Is this the most difficult terrain you’ll ever drive?

Is this the most difficult terrain you’ll ever drive?

I was with a bunch of mates  the other day,  knockin back a couple of bush chooks (a piss weak aussie beer who’s actual name is Emu Export) when we got talking about some of the most challenging treks we had ever done. There were some excellent mentions in there, many of which came from around the Harvey/Collie area. Most of these were a nightmare at the time, but are now fond memories of the times we worked together and pulled through. But with West Australia having such vast expanses of driveable beaches, it was hardly surprising that the beach reared it’s head as our greatest challenge. We compiled plenty of example stories that night, with lessons we learned from each.


Sand Strains Our Vehicles:

Early in 2015 we set out to attempt driving between the town of Guilderton and the town of Seabird by following the beach. About 800 metres from the beach exit leading to Seabird, our convoy hit the softest sand I’ve ever experienced. I’m talking 10 psi in the tyres and still struggling. 3 vehicles went down, and only two came out under their own power. The third vehicle blew the clutch. No drive AT ALL, in sand so soft that we were all reduced to a crawl. How did we work our way out of that one? CLICK HERE to watch the video!

Of course, far more common is the issue of overheating. The thing about the beach is we like to go there when it’s hot. Hot days and hard working engines don’t necessarily mix too well, keeping that cooling system in tip top condition is essential!


Routes can change overnight:

A few years earlier on a beach nearby, we rounded a bend to come across the local tow vehicle recovery expert. If this dude has been called out, it’s serious! The Toyota Hilux had clearly been involved in a roll over and the story goes something like this:  The owner had driven the beach without a hitch the day before, but when he entered the beach early the next morning for some fishing he plunged over a 5-foot drop! “Why was this so?” I asked. Apparently the higher than normal overnight winds were to blame for raising a choppy swell and washing away the beach leaving the small cliff, which caught the driver so unawares.



The ocean can swallow your rig:

 On Salmon beach, south coast of Western Australia the worst nearly happened. We had just crossed the water where the Warren River meets the sea, and were headed up the beach when the sand got soft and the going got tough. In an attempt to find more solid ground, one of the crew pulled out of convoy to test the damp sand closer to the surf, which you would normally find easier going. Well; the vehicle went down that quick it nearly caused the poor bloke whiplash!

Nobody could get close enough to provide an anchor to winch off without sinking themselves, and while 3 snatch straps would reach, the recovery vehicle had trouble building momentum for a good pull. Redlining diesel engines and countless pulls saved the vehicle inch by inch as an incoming tide lapped at the wheels. Which brings me to my final point:

Tides can ruin your day:

 The driver of the 4wd from the above story was extremely relieved to be on high and dry ground, but with fading light we had to race against that tide and get out the way we came in. As the beach grew narrower we were forced to drive through the crashing surf, a big no-no by the rulebook but becoming bogged again was to mean game over. That meant momentum, more than was probably required and absolutely no stopping.

I can’t name a moment in my 4wding lifetime where I have shat so many bricks! Of course we made it through, it would probably be too painful to tell this story right now if we hadn’t. But it wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops. By the time we arrived the river mouth had become a churning torrent of brine and sand.  We were lucky this time that the tide had simply stranded us rather than consuming any vehicles, and with our luck feeling stretched, we settled in to camp for the night.


What do you think?

Would you agree that the beach is the toughest terrain? Or am I talkin’ out my arse here? I’d love to hear your stories big or small. I know we all have one!


Alex Garner

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  1. David
    June 27, 09:00 Reply
    Great work with the blog guys. Nice to have material relevant to our local situation. I like the problem solving and skill development emphasis. I am planning my false floor project in the y61 based on your project. Cheers.
    • Alex Garner
      July 01, 14:29 Reply
      Thanks David!Glad to hear my false floor project has inspired you too :)
  2. Sand driving can give your vehicle a workout, but it all comes down to tyre pressures and the right gear choice. Some beaches are much softer than others, and the quicker you let your tyres down to suit the better off you are. I happily let my cruiser tyres down to 10 PSI if things are tough, and would go even lower if I had to. I reckon mud and with a few rocks is harder; much more chance of damaging your vehicle because you have less control. Get stuck in a big mud puddle and you have a soaking 4WD too! That said, sand driving can be a real nightmare when things go wrong, like you found out up north. Asides from when something goes wrong, you should be able to avoid driving through water by thorough planning! Keep it up mate!
  3. Harry
    November 21, 08:17 Reply
    I reckon beach driving is the easiest type of 4wding to get into with a basic setup, but under the wrong conditions beach driving can go pear shaped quickly. One minute you're cruising along in the sunshine with the breeze in your hair, the next you're frantically trying to dig yourself out of sand while the tide inches closer, ready to claim your pride and joy as it's own...
  4. stoney
    May 24, 09:56 Reply
    I too concur have been in a similar situation going from Lancelin north to seabird. on the well known track we met a couple of fellow 4wders and chose to convoy together all was well good times and banter were had on the uhf. We then came to the MOD property and gate was closed which meant we had to either back track and go further inland or follow the fence line down to the beach and around which seemed a wonderful idea at the time. As we approached the beech our new friends decided to cross the downed fence into the mod property and make there way through,Being as the sign said Gate closed means live firing and or bomb testing could be active!!! I chose not to follow. we shortly were met by a short ledge approximately half a meter down to the beach,this dammed ledge would become my nemesis!!. so we drop down and begin to head north up the beach and to quote you Alex everything was sunshine and lollipops as we approached the bend quad bikes came blitzing round the corner and i chose to take a higher line to avoid them but instantly was downed and bogged,no problem began to reverse out which was slow going but working then came an o'mighty pop and the smell of coolant a coolant connection has split in half ,so without hesitation we decide to head back as this is not repairable here. conscious of overheating we find ourselves at the ledge we dropped in at and the tide closing with plenty of momentum we go but alas no joy so straighten up and have another go.... well after many attempts and tyres down to 8 psi and max traxx as a ramp and my exit getting deeper from failed attempts tide closing misses getting emotional, kids playing havoc. my last shot was to winch but off what i jumped on the radio and put out an SOS to our new friends nothing whilst i was digging the whole to bury the spare wheel i tried again to our friends who picked up they were 10kms away.gee i hope they make it in time.... well im glad to say even with a 200 series land cruiser as an anchor this still was a challenging winch and we now had 15km of limestone track to get back so i could call on RAC for a tow back to where we were camping. the misses still blames me for this day and often brings it up, where as i try to store it away in some deep dark mental box ha ha.That feckin ledge

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