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Winter has passed, what's on for summer?

By Matt Raudonikis, 19 Oct 2019 Opinion

Summer 2019 4x4 events opinion

Warmer days beckon, and so it is time to roll out our summer plans.

As spring arrives the days are getting warmer and longer, the places we visit in our 4x4s change and, I’ve got to say, I’ve had a pretty good winter season.

Escaping the southern chill of winter saw me heading to the Red Centre for the Simpson Desert trip you’ll see in this issue, to Kakadu and the Top End for a future feature, and we’re just back from a couple of weeks in the Flinders Ranges where the early blooms of spring were shooting up.

All this travel just reminded me what a great place Australia is for 4x4 adventurers, with so much diversity, natural beauty and history all out there to be explored in your vehicle. And you don’t have to drive a million miles to see it!

For summer our trips will swing back to the cooler and drier states; High Country adventures, beach drives and swimming, all while trying to avoid the holiday crowds. It’s still a great time to get out there, but it just takes some more planning.

While avoiding the holiday crowds might be a minor gripe for some, the summer will be a lot harder for many Australians. It’s been one of the driest winters on record and the drought is strangling much of the country. We’ve recently visited properties where the families have been on the land for generations, yet the current farmers are having to de-stock what they have left as it’s simply becoming too expensive to keep feeding them. This is heart-breaking stuff!

Dust storms are also prevalent and we’ve seen plenty of them over the last year. As the paddocks dry out and vegetation disappears, the top soil is picked up by the wind and blown away. Literally tons of good dirt is being lifted off the land and deposited elsewhere, probably where it is not wanted.

The dry spell will also mean a high fire danger this summer. The bush is a tinderbox, so if you are out there camping these holidays, be fire smart, ensure you properly extinguish any campfires and only light them if really necessary – and definitely not at all if fire restrictions are in place.

If you’re heading into areas such as the High Country where fire risk is always present, check the conditions beforehand, find out if and where any fires are burning already, know where to go and where not to go, and always have an emergency escape plan.

Plan ahead, stay safe and enjoy our country in the upcoming summer. And if you can afford to, please give to any of the many charities operating to help our farmers who are doing it tough.

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