Menace, or just mis-understanding?

A few weeks ago I came across a horrifying video online that showed one of my favourite sites in my own backyard defaced with graffiti. Yes, I was quite emotionally charged about it, yes my mind went straight to a perceived sub-segment that could’ve been responsible, yes I started ringing around to see if anyone knew anything. Unfortunately that process was fruitless, thankfully some kind hearted and committed 4wders from a local club went out and remediated the issue the next morning.

Now, generally Four Wheel Drivers are interesting characters. Down to earth, knockabout, straight shooters that embody a camaraderie and willingness to get involved in every facet of the passion that is off-roading.

At the same time, the same attributes that exude that camaraderie, can also be quite divisive. There’s different sub-segments in our hobby. The tourer, the caravanner, the hardcore rock crawler, different age groups and more than ever, brand new entrants into the passion. The latter is something that can cause a lot of issues on many different levels unfortunately.

Now, with that in mind, back to my story. A short time after the graffiti had been removed from this site, I was shown some irresponsible activity posted to a social media group. Now I’ll be candid, the group outwardly seems to consist of a younger generation which are more intent on challenging themselves and their vehicles; not really an issue for me, because who doesn’t love to put their fourby through its paces? However, the general 4wding fraternity would clearly have a view on this sort of sub-segment. This activity quickly blew up for them in the shape of naming and shaming across various other pages. Did they deserve it? I think they did, but what happened next is the point. The admin from that very page went out of his way to clearly and unreservedly apologise; taking complete responsibility for it in the process. Despite continuing to cop the brunt of criticism and sometimes unfair treatment, he continued, persevered and is really putting in an effort to improve the profile of this community he has built.

The proof will be in the pudding, but to me, as a risk averse insurance bloke, I reckon this individual’s actions deserve some recognition and cred. So when an influential mate of mine reached out to invite me along to have a bite with this individual, I was happy to oblige and give up some personal time. I’d love to understand more about what he’s trying to achieve and to see if there is opportunity to help him also understand different ways for all of us to contribute to a more safe and responsible 4wding community.

There’s a saying that my old fella banged into me growing up, it went something along the lines of “help people excel and so will you”. In a time when most 4wd related businesses I speak to regularly are seeing strong interest and growth, presumably being driven by more people wanting to see our countryside, these words can see us grow as a community.

Imagine we could let go of judgement and typecasting? Imagine how powerful a force we would be if we focused more on educating and helping each other, really espousing the mateship and camaraderie that is on the surface of our community?

I dare say a united 4wding community, all supporting each other regardless of the sub segment, age group or experience would do a whole lot better in getting the eyes of pollies to get our needs met. Don’t you? Stay tuned.

Happy Touring

Kalen Ziflian

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Comments 18

  1. All age groups are (and must be) more than welcome; however the old adage should ALWAYS apply “take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints” (Chief Si ahl – Seattle). With that firmly in everyone’s mind we can all enjoy and respect this small earth for centuries to come.

  2. I have been an active four wheel driver for over 15 years and love to get out in the country for a few days with my mates, challenge some tracks and then sit around a camp fire and have some laughs and beers.
    I also love getting out to the country with my wife, kids and friends with the camper trailer and stay a bit longer, not as challenging but more relaxing.
    I have noticed a noticeable decline in the condition of popular campsites and tracks over the last 5 or so years, mainly around the Lithgow and zig zag railway in the Sydney area where large crowds gather with a combination of 4X4’s and trail bikes. The rubbish is disgusting, these grubs have no respect for our bush, in fact I doubt whether they take any rubbish at all out with them.
    Grow up I say and take some responsibility, respect the bush and our freedom but ultimately have a bit more self respect, otherwise because of the minority the majority are going to be locked out of these areas, or charged money for the privilege.

    1. Adam,

      I totally agree mate – and also note the changes. Lithgow is my local as a Sydneysider so I hate seeing the wrong thing out there which is why this event really upset me.

