4WD'ing Tidal Creeks in the Pilbara

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Dated: 15th September 2005
Location: Australia/Western Australia /Pilbara Region/Port Hedland
A picture tells a thousand words. Thatís what they say but when I look at the picture of the $30,000 100 Series Landcruiser, belly deep in mud, surrounded by salt water and mullet all I can do is cringe. The saltwater creeks that wind their way into the mangroves and mudflats around the Pilbara are a Mecca for keen land based fisher people and 4wd enthusiast alike. But this attraction can also have serious consequences for the inexperienced or unwary as local guy Chad White found out recently. Just one week after purchasing his new ticket to exploring the Pilbara, Chad decided to explore the backtracks around the 26 mile area and found himself firmly bogged in some especially soft salty mangrove mud. Within 15 minutes the tide had started to rise and before long all he could do is watch (and take photos) as the water claimed his new toy as its latest victim. This is not an unheard of situation up here and I think most of us know a story or have their own bad experience to relate but with a few simple tips this type of heartache can be avoided. The most neglected aspect is the tides. If you intend to venture into the unknown check the local tide charts and if they have been high (over 6 meters) be warned that lots of tracks have been under water and now contain bog holes like the one Chad found. A good idea is to take someone with you who knows the area and if possible travel in convoy with two or more vehicles. Always walk a track you are unsure of and as a rule of thumb if you wouldnít or cant walk through it donít drive through it. Carry recovery gear such as an electric or hand winch with plenty of rope and something to use for an anchor point to winch from. (A boat sand anchor is one suggestion). Carry plenty of water and some form of communication (mobile phone, HF radio, Satellite phone, Epirb) so you can contact help in case of emergency and always let someone know where you are going and how long you will be. Contact your local Police station or travel bureau for more information on travelling in the outback. Recently a friend of mine reported some barra gathering in the local creeks so now is a good time to get out there and give your favourite land based spot a go but remember to proceed with caution out there or you may end up with a whole lot more than you bargained for. Work Hard, Fish Harder Ė and remember cars donít float! ... Shane Baker

Video Tips on 4WD'ing in the mud!