Get ’Em Dirty
20 years of converting strangers into off-road buddies and getting them dirty. That’s something worth celebrating.
You’ve read the magazines, you’ve bought a fourby, maybe even got a mate to do the same. What’s next? Hopefully some training or mentoring – but where do you find an endless supply of a trips to venture out on? That’s where a solid 4X4 club can help out: Offering a range of off-road adventures and people to travel with on those adventures.
This year the Melbourne Jeep Owners Club celebrated 20 years of off-road adventures and ‘We Get ’em Dirty’ is the club motto. Narbethong in a wet autumn provided the location to get dirty and catch up with Jeep friends new and old.
Red Clay is a terrain you don’t hear mentioned too often – probably because people with sense avoid it. Even when it hasn’t rained, that clay can retain water for days or weeks and turn a track you can drive the missus’ front-wheel drive up when dry into a twin-locked mud tire winch challenge.
At the start of any trip, the smallest thing can catch your attention and make for conversation. On the rear bumper of the Jeep in front of me was a bread roll. I didn’t recognise the Jeep so I called on the radio to tell the driver his breakfast was still on the back of his Jeep. The reply was, “Don’t worry about it.” Which was fine, but curiosity got the better of me. I stayed close to see how long it would last. It made it through the short blacktop section to the first track. It held on around a few turns and washaways. At this point you’re thinking the track was a bit dull, and it seemed easy; until I saw the Jeep in front, bun still in place, fail to make it up the next section. This was one of those tracks which was nothing in the dry – but wet it was slippery enough to challenge any rig.
Having to stop my forward progress one washaway below the next Jeep meant all my momentum was gone. And with it, any chance of getting up that hill.
A few attempts confirmed I wasn’t driving this hill today; so, winch time. The first few steps outside my Jeep saw my wife disappear from view under my Jeep. Sitting in the driver’s seat with my foot firmly on the brake, I was getting worried about what had happened when she disappeared and didn’t reappear for a while. Turns out the clay wouldn’t hold people upright too readily.
Winching up three sections, all was good… until I was out of winch rope and about two metres shy of the next washaway. The Jeep was holding without the winch, so I thought I would just drive that last bit after getting detached. I think I made it about 10cm then lost traction. Sliding backwards I knew it would be a long slide until I got to a patch of track that could stop me. Hearing on the radio ‘drive it’, I remembered my advanced driver training practice where if you lose traction going up a hill and start going backwards, put it in reverse to get the wheels turning the way you are sliding. One of the few situations where a manual is better than an auto is changing gears quickly into reverse. Still, my auto engaged reverse fast enough that I could put some power to the wheels in time to stop the front from trying to swing around. Going straight backwards seemed a lot better than the turn that had started midway down the hill.
At the bottom, coming to a safe stop, I questioned the club motto ‘We Get ’em Dirty’; was it the Jeeps we get dirty, or our undies?
More winching, and a snatch for the last bit got us safely up the hill. It was one of those moments you really value travelling with safe and experienced friends. That night the club celebrated 20 years of Jeep adventure where hundreds of Jeep owners have taken on adventures together – having started as strangers whose only thing common was owning a Jeep, but ended up as friends.
No matter what sort of fourby you drive, if you are looking for more trips and places to go the club scene in Australia caters for every model of 4X4 and just about every type of trip. So if you are looking for extra off-road adventures, consider checking out one or two 4X4 clubs. Between the gear, training, trips and people, there’s bound to be something to entice you out on a few more epic trips.
Top perks of a 4X4 solid club
- Travelling with skilled off-roaders (everything from camping to mechanical skills)
- Meeting new like-minded off-roaders and maintaining old friendships
- Access to more trips than you could organise yourself
- Access to club gear like satellite trackers
- Having ‘that topic’ to endlessly talk about online: Like snow chains
- Access to training and experience tailored to your fourby.