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4WD Adventure

08 Apr 2019
@ 11:16 am (GMT)

Andrew Murray

A long one, would love to read your stories too.

So I have a bit of a story, somewhat of a horror story but not really. The horror is of course the standards set by the people who maintain these tracks...

On Saturday I left to buy a game camera from Aldi with a mate, he bought one but already had 2 so in total we had 4. We set off in his Hilux into the Watagan Mountains (sections that are state forest, areas managed for logging and camping etc, mostly logging) to put them in some select locations in the hope of finding deer.

I had checked some satellite images the day before and located some areas that had been recently logged, perfect I thought, nice open country, with plenty of grass and dense cover on the edges, water nearby also...

The tracks in weren't terrible but they weren't great either. A quick stop to forage for some edible mushrooms, no joy, let's head to the logging site. Upon arriving however the area had not been recently logged, nor the tracks maintained. The tracks in were deeply overgrown and not in great shape. Any logging activity must have occurred years ago because the trees were fully grown and thick with undergrowth. I think that these tracks must be cut fresh for logging each time rather than maintained, must be cheaper and easier for the government to run a dozer through once every 10-15 years than maintain it in between.

And I am not sure who updates the satellite imagery but they haven't done it in a while. Fortunately we found a small dam that had animal activity around it so we planted a camera there.

The next stop was not planned due to the bum steer from our satellite pic, still in state forest but not the same state forest, about a 15 min drive. The track there was easy enough, towards the end it got a bit steep and turning around took a 6 point turn but we did it. I travelled down an incline to an area that was more sparse and had some grass growing. It was near a cliff overlooking a beautiful gorge. The bottom of the gorge could not be seen but the opposite cliff wall and valley looked amazing. Camera 2 set near the grass and plenty of animal activity.

We decided to set back towards the main road through the forest by following the main track back, it provided a more direct route and I was short on time.

The track headed down quite a steep incline to the valley floor along an intermittent creek which was flowing thanks to the abundant rain we have had recently. The first big obstacle was a murky puddle that was about 5m across. It wasn't a challenge, only coming up 2/3 of the wheel height. No problem for my mate's Hilux which is set up for 4wd but by no means a hardcore off-roader. We came to a creek crossing which was in really good shape considering the water flowing over it, plenty of dog tracks near by but no camera plant as we wanted deer, not dogs.

The track continued in the fashion, some ruts that would stop a family car but not the Hilux, some deep puddles and lots of pot holes. Nothing that worrying. We were making good time. Then some serious climbing. Very steep climbs, very deep ruts. We engaged low range and hit them, straddling the edge of the very narrow track, balancing ruts and holes, avoiding logs. We make it, all clear. Car is not damaged by some miracle and we are heading home.

We came to a bridge which was not marked on the map, except the bridge had been washed out. It's fallen into the creek. It's about a 3 metre drop, there's no way around. The creek banks are too steep and look way to soft due to the rain, not to mention the creek itself looks too deep. Now we're in trouble. The only way around is to go back over all the ruts and holes and slips and logs to a road which is one of these unmaintained logging tracks. We bite the bullet and do it. It wasn't too bad. Some sketchy moments but nothing we didn't find on the main track, in fact due to in activity it was a little better maintained, less ruts, but more washed away sections.

At a T-intersection we turned left back towards the main road. The track became perilous now. But it was the only way back with the clock still ticking against me. We climbed our first really difficult obstacle, a right hand bend with deep ruts towards the right, a section which a small wall about 45cm high. We hit, got bogged, reverse down, gain some more speed and momentum, hit again and clear it. Around the bend we see 2 other vehicles stopped, both 80 series Landcruisers that had some serious work done. Very set up for this kind of gear. 2 young guys, both very friendly and helpful. "UHF Channel 16" one of them said. So off we go in a convoy back in the same direction. Another left hand turn and then a steep, slippery, narrow cutting down a hill. Only as wide as the cars, if you bugger it up it's a new paint job, maybe some panel damage. The first car hits it very slow, on the brakes the whole way, slipping here and there, down the hill round the bend, the second car the same, but it doesn't quite make around the bend. As it turns out the first car has stopped to navigate a similar obstacle, except this on has bigger ruts, some drops and a bend. He clears it by some kind of miracle or magic, the second car also...

Now our turn, down the first and into the second, as my mate surveys the line he is going to take one of the young guys says "Don't worry too much, the ruts will guide you down, just watch that rock". "Which rock? The big one on the left, the first one on the right or the second on the right?" my mate replies, The guy looks for a moment and says, "Yeah best watch for all of them". We laugh, head into the abyss and come out with no scrapes, scratches or even bottoming out.

Next up a tree, time to get the chain saw out. It was cut and removed, some of the lighter branches laid across the track to provide traction as the tree had fallen over a boggy section, likely the reason the tree had fallen, too much water... At this point we came into 2 vehicles going the other way... Fortunately we had met them at the only point on the whole track that could fit 2 cars to pass. It was at this point I am now half an hour late and no phone signal to make a call to advise as such. I have a patient, patient wife.

As we continue we come to a small but rough and steep track to the right. We think about taking it but the road we are on is more direct to where we are heading... Only about 100m down the road we come to a very steep, rough cutting. Ruts and rocks, with a 60cm drop at the end of it for good measure. We hop out to survey the track. We decide we can't commit to it. We say good bye to the lads in front and reverse up to take the track up the hill.

Good start up it but we hit another obstacle, a steep washed out section. The right hand side has washed away and left a 30cm drop while the left side is very narrow and close to trees. It's muddy and slippery as anything too. We try to climb it and pick a good line to do it with. No good, we fall into the hole... Have to reverse and try again, same story! This time my mate tries to climb up through the hole. Going good! But then wheels slipped, fell down, no traction... We try again but a bit faster, no good. By this stage I am thinking we are pretty stuffed. We hit it a third time with more speed and BANG! Something has hit us, or we have hit something, but we are over the obstacle and climbing up the hill when a main road comes into view. We get out and check the damage and there is none!

We radio to the guys to say thanks and good bye and they tell us that the obstacle we chose to avoid has caused some panel damage to their vehicles. I am now glad we chose to tap out, as is my mate. We head back through the main forest roads and climb down the mountains to get back to civilisation.

My mate asks me if he passed the test. I laugh and then he says next time I am not allowed to have the map. He asks if I was as stressed as him, but you wouldn't have known he was stressed. He just got the job done like a pro, a testament to the driver and the vehicle.

We only got 2 cameras out, and spent 6 hours doing it. I get home 2.5hrs late. Next time we will drive the long way around and enter the mountains via the south. There had better be some deer on those cameras when we check them.


08 Apr 2019
@ 11:17 am (GMT)

Andrew Murray

Re: 4WD Adventure
08 Apr 2019
@ 11:23 am (GMT)

Andrew Murray

Re: 4WD Adventure



We are a small, family run business, based out of Taranaki, New Zealand, who specialize in cartridge research and testing, and rifle accurizing.