach the entrance of the Blue Rag Range Track, where the utes are switched into 4WD mode and the terrain gets sketchy.
After an hour of slow-paced driving, we arrive at the top of the track and are greeted by a set of blue rags tied around a trig station. Now I get it.
Like the climb, the trip back down is slow-going, interrupted by fellow overlanding enthusiasts who barely manage to squeeze past in their massive rigs. A few rivers are crossed, rocks are bounced over, and one downed tree is cut up before we arrive at a clearing for lunch.
Worries of snakes and spiders in the foliage are quickly replaced with complaints about flies from the New Zealand contingent.
After lunch, the off-road trek continues through the Victorian wilderness and Nissan Australia’s homegrown utes continue to impress over all manner of terrain. An incredibly steep climb dotted with wombat holes proves to be the final and most challenging aspect of the trek.
As the sun slowly sets over the mountainous region, we arrive at Dog’s Grave, our campsite for the night. Once the incredibly cosy swags are set up for the night, the sunsets and the temperature drops from the mid-20s to about 3C, reminding of our alpine surroundings.
About an hour of exhilarating single-track driving takes us back to Dinner Plain the next morning. And so we wave farewell to easily the coolest spot I’ve visited in Australia.