The Toyota Land Cruising Club asked me to write an article on our experience at the 4WD Basic Training weekend in September 2016 to be published sometime in October in the Bi-Monthly TLCC News Magazine.
Drum roll please……you read it here first – my first ever published article:
OUR INTRODUCTION TO TLCC & 4WD – Lachlan & Caroline Beattie
It was the early hours of the morning when we entered the gates of TLCC property at Willowglen. The air was cold, bitterly cold, weighted down by the anxious energy that consumed us. Unaware of what lay ahead of us over the coming two days.
After letting out the air in our tyres, we entered the large green shed at the centre of the property to be greeted by a sea of people wearing yellow polo shirts whom mustered around the roaring fire. Two by two, other inductees entered the shed and gathered around the ‘yellow polo people’, who we soon discovered were our TLCC instructors for the weekend.
The TLCC instructors are a ‘curious’ breed who’s passion and knowledge of all things 4WD is paralleled by their proficiency for telling tales of the dangers that lay ahead of us all. Stories were spun of ‘scalping during winching’, ‘the deadly high lift jack’ among others ( I don’t want to ruin the stories for any new members that are brave enough to complete the Basic 4WD course)!
First thing on the agenda was a lesson on how to repair a puncture in a tyre – a necessary skill for on-road and off-road driving. After observing the instructors seal the puncture with ease, two brave members of our group; Connie and Michael demonstrated that they were listening to the instructions passed down to them by swiftly plugging the punctures. Feeling comfortable (and safe) in my new learning environment, I still had unanswered questions and raised my hand. “What do you do if you don’t have an electric drill with you”… One of the instructors replied “We drill a hole to simulate a puncture”. Lesson number one complete: Watch the instructors and don’t ask silly questions. It was going to be a long weekend!!
It was time for the group to split and part with our loved ones, ladies in one group (along with David and Bryan) whilst the remaining men stayed indoors – who looked in awe at the pile of recovery equipment that lay in front of us. Under the tuition of Bill, we learnt about bow shackles, jacks, a myriad of snatch straps and the many uses of a shovel (other than just shovelling dirt)! While we were entranced by the lessons of Bill, our concentration broke on many occasions, disturbed by commentary coming from the UHF radio in the shed. It sounded like chaos was erupting on the course with the first group – damage to our cars?? Our wives??!! Time will tell.
We headed outside to practice vehicle recovery, implementing the skills we had learnt including use of snatch straps, chains and ropes along with observing the benefits of an electric winch over a manual variety! School was then out. The gents successfully completed Module 3 of the course and were shortly greeted by the other group whom had just completed Module 2. Without warning the gentlemen approached their wives (and vehicles) to ‘inspect’ the learnings of the day.
The two groups once again came together and sat around the fireplace. It was evident the members of Module 2 had a momentous day. Rather than regaling with colourful account the activities of the day, the ladies were glassy eyed in shock of what had transpired and were instructed not to tell their partners what had happened. All that could be heard were chants and ramblings of “I have so much respect for our vehicle”, “I did things I didn’t think we’re possible”… Time to pour the ladies a glass of wine (or two)!
Before we retired to bed, I managed to get one piece of advice from my wife – wanting to have the upper edge on the activities of Module 2. She said “Listen to your instructors. Watch them. They know what they are doing.” After passing on this information she fell asleep without warning. It was 8pm after all!!
Following the same routine from the previous day, we once again entered the gates of Willowglen and joined the group in the shed (we were not brave enough to learn two new skills over the course of the weekend – camping and 4WD). Shortly after arriving the groups divided once again – it was our time to drive the course.
During the day we faced many obstacles including, venturing down and up a steep ‘dry’ creek bed, traversing through the trees on the property on a winding dirt track and conquering the Merry-Go-Round. What an exhilarating experience! We then headed in convoy towards the water obstacle – or car wash as I referred to it, to cross the waterway and head back to camp. It was at the completion of the course that I recalled the conversation I had with my wife the night before.. She was right – obeying the instructors paid off. We all successfully completed Module 2 – in record time I believe!
On the journey back home my wife and I reflected on our learnings over the weekend – sharing enough stories to fill the trip from Willowglen to Sydney. We are so thankful for what we have learnt and are so appreciative of the instructors whom were so generous and welcoming with their time. Below are some excerpts from fellow participants:
“I had a ball learning so many new tricks… Great to really get involved in 4 wheel driving especially being a new trainee. So much knowledge to stack into our new Toyota – so many stories to share! All the instructors are so well trained and we came home with no scratches on our new Sahara!” – Connie & Ronald Reis
“At the top of the list of things learned would have to be trust. Trust your vehicle, trust your instructors and fellow convoy members and trust yourself and your ability… TLCC could stand for many things but among them, not Tender Love Care Club! It was a challenge and an education. Although they did take fantastic care of us on the weekend, the rev-up on Friday night seems to be a specialty of the instructors – Thanks Guys! How to make a girl feel nervous! Recommendation: bring your best sense of humour. Seriously, to the instructors – thanks all! The course was well run, interesting and informative. You were all supportive and encouraging and optimistic when we needed it. Thanks for the laughs and the great sense of achievement you instilled.” – Veronica & Michael Fitzgerald
“The personalised service and completely honest constructive criticism humbled me and made me stop and re-appraise my approach. Getting personalised evaluation of my performance made me yearn for more of their tuition which, I will avail myself when the advanced course is run. I saw the amazing capability of so many brand new 4 wheel drivers whom never thought they would have gotten through. I loved the way that some of us ‘punched the air’ when getting through the Merry Go-Round. I’m hoping I can give something back to the club. – David Powell
On behalf of our group a huge THANK YOU to Bob Fyfe, Jeremy Nolan, Craig Bellamy, Tony Montebello, Barry Lanigan, Bill Young, Jim Gately, Ian & Robyn Moggs, Melina Adatinni, Charlie Cataldo, Margaret & Paul Lloyd, Allan Kidd and Darryl Clark.