What Happened to Helping a Mate?

This really isn’t something I’ve done before everyone and I wasn’t sure about doing it. You see, this isn’t a magazine or a media outlet and I am FAR from an editor or a journalist. The other day I came across something that’s really had me thinking – festering even. So here is my very first opinion piece – kind of like an editorial for dummies. It won’t be beautifully written and there will be grammatical and spelling errors as my day job is to run an insurance brand – so please try to understand the intent and ignore the lack of journalistic perfection. Here goes nothing…

I was flicking through Facebook over the weekend in one of those all too rare minutes where the tin lids were amused somewhere else in the house, when on the screen of my device appears the standard 4X4 clip. You know the one, old mate has pulled out his latest iTele 46, standing there recording while he watches someone hook up a strap to a towball. He was highly engaged, zooming in and out and passing judgement and commentary to various people out of frame: “this blokes gunna kill someone” he says.

Now the subject was a very late model dual cab. From what I could tell, the owner was still enjoying that showroom shine and the highway rubber from the factory. A neat aluminium tray and tradie-standard ladder rack  were the only other mods visible. It was being tasked with the the noble role of snatching out a lovely old 60 series ‘Cruiser. I’m not going to post or link to the video, because this is certainly not about shaming the individuals involved – that’d be completely against the point of this piece.

Thankfully, both drivers and their vehicles got out unscathed.

Due to the more than liberal smattering of grey hair on my brain-garage, people usually think I’m ten years older than I am; not a horrible thing. One thing I definitely am is pretty old school – to a flaw if you ask some people. I never really got into the social media thing beyond having a look here and there, interacting with old mates and staying in touch with family; local and abroad. I only just learned how to use Instagram and just quietly still don’t understand the point of a hashtag. I’m usually the last to pull out a phone to take a video because you tend to miss the real thing – I guess growing up riding my bike from dusk to dawn is the culprit.

But I digress. When did everything go so wrong? Going back to the video in question – when did we all lose our ability to interact with each other? Obviously the person filming was experienced and the subjects weren’t. When did it become OK to film this knowing full well it could lead to disaster, instead of walking down there and trying to help the bloke understand what he was doing was wrong? Give him a pointer – show him how to pull out the towball and use the securing pin as a safer option? I know I’d rather have the subject have a go at me or feel slightly embarrassed when asked to “get lost”, than watch someone potentially take his or her life or embarrass themselves by damaging a vehicle. You may make a mate or have someone who could join your fourby club, but mostly, you have added to the skills and capabilities of another four wheel driver. We get a bad enough wrap without giving the naysayers more ammo.

Everyone talks about the need for more regulation, different licensing, mandatory training and increased education. We have great industry bodies like Four Wheel Drive Australia who along with their state based counterparts are working to promote responsible driving by supporting their four wheel drive clubs across the country. These guy and gals also lobby government for 4X4 friendly outcomes daily. A significant project for them currently is revamping their training structures with fantastic companies like Getabout and Tow-ed Training. We have government and legislative bodies breathing down all of our necks due to the few who cause the rest of us grief.

How do we make a difference? Well how about leaning in as a community? What I love about four wheel drivers is that we all pitch in and help each other. If you see a fellow fourby driver on the Canning with the bonnet up do you drive past??? I’d think not. So why is it any different to help what could be a future mate do things the right way?

We have a responsibility to ourselves. The world has become a little too engrossed in the little screen – we all bang an about the campfire and being away from technology. By posting, viewing, liking and laughing at these sorts of clips we are supporting the continuation of such irresponsible behaviour.

Help your mate ladies and gents – go over and have a chat and if the response isn’t great, then walk away knowing you’ve at least tried to do the right thing.

Happy Touring



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Comments 32

  1. A great piece Kalen. I’ve been saying the same thing over the last few years. Last year we were broken down on the Birdsville Track with a shot wheel bearing in the camper we were towing. I can’t believe how many people simply drove by. Credit to the ones that did stop.

    My other gripe is the speed at which people are travelling and there refusal to slow, even a little , for oncoming cars.

    This year, virtually within five minutes of hitting the Oodnadatta Track, firstly we received a starred windscreen (expect a claim for that sometime) and then within another few minutes we were hit by a large rock which smashed a headlight protector.

    People are rushing around and, as I say, trying to do a five day trip in three and to hell with anyone else on the road.

    Slow down people, it won’t kill you to at least take your foot off the pedal and move a little closer to the left while passing another car. Show a little kindness.

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      Hey Gary,

      It’s funny because someone will post a “meme” on looking at a campfire rather than a TV and you get 5 million likes – presumably because people want the slower simpler lifestyle – and yet like you said everyone is dashing around at mach speed. I think it’s great more of us are taking up the hobby but how much are we taking in if we are rushing around so much?

      I’d like to do a week or two trip with my kids but don’t have the time – so i’m planning out some easy weekender where we can still get the fresh air without having to rush…

      We need to remember why we get out there in the first place.


