Planning the Trip
Before setting out on a trip, it is important that some basic planning is completed to ensure that the event is conducted in such a way to ensure that it is both enjoyable and safe for everyone.
Selection of the route is the most important consideration. The Trip Leader should endeavour to be conversant with factors such as hazards, points of interest, campsites and expected weather conditions etc.
Consideration should be given to the following:
- Type - determine the trip type eg, day trip, week-end, outback trip etc
- Destination - determine the destination and / or areas to be travelled
- Duration - determine the trip duration and likely stop-overs
- Route - plan route (tracks) to include alternate routes in case of adverse conditions
- Track Classification – a track grading classification scale has been developed to assist Trip Leaders in rating trips and inform participants on 4WD trips of the type of tracks that they can expect to encounter.
On most 4WD trips participants can expect that a variety of tracks will be traversed each with an appropriate rating. Trip Leaders should advise participants of the range of track ratings expected to be encountered on the planned route. The whole trip is usually rated to match the most difficult track that is likely to be encounted.
For more detailed information about track classifications, refer to the Track Classifications chart.
- Trip Rating – rate the trip to the highest expected standard and be prepared enroute to make changes to suit weather or track conditions. It should be noted that four wheel driving is unpredictable by its very nature and variation from the expected degree of difficulty is very possible. The following ratings should be used as a guide:
Scenic/Social – Sealed roads and some good unsealed roads or tracks. No four wheel driving experience required. Road tyres are acceptable.
Easy – (Green) little or no Four Wheel Driving experience required. Road tyres are acceptable. Front and rear recovery points at Trip Leader’s discretion. Expected track classification to be encountered – Green.
Medium –(Blue) low range may be needed with a snatch strap recovery possible. All terrain tyres preferred. Front and rear recovery points (rated), basic recovery gear (snatch strap, 2 rated shackles and gloves), and appropriate driver training. Expected track classification to be encountered – Green and Blue.
Difficult– (Black Diamond)steep terrain or rutted tracks. Snatch strap and / or winching recovery may be required. All terrain tyres acceptable, mud terrain tyres preferred, road tyres are not acceptable. Front and rear recovery points (rated), basic recovery gear (snatch strap, 2 rated shackles and gloves), and appropriate driver training. Winch and full recovery gear is preferred. Expected track classification to be encountered – mostly Blue & Black
Very Difficult – (Double Black Diamond) very steep, deeply rutted tracks or rock hopping will be encountered. Front and rear recovery points (rated), full recovery gear (snatch strap, rated shackles, tree trunk protector, winch extension, drag chain and gloves), and appropriate driver training. Winching will be expected and an electric or motorised winch is compulsory on all vehicles. Mud terrain style tyres essential. Warning: Vehicle damage may occur. Expected track classification to be encountered – Black & Double Black.
- Participants - decide on the number of 4WD vehicles, and the number of participants appropriate for the nature of the trip. It is recommended that no more than 10 vehicles are included in each convoy on four-wheel drive trips. This is primarily an environmental issue to minimize damage to tracks and takes into consideration impact of the group at rest areas, camping grounds and during vehicle recoveries. It is also to help in not being an inconvenience to other groups using the areas being visited.
Equipment - assess if any special equipment will be required. i.e. snow chains, hand winch, chain saw, appropriate first aid kit etc. It is highly recommended that a fire extinguisher should be installed in every vehicle in a visible and easily accessible location.
Vehicle Requirements – depending on trip duration and location(s), you may need to remind vehicle owners of their responsibility to ensure their vehicle is roadworthy and appropriately set up for the trip.
Permits - check if permits are required for the area or areas that you may pass through.
Maps – obtain relevant and current maps of the areas.
Season - decide on the time of year to run the trip.
Activities - consider other activities which may be included in the trip.
Research - Gather information about the area to be visited, maps, books, contact other club members and relevant authorities.
Supplies - consider, fuel, food, water, clothing, camping requirements, accommodation.
Convoy Communications – determine minimum radio requirements for the trip in accordance with club policy.
Emergency Communications – determine the communications necessary in an emergency situation. It is important to be aware of areas where normal communication equipment (mobile phones) will not operate, so the need for specialist equipment (sat phone, HF radio, EPIRB etc.) should be considered.
- Ground Charlie – select your base contact person (Ground Charlie), provide them with your trip details including Emergency Plans, Trip Participant List, Personal Details Forms and Temporary Member / Visitor Forms. Report to Ground Charlie on an agreed timeframe. Use Sat phone / HF Radio Mobile Phone etc. Reporting method will vary depending on length of trip and destination. Stick to a pre-arranged schedule.
Definition – Ground Charlie is a person who is contactable at all times (at home or base camp) and who can contact emergency services and / or emergency contacts when and if required
- Emergency Plans - develop an emergency plan in response to potential incidents such as bush fires, personal injury, mechanical or vehicle damage, alternative routes, Total Fire Bans, etc. Include emergency requirements for food, water and clothing as appropriate for the type of trip. A copy of the Emergency Plan shall also be provided to the TEC at the start of the trip and Ground Charlie before the trip