Many four wheel drive owners use their vehicles simply to tour areas that they would not otherwise be able to visit. They enjoy the vastness, beauty and solitude of the areas to the same extent and with the same amount of care for conservation as other people who choose other means of transportation. Others use their four wheel drive vehicles as a means to reach areas in which their primary form of recreation, such as camping, fishing, canoeing, nature study and wildlife observation is based.
For many people the 4WD vehicle they drive is a workhorse – an essential tool that provides transport and sometimes even their accommodation. They need to access many areas shared with recreational four wheel drivers.
Whether for work or recreation four wheel drive touring is a legitimate use of Australia’s vast areas of public land. Some of the best scenery and areas to camp are only accessible by foot or by four wheel drive vehicle. Many of these areas are being set aside as State and National Parks and reserves because of their scenic and environmental values.
Demand on public land is ever increasing. The ability of our public land to meet the demand of conservation and recreation depends largely on the consideration and care with which we treat it.
If the land is managed and cared for properly it can provide the maximum in resource, environment and recreation value. Irresponsible use by drivers of four wheel drive vehicles ultimately means track and park closures thus substantially reducing access to these resources, the ‘bush’, that so many of us enjoy.
There are many competing uses for land – timber, agriculture, grazing, mining, water, wildlife protection and recreation. Respect and co-operation with land managers will ensure that these competing uses can co-exist. Driving a four wheel drive vehicle is only one form of recreation on public land.
The acceptability of four wheel drive touring is determined by the impact this has had on the landscape and what it may have in the future, how much four wheel driving might prejudice activities of other bush users and whether this activity might enhance park use. Four wheel drivers gain considerable pleasure from touring our public lands. Respect the rights of others and preserve the historical and cultural value of our bushland. Common sense is the key.
The law requires drivers of vehicles keep to formed roads and avoid damaged and weather affected tracks and roads. Where possible enquire at local Conservation and Environment or National Park offices for up-to-date conditions of tracks.
The four wheel drive vehicle is not the culprit when it comes to environmental damage. However, when you combine a four wheel drive vehicle with an irresponsible driver then the potential for environmental damage is ever-present.
Please remember, as a visitor, strive to leave any area cleaner than it was found. Take out what you and others take in, and minimise the impact of visiting the area. It takes only a few inconsiderate people to damage the reputation of four wheel drive tourer’s as a whole. Support the Code of Ethics and encourage all friends and other drivers to do likewise. Actions like this will be supporting the responsible, safe and proper use of four wheel drive vehicles.
There are some groups in the community that would seek to have areas closed to four wheel drive touring and dispersed vehicle base bush camping. The reasons for this include the alleged adverse impact on enjoyment of others, as well as supposed damage caused to the tracks and disruption to wildlife and habitat.
Four wheel drive visitors to public lands should plan trips according to the prevailing weather conditions, but they should be prepared for a last minute change to an alternative more appropriate area should heavy rain occur. Should unexpected conditions be encountered after entering an area and continuation could cause further damage to tracks, if at all possible, retreat and go to a more suitable area. If there is no other alternative, move to high ground and stop. When conditions improve, proceed with the journey.
When travelling on tracks, undertake minor track clearing and maintenance and advise Regional Conservation & Environment or National Park offices if any major maintenance or clearing problem was encountered. Ensure that the official list of temporary and permanent track closures relating to the area to be visited is obtained from the Conservation & Environment or other appropriate land management offices prior to commencing a trip.
By following a few simple rules access to our vast bush and outback country can be maintained.
Seek permission – this includes areas such as, Leasehold Land, National Parks, State Forests, and Private Land and Aboriginal Land. Many Aboriginal communities are now on freehold land.
- Domestic Animals: Keep all domestic animals under control. They are not allowed in National Parks and some State Forests.
- Native Animals: Do not damage their habitat. Do not feed native animals.
- Farm Animals: Do not disturb where possible. Do not camp at their water holes. Do not bathe or wash clothes etc in their water troughs.
Land Care –
- Tracks: Minimise any damage caused by your passage. Repair any impact caused.
- Obstructions: Remove if possible. Do not simply drive around them.
- Gates: Leave gates as you find them.
- Campsites: Minimise any disturbance. Use any existing campsites.
- Litter: Whatever you take in – take out. Also collect and take out any other litter found.
- Human: Use existing toilets or bury deep and away from campsites and water. Please read and share our post on Bush Toilet Etiquette.
- Food: Keep food scraps away from animals, and dispose in appropriate bins if available. Otherwise take out with you.
- Soap/Detergents: Do not use in creeks or water points as they pollute the water. Use a bucket and carry away from that point to use.
- Sensible use: Open fires are terrific social centres, but consider demand for firewood, and potential for wildfires.
- Alternatives: Use fuel stoves, but be cautious of using them in enclosed spaces.
- Restrictions: Check on any current fire bans, and use designated fire places if possible.
- Precautions: Any fire must be completely extinguished before leaving. Be especially careful with cigarette butts.
CODE OF ETHICS
- Obey the laws and regulations for Recreational Vehicles that apply to public lands.
- Respect the cultural, heritage and environmental values of public/private land, by obeying restrictions that may apply.
- Respect our flora and fauna. Stop and look, but never disturb.
- Keep to formed vehicle tracks.
- Keep the environment clean. Carry your own, and any other, rubbish out.
- Keep your vehicle mechanically sound and clean to reduce the environmental impact.
- Adopt minimal impact camping and driving practices.
- Seek permission before driving on private land. Do not disturb livestock or watering points, leave gates as found.
- Take adequate water, food, fuel, basic spares and a first aid kit on trips. In remote areas travel with another vehicle and have Royal Flying Doctor service, or equivalent, radio contact.
- Enjoy your recreation and respect the rights of others.
- Plan ahead and lodge trip details with a responsible person.
- Support four-wheel drive touring as a responsible and legitimate family recreational activity. Consider joining an affiliated Four-wheel Drive club.
THIS CODE SUPPORTS THE NATIONAL RECREATIONAL VEHICLE POLICY AND IS VALUABLE ONLY IF YOU OBSERVE IT.
Produced by the Australian National Four Wheel Drive Council lnc. in the interest of promoting responsible recreational vehicle use.