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Ready to roll?

For those seeking a break from the chaos of daily life, four-wheel driving can provide a simple yet exhilarating escape into the solitude of nature.

Feb 4, 2023

Words: Bryce Magnuson

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“Terrible views” was the line I delivered facetiously into the microphone.

“Absolutely horrid. Not sure why we bothered” was the inevitable response that crackled back through the UHF.

It’s a variation of the same line that gets thrown around the convoy when we break through the fog in Victoria’s alpine country to be greeted by sterling weather, or when we drive through a clearing after spending many kilometres in thick bush to finally see the river winding through the valley below us.

The novelty of that line, unlike a flat tyre or drying out the carpet in the cabin after a partially successful river crossing, never gets old on these trips. It’s delivered with exceptional regularity along with limitless banter that always outweighs the complications that can come with four-wheel driving, with the exception of that time we went to the Flinders Ranges. But, we don’t talk about that.

There’s an undeniable sense of freedom that four-wheel driving brings. It feels a little cliché, and maybe it is. Maybe it’s amplified by a job that keeps you inside or glued to a screen for hours every day. But there’s just something about slowly winding your way through the bush that’s good for the soul, whether it’s out for a day trip, in search of a new swimming hole or hunting for the ‘best’ campsite.

The latter could be likened to a sport for our group of adventurers. We approach it with the same fervour as a footballer with ‘white line fever’, except the end goal is to not only find the best campsite, but the best empty campsite. Like any team sport, success hinges on the efforts of the whole group. We all need to be accountable in bringing a certain amount of gear, supplies and a sense of humour for when things don’t quite work out. It’s much like that African proverb – if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, make sure at least one of you has a winch.

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I think part of the freedom we chase stems from the simplicity of the activity. We find somewhere we’d like to visit, and then see if we can get there. When (if) we get there, we enjoy the solitude of the place we have trekked to. Our simple food cooked on a fire always tastes better after the day’s effort navigating some of the most stunning and occasionally difficult parts of the state.

Growing up I didn’t think I’d ever develop a taste for four-wheel driving. Yet it’s this relatively new-found pursuit that has taken me places where I’ve created some of my favourite memories. The afternoon sun hitting the rocks at Neilson Crag. Watching platypus feed at dusk on Big River. The roast cooked in Millers Hut the night it snowed. Watching that stag chase a mob of kangaroos across the track in front of us near Suggan Buggan.

Now, it’s hard to say no to a drive into the bush. Even if it’s close to home. These adventures still bring an equal amount of fun and, sometimes to a lesser degree, banter.

“Ready to roll out?” crackles through the UHF.


“How many wheel nuts do you have left this time?” comes back with lightning speed, somehow delivered with an audible smile.

“We don’t talk about that.”

Gippslandia - Issue No. 25

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