Welcome to More Dirt Less Bitumen
Hey there, we’re Matt and Marianne (aka Mez) and together, we are More Dirt Less Bitumen. As the name of our blog suggests, we are all about exploring Australia via More Dirt and Less Bitumen.
Why take the easy route, when you can take the scenic one?
We explore, camp, four-wheel drive, have fun and enjoy ourselves. Take the road less travelled and enjoy it for what it is. An adventure. An experience.
While enjoying a beer with a couple of locals at the Leigh Creek Hotel in Copley one afternoon, we were introduced as “Matt is a ‘chk-chk’ (made shutter noise and mimed taking a photo) and Mez likes old shit!”
He pretty much nailed it in one.
Taking the road less travelled
Our journey as a couple started way back in 2002 and we got married in 2005. We’ve enjoyed the outdoors lifestyle since first getting together, with many camping trips around South East Queensland and North East New South Wales.
Our first big camping trip came in 2008 when we packed up the ute and headed west from Brisbane for our first real taste of the outback. We ended up at Birdsville for what would be the first of many visits for us both, before returning with a newfound appreciation of the heart of Australia.
Many more expeditions have taken place in the years that have followed, with a month-long trip to Cape York in 2010, a 10 week, 18000+ kilometre epic through the deserts of Central Australia undertaken in 2016 and a three-week journey back out to Birdsville, Lake Eyre and the Flinders Ranges in 2019 being some of the most memorable.
What you see is what you get
We are both pretty basic people and the simple things in life, like getting away camping is all we need to keep us happy. Heading bush enables us to hit the reset button and enjoy a much slower pace.
We’re certainly not glamourous campers. We sleep in a fifteen-year-old swag that has served us well on many nights under the stars. Camping to us is all about getting away from the every day, so we take the bare minimum with us (except for all the camera and computer equipment!)
G’day guys, I’m Matt. Great to meet you all.
In a nutshell, this is me: I camp, four-wheel drive, explore the outdoors and get paid to take photos. I’m happiest when I’m doing all four at once.
I was born and bred in Mackay, North Queensland and thanks to my awesome parents, I spent my childhood outside, not inside glued to a TV screen. Holidays and weekends were always spent fishing, camping and exploring the great outdoors.
Moving to Brisbane to undertake university studies in 1993, it wasn’t long before South East Queensland became my new playground. The purchase of my first 4WD a couple of years later opened up a whole new world to me.
Weekends spent with mates at Landcruiser Mountain Park and on the beaches of Stradbroke and Fraser Islands fuelled my adventurous spirit and cemented my love for the great outdoors.
After completing my studies, I undertook a cabinetmaking apprenticeship before hearing and responding to the call of the 4WD industry. A chance flick through the pages of a 4×4 magazine had me applying for a sales position at ARB Coopers Plains.
For over ten years I worked at ARB Coopers Plains as a sales representative, before becoming the Sales Manager. In this time I got to know my way around a lot of 4WD’s and the off-road scene. Needless to say, I was well and truly hooked.
A trip with Mez to Birdsville in 2008 had me grabbing my little point and shoot camera at every opportunity. When a photo of the iconic Birdsville Hotel of mine found its way into The Australian newspaper, the photography bug had well and truly bitten.
Since late 2014 I have been a freelance photographer, specialising in outdoor, adventure and vehicle photography. I get to travel the country working with companies like Hema Maps, Patriot Campers, MSA 4×4, Moreton Island Adventures, and the Big Red Bash.
The past couple of years have also seen me turn my hand to writing feature articles, as well as reviewing caravans and camper trailers for various magazines. You can check out a few of my reviews for Caravan World here and here, as well as some of my work for Camper Australia here and here.
In late 2019, I had to not step, but jump out of my comfort zone when I was approached to be a judge for Caravan World’s Best Aussie Vans competition. It was a great week and I learned so much from such legends in the off-road scene like Ron and Viv Moon.
When I’m not working or out exploring, there’s a good chance that you’ll find me:
- with a camera nearby, heading out for a sneaky sunrise or sunset somewhere in South East Queensland.
- indulging in a craft beer or three
- watching sport, particularly the V8 Supercars
Here are a few other useless facts about me…..
Take on Me by A-ha
Detachable Penis by King Missile (go on, Google it. I know you want to)
Weddings. Parties. Anything
Mucking out horse stables
What’s a book?
