EAST TO WEST

AMERICAN OFF-ROAD ICONS BFGOODRICH AND JEEP JOIN FORCES TO RECREATE AND CELEBRATE THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE 1969 EAST-WEST TRAVERSE OF OZ.

WORDS JUSTIN WALKER

IT HAS been 50 years since Ian McDonald and some close mates drove a convoy of Jeeps across Australia, from east to west. To celebrate this milestone adventure, 4X4 Australiaís US Correspondent Chris Collard and Ben Davidson of Seven Slot Expedition, along with Ian McDonald and John Eggleston (two of the three surviving members of the original expedition), will head a group of Jeeps from different eras including TJ, JK and new JL Wranglers to replicate the 1969 adventure. BFGoodrich is the expeditionís main sponsor and will be fitting all vehicles with its highly regarded KM3 mud-terrain tyre.

Leaving from Australiaís most easterly point of Byron Bay on July 4 and aiming to finish more than 5000km later at the most-westerly, Steep Point, the expedition will retrace McDonaldís original route through some of the toughest outback terrain in Oz. Highlights and challenges for the crew will include the remote tracks and deep, soft, unforgiving sand of the northern Simpson Desert (the expedition has received permission from Traditional Land Owners to traverse this region) before reaching Alice Springs. From there they will head to Uluru and Kata Tjuta before striking west across Outback WA to Steep Point.

The vehicles have been prepared by Melbourne-based Jeep specialists JeepKonection and, besides the BFGoodrich KM3 muddies, will be fitted with Warn Zeon winches, TeraFlex suspension systems and other gear from Bestop and Factor55. Along with the aforementioned crew of Chris, Ben, Ian and John, other attendees include Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame inductees Rick Pewe and Sue Mead. If all goes well for the expedition, 20 (or so) days later, it will have traversed 37 degrees of longitude by tripís end.

A huge difference between the original 1969 expedition and this new adventure will be the fact all of us chair-borne adventurers can keep up with the teamís progress, thanks to regular updates comprising images and videos, as well as the ability to track the team via Garminís InReach and Earthmate software. For a full run-down on this amazing expedition, go to www.sevenslotexpedition.comwww.sevenslotexpedition.com or or check check out out its its Insta feed: @sevenslotexpedition.