Sights of the big red bash

As my 20-year motoring journo career draws to a close, I’m going to add a few of my favourite tales from over the years. This was written in 2018/TR

The Birdsville Big Red Bash is a relatively new music festival that’s held in the shadow of Big Red, one of Australia’s longest sand dunes – and the desert throws up its characters. 

As Team Amarok sets up a base station to show off the V6 Ultimate to 6000 potential converts, it’s fascinating to watch the world of the Bash pass by our central spot. 

Kids in Blundstones and Crocs run around in the grey-brown, talcum like dust that carpets the camping site playing tag, before mum poses them for a pic.  

Older couples, weighed down with the most high-tech folding chairs in creation, trudge the length of the huge venue, while their dogs amble obediently beside them.  

Some dogs don’t have to walk at all; a small collie is carried, royal litter style, between her owners in a dusty blue Ikea shopping bag. 

A man in a short red sparkly number, complete with feather boa, comes the opposite way, his family leading the way and his little boy clutching a prize – the result of dad’s derring-do in dashing up a dune in drag. 

Similarly, a volunteer in a fetching red wig and ballet skirt makes his rounds on a mountain bike. 

A big, burly bloke and his equally big, burly Rottweiler stroll past, his Australiana tattoos, blue singlet and battered Akubra neatly offset by a bright pink plastic drinking container that dangles from his Bundy Rum can cooler. 

In stark contrast, a tribe of earnest youngsters in ripped tight jeans, crew tees and impossibly cool sunnies populate a Bohemian tent city housing a production crew that is on site for two weeks assembling a television commercial for a fast food franchise. Their showers and toilets are first class. Best not to ask how I know that. 

The crowds, though, are heading for ground zero, a large natural amphitheatre that will play host to some of Australia’s most well known singers and songwriters from across the rock and country world – but the Big Red Bash is more than just a music festival.  

Given that it’s some 1500km from Brisbane, 3000km from Sydney and as remote as a place can get, it can’t help but be different. 

People waited in the queue to get into the gate (and to the best camping spots) for up to four hours – “Long enough to make memories,” one fella drawled good-naturedly – and the 4x4s, most with camper trailers attached were queued up almost all the way back into Birdsville at one point. 

It genuinely doesn’t seem to bother any of them, though. It’s an audience filled with folks who love the journey as much as – if not more than – the destination, and if you’re not a people person, you soon will be. Conversations start easily and drift widely, beers been cracked and shared in a true exhibition of country hospitality. 

It’s winter here in Birdsville, and the mercury has fallen all the way to 26 degrees C on the first day of the festival. The punters are arriving, and in their droves. 

The first day of the festival has brought with it a nasty little southerly that takes the edge off that, and fills the air with a tang of desert dust that gets absolutely into everything, but it’s not stopping anyone. 

Last night, though, was all about the dune, and the utterly mesmerising light show that results from the sun dropping below the horizon.  

It takes its sweet time, allowing the crowds to build and gather along the dune’s edge, while kids – and kids at heart – throw themselves headlong down the steep, soft pumpkin-orange sand slopes that challenge everyone who sets out to hike them. Once you’re up there, though, you don’t want to leave. 

Shaped and shifted by winds that have blown through the Simpson Desert for eons, the soft, rolling sand dunes that stretch almost to the other side of Australian catch the afternoon light, casting it in stark contrast to the impossibly blue, impossibly wide desert sky. 

Couples young and old pause, arms around each other’s waists, and just take a moment to enjoy the sight, and each other’s company; an increasingly rare occurrence in our blitzkrieg world. 

As the sun takes its final bow and dips below the dunes, phones rise and camera shutters whir to record a moment that’s been going on for millions of years – but it’s not over yet.  

The utterly vast stretches of central sky softly illuminates from corner to corner in a symphony of soft pinks and pastel blues, as night gradually – and much more slowly than we’re used to in town – comes to the Big Red Bash. 

It’s the opening night, and there’s just one act on the bill – Melbourne’s Missy Higgins has emerged from a long hiatus to put on a show for a captive audience that, in truth, is probably not made up of her biggest fan base. 

Unassuming in a big jumper, jeans and high tops, Missy starts off steadily, but her crowd’s not quite there yet. She slowly but surely brings them along for the ride, though, singing her heart out on a still, mild desert night that carries her voice for kilometres. 

Missy even sings us – just us, because she’s never recorded it – a lullaby she wrote for her baby boy. The song, accompanied only by Missy’s ukulele, is sweet and beautiful and poignant, and so, so personal that it’s absolutely impossible not to be moved to tears.  