  2. I completely agree with and yes I have recorded videos and pictures and it comes 2nd to safety, I am in a club and with the aim to teach and give guidance to people whom don’t know or have the experience in difficult situations. The more accidents and incidents, the more tracks they will close down.

  3. bang on Kalen every body can rip out a camera but help I think not it,s not as funny as a tow ball through the windcreen or somebody,s head

  4. was in Wombat Forest last summer with a friend in my car(his car is not 4X4) we came across a small/medium bog hole and deliberately got bogged to show him how to properly self recovery . as we were doing this a couple more 4bys going in the other directions came along and watched. when finished, i told them i was teaching my friend how to winch.
    we got out of the way and the first 4bys got though, but the second got stuck, so they got ready to snatch the second vehicle out . they had a couple of tinheads running around and they stopped to watch, i told one of the guys that the kids should move out of the way, and he said thank you and told them to move out of the danger area.

    i know this was rather long winded… sorry about that. :-))

  5. Never a truer word spoken Kalen. We have only just returned from a 7000 km 3 state adventure including the Simpson Desert, showing great friends who had never been beyond the great divide before what our great country has to offer, and we loved every moment of it. On numerous occasions we came across fellow traveler’s on some atrocious tracks, i.e, Cameron Corner to Merty Merty, that were driving way too fast for the conditions. We sustained a few bull-eyes on the windscreen which we will get sorted,. We had a power steering box on one vehicle leak all it’s fluid onto the track (which we fixed). Some people slowed to ask if we were ok which we appreciated, and we did the same when we saw fellow travelers pulled up with bonnets up (as you do) but the annoying thing was the amount of ignorant people who roared pass at stupid speeds covering everyone in bull dust and the like. Driving at those speeds will only put more pressure on your rolling stock and cause premature failure, slow down people, your on holidays. Enjoy it as it will be over way too quickly.

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  6. Kalen, tragically this is something that is happening all too often these days – in part, a product of “Reality TV” I suspect.

    And I can understand you “festering” about it. Seemingly, it is “old school” to get out and help these days, rather than just whipping out the phone to capture a video of someone doing or about to do something that might lead to bad outcomes.

    Mind you the flip side to this is often to be told to mind your own business, given a finger or two, and some bad language, for doing no more than offering some assistance.

    Such is life, hey…!

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      Mate id rather get the bird or told to get lost than watch someone do something preventable…

      I guess everyone’s different though right?


  7. Social media is the issue. He wasn’t thinking about how unsafe it was to those people, he was thinking how many likes he is going to get by sounding like he knew what he was doing.

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  8. Many thanks for the article and I truly agree with you. As a newby to the 4W Driving I have taken a lot of training courses and one of the sections that was repeated on each course was safe recovery. The along with the assistance of a 4WD tag along group I am expanding my skills.
    On a lonely beach in WA we come across a group of youngsters bogged to the hilt. No one question assisting them to recover there vehicle and there was no a video devise anywhere near the recovery.

  9. I can help but smile of the irony of all the comments about “evil” social media on an article that was posted on a web site!

    But I agree about the help and speed. I also ride a motorbike in the Outback. We almost have to get off the track when we see an oncoming 4WD, due the drivers not slowing down.

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      i guess the difference is we’re using social media to drive positive change – not drag people down.

      It is ironic though 🙂


  10. Its the same at the boat ramps, people seem to prefer to stand back and laugh or even get impatient and annoyed, instead of just asking the person trying to reverse if they need a hand. Either by giving helpful directions or even doing it for them.

  11. I’ve stopped and helped everyone I come across and if it’s a bogged vehicle I insist on using their strap – why would I get mine filthy.

    I met one bloke who had 2 flat tyres, within the last 5km, and he hadn’t even got to the rough stuff. He was trying to fit a rim with a “muddy” from his camper trailer, to the right front of his Prado, which was running highway tyres – good luck with that! When asked if he’d lowered his tyre pressures and slowed down he dismissed me with this answer – “my mechanic knew where I was going and he would have set them”.

    Wow, I thought, he’s not listening to me and I drove away silently wishing him luck for the next 500ks.

    1. Same Les. We met a guy last month at a camp site out near Cameron corner, who had blown a tyre running at 38psi, after chatting to him around a fire, I tried to convince to drop his tyre pressures, I explained why it was necessary, bigger footprint etc, etc, (I’m a driver trainer instructor in our 4wd club) but he thought he knew best and wouldn’t listen, said if he had them up hard, he would sail over everything. As you do out west, a few days later we ran into him again. He came up to me, said hello again and said he was talking to a tour guide in a 4wd bus and the bloke told him (after 2 more blown tyres) he should let his tyres down. He then tried to lecture me about the benefits of lower tyre pressures. (Facepalm, gimme strength!)

