There's a lot that happens behind the scenes to keep four-wheel drivers on the right side of land managers. We had a chat with Wayne Hevey, CEO of Victoria's peak body 4WD Victoria, to find out a little more about what goes on behind the scenes.
(Image: 4WD Club Victoria, having an active peak body encourages people to understand more about the 4WD community.)
What are the most common misconceptions people have about 4WDers and how can we help change their views?
Unfortunately a large percentage of our population regard 4WDers as hoons and disrespectful citizens based on the actions of a few individuals who don’t understand or respect our landscape and how it should be used to ensure its longevity and continued use. Very simply, the more we damage the landscape the more will be excluded from possible usage based on environmental and risk management issues. We need to push this point strongly and publicise the facts to hopefully get the message through to those who don’t realise or understand how it works.
How does the 4WD community differ from other user groups and why is it so important for us to be represented by an active peak body?
Having an active peak body encourages people to understand what I have just said and then be able to work alongside the land managers and government to ensure we are actively helping keep the tracks and camping grounds open for all to use. By having this working relationship and a voice in the decision making process, such as a Memorandum of Understanding and Standard Operation Procedure with the land managers, we in fact play an integral part in decisions being made affecting the use of the landscape.
Outdoor communities are facing a lot of access issues in Victoria at the moment, how can we as 4WDers be proactive to ensure we don't come up against similar challenges?
As I just stated, having the ear of the Government mainly through our ministerial appointed FWD Advisory Committee, which comprises of two representatives from the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning, Parks Victoria and Four Wheel Drive Victoria, we discuss all issues pertaining to the use of the landscape covering things such as the increasing population and usage in certain areas, types of usage and climate change effects amongst various other issues. The Minister for the Environment and her office, look to this group for answers to questions concerning the outdoors and its use.
(Image: There are many benefits to joining an affiliated club or 4WD community, especially for beginners.)
How does the average 4WDer benefit from joining an affiliated club?
The first thing that comes to mind is the ability of the newby to learn about their vehicle and its capabilities, gain confidence in how to use it properly and safely and then learn from a group of experienced members how to enjoy the benefits of being able to travel and camp in the most efficient and safest way. The new club members will enjoy discounted training and other products the club has to offer through the FWDV association and their own sponsors and supporters, in things such as aftermarket products conducive to adding to their comfort and vehicles increased capabilities.
There's likely to be a big focus on local and domestic travel for the next little while, do you have any advice for the communities whose tracks and campsites receive more traffic than they're used to?
Report any hoon behaviour to avoid tracks and campgrounds being closed and locked up. This can and has been a significant problem even in most recent times, where breakout groups have gone absolutely crazy by wilfully destroying the Poplars campsite north of Noojee, forcing it to be closed once again for rehabilitation and reconstruction of the toilet block! We all want to be able to enjoy our back yard, let’s not allow a minority to spoil it for the majority of considerate 4WDers and their families.
For all those who've not had the chance to get out on any big trips this year, what's your advice for getting the most out of a short local trip?
There are plenty of opportunities around for the shorter trips, although the closures are still on until November, given that we can actually get out by that time, from the tracks around the Toolangi region in the North East to the Otways to the South East, the Wombat forest to the West. Look at our website for updates and links to both DELWP and Parks Vic for information on what is available at any particular time.
(Image: 4WD Victoria out on the tracks.)
What are three of the most memorable tracks you've driven in Victoria?
Blue Rag, Zeka Spur and Billy Goat would have to be up there but there are so many more out there also.
Are there any 4WD Victoria initiatives or projects underway that you'd like to mention?
Our Strategic Plan is taking shape which is designed to increase awareness of what Victoria has to offer for the recreational pursuit of 4WDers be it in a “real” 4WD or in an SUV soft roader which of course are a huge part of the market these days, and still growing.
We are looking to position Victoria as the Premier 4WD state, bringing Victoria economic benefits from 4WDriving.
We are also aiming to show that 4WDers provide a range of health and social connections and that Victorian 4WD experiences are enriched by the delivery of 4WD information through current and emerging technologies, providing a richer and more immersive four wheel driving experience.
We look to four wheel drivers to demonstrate respect for cultural, environmental and other values of public land.
Finally, we wish to make sure that four wheel driving is respected as a legitimate recreational pastime.
I hope this gives you a feel for what we at Four Wheel Drive Victoria is about.
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