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It wouldn’t be school holidays unless our family took to the road as soon as school finished for a family road trip adventure and our steed for the summer 23/24 summer holidays was the amazing Nissan Patrol Warrior.

Springfree trampoline

 

This is an incredible vehicle that I previously put through its paces off-road in Tasmania. Having been so impressed by the Patrol Warrior's ability on Climies Track there, I desperately wanted to share the experience with my family and show them how good it is!

The 2019 toyota land cruiser is parked on rocks.

Nissan teamed up with the team at Premcar, who also created the Navara Warrior. Their challenge was to take the Ti model Nissan Patrol and make some serious adaptions to make it even more capable off-road. The basis for the New Patrol Warrior is the Ti model Patrol, and instead of customers buying lots of aftermarket parts, the conversion is already done for you, and it keeps the five-year, unlimited-kilometre Nissan factory warranty. As well as smoothing out the buying process for customers (I know my family doesn't have much free time to go around buying and fitting accessories), you can go back to your dealership if anything goes wrong.

With the end of term fast approaching, we see out the last couple of days of school drop-offs and buzzing around town to get all the last bits and pieces needed for our trip, giving me a chance to see how the Patrol Warrior fares as an everyday family car as well. Our usual family of four becomes five for the holidays, with my mother-in-law visiting us from the UK, so the car is fuller than we are all used to. Our entire crew are all very comfortable in the Nissan Patrol Warrior. This big 4×4 has so much interior space in all three rows of seats that everyone has a lot of personal space. So there is no “she's touching me” being squealed from the back seats!

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

Driving around town is comfortable and easy; although the Patrol Warrior is large, the visibility is very good, the steering is light and parking is easy at our last few school drop-offs and pick-ups of the year.

In a bid to find the best family adventure setups to suit everyone's families, and having loved our previous family adventure in the D-Max and hiring a Jayco Swan, we bought our own Goldstream Storm Camper Trailer ready for this family adventure so we can tow it through its paces and you can see how it might suit your family.

Our first summer holiday destination is the incredibly beautiful Moreton Island, a sand island off the coast of South East Queensland that we look across at longingly every day from our local beach.

I am so excited to take the Nissan Patrol Warrior to this Moreton Island. I already know how incredibly capable the Patrol Warrior is, so I want to see how it handles the terrain when fully loaded with our family and all our gear AND towing our new camper trailer, which we affectionately named ‘Stormy’ by the end of the trip!

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

Time to pack: Every parent knows the sheer amount you need to take when travelling with kids is terrifying! But we are also going for Christmas, so (cover your eyes kids- we need to squeeze the presents in there too). Our family of five only needs to use the first two rows of seats, leaving us with a cavernous boot space with ample room to fit our enormous 95L fridge and all our clothes, food, camping chairs, paddle boards and more needed for a ten-night off-grid camping holiday on an island.

It is wonderful not to have the usual stress over whether we are taking too much, whether everything will fit in the boot, and what won’t fit and has to be left behind. The Nissan Patrol's boot is so large that there were no concerns, and the toilet and kitchen sink came, too!

A little trick Stormy’s previous owners taught us is; each person has a plastic drawer, and that is what they pack their clothes into instead of a suitcase or bag. These stack neatly in the boot of the car while you are driving (or secured inside the camper trailer) and they stack neatly into a small tower when you are camping as well.

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

The Nissan Patrol's 3.5-tonne towing capacity makes us confident in towing our new camper trailer, which has a maximum weight of 1.8 tonnes with everything loaded.

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

With the inevitable last-minute rush to get everything packed and loaded and Stormy hooked up and out of the driveway without crashing into the front garden wall, we finally hit the road! All relieved and excited, ten minutes down the road, of course, the kids shout, “We're hungry”, and I realise we left everyone's lunch in the fridge at home! A quick U-turn (that’s actually not so quick due to it being only the fourth time I’ve towed a camper trailer!) lunch is collected, and we are on our way!

