The chatter on the radio was lively… and not exactly complementary.

“Here comes another bloody one, Shirl!” squawks the CB indignantly.

“What? How many of these things are there?” replies an equally indignant Shirl.

“Dunno. Goin’ pretty fast, but,” replies Shirl’s mate darkly.

“Fast? In a bloody Amarok?” tartly opines Shirl.

This small exchange, overhead on the Birdsville Track, perfectly encapsulates the challenge Volkswagen faces when it comes to the job of winning over the hearts and minds of dual-cab ute buyers – but it’s a challenge it’s facing head on.

CarsGuide has joined the Volkswagen Australia crew on a 1200km cross-country odyssey that will take in three states and more than a thousand kilometres of dirt roads, en route to the second annual Big Red Bash music festival, which is held in the shadow of Big Red, a massive sand dune about 30km west of Birdsville.

It’s a journey that’s not undertaken lightly. The unsealed roads that intersect the borders of NSW, Queensland and the Northern Territory are graded periodically, but recent wet weather has made access a lottery.

As well, we’ll join in with Amarok owner groups from as far afield as Victoria, South Australia and Canberra, as well as Brisbane, and even Tasmania.

It’s also a trip that puts the Amarok firmly in the sights of a cross section of people who use their vehicles just as their makers intended.