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Just recently we arrived in Tasmania with something of a plan and, like a lot of plans, at the last minute it fell through. With a schedule, a film crew and wages ticking away I made the right choice and turned to locals for advice on the area. I walked into a 4WD shop in a small coastal town, said G’day, then explained my predicament.
The next hour was spent poring over maps, drawing sketches on paper and plotting waypoints. In that one hour I managed to pull a trip back into line from the brink of disaster and we walked away days later with one of the best trips we’ve done. Yep, local knowledge.
Many moons ago I found myself in the centre of Australia, on the Birdsville Track after record rains. I’d been trapped in town for days when finally the road south was declared open, with caution. I left on sun-up and cautiously made my way south towards Maree.
Just on dusk and with the lights of the Maree Pub in the distance, I hit Frome Creek. It looked formidable and I wasn’t game to cross. Then I spotted a bloke camped by the banks and engaged him in conversation. He lived in Maree and had crossed the Frome many times in conditions like these.
He said she was deep but not flowing and with a firm base; I’d be right. Ten minutes later I was having a beer at the Maree Pub. Local knowledge.There is a south west WA event which happens every year that locals never fail to miss; marron season. Marron are a native fresh water crustacean that live in local rivers and taste better than you can ever imagine.
Fishing spots are closely guarded and only handed down from father to son. So imagine my surprise when visiting the local rubbish dump one arvo where I got talking to the bloke on the shovel about the upcoming season and a secret spot he’d fished for decades, when he just decided to share it with me! I knew the spot well but had never considered it fishable, so I was sceptical. I gave it a go and had my bag limit in a couple of hours. I’ve done the very same thing for the last 3 seasons. Thank you local knowledge.
In an age of internet connectivity and information overload, the custom of seeking out local knowledge has been somewhat lost. Instead we type a command into Google or use an app to find a campground or a mapping device to locate a track. However there are simply zero substitutes for the knowledge that comes from having lived in an area. By seeking local knowledge you’re getting so much more than a star rating on a campsite or a review of a track; you’re getting a lifetime of information that is up to date and honest.
Next time you find yourself in a small country town, down a beach, on a track or propping up the bar in a rustic old pub; take the time to chat to a local. You never know, it might just be the best thing you ever do…after all, secret fishing spots are worth their weight in gold! Catch you out there folks!
Which 4WD destinations would you share with someone new to your area? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook.
As a presenter and photojournalist, Graham Cahill is regarded as one of the luckiest men in Australia. Currently part of the 4WD Action Magazine team, Graham is known for his outrageous personality and passion for the bush.