Training Day Wungong National Park

Trip Leader: Richard King

When: 31st May 2009

Location: Wungong Regional Park near Byford

Participants: Training Officer Richard King was joined by Lester Cousins and his passenger Thomas, Terry Keesing,    Roger Freegard, Bob and Teresa Gigengack, John King, Neil Hewer, Paul Ryan and a Visitor Henry Cheetham.

This training day began when participants met at the Caltex Station, corner Nettleton Road and South West Highway in Byford.
Before the trip commenced Richard went through the convoy procedures and duty of care requirements. He explained that the purpose of the day’s training was to lift each individual’s level of competency and confidence and subsequently the enjoyment of the 4WD experience. 

Visitor Thomas, obviously a keen photographer asked permission of the group to take photos and write an article on the days events for a German magazine.  The group agreed to this request.

A radio check was conducted before we commenced driving to ensure all drivers had clear contact with the trip leader. 
The trip leader asked Paul to take the job of tail end Charlie. 
The convoy took off for a short drive and entered the Wungong Regional Park, a D.E.C. controlled conservation area that the Club has adopted as a place to support and work in. 
The convoy stopped on the old air strip where the training session commenced. 
The importance of checking our own vehicle before a trip commences was discussed. 
Have a look for the obvious things, under the vehicle and under the bonnet. 
Check water, oil, battery, lights, tyre pressures and look for any loose bits or cables lying across hot places on the engine or rubbing against some part of the vehicle. 
It was pointed out that all of this pre trip checking is something all drivers can do. 
The need to have regular servicing and maintenance checks was also emphasised. 
Some of us were told how to keep our engines clean and save embarrassment, especially before a training session. 

The need to make sure the safety of driver and passengers inside the vehicle was discussed. 
All loose items should be secured or put behind a cargo barrier. Fire extinguishers and first aid box should be in an easily accessible place in the vehicle.

We were then asked to locate the tools and equipment required to change a wheel. 
The need to chock the wheels and make the vehicle secure,  find the recommended place under the vehicle to place the jack and to use a jacking plate were explained.  
Some of us found it very hard to get the jack working and learned of some of the limitations of our gear. 
Some drivers also found it difficult to loosen the nuts on the wheel and we were shown how this can be overcome.
The next matter discussed was recovery procedures. It was pointed out that any driver who takes part in a trip is responsible for their own safety and that of their passengers. At any time a driver who has doubts about their ability to carry out a manoeuvre is encouraged to seek assistance or advice from the trip leader and may decide not to attempt that part of the trip or to withdraw completely. 
These issues are covered in the policy and procedures issued to all members.
The need for participants to follow instructions from the trip leader with regard to tyre pressures, routes, safety issues were all discussed. These instructions are generally given to enable the safe completion of a particular manoeuvre and the smooth running of the trip.   

The appropriate use of snatch straps was discussed and we all then had to locate the recovery points on vehicles.  The use of appropriate shackles was also demonstrated. The safety issues to be followed, the need for onlookers to be controlled and the selection of a recovery supervisor during a recovery were stressed.  A practical demonstration of a recovery was conducted.

After a break for lunch Richard led the group on a trip around the Wungong Park but not until tyres had been let down to a suggested pressure for the work ahead. Before we had gone too far we came across a steep descent where the track comprised some loose gravel and stones. We were given advice on the most appropriate gear selection for such travel. 

The scenery on this track was great,    the view across the plain below was breathtaking and on the high hills that surrounded us, spectacular.

The next challenge was a very steep incline, over large rocks on a track that had some deep ruts in many places. However for some of the group the walk up the track was more demanding than the drive, but it did help us to understand what we could expect ahead. 
It also emphasised the need for appropriate footwear and in a couple of cases a sturdy walking stick was a necessity. Upon returning to our vehicles all drivers negotiated the incline without trouble.
We continued on through what had been the original farm, before resumption by the State, past the remains of the old house until the track opened out and we were high up on one side of a deep valley. It was then that we were informed we were going to turn off this track and make the descent to bottom. 
This manoeuvre would be a first for many of the group. There was a spot where other vehicles had ‘jumped off’ and so we did too. As the front of the car went over on a 45 degree angle it was too late for a change of heart, but, having watched the leader do it and with advice from him as to how we should approach the descent, all drivers and vehicles reached the valley with no damage to either. 

The next challenge was to go up to the top again. Richard said ‘it’s just a reverse’.  
Someone in the group thought he meant do it backwards
We again managed to get back to the track, headlight end first.

The trip continued on through more interesting country and past massive granite rock faces used by rock climbers. Once again it was a spectacular sight.  

The trip came to an end in an open area where Richard demonstrated the use of a winch to recovery a vehicle or for self recovery using a pulley system. Again the safety requirements of these procedures were explained.  After airing up tyres and thanking Richard and Paul, who assisted in the whole program, we set off for home with a feeling that the day had been very useful to all who were there… new drivers and for those a bit more experienced.

A real test of man and beast.

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