Traffic is unexpectedly heavy on the highway, and we make it to the Micat ferry crossing with minutes to spare (they actually phoned us twice during the journey to make sure we'd actually make it)! Everyone else is loaded on and they have left a perfect size space for us to drive aboard.

Relieved to have made the boat, we head upstairs to enjoy a cuppa and views from the upper deck for the trip over to Moreton Island. It takes around an hour and forty minutes, which is just enough time for the kids to try everything at the onboard cafe!

The crossing also provides time to deflate your tyres before driving onto the sand. The Nissan Patrol's tyre pressure monitoring system display makes this easy, and our kids love helping with it!

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

The view of the shipwrecks and sand cliffs as you arrive at the island is glorious, and the staff onboard announce it’s time to head back to your vehicles.

Driving off the Micat and onto the sand at Moreton Island is renowned for being the trickiest part and where a lot of people get bogged (the announcements on the boat about how to avoid this are very funny). We aren’t really worried about this driving the Patrol but we do wonder how Stormy will go on the sand and I think everyone holds their breath for the first thirty seconds!

On that first drive up the beach, the yellow/white sand, blue sky and turquoise water are amazing, and all the morning's stress evaporates instantly! My mother-in-law has never experienced anything like it and is awestruck.

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

We head to Comboyuro, our campsite on the northwest of Moreton Island. The drive up the beach is incredible. The Nissan Patrol Warrior really shows its grunt, easily towing the 1.8-tonne Stormy across the sand, and up and down the choppy beach exits and entrances.

A while up the beach, we take the Cowan Cowan bypass to avoid a renowned water crossing that is impassable at high tide. This bypass has a fair bit of soft sand, and we have witnessed many boggings on this stretch on previous trips here. The Cowan Cowan bypass takes you through beautiful bushland, grass trees, wattles, and a green contrast from the yellow/blue beach! 

The track varies between single tracks, bumps and ruts, and wider soft sand areas where you can pass other vehicles. As other vehicles approached, we watched as others narrowly escaped getting bogged. The Nissan Patrol Warrior just kept on moving through even the soft sand! Although you had to drive according to the conditions we were seeing that the Patrol Warrior is so capable in these conditions where other vehicles we have driven here previously have really struggled (and they weren't towing anything).

The bypass leads us back onto the beach, and I hop out and run out onto the beach to film the exit. The island Ranger is driving along and stops me. He said he’d seen someone towing a camper trailer and wanted to see what we are towing it with and if we’re doing alright! He watches Hubby drive the Patrol out onto the beach and said ‘Oh, you’ll be alright towing with that thing’ and he drives off ahead of us!

The ranger stayed in front of us for a few kilometres and kindly signaled out the window about which side to pass a water crossing, and then he left us at it!

We soon saw the familiar soft sand entrance to Comboyuro Camp Ground (we camped here pre-COVID when we were a family of three) and with a bit of beans (accompanied by a V8 growl from the Nissan Patrol Warrior's special side-exit exhaust pipes that turns a few heads) we're through the soft sand and entry and were driving around looking for a good camp spot.

Luckily, a family was just leaving a beautiful spot with a little walkway through to the ocean.

Our first time towing, parking and setting up ‘Stormy’ the camper didn’t go without a hitch! We actually got it wedged against the trunk of a tree and, after an hour of trying to free it ourselves, enlisted the help of a large group of muscly young men who made it look very easy by lifting it and literally carrying it out of the tree trunk! Very grateful for their help (and the fact my three-year-old stayed asleep through the whole thing)!

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

We set up the camper, grabbed our swimmers, and headed straight to the beach for a swim! It made all the hard work of the days of preparations and the morning rush worthwhile to be in the clear blue waters.

