We all have one crazy thing in common in the Offroad world, we have an attachment to our vehicles not shared by our workmates with Camrys or Falcons. We see our 4wd, whatever the brand, and whatever the level of modification as more than just a way to get to work but also, and more importantly, our way to escape - to escape to a quiet countryside setting, the beach, or an epic adventure that you will be talking about for years.
There are so many amazing, awesome, memorable and unique things that you can do in your 4wd that the list of practices to steer away from is, by comparison, very small - however, here’s a list compiled by our friends at The Australian Offroad Academy.
Don’t be a Dick.
It’s not cool to use the size of your vehicle to try to intimidate other road users. We all, from the smallest i20 to a laden B Double, need to share the limited and valuable road resources available. Expressing some kind of ‘ownership’ due to your bullbar or impressive size doesn’t help to win friends amongst our car driving friends, they’ve already, clearly got their own problems to sort out, don’t add to them!
Really? How is this even a thing? Have you not seen or heard anything about this little thing called particulate pollution. There are millions of people who would love to live in the clean air conditions that we take for granted… Adjust that fuel pump waaaay back and leave the soot for chimneys.
Yeah, it’s illegal, and it’s illegal because it’s dangerous… uncovered tyres create ridiculous spray in wet conditions and throw rocks and stones a long way, in any direction. Not only are you throwing rocks at your own car but your tyres are picking up debris and potentially throwing it forward into the path of oncoming traffic at potentially greater than your ground speed. Of all of the ways that we modify our 4x4s, this one is definitely in the ‘for show, not go’ bucket.
Drive in wetlands
We all understand that there are places reserved for the long term good of an ecosystem. In some locations there’s signs too big to ignore, in other locations we need a bit of situational awareness - remember that it is the driver’s responsibility to understand the tenure of the land that they are on - “there was no sign” is not an acceptable excuse for being somewhere that you shouldn’t have been. Wetland systems begin at the line of the highest of high tides in creeks and estuaries. There are some tell-tale plants which are a giveaway, but the presence of salt tolerant couch should tell you that you are already too far in. Wetland systems are delicate and their damage through isolation of species leads to a breakdown of the ecosystem. No wetlands = no breeding areas for fish = no fishing.
While we are discussing coastal environments;
Drive on Dunes.
Frontal and secondary dunes on our accessible beaches are a critical part of keeping our beach systems thriving. Creating new tracks through dunes creates a vulnerability which can see the dune system compromised and undermined in adverse weather conditions. A healthy dune system has almost complete coverage of hardy, salt tolerant, pioneer plant species and will support larger trees and shrubs. We’ve all found that perfect camp spot behind the dunes on the beach sometime in our adventures, without the plant species, there’s no dune, and nowhere to camp.
There’s a pattern here isn’t there??
We are so fortunate to live in a country which has wide open spaces within just a short drive of even our most populated centres… But there are so many more people now, and so many more people with 4x4s looking to enjoy it. Now, more than ever, we need to understand that as 4x4ers we have certain responsibilities. We understand the need for Bullbars, but the bloke in the Camry that you tailgated doesn’t. We get how important it is to make good tyre choices, but the guy whose windscreen you just smashed doesn’t. No-one understands the desire to produce soot - that’s just weird.
If you’d like to take your grandkids fishing, or beach camping then we have the responsibility now, not later, to do everything that we can to preserve, and even enhance, our coastal and estuary locations.
Article written by The Australian Offroad Academy.
The Australian Offroad Academy has been offering accredited and recreational 4x4, side by side and quad bike training around Australia for 13 years. Dave, the Director, is a registered teacher with specialities in outdoor and environmental education and brings minimum impact driving practices to all terrain types. In recent times, you may have seen Dave on episodes of What’s Up Downunder, Great Australian Doorstep, The Offroad Adventure Show and Creek to Coast, in QLD. The Australian Offroad Academy builds and conducts education 4x4 demo tracks at Caravan and Camping shows throughout regional Queensland and interstate.