Kirsty Hobbs is our resident Unsealed 4X4 female columnist. She has no fixed address, just finished a big adventure around Australia and is currently driving the back roads up through eastern Africa in her trusty old LandCruiser.
Can you remember the first time you hit the road in your 4X4? I met a couple that was doing just that. Storm was a 19-year old dude with a gorgeous blonde thing on his arm named Tayla. He had bought his rig second hand, off eBay I think, chucked a cooker in the back and driven off for a two-week trip with sleeping bags and a couple of pillows shoved in.
Their enthusiasm was palpable. He was so full of wonder and questions. “What is northern WA like? Is that track awesome? What’s tyre pressure all about? What do I need to know?” The questions came flooding. He was a breath of fresh air; kind of funny considering his name was Storm.
It made me think about that first time I jumped in the Troopy for my first two-weeker. I was driving through South Australia and hitting the track into Mungo National Park when I thought to myself, “This is seriously extreme”. There was no mobile reception. No water sources that I knew of. The farmers talked to one another over radios … and I didn’t even know how to turn mine on. And then the tar vanished.
It was so goddamn exciting! I was no expert, but there I was out there doing it. Now, take that and fast-forward a few years to being emailed by an old fella’ telling me I “should Google a few things about four wheel driving, girlie”. To which I gave the virtual bird (that’s the middle finger to those of you not fluent in Kirsty) because I thought this ’tude was a shame.
Sure, there are a few things you ought to know before you set off. But a lot of it can be learnt along the way. I also think this holier than thou, “I know everything about four wheel driving, and you are silly if you don’t” vibe is a strange one, no?
I first witnessed it at a driver-training course where the instructors bandied their knowledge about in a negative and vastly competitive fashion. It wasn’t a coming together to share a passion, it was a slaying affair. I couldn’t help but wonder… knowledge isn’t a competitive sport; so when it comes to four-wheel driving, why should it be?
The people who have taught me the most are those who have had a complete lack of chips on their shoulders. They have encouraged getting my hands dirty and learning as I go. They have spoken in the spirit of sharing a passion, and whaddyaknow – they still had a sparkle in their eyes, just like Storm on his first trip.