Australia is a truly beautiful place. 4WDer’s have access to the very best of what it has to offer, and that is a privilege we must value and treat with respect.
Unfortunately, there are those who don’t have the level of care and respect for this great land that they should, and it can create a bad rep for the rest of us. The problem with those who don’t respect our backyard is that it has direct consequences for everyone who enjoys it. Tracks are gated off, restrictions are put in place and exploring this great country becomes harder and more expensive.
With that in mind, here are 7 things responsible 4WD owners do
1. Take Their Rubbish Home
Rubbish is becoming more and more of a problem out in the bush. We have some of the most pristine and incredible places in the world to explore, but that feeling is badly damaged when you arrive and there is rubbish littered everywhere.
There is a saying: ‘Take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but footprints’. A rubbish bag on the spare wheel of your 4WD is a fantastic investment; once you are finished eating, toss your rubbish in the bag and take it out. There are rubbish facilities in many parts of Australia; it’s really not that complicated. If you see other people’s rubbish out in the bush, do us all a favour and collect it. You shouldn’t have to do this, but it keeps the bush tidy for everyone to enjoy for years to come.
2. Stick to the Tracks
There’s been 4WD tracks through the bush for many years. However, there doesn’t have to be 3 or more tracks all leading to the same place. Many new tracks are cut by those who don’t know better, and it’s not a good look for our pristine country. Chicken tracks to allow those who don’t want to attempt an obstacle a way around are ok, but when you have chicken tracks for the chicken tracks it’s starting to get a bit ridiculous.
You should match your vehicle and skills to the tracks you are on; some tracks are not intended for stock or mildly modified 4WDs, and if the only way you can make it is to cut new tracks, you shouldn’t be there in the first place.
3. Obey Signs and Locked Gates
Signs and locked gates are put up for a reason. If there is a sign to drop your tyre pressure, it’s there because the track has been damaged in the past by those who didn’t. If the gate is locked or there are signs saying do not enter, it means exactly that.
While you may not agree with the closure or requests, they are there for a reason and ignoring them just gives the whole 4WD industry a bad name.
There are plenty of seasonal closures, where the tracks are shut while the wet weather hangs around, and this is for good reason; if 4WDs were allowed in when it was wet and sloppy the track would get badly damaged, and be impassable for years to come.
4. Get Permission Before Entering Private Property
Private property cannot be entered without the permission of the owner. If you come across a fence or gate that is signed private property, it means you can’t enter unless you’ve spoken to the owner first.
Many will allow you free passage if you go through the right channels and look after their land, but it’s becoming an increasing battle with those who couldn’t care less. There are farmers north of Perth who regularly have to repair their fences and gates because of the disrespect of a small minority. It’s no wonder so many farmers are sceptical about allowing free passage through their land.
5. Proper Tyre Deflation
Deflating your tyres for the terrain you are driving on is not only good for your 4WD, but it helps to preserve the condition of the tracks. Just because you can make it along a 4WD track with your tyres at full pressure doesn’t mean you should.
Softer tyres give you greater traction, flotation and ultimately result in less damage to the tracks. This is especially important when it is wet, so you keep wheel spin to a minimum.
If you are running the right tyre pressures your vehicle will walk through sections with much greater ease, you reduce the chance of getting a puncture, the components on your 4WD are being better cared for and your ride will be much smoother. But always remember to re-inflate before you head back onto bitumen.
6. Avoid Damaging Tracks
Just as tyre deflation is a huge part of being a responsible 4WDer, ensuring you drive sensibly is equally as important. Track damage happens very quickly when you allow tyres to spin excessively, or you drive through tracks when you really shouldn’t be there.
Whilst everyone loves a bit of mud, driving on a muddy track when it’s got water cascading down the hill is a sure recipe for damage to the tracks. Over time, wheel ruts get deeper and they become harder and harder to get through.
Remember that a lot of 4WD tracks are access for emergency services, and they don’t run 35 inch tyres and big lift kits!
7. Toilet Etiquette
Lastly, doing your business in the bush needs to be done with consideration towards others. You may not have access to a flushing toilet, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do your business respectfully.
Toilet paper and waste should be buried at least 30cm in the ground, well away from water sources and anything that is not biodegradable should be taken out with you. Set an example and enjoy this great country.
Unfortunately, the easiest method of ‘managing’ problems relating to 4WDers is to simply close the area. If no one enters, there is no chance of a problem. However, it destroys what so many people enjoy, and we’ve seen many places close over the last few years.
Do your part as a responsible 4WDer, and we can all enjoy the benefits for years to come.
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