Cooled down and all relaxed, we stroll back through to Stormy and finish setting up our home for the next ten nights! The girls are disappointed that we didn’t take a Christmas tree with us, so they set to decorating the perfectly positioned tree stump in front of the camp.

The kids add decorations each day with shells, and they find a yellow plastic star washed up on the beach, which makes for a great tree topper!

As time goes on, it gets pretty full of discovered decorations, and at night, it looks beautiful with the solar fairy lights glowing!

Moreton Island is idyllic. Going to sleep, listening to the sound of the lapping waves, waking up each morning and going straight for a swim in the crystal clear, turquoise ocean with my girls is the best way to start the day. We establish a morning routine of returning the washed-up jellyfish back to the ocean, collecting the washed-up plastic and rubbish, and then they keep me fit running up and down in the shallows, dragging them on their bodyboards until I am exhausted!

Our only company first thing in the morning is the local kites and sea eagles keeping a lookout in the tallest trees along the beach, looking for a tasty fish to dive down and nab!

With a ferocious appetite, we race back to camp where my eldest cooks everyone breakfast. It’s not really camping unless you are having pancakes for breakfast!

The first few days are slow. We are all unwinding from a chaotic end to the school and working year. The kids need to play in the mud with sticks, play in the water, and remember how to be kids without screens, school, and all the luxuries of home!

Time in the hammock and paddle boarding, we soon all get in the relaxed groove of camping! The 12V socket in the boot of the Nissan Patrol Warrior is really helpful when camping. We ran our big fridge off it when travelling and could pump up our paddleboards using it, too.

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

After the Nissan Patrol Warrior got us so confidently to Comboyuro campground, she's pretty much redundant for the first few days as we walk, swim and relax.

Positioned on the northwest, the campground has good, basic drop toilet facilities, a couple of cold showers, bore water taps, and a chemical toilet emptying facility. It’s a two/ten-minute walk depending on which campsite you choose. We found our solar shower bags work better than the showers provided so the kids loved a daily washdown as they came off the beach out in the open under the trees!

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

A short twenty-minute walk or five-minute drive away is the tiny township of Bulwer, home to a few local houses and a small shop and cafe. The shop is extremely well stocked and inexpensive (in some cases, I think it may be cheaper than the mainland where inflation makes island prices look normal), especially considering it has a captive audience.

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

We have a daily pilgrimage to refill our bore water near the toilet block and our drinking water jerry cans at the shop. The two jerry cans fit perfectly in the rear footwell for the short, slow drive between Comboyuro and Bulwer, making them easy to transport, and our youngest daughter rested her feet on top of them!

After big mornings on the beach building sand snowmen and burying the kids…

… paddle boarding, swimming and exploring.

We’d often walk to the Bulwer shop for an ice cream in the afternoon. There's a rope swing.

A little wooden boat and a lighthouse…

… and a hidden fairy garden. Which the kids loved!

If you are tired of camp cooking and want someone else to cook for a change, the food there is excellent. I highly recommend the burgers!

If you run out of food, they also sell vacuum-packed fresh veggies, steak, or salmon, which you can take back to your campsite to cook. We got a couple of steaks for Christmas Day, and they were delicious!

After a few calm days, the weather takes a turn, and there is a lot of rain! Thunderstorms roll in in the afternoon and keep going all night long. The sound of the lapping waves at night is replaced by the constant crashing thunder, hammering rain and tree detritus falling on the roof.

Many campers around us in tents and swags are sadly washed out. After a few nights of this, the campsite empties prematurely, and the rubbish skips near the toilet block are full to overflowing with broken camping gear.

Luckily, our camper stays dry and earns itself the name Stormy.

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

Lots of the tracks on the island were flooded so we stayed put a few more days and enjoyed the ocean and making sand pies! Unfortunately our neighbour's car suffered badly in flood water and they had to be towed off the island by a local and his tractor.

