There’s something about Danie Simpson that has people hooked. Is it her ever-present smile? Her kitted out Landcruiser? Perhaps it’s the mechanical know-how that comes with being a Heavy Vehicle Mechanic in the Defence Force.
We suspect it’s all these things and more!
Newtracs had the opportunity to find out about the person behind the popular Instagram profile @danie_mon
G’day Danie! Anyone who follows your Instagram page knows you’re based in Townsville. Have you always lived in FNQ?
My job with the Defence Force moves me around a bit. I grew up in Mackay, QLD and have lived in Rosewood Down in South East QLD, Wodonga on the VIC/NSW border and now up in Townsville. Will always be a QLD girl no matter where I live though!
Obvious question. How’d you first get involved in the 4WD world?
Growing up through my teenage years my mates all had 4WDs. Going camping/off-roading every weekend I got pretty tired of sitting passenger! My first car was a 1993 V6 Mazda 626 and I loved it but nothing compared to the freedom of a 4WD!
And now you’re a diesel mechanic? Tell us about that.
Yeah loving it! When I first got my 4WD I was relying a lot on manuals, online forums and YouTube. The first big job I did on my own was to install my front locker and after that I decided this is what I really enjoyed doing. Testing out a new mod that you've installed or fixing an issue on your own really provides such a big sense of accomplishment. So I signed up for the Royal Australian Air Force in 2014 and in 2017 I had my trade certificate as a Heavy Vehicle Mechanic.
It’s pretty clear your favourite thing in the world is your Landcruiser! What are the main modifications you’ve made to it?
Yeah definitely! Oh besides maybe my puppas haha! Main mods would be the suspension which is 2" spring lift, 2" extended shackles from Superior Engineering, 10" Fox Shox in the front and 8" Old Man Emu in the rear. Also the front auto locker is from 4WD Systems. Originally ran a Ramsey PTO winch but am currently swapping it out for a VRS winch from Velocé Tuning. And finally I have two sets of wheels, 35" BFG KM3s on Dynamic Steel Wheels and 33" Falken Wildpeak MT on Mickey Thompson Classic Baja Locks.
And what is it about Landcruisers that is so appealing to you?
When I first started looking at 4WDs I had no real preference. I had mates with Toyotas and Nissans and had heard all the banter so I actually set out to find something different. I looked at Daihtasu Scats, a soft top Pajero, some older Landcruisers but when I saw the ol’boy and had a test drive my mind was made up. For $10k it was out of my $8k budget but I knew it would hold its value and I would never be short of parts.
I think I just love that Landcruisers have just been such an integral part of Australia’s history. When you look back through old photos there is always an old cruiser ute of some description, whether that be a workhorse or just a daily driver.
Any other cars in your garage at the moment?
Currently I have a 1972 Ford Falcon XY 4WD which is a factory model made by Ford in Brisbane. Only 432 were produced and this one is 1 of 60 in it's colour code. They came out with 250 pre x flow engines, Dana 44 axles, Borg Warner gearbox and Spicer Transfers. The plan is just to take her back to original and have her as a Sunday driver. Also have just acquired a 1953 International AR110 which will be going on a 4WD chassis for a bit of a fun off-road rig!
You’ve got a couple of sweet looking dogs. Introduce us! And is it ever tough finding places to go camping that allow dogs?
Oh yes puppa question! Lily is a 2-year-old Great Dane x Mastiff who is just a sweetheart unless there's chickens around. She doesn't quite understand why she can't eat them. Mars is a 1-year-old Australian Koolie who is just such a character.
I have a great book of Dog Friendly Camp Spots and that’s super handy. The only place I go that I don't take them is Fraser Island due to it being a National Park.
Any other major hobbies outside the 4x4 world?
I love to draw and get asked all the time where I bought my mudflaps but I just drew them with paint pen. I also love photography mainly cars and dogs but definitely loving landscape drone shots lately!
What’s it like having over 30,000 followers on Instagram? That’s huge! Not even that NRL you Queenslanders are so fond of gets that many people to games!
I forget sometimes. It isn't until someone mentions it that I stop and think ‘Woah! Why do so many people like following me?’ It is great being able to connect with so many different people and share what I love but it definitely has its downsides. I think people sometimes forget there is a person behind the screen when they write nasty comments. But I focus on the positive and always try to respond to everyone who takes the time to message or comment.
Oh yeah, we are a special bunch but being an adopted AFL supporter NRL hasn't quite got the crowds and atmosphere of a packed MCG game yet.
What excites you most about Newtracs?
I am so excited for an app like this! I am always travelling for work and sometimes it'd be nice to just have a quick easy app to pull up and check what tracks are around. The biggest thing I'm excited about is seeing when someone last did it and seeing the track conditions. Then you know what you are in for. I think it's going to get a lot more people out and about exploring!
Got any big adventures planned for 2019?
Hopefully the Cape mid year! Which the doggos will be coming along to. And I’ll be documenting the places we stay so that if people want to bring dogs too they know where they can stay.
To keep up to date with Danie’s adventures follow her on Instagram at @danie_mon