4WD Association Dowerin Gathering

Trip Leader: Guy Lehmann

When: 25th – 27th October 2013

Location: Dowerin WA

Participants: Murray & Alison Hudson & children, Malcolm & Trish Harrison, John Snr & Jnr Holbrook, Peter & Lyn Fry, Judith & Bruce Brinkley, Craig Perry and    , Guy & Wendy Lehmann,
2 sets of visitors.

People arrived Friday and Saturday.. Tents and vans and swags spread across the broad flat treeless area where each year  Dowerin hosts the biggest farm machinery expo in Western Australia.   Such a huge space allowed us to camp where we wished. Some opted to be near the new Community Sports Centre and amenities. Others chose to be nearer the track.  Members of the various clubs tended to group together and didn’t seem, this time round, to interact.
Next year the 4WD Assoc.  will rethink the excellent though distant toilet facilities and have some portables  closer to the action area too. 
Guy chose for us an evenhanded halfway point. Far enough to justify a drive to the loo. Close enough for a brisk, urgent? morning walk.
Fly nets came out and so did the cooling breezes during the nights…and Murray noticed one snake aiming for the shade of the Harrison’s camper.
The local bakery was closed due to a family event.
Visits to the town achieved nothing to buy.  It was closed.
I don’t think they’ll make that financial decision next year.
Saturday was a choice of watch the fun and games on the track or join a guided tour of the Dowerin environs.     Our usual Saturday night  happy hour was  deferred till our next club trip. 
Separate fires were not permitted as repeated burnings would kill off the grasses and the area would become a dust bowl.   Some of us opted to support the 4WD club who ran the ‘restaurant’ and  so ate very well at the Sports Club facility, while the rest of us cooked our usual tasty camp fare.
Then at 7:30  everyone gathered in front of the admin tent for the drawing of the huge number of really worthwhile raffle  prizes donated by many Perth 4WD suppliers. Bruce won a snatch strap kit.
My initial reaction while at the Dowerin weekend  was ..”ok been here, done this, have explored the area, can’t really  see the point in doing the same thing again next year“…but.. then had my ideas tipped on their head!
During the  Saturday  night  speeches before they  drew the  raffle ,  the 4WD Assoc. organisers
outlined the new  ideas  and plans they’d  begun to  formulate  for next  year’s event …  
It  sounds definitely worth attending.
The inaugural  “explore the area” day trip took us to Pergande’s unique stock yards, Gnamma Holes where Trish sounded the depth with a stick, Trayning well,  a promise of a pie shop… carrot on a stick, didn’t eventuate,  and an historical cemetery.  All this was only a start on all there is to see in the Dowerin surrounds. There is much more.
Guy took this opportunity to pre-trip for a potential future camping trip in the area.
Plans are being developed to broaden the scope of the event track to include, or should I say accommodate, not grading just for the ‘locked and lifted’s’ ,    but also to create additional areas and  tracks to allow for drivers of all skill levels and confidence to ‘have a go’.
Though  just watching the guys go through their paces on the track was pretty entertaining.
Utilising Council road machinery,  this year’s newly created track is able to be “re-arranged”  each year and new challenges to be incorporated.  The allocation of space is to be increased and tracks graded to varying levels so those new to, or unsure of, or who don’t want to risk their family vehicles, can still participate and test and improve, allowing all to participate  not only observe.
Lastly is planned a gymkhana style competition between the clubs for women and men drivers to have some extra fun.
The CEO of the Council welcomed us all and admitted to us that many on the council harboured preconceived negative  ideas of 4WD people….. Hooning in town,  ripping up the track, doing wheelies on the broad expanses of the show grounds to create huge dust  clouds to drift across the town.
He was pleasantly surprised and gratified to see that earlier  concerns  were totally unfounded and then, when he was passenger with a 4WD Assoc member, and driven at normal considered pace, with careful negotiation, over the obstacles, he learned of the caution and skill required of  each driver.  
And there were obstacles!
The track had huge tyres to crawl over,  offset holes which tested suspension, sharp climbs and steep descents with a pointy apex in between…. and lots of mud and water.
There were two or three different waterholes…  one like driving across a creek, another a deep hole at the bottom of a very steep incline and one… just plain mud.  All  water had been trucked in.
Very entertaining  for the spectators.
A couple of vehicles  stuck going over the apex of the mounds, pivoting  on that apex until rescued…and  after a period of repeated  scraping of many undercarriages the mound simply wore away.
Snatch straps were hauled out and general fun was had by drivers and audience alike.
Murray took his Delica everywhere some of  the other more ‘serious’ 4WD vehicles sometimes couldn’t go. He and son David had a lot of fun.
The usual suspect Malcolm didn’t risk his vehicle  as he and Trish were leaving from Dowerin on  their next extensive trip away.
On the Sunday, the Council gave the use of their water truck hose to clean the mud off vehicles for safe driving back to Perth.
Last to leave was the Harrisons on the Monday.
I for one would like to return to try these easier tracks next year.  I certainly wasn’t game to do any more than just observe this time at this inaugural 4WD Association Dowerin Gathering.
Judith Brinkley

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