I was eager by now to explore the island more, and I was looking at the Nissan Patrol Warrior, longing to get out and do some driving! The first sunny morning we get after a few days of heavy rain, we head to Moreton Island's famous sand dunes for some sand boarding! The track out to the dunes is renowned for getting people bogged, and we have been bogged there a few times when we were here in other vehicles. I was very excited about the drive as I know it also goes through some of the most beautiful parts of Moreton Island's forests. Huge red bark gum trees and the smell of the rain and the heat of the sun evaporating it, along with the more challenging track, made it an exhilarating drive.

I set out with an anxious knot in my chest, worried about what state the tracks would be in and thinking we'd get bogged, but after a while I realise the Nissan Patrol Warrior really isn’t struggling at all and the knot quickly dissipates! I still need to concentrate and drive accordingly but the Patrol Warrior really is so capable. The extra 50mm of ground clearance the Warrior has and the ability to crawl over just about anything meant it felt a bit like cheating!

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

The car park of the sand dunes is often where people get bogged so choose a soft area to park so that others in less capable vehicles could park on the firmer ground – confident the Nissan Patrol Warrior could handle it.

The sand dunes are enormous! It’s a five-to ten-minute walk up to the top of them. On your walk, keep your eyes out for hard rocks of sand where lightning has struck them and turned them into glass.

We go prepared, having been here before, with cut-to-size pieces of masonite board and a big candle to wax one side of it. This reduces friction, so you slide down the dunes with ease!

We sit at the top of the dunes, waxing our boards, and then we were off! It is so much fun! I rode down with my youngest lying on my back, and the speeds you get up to and the whoops and shouts of joy are wonderful!

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

There is also a lot of sand spray if you don’t lift up the front of your board enough, and we all copped a mouthful of sand on our first go-down!

When everyone is exhausted, we walk back to the Nissan Patrol Warrior.

The drive back along the infamous track caught a few less capable vehicles out, and with the help of our MaxTrax and many people pushing, we got them out each time. It was really nice to drive along so confidently. I didn’t want to be too confident in case it was misplaced, but I soon realised it really wasn’t, and the Nissan Patrol Warrior's ability to drive off-road I had experienced previously in Tasmania when I drove it on the bolder and rut-filled Climies Track was equally matched off-road on sand driving.

A 2023 Nissan Patrol is driving down a rocky trail.

The Patrol Warrior also attracted a fair bit of attention when we were driving it around the island. Other Nissan Patrol drivers would give us a wave, and most people were checking it out as it looked capable and moody, making its way down the beach, through the sandy forest, or parked alongside other vehicles. It was also the first Patrol Warrior anyone had seen in the metal!

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

Hooked on the bug of driving around the island, the next day, we head off to Blue Lagoon, a freshwater lake on the northeast side of the island.

The drive there is glorious. Winding our way across the island, through areas of narrow track and dense forest that open out into areas of bright, wide, open white sand track, with low shrubs and tall grass trees.

The track into Blue Lagoon is narrow and very soft, and you can see where vehicles have gotten stuck as there are only a few places to pass; someone would have to back up. The sand at the end of the track where you park up is the softest I’ve seen so far, and it did make me a bit nervous!

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

Blue Lagoon is a freshwater lake infused with tea tree oil from the surrounding vegetation. It is glorious to swim in, and after all the days camping and only solar showers, we all felt the cleanest we had in a week after swimming in it!

There are a few little overhanging trees you can rest under for a shady picnic.

After hours of swimming and many groups of people coming and going, we make our way back to our car. The area has filled up, and there are a few utes at various stages of getting bogged, being bogged and getting out of being bogged!! As I drive us out of the parking area and along the track, it’s the first time I hold my breath driving the Nissan Patrol Warrior as I think to myself, “Can we get out of here without getting bogged!!” Well, of course, we do!

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

Feeling cleaner than ever, with silky skin and hair, we're all happy campers, and it's a fun drive back out onto the beach.