Top Gun, Point Break, Sound of Music, anything by Quentin Tarantino
Own a property in the country, with a big shed and heaps of dogs
Hi there! My parents called me Marianne, but a friend of ours started calling me Mez for some reason and it stuck, now most people call me that. Or Mezzi. Or MEZZZZZAAAAAA!!! Classy, I know. My other persona is “The House Detective”, which is what I call what I do for a living, because “architectural historian” sounds like I should be wearing a monocle and a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches.
In West Philadelphia I was born and raised, on the playground was where I spent most of my days…. Oh no wait, that was the Fresh Prince. I was actually born and raised in Brisbane and have lived here my whole life, except for a brief stint in Sydney. I freaking love this city, not least because we have so many incredible places to explore within 1-2 hours drive.
When I was a kid, I was always playing out in the backyard with my sis and bro, riding my bike or setting poorly-devised and unsuccessful traps for our nemesis- the neighbour’s Siamese cat. Holidays were spent in budget units at the beach or camping and we often went bush-walking at Mt Glorious, Mt Nebo and Springbrook on weekends.
I guess that’s where my love of the outdoors started, but I think even my family wonder where my complete and utter joy at bouncing along dirt roads in a ute and sleeping in a swag in the middle of nowhere came from!
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, my other happy place is France. I seriously could never holiday anywhere else overseas and be perfectly happy. It appeals to my love of history, picturesque villages, champagne and pastries. But mainly pastries.
When I’m not travelling, camping, 4WDing or dreaming about France, you will find me:
- Watching history documentaries (yes, I’m a total history nerd)
- Watching urbex and abandoned exploration vids on YouTube
- Watching period dramas or old movies
- Reading books, buying books, categorising my books, researching new books to buy, creating wish lists of books I want to buy, convincing myself that just because I haven’t read all the books I have, it doesn’t mean I can’t buy new ones, convincing Matt that the extra weight in the ute from all my books on a trip is ESSENTIAL
- Sewing (okay, so in practice, this mainly looks like hoarding fabric)
Here is some more trivia about me….
Mashed potato with heaps of salt
Hotel California and Bust A Move (I know, a bit of a contrast!)
New Kids on the Block: The Right Stuff (go right ahead and judge me!)
Bobby Brown (thought I was so gangsta in high school)
Corinda bakery- YUM!
Okay, so there are lots and it’s an eclectic mix… North and South (BBC miniseries), Pride and Prejudice (BBC miniseries), Spaceballs, The Princess Bride, Terminator 1 + 2, Die Hard 1 + 2, Talladega Nights, Anchorman, Pulp Fiction, The Hangover, Shooter, Happy Gilmore, 10 Things I Hate About You, The Breakfast Club, Tremors, Napoleon Dynamite, Better off Dead, The Italian Job, The Pirate Movie, Clerks, Kick Ass, Bring it On, Dodgeball, Cry Baby, Zoolander.
1968 Mustang Fastback
To have a big property in the country with 1000 dogs and a Shaun Lockyer designed house
Ernie aka ‘The Worm’
The third member of our family is Ernie, our crazy 7-year-old Border Collie/Black Lab cross.
The first thing most people ask when they first meet her is, “What’s with her ear?” Yep, just like every dog, we have ever had (and even us for that matter) she’s a little bit different. She has two left ears, or so it looks anyway. Her right ear flops over to the left side like a bad combover. It is pretty adorable.
She is such a happy dog, that we call her the land dolphin since surely dolphins are the happiest animals ever. If you look closely, you can see that her non-stop energy and an obsession for balls has led to her teeth being worn down. But she still loves smashing a big juicy bone!
We can’t always take her on adventures, but it’s always extra fun when we can take her. She even has her own special compartment in the canopy on the ute.
Our trusty steed and workhorse is a 1999 4.2TD Nissan Patrol GU Ute. Starting life as a farm truck before we bought it in 2005, it has done some serious kilometres on both the dirt and the bitumen and has never let us down.
Although it is now kitted out with a super fancy, custom-designed Camp King Industries Canopy, don’t be fooled. It’s no show truck and regularly cops a beating off-road. You just need to check out the bush pinstriping along the sides!
It is fully accessorised with everything we need: water tank, long-range fuel tanks, front and rear air lockers, compressor, dual battery system, Old Man Emu suspension, fridge, UHF radio and ARB bar work.
We can even sleep in the back if needed!
Work With Us
Looking to work with More Dirt Less Bitumen? You’ll find more information on our WORK WITH US page.