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Mick Fanning is no stranger to the pull of the great Australian landscape. For much of his career, the ocean was his office. But when he retired, the three-time surfing world champion was never going to be content staying home.
His most recent road trip in his X-Class V6 took him along the east coast - from Victoria’s surf coast to Queensland’s picturesque beaches - in search of new adventures and new experiences.
Before heading off, Mick made sure his X-Class ute was accessorised to suit his style and needs. As well as new tyres and a touring canopy, he’s added a James Baroud rooftop tent*, so he can sleep in comfort wherever the coastal roads take him.
“The highlight of the trip was exploring roads I hadn’t been down before. I’m usually flying in and out of places, but being on the road you see so much more,” Mick says.
Although he’s accustomed to sky-high travel, he didn’t forgo the comforts of the air.
”Driving the X-Class is like a business class seat on a long flight - very comfortable. Settling into road trip life was easy,” he points out.
There are added perks on the road too. It’s the spontaneity of deviating from the original path that Mick found most liberating - like stopping unplanned in small towns and meeting new characters along the way.
Unexpected people and places
When Mick got to Kempsey, New South Wales, he checked out the Akubra factory to get a rundown of their traditional hat-making techniques and vintage machinery.
“There were plenty of characters working in the factory and it was cool to see them doing their thing,” Mick recalls.
Checking in with old mates is an added bonus on a road trip, too. Next up was a visit with his mate and fellow surfer Kai Otton on the south coast of the state.
“We were on the World Surf League Championship together and I haven’t seen much of him since we both retired. He has a beautiful home in the bush down there,” Mick says.
The ultimate road trip companion
Behind the wheel of his X-Class ute, cruising on the open road and getting off the beaten track proved exhilarating for the surf legend.
“The thing I love about the [4MATIC] X-Class is the quality of the driving experience when you’re on the freeway, and then the capability of the vehicle when you find yourself off-road. With the power of the V6, I felt the freedom to go just about anywhere,” he says.
When it came time to set up for overnight stays, Mick’s X-Class was the envy of his fellow campers.
“On the first night, I had some mates with me and chucked them in a tent on the ground. Then I climbed into the comfort of my rooftop tent*,” he recalls.
”I’m not sure how they slept, but it was the best night's sleep I’ve had in ages.”
When your ute also doubles as a home on wheels, creature comforts and a few of life’s luxuries are essential - and the X-Class has features Mick can’t do without.
“It’s all about the tray for me. Living out of a vehicle on a road trip you want to keep your interior cabin free of clutter and with such a generous tray I was able to do that,” he says.
When it got a little chilly after some of Mick’s surf sessions, the other feature he put to good use was the heated seats.
Now his east coast road trip has come to an end, what’s Mick’s advice for others considering an adventure?
“I took my time when we stopped to look around and take in my surroundings and appreciate this beautiful country we live in and the animals that call it home,” he says.
“When you’re not looking into a screen it’s amazing how much you can see when you open your eyes to what’s actually going on around you.”