Images: Campfire Creative and Castrol
Brought to you by Castrol MAGNATEC
For more than a decade, Shauno and Graham – Shaun Whale and Graham Cahill – of 4WD 24/7 have been sharing their passion for four-wheel driving and the great outdoors with a like-minded audience.
What started as 4WD Offroad Australia magazine in 1998 grew a strong following amongst the off-road community, even morseo DVDs of off-road adventure were added to the magazine.
In 2007, the magazine changed its name to 4WD Action and a YouTube channel was launched in 2018, allowing the magazine’s popular and informative video content to be consumed online.
More recently, 4WD Action started growing its online presence to the point where, two years ago, after the 301st and last issue of 4WD Action was published, 4WD 24/7 was launched, with the name change reflecting the fact that Shauno, Graham, new recruit Jocko and the rest of the team live the 4WD lifestyle - all day, every day. Graham and Shauno have been a part of 4WD Action / 4WD 24/7 for 15 years, so they’ve seen the brand evolve to the point where now, 4WD 24/7 has almost 800,000 subscribers and more than 154 million video views.
JUST 4x4s recently got the chance to chat with Shauno about how 4WD 24/7 came to be, some highlights from his time with the channel and 4WD Action magazine, favourite 4x4s, tips for keen off-roaders and what’s coming up on 4WD 24/7 in 2022.
JUST 4x4s: Why the switch from 4WD Action to 4WD 24/7 two years ago?
SHAUN WHALE: It was really the next evolution of the brand. We’ve taken it completely online, so now people can get their four-wheel drive content 24/7.
J4: How has the video content evolved since you started and how much of that is driven by feedback from subscribers to the channel?
SW: The content has become a lot more polished, so we capture our adventures a lot better. But the nuts and bolts of what we do hasn’t changed much since our first series of videos – the crux of what we do is inspire people to get outdoors and explore this great country of ours.
We’ve also had a philosophy - and proved it over the years - that you don’t need a huge budget to build a four-wheel drive and do your own adventures. I think that’s what makes our brand so appealing.
The bonus of YouTube and social media is that there’s a two-way communication between us and our audience, so we do get a heck of a lot of feedback. That drives a lot of the ideas behind the show, the vehicles and mods that we do, so there is a real connection with our audience and they do drive content.
J4: 4WD 24/7 obviously has a winning formula, but what do you put the channel’s success down to?
SW: The key to our success is that we’re real, fair dinkum four-wheel drive enthusiasts. Our audience are passionate four-wheel drivers, too, and they can see straight though someone that isn’t – who doesn’t live and breathe it.
Every single person that works on 4WD 24/7 is genuine and passionate about what they do. That’s a real passion – you can’t make it up or learn to like it.
J4: On a recent episode of 4WD 24/7, you were asking about the best place for off-roading and got responses from Germany, Canada, the US and UK. Is the international following you have surprising?
SW: We have always made Australian 4WD content and that’s the core of what we do. We have some of the best 4WD tracks and modifications, and the aftermarket industry in this country is probably the best in the world. So, we probably shouldn’t be surprised that people internationally look at what we do, because Australia is leading the charge in the off-road world.
J4: For a long time on 4WD 24/7, it’s been yourself and Graham in front of the camera, but recently, you’ve had Jocko (Jock McDonald) come on board. How did that come about?
SW: Like myself and Graham, Jocko started in the magazine days, behind the scenes. He started writing articles, then next thing you know, he’s on a few shows. But he fits in really well, he’s another die-hard enthusiast that lives and breathes 4x4s. If you’ve ever heard Jocko talk about his HiLux, you’ll know how passionate he is!
J4: You’ve had Castrol as a 4WD 24/7 sponsor for a few years now. How did that come about and how important has their support been?
SW: My first experience with Castrol was well before any sponsorship was concerned. It was my oil of choice back in the day when I was into building and modifying 4x4s. I’ve always had old 4x4s that used a bit of oil, and Castrol was the only oil that my vehicles wouldn’t drink litres of between maintenance schedules.
