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An Interview with Ricko- The Off-Road Adventurer

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Rick Obrien, better known as Ricko, has been a part of Australia’s 4WD fraternity for more than two decades, in which time he’s contributed to the community from just about every angle. Ricko was kind enough to let us pick his brain recently, and as always, he had plenty of insight to share. 

Rick Obrien, better known as Ricko, Hema Maps Interview(Image: Rick Obrien, 'Ricko' The Off-Road Adventurer.)

Q. Here’s what we all want to know: how'd you manage to build a career out of 4WDing?

It’s the old story isn’t it – the twenty-year overnight success! Half of my life has been dedicated to the offroad way of life as a member of 4WD clubs etc, and eventually that spilled over into work as well. It started in a popular 4WD store, then I got heavily involved in off-road competitions which led to an offer to go and work in the 4WD media – specifically magazines and then DVDs. I had an idea for a show, invited a few mates to get involved and together we made it happen. I feel incredibly fortunate and thankful that folks have really connected with me and what I do, it is just so rewarding. It’s a gig you won’t retire early on, but jeez, it’s a hell of a lifestyle!

Q. What’s one essential piece of kit you can’t leave home without?

Well there is certainly more than one – but the HX-1 never leaves the vehicle, it’s essential for my work and play!

Q. How has 2020 changed your views on travel / what’s your top 2020 travel tip? 

For me personally, it hasn’t. I have never had an interest in overseas travel – there is just far too much to still experience here at home. My tip is to make plans – not excuses, which is also my motto! Make plans, and do everything in your power to stick to them – but behave safely and responsibly too in relation to COVID protocols etc. Stay safe out there and respect your fellow Aussies!

Q. For those who’ve not the chance to go on any big trips this year, how can they squeeze the most value out of a short trip – say, a long weekend?

A terrific way to make the most of your time is to take advantage of the knowledge of others. Whether that be your local 4WD club, a great guide book, or perhaps even a tag-a-long tour. Getting out armed with knowledge will allow you to make the most of your time and focus on creating a weekend of highlights, rather than too much time wasted on learning from your mistakes. 

Ricko 4WDriving (Image: Ricko out on a 4WDriving Adventure.)

Q. Hema’s motto is ‘prepared to explore’, but of course, things don’t always go to plan; what’s something you’ve encountered on a trip you could never have prepared for?

Half way across the Simpson Desert, a 200 Series in our convoy copped a stick through the bottom tank of the radiator. Being a plastic tank, I suggested we take my tyre iron (an old-school tool for removing tyres from wheels) and heat it up in the fire to create a make-shift plastic welder. We managed to melt enough cable ties into the hole to get the car across to Birdsville!

Q. What’s the number one traveller faux pas, as far as you’re concerned? 

As anyone who has travelled Cape York’s Old Telegraph Track will attest to, it has to be people not knowing how to do their business cleanly in the bush. Campsites are virtually ringed with used toilet paper that hasn’t been disposed of correctly, and it is absolutely disgusting. 

Q.What are your top three most memorable campsites? 


Shelley Beach on the eastern side of West Cape Howe in southern W.A has to be right up there, it is simply spectacular. Litchfield NP is pretty special, and anywhere in the Simpson Desert is never a bad experience. How do you narrow it down to just three though – Cape York, Fraser Island, Moreton Island, the Victorian High Country, Tassie, the Finke Gorge….  I could go on and on!

Q. What's your most used and abused Hema product and what's the story behind it?

I have an old laminated wall map of Australia that has lived in three different sheds over the last dozen or so years, with tracks drawn all over it outlining where we’ve been. I’ll never part with it. It provides me with memories, and it inspires me to go fill in the blanks! 

Ricko- The Off-Road Adventurer (Image: Ricko- The Off-Road Adventurer, 'It's a Hell of a Lifestyle!')
 

Q. Tell us a bit about the projects you’re working on at the moment, or any big trips you’re planning. 

By now most folks know that I left The Offroad Adventure Show after five seasons and being it’s co-creator. I have a brand new show in the works that I’ll be screening online rather than TV, and it’s called “Australia ReDiscovered with Ricko”. We’ll be telling plenty of great Australian stories, with plenty of early explorers, bushrangers, characters and other legends being a focus. I reckon the stories that make up Australia’s history are too good not to share! This will eventually take us all over Australia, and I can’t wait! 
I’m also hosting tag-a-long tours these days, which are proving to be very popular! It’s a great way to get out there and share what I’ve learnt over the years and help others find their own 4WDing feet, so to speak. My focus going forward is to encourage, educate and inspire others to get out there and experience the best country on Earth. If I can do that, I’ll die a happy man!


To find out all about what Ricko’s up to, or to learn more about his tag-along tours, head to www.ricko.com.au

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