  12. I can see where Les is coming from. All too often, helpful advice is not welcomed, and when alcohol is involved, things can sometimes get nasty. ( unfortunately the presence of alcohol also increases the chance that things will end badly, and that someone will also have a video clip of it )
    ………….and don’t get me started on tire pressures .
    I recall trying to assist a fellow caravaner to move his rig out from between two large trees ( he had about a meter clearance on both sides ) . Despite my best efforts, I could not get him to understand that his tail end was going to move across if he turned too early, which he persisted in doing. He eventually had one side almost resting on a tree, I was told ” you have no idea” , and walked away. As we drove out of the park, I asked the park owner to get down there before he wrecked his van.

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      Neil – i think much of this comes down to delivery of the message too – obviously alcohol adds a totally different element and care needs to be taken

  13. 100% agree with stopping to help, I have spent years working professionally offroad in Australia and Overseas. You always stop or even slow to a crawl and check if all is under control, if you see some one in trouble.
    In my retirement, as an old lady, I now volunteer, travelling solo, at many Outback events and towns/homes and very rarely post on social media.
    Here is yet another example of a desperate “I’m in a hurry” recovery.
    Details omitted for obvious reasons.
    Here is the scene.
    Pitch black, 6:30 am, edge of the Simpson Desert, on a track next to a Very Big Red sandridge. A 4WD ute (without
    Front barwork/winch) towing a tandam axle road van) has become
    bogged to the axles/chassis of the ute.
    I stop to offer assistance, driver insists he “just needs to hook up his snatch strap for immediate recovery”.
    I offer to grab my shovel and dig sand away first from bogged tyres, and suggest he lower tyre pressures. Other driver states “the pressure is low enough at 28psi” .
    “No” he states he has a snatch strap.
    I offer my 4 (FOUR) MaxTrax, and start to explain I could winch him.
    He then became very abusive as he insisted his snatch strap (of unknown quality, condition and age. Difficult to inspect in the dark) would work fine.
    He clearly did not understand my lack of a safe, rear recovery point, as I had my second spare tyre and two 20 litre full fuel cans attached to a frame on my Hayman Reese hitch.
    Looking at his 2 tonne bogged ute attached to 2.4 tonne (minimum) Road caravan (total mass 4.4 tonnes) , and hearing his abuse how plastic trax did not work, I chose to wish him good luck and left the scene, still in total darkness, with no guilt.
    As a post script another person eventually agreed to snatch him and his attached caravan, it worked, this time.
    But by not digging, lowering tyre pressures and using 4 available trax. how many times was the risk factor multiplied (to all involved) for a strap attached to 4.4 tonnes in the dark attempting a snatch by a 2.5 tonne SUV.
    Sometimes even the most concerned person has to walk away.

  14. Yep well targeted and not many spello’s either.
    Following on from comments about irresponsible driving I think the Motor manufacturers have a lot to answer for. The current crop of TV adds “Go your own way” and the Amarock on the track and lots of others roaring along beaches and paddocks and elsewhere creates an image and culture that the bush and 4×4 in general can do without. Sports Utility Vehicle SUV does not mean full time motor sport but this seems to be the main selling concept. Go fast and go wild. And now we have a range of High performance dual cab utes. WTF.!!! If you want a sports car go buy one and stay off the dirt unless you are in the WRC.

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  15. What you have said is so true but then there are some so called experts who should be shamed. The wife and I went on a trip with an organised group and this was being run by an organised group to teach the correct way. Well when I saw them demonstrating under veh repairs using a airbag and no safety stands I jumped in to stop it and got told in no uncertain way to****** off. I went to the next stand and here they were showing recovery and they had all the trainees standing within the byte of the winch cable and when I pointed out their errors I was told the same thing. I went to see the organizers and they told me that they were the experts and what would I know. I then produced my ID and told them that I had been training soldiers for onto 30 years as to how to operate a vehicle and told them that I could not stand by and watch this go on. The course cost a fortune and was to run for 7 days but because the way they carried on I left and went my own way. On returning home I reported it all to the sponsors of the trip so that they could take action. So as you can see you try to help and you suggest the correct way and you get abused for your afford so from now on I travel alone for I feel safer that way. The whole idea was to travel in numbers for safety reasons but with the attitude of some persons it may be better to stay away from certain groups. Do not get me wrong there are some very good ones out there but there are a lot of cowboys also.

  16. What concerned me is that a fellow in the mid sixties gets to retire or made redundant gets to realise he suddenly has s stack of money thrust on him
    Having had a desk job for most of his working life he feels the need to get out to the wide open spaces
    To do it in the right style as per his position in life and his wife’s expectations his off to
    Buy a nice big caravan with all the mod cons shower/toilet /aiconn/TV etc
    Of course one must have a large land cruiser to tow it with
    The point is suddenly he has a set up as big as a bus and is let loose in our country roads without any extra driving skills
    We others in the vicinity of this huge vehicle don’t know how the driver is capable of knowing road etiquette and road conditions to be able to handle any quick decisions
    I’ll always be wary and patients of of other caravaners especially when they in a tight convoy

  17. WOW, just read your blurb. Hmm, yep it’s rife. It’s like shoveling sand on a fire you will never put out. Social media is the end of days.

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