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

As we drive back across the island, we see a man walking on his own, so we stop to make sure he's okay. He had got the Micat ferry over in the morning as a foot passenger and walked to Blue Lagoon to look for his phone he had lost there the week before. He was now walking a few hours back to the ferry to go home, deflated as he couldn't find it. He was pretty dehydrated and nearly out of drinking water, and it was a super hot day, so we gave him a lift across the island. Glad the Patrol has a third row of seats!

We return to camp in time for the temperature to drop and the clouds to roll in for another rainy night in Stormy.

The next morning, Christmas Eve, we’re back in the Nissan Patrol Warrior and heading across the island again to drive down the east coast to the furthest south township, Kooringal, to the Gutter Bar and the Oyster Farm. The drive down the East Coast beach is stunning! This is the surf side of the island, and we drive down on the outgoing tide. With blue skies, turquoise ocean, and white sand, it’s such a beautiful drive.

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

We see very few people driving on this side of the island; it’s calm, and the sand is firm and flat, making driving south easy.

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

There are just the eagles soaring above us, looking for their lunch! And we saw a beautiful rainbow!

We reach the southern point where the beach runs out and follow the track through the trees to Kooringal. Just before we reach there, we see a sign for the Oyster Farm and veer right to follow it. This track is beautiful, and as we go across the southern tip, the forest changes to almost a green meadow.

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

It’s a busy time of year at the Oyster Farm as everyone wants seafood for Christmas the next day. The lady in the shop shows me all the enormous orders stuck up on the wall, and I feel a little silly ordering my half dozen Oysters to eat then and there!

While I enjoy eating my oysters, in the attached shed, I spot a grading machine and the owner at a bench grading some oysters by hand.

We have a quick chat and he explains these are the native oysters they farm here. These native oysters take three years to grow. They are high maintenance compared to the non-natives farmed everywhere else in Australia, which only take three months to grow. Taking three years to grow, they have to ‘turn them’ every few months to avoid getting seaweed and barnacles growing all over them. They take them out, clean the oyster shells and return them to the water every few months. It’s a labour-intensive process, but it’s worth it because they taste delicious!

As we leave, I see a few locals coming and going, collecting their fresh seafood orders ready for Christmas Day!

We head back through the gorgeous green meadow-like track to the Gutter Bar at Kooringal.

The Gutter Bar is a cool spot for lunch. It has a great garden and atmosphere, as well as giant model sea creatures and buoys for the kids to play on. It’s a beautiful relaxing spot that does a good burger or seafood and it’s well worth the drive down the length of the island and any excuse for me to take the Patrol for a big drive!

We timed the drive with the tides so we could drive down on the outgoing tide, have lunch, and drive back up to the eastern beach before the incoming tide got too high. However, we are a little pressed for time after my detour to the Oyster Farm! As we drive back out onto the eastern beach, the first section is a little hairy as the tide is higher up than I’d have liked, and we have to drive hard to beat the incoming tide, in some areas even having to time our progress between the surf washing across very narrow sections that would get totally cut off at high tide.

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

I have a little ride in the back with the girls along the beach, and after a good lunch and the warm sun, we all get sleepy in the back! It’s a good opportunity to see what it's like riding in the back.

I found it comfortable in the back of the Nissan Patrol Warrior, and to me, it feels like it has the character of a large, gentle puppy bounding along. I love the amount of personal space I have, even with an Infasecure child seat on one side and a large child next to me on the other. As Mum, I’m close enough to hold hands, play, etc, but I don't feel squished.

I get a great view out of the enormous windows! Especially as we sit so high up. It’s a great viewing position for rear passengers.

