4WDing (verb): the act of getting stuck while attempting to drive over/through obstacles that should not be travelled over/through by a vehicle. Australia has a fairly proud tradition of 4WDing (or four wheel driving..) partially because there’s not always roads where you need to go in this massive nation and partially because Australian’s are generally considered to be mechanical anarchists. No other past-time lets you pound your car over ground that was at no point meant to be travelled over all in the name of a good day out.
There’s something that speaks to the inner child in every one with an interest in cars when you see a what can only be described as a track, snaking up something near vertical and you’re in control of something with half a chance of getting up it. So the other weekend I tagged along with a couple of friends who had decided to go and see how wet the forests were after a solid week of rain (I could have told them how wet it was going to be…) What resulted was a 1980’s Toyota 4Runner and a 1990’s Toyota Landcruiser Troop Carrier traveling 120kms (or about 60 miles) in 10 hours. Yes 10 hours. Going was good initially while the tracks were wet, the clay afforded some semblance of grip and the 4WD’s slithered their way forward. That was until we reached a section in the road that had decided it no longer wanted to be a road.
As you can see above, the Landcruiser didn’t fair well in what can only be described as a mud pit. Fitted with road biased tyres, the big troopy didn’t stand a chance. The 4Runner on the other hand just squeezed through thanks in no part to the mud terrain tyres fitted. What followed was almost two hours of digging, dragging and swearing thanks to a winch that gave up at a very inopportune moment (just as it was connected to the nearest tree in order to pull the troopy free). All of our work was to no avail but we were lucky enough to have a bloke in Jeep turn up with a snatch-strap who was more than willing to pull us out of our mess. There was some grumblings about a Toyota being rescued by a Jeep however. I’m told this almost never happens…
After being freed from our muddy grave we continued on aimlessly up a number of tracks, which offered pretty amazing scenery, until the weather came in. The weather also brought thick fog with it which rendered our headlights useless and no one had a map. Then it was dark. Then we were lost. We all figured out that we were lost at about 6pm and it would take us almost four hours of blindly following tracks, doubling back and trying another option before we figured out where we were. Let’s just say I was a bit upset that, as a passenger, I hadn’t brought along more beer.
So what did my day and a bit in the forrest teach me? It taught me that if you think you won’t be able to get through something, you’re probably right; but it can’t hurt trying anyway. I also learnt that I’m a fan of 4WDing if there’s a destination at the other end, but I’m not so keen on it when you’re just pounding your car over ground that was at no point meant to be travelled over all in the name of a good day out.