Up at 4.30am, not to set off on an adventure but instead to get to the desk before the rest of the corporate world pries its eyes open, with a plan to kick our Wednesday afternoon up a notch.
Ten minutes is exactly how long it takes to roll out of bed, throw coffee in the machine and wait for the loud beep that indicates it’s time to pour up and hit the desk.
The predicament is that both my partner and I were struck down by a nasty case of the flu a week earlier, leaving us home-bound and itching to get out. We’d recovered, gone back to work, but we felt cheated.
We were overdue an escape to nature, craving the Vitamin D and serenity that comes with a foray into the wilderness, and our preferred method is in a fourby.
I can generally get an impromptu off-road jaunt over the line with my better half if I pack a picnic basket, stop at an artisan bakery along the way, and avoid getting us stuck half way up a track.
I was willing to tick all three boxes, but the conundrum was that we had a packed weekend and didn’t want to wait another week to chase some adventure.
Hence our early start, hoping to slam the laptop closed by midday and burn up to the Glasshouse Mountains for an afternoon of off-road fun…sold as a ‘picnic, atop a not-too-gnarly hill'.
As it's known by locals, ‘Glassy’ turns on the action for 4x4 and trail bike enthusiasts with tracks that range from mild to wild, and plenty of ‘how does anyone possibly get up there’ climbs.
It also turns on a spectacular autumn sunset, provided you get above the wall of pine trees, illuminating the various peaks of the mountain range in a golden hue.
Its familiar 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo, producing 154kW/500Nm and mated to the ten-speed automatic transmission we’ve come to love, dominates in the dirt and best of all - sips in moderation! Perfect…
We shot north from inner-city Brisbane around noon, adaptive cruise making light work of the M1, in what was an unusually clean run up to Beerwah.
We’d neglected to pack an iPhone cable but the charging pad and wireless CarPlay in the Everest meant that didn’t matter, with tunes and maps good-to-go the moment we got in.
About an hour into the drive, just outside of Beerwah where we’d planned to stop for a bakery lunch, a car cut across two lanes of traffic - including ours - to get to the off-ramp.
The adaptive cruise meant we were a safe distance from the car in front, giving us ample time to dab the brakes and let the careless traveller through. Mind you, the Everest is also packed with the latest safety tech, which gives you the ultimate peace of mind on highway runs like this.
We made it to the bakery for a late lunch, before loading the esky up with baked goods and tucking into a couple of small-town meat pies.
From Beerwah, we took Beerburrum Road up into the expansive Glasshouse Mountain region - littered with tracks, creeks and climbs throughout the thick forestry.
It always shocks people to learn that this off-roader’s playground, with something for every skill level and vehicle type, is just an hour-or-so out of Brisbane.
Not far out of Beerwah, I spotted the track I wanted to take and we stopped to air down the tyres. Of course, I’d forgotten my tyre gauge so a stick would have to do this time. I had an inflator in the boot, so we’d be right.
Next, I spun the centre dial to 4H but I didn’t fiddle with drive modes, of which there are plenty to choose from with options like ‘sand’ or ‘mud/ruts’. You could honestly leave the Everest in 4A (auto) for all but the most rugged tracks, and call it a day, as the Everest’s techno-smarts constantly shuffles torque between wheels for maximum grip on- and off-road.
As we took the dirt road up into the forest, I was instantly reminded of how quickly Glasshouse traps you in its maze-like network of trails. I thought I saw the one I wanted but, wait, was it the right one?
“I could drive up and down here all afternoon, with a view like that,” my partner assured me, after I’d clearly taken two wrong turns in a row giving us serious deja vu.
She was right though, the view of the mountains in the distance was like a scene from a movie.
This was a reminder of why we do it, the chaos of the city washing away as we headed out onto the loose dirt roads, trying not to get lost but not really caring if we do.
The inevitable wrong turns at glasshouse, and “all roads lead to Rome” mentality one must adopt, are all part of the fun out here.
