We were parked just outside the front door of the Marree pub, in the South Australian Outback, about 650km north of Adelaide, when a curious local strolled up to us.

“You blokes testing the new Isuzu?”

This fella had his badges mixed up, considering we were in Mazda BT-50s, three of them, parked in a neat line outside the watering hole from which he’d just emerged.

“Nah, mate. Mazdas. BT-50s,” I said.

“Yeah, they’re good too,” he said, vaguely impressed, and, after raising his eyebrows skywards, he loped away.

“Nah, mate. Mazdas. BT-50s,” I said. “Nah, mate. Mazdas. BT-50s,” I said.

There’s nothing new in this BT-50 beyond the 8.0-inch Alpine colour touchscreen entertainment unit, but Mazda reckoned it was as good a time as any to give their ute another solid test out in the bush – and what better test than the Birdsville Track? 

This iconic bush track, a must-do on any serious off-roader’s wish-list, is more than 500km of dirt and gravel, potholes, corrugations, searing heat. Great stuff. What’s more, it runs parallel to the eastern edge of the Simpson Desert – or “The Simmo!” to my bogan mates – which is another great Aussie adventure.

The Simpson, covering more than 170,000 square kilometres and taking in parts of the Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia, is the world’s largest sand dune desert and Australia’s fourth largest desert. It has the longest parallel sand dunes in the world, more than 1100 of them, some of them 200km long, running north-west to south-east.

We wouldn’t be venturing too deep into the desert though, not on this trip, we would, however, have a chance to play on Nappanerica (aka Big Red), the Simpson’s biggest sand dune at 40m high, which is about 30km west of Birdsville.

Our final destination for this run? Birdsville, for the annual Birdsville Races, when the sleepy bush town in Queensland’s far west, swells from 280 people to more than 7000 party-hungry race-goers. We’re in a top-spec GT dual-cab and were raring to go – no badge-confused bushie was going to ruin it for us.