It might not be Missy’s crowd, but this crowd of pragmatic, unflappable Aussies respond to her honesty and joy with genuine affection and warmth, in this most intimate of arenas in the centre of the biggest country on earth. 

The music will continue through the week, with day-into-night shows across Wednesday and Thursday.

But as the last band takes its final bows, this temporary city of itinerant individuals will, in their own sweet time, slowly disperse, and this phalanx of still-seekers will meander their way, in their own sweet time, to their next outback adventure. 

2019 – a year of change

Thanks for stopping by 032media! It’s all gone a bit quiet… and that’s because I’ve taken the decision to park 032 for the moment while I concentrate on my new role at

I’ve also rolled off, as combining two full-time jobs (and one on less than a minimum wage!) just isn’t sustainable.

However, if you are looking for someone to help create content or manage a site for you, I might still be able to assist – please drop me a line!

Keeping the foot in it in 2018

I think I must spend too much time updating other people’s sites… like this one… It’s the middle of 2018 already, it’s bloody cold and rainy here at 032media HQ, and I’m still got the pedal to the floor.

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It’s got a different feel to 2017, though. The car industry – after years and years and years of growth – feels as if it’s in a bit of a pause mode, as it resets in the wake of some pretty heavy decisions around future methods of propulsion.

Electric cars aren’t quite here yet, but fuels like diesel are definitely on the way out, and the seemingly insatiable appetite for SUVs – like the Hyundai I reviewed here – finally appears to be abating somewhat.

Of course, as an freelance automotive expert, a slowdown isn’t necessarily a great thing! Fortunately, my tenure with Mountain Biking Australia is still firing strongly – and it feels as if it’s moving forward, as well. I’ve even kicked off a little bike project of my own, but I’ll tell you more about that later.

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Travel-wise, I’ve added Croatia to the world map, with trips to New York, the UK, France and Germany all falling in the first half of the year. The second half looks more sane, thankfully, with more locally based stuff on the horizon.

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I’m right in the middle of the next issue of MBA, and I have to pack for… no wait, I don’t have to pack for this one! After almost 20 years, there’s a car launch happening literally 10km from my house tomorrow! Ace!

Oh, that reminds me – I’m really proud of the travel blog stuff I do for Volkswagen Australia – check it out here.

If you want to see what I get up to more regularly, I keep my Insta pretty stocked, I have a YouTube channel, and I also blog over here at Catch up soon!


2017 – what a ride!

I swear it was only a couple of months ago i was in Detroit for the first motor show of the year… 38 trips later and I’m having my first day off in three weeks on Christmas Eve!

From Hyundai i30s to 700bhp Jeeps, 24hr races, Korean BBQ, Mexican tacos and more besides, 2017 has been an amazingly busy whirlwind for 032media.

It’s not been without its challenges – and if not for mt beautiful wife amd awesome rugrats, it would have been a lot harder. Thanks guys.

My thanks, too, to the awesome teams at,, Mountain Biking Australia, Motor magazine, Evo Australia and everyone who has helped this year, including Brendan Batty at Roam.

If you’re looking for me in January, try here…

Viva la Baja!

What an amazing, amazing week. I’ve wanted to see the Baja 1000 desert race up close ever since I saw the movie Dust To Glory about ten years ago – a raw, beautifully shot doco about one of the world’s lat great adventures…. and I wasn’t disappointed.

Over 1900km from Ensenada to La Paz, 420 racers from all walks of life tackle the almost impossible. The course is indescribable- hot, rocky, dusty, blindingly fast, agonisingly slow and every extreme in between.

The country, too, is one of startling contrasts. Million-dollar race trucks cruise streets where mothers seek change from strangers, children by her side, while real danger lies in the back blocks beyond the well lit city streets.

But Mexicans are warm, friendly and helpful on the whole – even though the young bloke waving a machete at us excitedly maybe didn’t think things all the way through…

We traipsed from Ensenada to La Paz to catch the finishers – and we caught a bit of drama, too!

It was an 0430 start after a 0200 finish, but it was worth every minute of lost kip.

I’ll tap out more soon – on our way to Coffs Harbour to drive the new Camry.

Old dog, new (vid) tricks

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In this brave new world of multimedia, having additional strings in your bow is a pretty important trait. Admittedly, most of these traits I’ve not so much acquired so much as they have been bodged up in a panicked moment of requirement, so improving them where opportunity presents is a given.