      But, we need to think – we can either be sideliners and put the boot in, because the reality is no one actually does anything to change the situation, or we can help make progressive change.

      I support anyone and everyone enjoying our hobby, sooner there will be many many more joining it with the COVID situation, but it’s all of our jobs as people who have been doing it for a while, to help educate on the right ways to enjoy our bush. Some people will either learnt from the wrong people, or just have no idea.

      We were all there once, a combined voice can make a big difference to all of us.

      Happy Touring


    1. Thanks mate,

      its a choice. I will say, I did have the meting with the person in question in the article – and really enjoyed the interaction.

      We will go further as a united group than fractured.


  3. On a side note. It is not a good idea to have fires up against (some) rocks. Nitrigen rich rock (if I remember rightly) have a tendency to explode from heat, as you can see in the photos above. Had a bad experience with a couple of river boulders, many years ago.

  4. It’s all about education – what we’re shown when we start, what we learn and then how much we care about where we are. I agree, Kalen, education is the best course. And a little bit of worldly experience. I’ve now been 4WDing for nearly 50 years and was army trained. Carry it in, carry it out!

  5. Kalen, I can’t imagine many would disagree with the sentiment of your article as that is the community which we try to promote. For parents and the more senior, there is an anthropological imperative to have the patience and wisdom to help guide the younger or newer members. Any members of society still must take responsibility for their own impact on others. I believe we do them no favours by simply accepting their “new culture” of behaving as if there are consequences, then apologising later. Their world would become far less fun if the tables were turned and they were treated like that by the rest of society.

    1. G’day Graham,

      As a father of two young ones I couldn’t agree more.

      I think that the individuals did cop some consequences – were they severe enough? not sure and everyone will have an opinion. What I did enjoy was the fact that the leader of the group, who didn’t actually do the dirty work, stood up and took the hits. Having met him, I can understand why.

      As a dad, if I saw my kid react the way he has i’d be tremendously proud because that’s how I would react in that situation.

      On a more pragmatic level, we can either choose to sit on the sidelines and put the boot in, or we can support. These guys are the future and what they do will affect whether places line Lithgow will remain open and as amazing as it is today.

      Just quietly, I reckon we will be fine with this lot.


  6. Whilst I don’t condone the graffiti, seems like double standards apply in this country, wouldn’t the Aboriginal rock art be considered as graffiti ? Just sayin

    1. Consider rock art like a work of art done in the community as part of the community. In the same way the murals painted on walls and silos of our towns and cities with community support are very different different to the rubbish sprayed on buildings in the city.

  7. I would like to know what treatment was used on the rocks to remove the graffiti, whoever did what they did did a great job so much so that it looks like the graffiti was never there. Can this product name be shared so that when those of us find this disgusting stuff, we can do something about it?

    1. G’day Robert,

      I know a club from the NSW & ACT 4WD Association did the work, Camping with Families is there name. Ill see if I can find out for you.


  8. Shame . I think council rangers could do a lot more in regards to people taking their rubbish with them. The random taking photos of number plates by rangers and for that matter anyone who suspects or witnesses a” rubbish tosser” or a “leaver behind” act and then the ” dob in a dumper” to the authorities could apply
    Its up to everyone .
    If you see rubbish pick it up yourself !!
    Cheers Mike F

  9. You know what, it boils down to respect. I doubt these people have any respect for anything but their own opinion. I have no problem taking time to educate the ignorant- and I mean that in the purest sense of the word-, but my old man always told you cant educate an idiot. Why have Australians become so indulging of people who dont tow the line. Name and shame and let the unacceptable behaviour be called out. Take responsibility for your own actions.

  10. Hi I am from mudgee 4×4 club, Lithgow and hill end is our backyard every time we go to these places the rubbish is getting worse if the bins are full people just pack it along side the bin, we did clean up Australia day at hill end a few years ago we filled a trailer and a couple of Ute loads, I think we need to educate these people, we need to post our 4 wheel drive activities on social media and encourage these people to join a club. we have been putting our club on social media and our club has nearly doubled in 12 months.

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