It was brought to our attention that an article we shared in last week’s edition of The Campfire was quite old and included incorrect information around driving on certain tracks in the Shire of Gingin, specifically in the Wilbinga area, WA. Having spoken to the relevant local authorities, we want to set the record straight so as to ensure no one ends up breaking the rules, does damage to conservation areas or enters where they aren’t supposed to be.
Please note the following information from the local authorities:
- Following the introduction of the Caravan Park and Camping Ground Regulations, on 1 July 1997, it is an offence to camp on ANY land without the consent of the owner. This effectively means that camping anywhere Western Australia, apart from in registered Caravan Parks and camping grounds, or on private property with the consent of the owner, is an offence.
- The penalties associated with a breach of the Regulations in relation to camping involve either a $100.00 on-the-spot fine imposed by infringement, or up to $1,000.00 if dealt with by a Summons to appear in Court.
- Camping on any unallocated Crown land or unmanaged reserve without the permission of the Minister, is prohibited. Wilbinga Reserve is an unmanaged reserve owned by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and and they do not currently support camping in this area.
- DBCAdo allow 4 wheel driving in the area and as Wilbinga Reserve is bounded by private property and several vehicle prohibited areas, and DBCA have erected signage in several locations in that area documenting this. Please note on these signs camp fires are prohibited at all times in the Wilbinga Reserve.
This incident got us thinking – with the number of people joining our 4×4 enthusiast community growing exponentially year by year, we wanted to put together a simple guide on how to prevent people from entering closed areas. As we all know, disrespecting these rules reflects badly on all four wheel drivers and can damage areas that may be closed for conservation work.
Here are some tips about how you can avoid entering closed tracks on your next outing.
- Every trip gets planned right? If your answer was no, take a second to reflect on that. If you’re going somewhere new or haven’t been to a spat for some time jump on the National Parks website relevant to the area and find out if some areas are blocked off. Remember, they may not always have been physically closed or signposted. It’s your responsibility to check.
- If you’re going into a State Forest, check the local forestry websites for the same guidance as the above mentioned situation.
- If you can’t find what you need, don’t hesitate to reach out to the authorities for information. Be it the local ranger at a National Park of the head offices of the forestry department. These guys will be more than happy to talk to and guide 4×4 drivers and maybe even give you a hint or two on getting the most out of your stay!
- Check the local Rural Fire websites to check for any fires or planned back-burning which may also close off certain areas. It’s no fun getting out there and realising you can’t get to where you want to go. Or worse yet, realising there was a fire and you weren’t aware.
- The fines you can receive for being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be significant (think the cost of all your barwork!). More importantly, it does no favours for how the community and authorities view us 4×4 enthusiasts. Posting a “heaps mad” video clip on YouTube and Facebook with tractor tyres and wheels 10 feet in the air while climbing what is clearly an embankment on the side of a track might seem fun at the time.The damaging contribution these acts are making to areas getting closed off are massive. We shouldn’t be supporting these videos we should be shaming the posters and reporting them. Yes, the authorities do look at these videos and will send fines to the registered owners!! This is aside from potentially bumping into a ranger in the closed off area or having someone reporting you as they watch you enter or come out of closed areas live.
- Finally, if you’re new to the hobby, it’s a very exciting time and as an industry we are happy to have you on board. One of the best ways to get versed and enjoy your vehicle and the off-road lifestyle is to get involved in a club.Each state has plenty of 4WD clubs that can help you learn and be part of a responsible community of like-minded enthusiasts (some may even get a discount on their insurance. If in doubt, look up your local state club association who will provide you with a list of clubs in your area that may suit your needs.
Remember, as four wheel drivers it is our responsibility to ensure we know the rules and are following them. Club 4X4 supports the Tread Lightly ethos, see it, love it, observe it but make sure you leave it how you found it.