I’m a late starter in the world of video – I only recorded my first proper piece to camera four or five years ago. I’m here to tell you it ain’t easy! To wit; this caravan review from 2012. Cringe alert… it’s flatter than a flat thing that’s been flattened by something very heavy.

I’ve slowly improved over time, though, by recording more vids and by watching the great work of others. I’ve also dabbled in the black art of editing my own vision, which is time consuming but particularly rewarding.

Today, I was lucky enough to join a class with my new (slash old) colleagues at Carsguide at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School run by famed Australian journalist Tracey Spicer, learning the finer points of video composition and execution.

Intonation, hand positions, dramatic arcs… it was an eye-opening day for this vid rookie. With Carsguide really ramping up its video content output, I’m really looking forward to taking my new-found skills in a non-Ricky Bobby way…


MOTOR magazine PCOTY wrap

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Yeah, yeah, sure… it’s been a while. But I’ve been busy, okay?

The crew at MOTOR run Performance Car of the Year every… well, year, and it has always been one of the most fun things I ever did mit pants on. A guernsey to return to the fold for another crack? Yes please, where do I sign and so on.

In short, a hilarious week of smashing about in other people’s hot rods was had. The guys at MOTOR have chronicled it all here, and there’s lots of vids of me and the other judges talking complete wibble about fast cars.

I dragged the cameras down and got some footage from onboard some hot rigs, too…

I promise I will keep things more up to date here from now on. Pinky swears. Here are some more more cool pics to say soz.

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032Media in the news!

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And no, it’s not what you think… recently, ABC News 24 put out the call for an automotive expert for a quick chat on the 12pm news bulletin. That day. It was already 1030 and I was still in Wollongong…

One change of clothes that Superman would be proud of later, and I fire into ABC’s sprawling Ultimo studios for a live (ulp) interview with the lovely Ros Charles.

Apols for the sketchy quality of this vid – I’ll pop a better one up later.

The festive season…

Manic – that’s a way to describe the last few weeks. Jobs for a host of clients, including Outdoor, GoAuto, Top Gear, Motor, Evo and others in places as varied as Goulburn, Tasmania, Spain and Thredbo kept me absolutely on the limiter right up to the beginning of this week.

Corralling two awesome cars and one Stig for a Top Gear vid at Goulburn proved awesome fun; a huge thanks to my good friend John Boston at for his help with that one!


Next was a quick dash to Tassie to drive a range of Renault Sports. Mmm, Sports… You’ll see that story in the next issue of Evo Australia magazine.


Then a dash to Thredbo, NSW, to climb to the top of Australia – before riding back down! A great weekend with the crew from Thredbo Resort and ace shooter Mark Watson of Incite Images for Australian Geographic/Outdoor magazine.


Finally, a mad-cap dash to Valencia, Spain, to drive Volkswagen’s new Polo GTI for a variety of Aussie auto outlets, including Top Gear and GoAuto. We were on the ground in Spain for exactly 25 hours…

wingtip spain


Then home, a quick day at the V8 Supercar races with Volvo, a dash to Melbourne to drive a Ford Kuga, and finally I’m looking down the barrel of my last official gig for 2014 – a drive of Mitsubishi’s Safari Rally Outlander PHEV.


It’s been crazy, it’s been tough in spots, but it’s been rewarding and exciting. Ain’t no one else in charge of 032Media’s destiny, and I’m genuinely thrilled at the outcomes we’re achieving. There’s loads more to come, though – this game is all about the hustle!

Keeping busy

I’m pleased to say I can slow down for at least two days this month. Maybe. With the Great Cycle Challenge happening all through October, things were getting pretty dern crazy there for a while. All for a bloody good cause, though! As I write this, the charity has raised more than $1 million for kid’s cancer research, and pretty much all of it goes to where it needs to. Love your work, team!

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Me, in my GCC jersey at the Mont 24 Hour

Work-wise, 032Media is keeping me busy! Online stuff for Top Gear Australia, mag features for MOTOR, AG/Outdoor, Top Gear and Bike, online news and reviews for GoAuto… it’s coming thick and fast!






Getting used to freelance life is interesting – today, for example, has been a 17-hour epic, but next week is looking decidedly light-on. A good chance to rip everything out of the garage and redesign it with a video-ready mechanic’s area, a spot for a photo backdrop and a new way of stashing the bike collection, maybe?


More to come soon, with new clients on the go and more new to reveal!

Media your way