A short distance from suburban Melbourne, muddy tracks begin to branch out into the unseen. The trails are wide enough for cars and trucks, but too steep and uneven for casual transport. Four-wheel driving, according to some, is the only way to get the feel of the land. When the tracks are not closed due to snowfall, rainfall or a fallen tree, almost all of Australia can be explored on four-wheel drives.
The traction can go haywire in severely slippery mud banks. Or a rock protruding on a turn will take the vehicle and the driver by surprise.
An unexpected fallen tree can mean backtracking, detours or some serious chain saw action if the wood is dead. Logging green wood is a strict no no.
Safety is in high frequency radios, a solid tool kit, and the snatch trap and the jack. Or traveling in a group.
Four wheel driving is at times weekend getaway adventure, a means to reacquaint with the land or a concentrated driving exercise.
Australia has more than 300 four wheel drive clubs. And the country is criss crossed with tracks that only cattle men once used for navigation.