I have a 60 Series LandCruiser that used to like a lot of oil and I tried all sorts of brands – even the most expensive ones – but I put some Castrol in it and it agreed with the vehicle, so I thought ‘You Beauty!’, that’s for me!
Moving down the track, Castrol were impressed with our massive following and our passion – I think and they can relate to that passion as they’re a very passionate company as well, so it was a good fit.
We have a philosophy that we have to believe in the products we use and genuinely use them. As our audience is a bunch of enthusiasts, if we don’t believe in a product, they can see straight through that.
J4: So what Castrol oil are you currently using in your 4x4s?
SW: The main Castrol oil I use is a 15W40 Magnatec – in my diesels - especially the older vehicles. It seems to agree with my old 80 Series and 60 Series and the HJ47 farm truck.
When you go out in remote places, you need coolant, brake fluid and even power steering fluid, so I carry all of that with me. That’s all Castrol and even stuff like their bearing grease, too. I use a lot of Castrol products, which you may not always see in front of the camera, but behind the scenes, we use a lot of their stuff to get us through.
J4: On the content you shoot for 4WD 24/7, how much of that is pre-planned and how much do you shoot on the fly?
SW: We do have a plan of where we’re going to go and that’s decided by myself, Graham, Jocko, the producer and a few others. We have a chinwag about where we’re going to go in the next 12 months.
But no joke, some of our best trips ever have been planned at a country pub after a couple too many schooners and next thing you know, we’ve got a film crew and we’re out there doing it!
We have to remain pretty open to the idea that things change off road, so our video content does, too. For instance, if you find a big log over a track, you’ve got to turn around and find another angle for a show. It doesn’t always work out like we plan, so we have to be on our toes a bit.
J4: You love your fishing, so when you’re planning a series of trips for 4WD 24/7, are you always looking for areas where you can sneak in a bit of fishing as well?
SW: (laughs) Absolutely. If I had it my way, I’d be fishing on every single show! I’m obsessed with everything outdoors, but it’s no secret that I love fishing. Any time there’s an opportunity, I’ll have a fishing rod and a few lures in the car.
J4: You’ve recently been in Imbil and Moreton Island shooting new content. How did that trip go?
SW: It was cool. I took my ‘Dirty 30’ LandCruiser, which is a vehicle I’ve been building for four years, and while I’ve done the Kimberley and Cape York and Fraser Island with it, I’ve never done a hardcore trip with it, so this was the first time I’d really pushed its limits on some tough tracks. I was a bit apprehensive about that, but it went really well. And then, going to Moreton, it was a great way to end the year’s travels. Moreton Island’s a great little spot.
(NOTE: Shauno’s Dirty 30 ute is a chopped 60 Series ‘Cruiser cab on an 80 Series chassis that sees a lot of dirt and mud. Half a 60 Series = 30 and all that dirt = Dirty, hence the name!)
(You’ll be able to see the Imbil and Moreton trips on 4WD 24/7 in February)
J4: You’ve got the Dirty 30, Sooty the 80 Series ‘Cruiser and a 200 Series ‘Cruiser ute conversion in your fleet, but of the four-wheel drives you’ve driven that aren’t your own, which one has impressed you?
SW: That’s a tough one, because I reckon I’ve got some of the best four-wheel drives going around.
In saying that, Jocko’s HiLux is something that you need to see to believe. That thing is one of the most capable vehicles I’ve ever seen off-road. It’s built for tackling tough, tough tracks and what that thing can do almost makes all the four-wheel drives I’ve ever owned look silly – it’s so bloody capable (laughs).
And another car that comes to mind is, a bloke called Reuben who owns DMW Industries that’s one of our sponsors, he has a chopped 200 Series LandCruiser. It was the first time I’d driven a chopped 200 around and I just couldn’t believe the power, the comfort, how big the thing was. He had every camping mod known to man on his and that encouraged me to buy and build one myself.
