Hema Interview: Lyndon Kettle of Devonport 4WD Club
Ever thought about joining a 4WD club but not quite sure exactly what you’d be signing up for? Today we chat to Lyndon Kettle, President of Tasmania’s foremost group of 4WD enthusiasts, about the ins and outs of Devonport 4WD Club.
What are the origins of the Devonport 4WD Club? How long has it been around for, and what are its core aims?
The Devonport 4WD Club was formed on July 4, 1978, by a group of people interested in four-wheel drives and four-wheel driving. The club has always had a monthly trip — either a day trip or camping trip exploring both our own backyard here in Tasmania, and all over Australia. The club grew quickly, and in the early eighties became known for their annual navigation rallies based around tulip maps. In the early nineties, the club moved into mud runs and hill climbs, managing to secure a round of the Australian Mud Racing Championship each year for a number of years. In the late naughties, the club had another shift into GPS based navigation events, hosting the biggest 4WD event in Tasmania for seven years running. Now in the twenties, the club is as strong as ever — we’re catering for a lot more family-orientated weekend trips and encouraging our female and young members to be more active. The core aims of the club are to encourage and promote the use of 4WD vehicles for recreational purposes and enjoying the outdoors while respecting the environment.
What kind of support/learning opportunities are offered for people just starting out? How do you foster an encouraging atmosphere for people that are brand new?
Our club is affiliated with 4WD Tasmania, who offer driver training that we encourage our members to use as well as ‘on-the-job’ training as part of our monthly trips. Our experienced members are always more than happy to help out an inexperienced newbie. We also facilitate other training such as First Aid, GPS use, and chainsaw courses at our club rooms.
Can you talk a little about the club trips? How much planning goes into these in terms of safety and catering for different experience levels?
Club trips will range from a social barbecue, day trip, overnight trip, to multi-day and even multi-week trips. A number of club members participated in a track grading course sponsored by 4WD Tasmania, 4WD Victoria and the Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service. We have implemented a colour coded system for our trips (green = easy, blue = medium, and black = difficult) and often have multiple choices on the same trip.
Does Tasmania pose any unique challenges in terms of terrain? I’m guessing mud would be much more of an issue than some parts of mainland Australia...
The beauty of Tasmania is the variety of terrain encountered, sand dunes on the West Coast and North East regions, temperate rainforest, alpine areas in the highlands, slippery clay in the state forests, definitely plenty of mud if that’s your thing, and even the infamous West Coast quicksand that has claimed many vehicles.
What are some of your favourite spots for 4WDing in Tasmania?
To be honest, anywhere that you’re out in the wilderness, but the West Coast in general and more specifically Sandy Cape, Pieman Heads, Climies Track, Corinna, and Waratah.
And, lastly, Nissan or Toyota?
This is a hotly debated issue at our club, but because I am doing the interview we will go with Toyota.