Portal Axle 79’s do Monkey Gum

Portal Axle 79’s do Monkey Gum

To show our 79 Portal Axle customers just how capable their vehicles are, we took them away for a weekend and drove Monkey Gum

Most of our 79 series Portal Axle customers invest in these vehicles because they desire the pure capability that a set of portal axles gives them, but it occurred to me that so many of our customers really have no idea just how capable their 4X4’s are. 

I’ve owned, driven, and raced a lot of different 4X4’s in my time, and I can tell you that a 79 series cruiser really isn’t anything special.  In fact, I would never have spent my hard earned cash on one. That was until I got behind the wheel of one with a set of Marks Portals. I can tell you that out of all of the vehicles I’ve driven and modified, the portal 79 is by far my favourite, because it just does everything well.  It can tow, it is comfortable to drive every day, and it can do proper tough off-roading (I mean HARD tracks).

Given the significant investment in their vehicles, I felt that it was really important that we got out and showed some of our customers what their vehicles could do.  So, I called Leigh from Marks 4WD, set a date, and started calling customers.

We had 7 different cruisers turn up, and the first thing you notice is how differently each one was setup.  Some had long canopies. Some had short canopies. One customer left their canopy at home, knowing that we were going to be doing some challenging 4wding.

Anyway, we all met up in Nowra at the pub, to a little rain.  Form there, we cruised South West, turning into Mintbush fire trail, and started meandering down to the camping area down there.

 Once we got onto the dirt, we stopped and aired down.


After about 40 minutes, of driving, we made it to camp for the night.




The next morning, we headed out to begin the drive to the start of Monkey gum.  There had been some rain, and the tracks were slightly wet.

It wasn’t long before we had a wheel come off the rim, but it didn’t take long to fix.  Our first major obstacle was a creek crossing, which had been filled with lots of small tree branches, which made it difficult to cross initially.


After we cleared some of the debris from the crossing, the first vehicle got across and then it was relatively easy for everyone after that.

From that point, we meandered along some fairly easy but undulating trails for a while, dropping down into some tight creek crossings with relatively steep but easily driveable climbs, until we crossed the creek to the official start of Monkey gum.

We grabbed lunch, and then started the real drive. If you haven’t driven it, Monkey Gum is a fairly worn, rutted firetrail with some significant rock steps, off camber climbs, and rocky, scrabbly sections.

To drive this safely, ideally you want a vehicle with 4+ inches of lift, plus front and rear lockers.

The thing you really noticed watching the portal 79’s drive this track is their pure capability.  With the corrected wheel track, and the clearance of the portal axles, these vehicles have a fair bit of flex, and are incredibly stable.  They just meander over most obstacles, even when some of the drivers choose a line that would normally result in disaster for most vehicles.


We took it slow and steady, with guides on hand to help support customers through some of the obstacles which were more difficult

At one point, it started raining and that put a bit of a sense of urgency for everyone in continuing on to make sure the tracks didn’t get so slippery they got dangerous.

There were some uncomfortable angles, wheel lifts, and technical driving required to navigate rock steps and boulders on the track, although the extra diff clearance really made it easy for the Cruisers to get through.

A few vehicles did suffer some minor damage, with one vehicle knocking a hub cap off their wheel, and another catching the back edge of the tray on a rock, but there was nothing significant for a track which is much more difficult to drive than what most of these vehicles will see on their touring trips across the country.

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