J4: Given all the exploring you’ve done and areas of Australia you’ve visited off-road, what are the top three destinations you’d recommend four-wheel drive owners to tackle themselves?
SW: That’s a tough one, because there are so many awesome places – it’s tough to narrow it down to a top three. But I’d say Cape York, the Kimberley and Tasmania. I’ll chuck Fraser Island in there – that’s equal third!
J4: Are there three areas you haven’t explored or tracks you haven’t driven that you’d love to in the future?
SW: Definitely. I’ve been doing this 15 years and I drive around 60 to 70,000km a year, which takes me to a lot of really cool destinations, but I still haven’t explored the West Australian coastline, around Exmouth and the Coral Coast. I haven’t been to places like Robe and some of the beaches in South Australia, and while I have been to Arnhem Land, there’s a lot more exploring I’d like to do there.
J4: What are the top three upgrades or additions that you’d recommend people make to their four-wheel drive before taking on challenging tracks.
SW: Everyone expects me to say big, flash expensive mods, but the first thing I encourage people to do is get their car mechanically right and take it off road. Too many people worry too much about modifications and actually put the big trip of a lifetime off because they don’t think their vehicle’s up to scratch. I say ‘get it mechanically right and get out there and enjoy your vehicle’. That’s Number 1.
Tyres would be next, then a winch.
J4: What’s planned for 4WD 24/7 in 2022?
SW: We’ve got some big ones planned. Unfortunately, because of COVID, we couldn’t get down to the High Country in 2021, so we definitely want to go and explore the High Country.
We’ve got plans to visit Arnhem Land early in the season, which is a very wild place. We’re also thinking about doing something pretty cool in Cape York.
Just recently, Graham got an old G60 Patrol and I’ve got my HJ47 LandCruiser, so we were thinking we might take those two old jiggers and try and cross the Simpson Desert.
J4: If you’re taking those across the Simpson, you’ll be using your bush mechanic skills, I reckon.
SW: I think so, mate. Even our other vehicles, they’ve had such a hard life and they get used so much. What we do with one car for one year, most people wouldn’t do in a decade. They certainly wouldn’t subject their own vehicle to that much abuse, but we do it on a regular basis.
So, breakdowns and things failing is quite commonplace with all our cars, especially the older ones, but at least they’re simple, they’re easy to get going and they’re so tough and forgiving those old cars, as well.
J4: Would you like to take 4WD 24/7 overseas and maybe take on some tough tracks in the US or other countries?
SW: Absolutely. From a personal point of view, and for the channel as well, I’m sure a lot of people would like to see that. I’d like to go to the US, but moreso take one of our cars over – an Aussie-built car – and see how it mixes it up on some of their tracks.
We are an Australian channel and we’ll be doing predominantly Australian content, but it’d be pretty bloody cool to take one of our cars over to the USA and drive Moab or something like that.
J4: Of all content you’ve shot so far for 4WD 24/7, what’s been your personal highlight?
SW: So many things come to mind. I mean, there’s so many trips, even way back, that we’ve done some pretty mad stuff. One time, we drove the eastern beaches of Cape York, from Captain Billy Landing to Ussher Point – that was a massive adventure. We had to sign up to the fact we could lose our cars, we had to drive through seven saltwater crossings. It was pretty wild stuff.
But I reckon the Kimberley adventure that we did [in 2021] tops that. I caught my first metre barra’, we did 20 days out in the bush, basically trying to find an old track that had been completely grown over from two wet seasons. We were relying completely on our own devices out in the middle of the Kimberley. It was a 500 to 600km track in low range - in probably the most remote part of Australia.
For me, that’s what I live for – I love that adventure. That’s what gets me going – as far off the grid as you can possibly get and the most insane adventures you can go on – that’s what I like!