Sunday, October 19, 2014

2014 Sydney 4wd & Adventure Show

Hema Maps Vehicle
The 2014 Sydney 4wd & Adventure Show was held this past weekend. It's been two years since I last attended the show (and got to meet Gareth & Kirsty from Aussie Overlanders)  so I was keen to meet a few more interesting people and to check what the 4wd market was doing.
The popular online magazine 'Unsealed 4x4 - where the adventure begins' were the primary sponsors. I had a quick chat with the new editor Matthew Scott and was encouraged to hear about the growth of the online magazine and the emphasis on good content.

It was tough leaving the car park as it was filled with a few unique vehicles, excellent modifications and many tried&tested overland tourers.
Unimog's always attract attention...

The Toyota Land Cruiser Troopy is probably Australia's best overland tourer 4x4 and the parking lot had plenty of them on display.  I do like the versatility that these vehicles offer i.e exterior modifications to make your camping life simple and interior designs to add that extra level of luxury.

The show had a good mix of industry merchants selling products, 4x4 owners clubs and a few demo areas (Holden test vehicles, Land Rover test drive & a rock climbing wall).

A few 4x4 TV hosts were attending and giving a few talks this year.  I spotted Jason from 'All4Adventure' but unfortunately I could not get to chat to him.  I certainly enjoy the show and like the mix of story telling and adventure the show portraits.  The Land Rover Defender from 'The Offroad Adventures Show' was on display as well.
The Land Cruiser 200 Series from All4Adventure

The Land Rover Defender from The Offroad Adventure Show

Chatting to Pat Callinan

I finally got to meet Pat Callinan!  Most Australians know Pat Callinan very well (TV & Printed Media) however his reach globally is rather limited but hopefully that will change in the years to come.  I patiently waited for about 5minutes before I got to have a few words with him.  First impressions count and during those 5minutes, he passionately encouraged a few timid 4wd owners to explore further afield and answered a few standard questions (which he must get all the time).  My aim was purely an introduction and quickly the conversation broadened to people we know.  Pat was highly complimentary of Kirsty's writing skills (from Aussie Overlanders), so be sure to read her latest articles on her blog and Unsealed4x4.

The primary vendors had impressive stands, with ARB and TJM dominating the event, with plenty of sales people on hand to discuss the latest products and vehicle modifications.
2014 Sydney 4wd Show: ARB Stand

Two years ago the show was inundated with extremely cheap Chinese made 4x4 products (specifically from vendors like Tigerz 11 & Roo Systems).  These two vendors were not present this year which made me wonder if they were even invited.  The Australian 4x4 accessory market is valued in excess of AU$1B per annum with the primary Australian vendors certainly recogising that margin dollars are eroded with cheap imports.
However, there were still enough unbranded 'bargains' to be found if you went looking along with plenty of items that are Chinese made and rebranded (tyre repair kits, awnings and solar panels come to mind).

There was only one vendor highlighting interior modifications and that was Expedition Centre, which surprised me as most trade stands had no unique products and all tended to sell a modified version that you could purchase anywhere on the internet.  The camper trailer vendors followed a similiar approach to Daniel (from Expedition Centre) with sales people encouraging conversation about 4wd touring, camping and travel requirements.  Daniel, with his trans-Africa experience including a 'big lap' of Australia, understands overland travel and is passionate about sharing his experience and encouraging others to do the same.  For the record, I am teaming up with Daniel to host a Sydney Overland Meetup in 2015 but truly recognise his experience and insight.

Looking back over the weekend, I did benefit from attending the show - I got to meet a few people, and even managed to purchase a few products that I required for my old camper trailer (more on the camper soon).  There were enough merchants to keep the show interesting plus a few events taking place throughout the afternoon.  I quizzed a few vendors on the show and the feedback from the Saturday morning foot traffic was positive.   I overheard one buyer talking to a mate about a price of product X when compared to Ebay AU and how much the price differed - it certainly made me realize once again how competitive the 4x4 accessory market is!

According to the event Facebook page, the attendance this year was just over 18,000 visitors.
2014 Sydney 4wd & Adventure Show