One thing I have learnt the hard way, after being flung over the handlebars a couple of times when trail riding, is that a seemingly shallow puddle can be a waist-deep bog hole at Glassy. The safe option? Take the boring route around, or test the depth with a stick.
In this Everest, we opted to avoid puddles and bog holes altogether. Well, we set out to keep the tyres dry - but more on that later.
This Everest Trend is optioned with 18-inch wheels and the the more rugged all-terrain tyres, helped along by 226mm of ground clearance and an 800mm wading depth, making it suitable for just about anything we could throw at it.
For smooth-riding tracks, leaving the Everest to its devices gets the job done. Along some of the trickier tracks though, where traction was tested even after airing down, we played around with drive modes to let the car flex its techno-smarts.
I prefer to use the well-trodden fire trails at Glasshouse, shooting down a few of the many branch-off tracks as they catch my attention. You can usually pick a climb that’s suitable, but there’s always the risk of getting half way up to find it’s beyond the limits of your vehicle.
With 360-degree views around the Everest, courtesy of a series of cameras, you rarely need to leave the comfort of your seat.
That was never the case in the Everest, not because it’s lifted sky high or wearing 35-inch rubber - but because it has the tech to keep you within the safe limits. While purists might prefer the “suck it and see” method of off-roading, we think the tech takes the intimidating guesswork out and I wouldn’t want to live without it.
With 360-degree views around the Everest, courtesy of a series of cameras, you rarely need to leave the comfort of your seat. If you do end up having to turn around on a trail - because we all know reversing out isn’t fun - the 360-degree camera view is a lifesaver.
A dedicated off-road view that shows your line, steering angle and any obstacles in front of you means no more walking the trail or relying on a spotter. It’s also nice to be able to see the pitch and roll angles of your vehicle, more a novelty on mild tracks but important if pushing the limits.
I mentioned we didn’t intend to get water near the tyres, nor did we expect to need low range, but towards the end of the day as we were stuffing our faces and watching the sunset, we heard yelling in the distance.
I stood up to see a young man covered in mud, almost camouflaged, flustered and in need of help. He’d got himself stuck in what he called a “small bog hole” and he needed a “quick tug” to get out.
He's lucky we were parked up where we were - with the sun quickly setting and nobody else likely to travel these tracks ‘til morning. This was the perfect opportunity to use 4L and see what the Everest could do!
We secured the snatch strap, using one of the two front recovery points on the Everest, and flicked the dial to low-range as well as locking the rear diff using the touch screen.
I made it clear that I’d reverse until he beeped to let me know he was clear. I didn’t want the rear-end of his ute kissing the bumper of this new Everest!
“Alright, let’s do it,” I yelled from the Everest, giving him a quick honk. “Up it!”
We took up the slack on the snatch strap before a quick jolt of throttle saw the old fourby resurface and exit the bog hole. It was almost too easy.
The young fella smiled and gave us a thumbs up, water gushing from every orifice of his poor ute as he opened the doors. Better him than us, we thought, and it was a reminder of why I never trust “puddles” at Glassy.
The only way out was the way we came in on this track, being too narrow to spin around and with plenty of spots to come unstuck. This didn’t feel like the good karma we were expecting.
Navigating a trail in reverse, in the dark, is never a relaxing experience but it was easier than it should have been with the cameras, lights and onboard smarts of the Everest helping us.
And on that, the zone lighting feature allows you to illuminate front, rear and side sections of the Everest independently, which is extremely handy for campsite setup, off-road mishaps like this one, or even a dropped grocery bag in a dark driveway (don’t ask).
Helping old mate out of the “small bog hole” was worth it.
Well, we left after dark, muddier than expected and due to miss the start of the State of Origin - but we didn’t care one bit. Helping old mate out of the “small bog hole” was worth it.
We’d had our little mid-week taste of freedom, even if our picnic was cut short, and we could carry that zen into the rest of the week. Was it worth the 4am wakeup? You bloody bet.