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

With two VERY excited girls for Christmas, they go to bed worried that Santa may not find them on Moreton Island. We convince them to leave out a biscuit and a beer for Santa, just in case 😉

Now, you may wonder where Santa might keep his stash in such close quarters!? Luckily, Stormy has excellent storage underneath the seating area, and once the kids are asleep, we sneak in and deliver their presents! Ensuring we eat the biscuit and drink the beer purely to keep up the pretence! 😉

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

The kids are ecstatic to wake up on Christmas morning and see Santa has found them on Moreton Island! They are full of questions, including how he got into Stormy without waking everyone up!

It's a sunny Christmas day spent on the beach…

… building sand snowmen and paddleboarding and bodyboarding as a family.

During the heat of the day, we retreated to camp, where the girls did some Christmas crafts, and the grown-ups relaxed for a while!

This is our last day on the island, so we tried to save some of our favourite food for Christmas lunch! We did buy the vacuum-sealed steaks from the Bulwer shop Castaways, and they are delicious! The local kookaburras take a keen interest in the sight and smell of the meat!

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

A family of curlews take refuge nearby as their chick has a damaged wing, and the kookaburras are interested in that for their Christmas lunch, too! There is a lot of wildlife to see on Moreton Island. The kids love the tree frogs we see each night at the toilets, dugongs, kingfishers, praying mantis, stick insects, goannas, dolphins, sharks, jellyfish, eagles and seahorses are just some of the wildlife we saw in our ten days!

An afternoon spent exploring the nearby shipwrecks at Bulwer. In the early 1930s, three ships were sunk here by Robert Alexander Gow deliberately to create a sheltered area to load and unload his 12-metre boat.

We walk and explore the beach in both directions, where the girls collect shells and climb driftwood trees.

We've had dinner at the beach every night whilst watching the sunset and the dolphins swim past. We wander down the sandy path, each with our bowl and fork in hand for our last sundown dinner!

The kids play on the beach while we watch the sunset, and luckily, Christmas evening is dry.

It is a welcome break from the constant thunderstorms, allowing one more night to fall asleep listening to the lapping waves! Waking in the morning for one last swim in the ocean, we pack up camp and Stormy to head home.

Heading south along the island to catch the Micat back to the mainland, all the rain has really changed the beach for the drive back, and it is a little nerve-wracking! There are lots of river-like outlets running out onto the beach and water crossings to navigate with deep shelves of sand where the water has carved its new course across the beach from the bush to the ocean. I am very thankful to be driving the Nissan Patrol Warrior while towing Stormy through this, as I feel I'd have really struggled in some parts with a less competent vehicle.

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

Waiting in line on the beach with all the other vehicles, we watch the Micat arrive.

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

Hundreds of families load off the ferry, Christmas spent at home and ready for their summer holiday. It's quite an informal affair as we drive line by line up to the ferry then drive on and re-inflate the tyres ready for the bitumen of the mainland.

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

It is a lovely ferry ride home. We read books and discuss all our favourite things from our holiday. The kids look at the big map on the wall and see all the places we've been to and where we have saved for next time!

Before we dock in Brisbane, the crew warns us there are storms coming, and as we drive off the ferry, it starts to rain lightly. Driving off the ferry onto the mainland, it feels strange to be back on normal roads with traffic lights, road signs, busy traffic and it takes some adjustment. The rain gets harder, and as we go over the gateway bridge, a huge storm hits. It's gusty up there, and the rain and hail are so heavy that it's hard to see.

By the time we hit the Bruce Highway home, the storm rumbles more quietly overhead, and the rain and hail ease off (having thoroughly cleaned all the sand and tree litter off the Patrol and camper); in the car, we all resume the chat of what our favourite things have been about our time on Moreton Island. There's no time for getting sad about it though because we all get excited for next week's family adventure in the Nissan Patrol Warrior and Stormy!

Nissan Patrol Warrior and camper trailer holiday on Moreton Island

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Tace Clifford
About Tace Clifford
Tace Clifford founded BabyDrive in 2017 after discovering a huge information gap in mainstream car reviews that left new parents and expanding families in the dark when it came to one of the biggest purchasing decisions of their lives.

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