MUDDY FUN

Tasmania has got to be one of the top 4WD states in this country. In my opinion it has the most number of tough tracks and awesome campsites in close proximity than anywhere else. The one thing you learn to cope with in Tassie is all of the mud. You can bet your 4WD on the fact that just about every 4WD track is going to have its share of deep, thick, silty mud. Heck, when it hasn’t rained down there in a week, it’s classified as a drought and almost makes the news!

As a 4WDer I have a real love/hate relationship with mud. It’s like a necessary evil that can be a heck of a lot of fun to drive, but plays havoc on your 4WD. I’ve sort of worked out a bit of a rough ratio from our last trip down that way that goes something like, for every 10 minutes we drove mud we spun spanners for an hour. That might seem like it’s a bit full on, but if you’ve ever seen Tasmanian mud you’ll pretty soon understand why.

The first thing we noticed was that every vehicle on the trip started to overheat back on the black top as soon as we finished up with our first bit of muddy track. Both old and new vehicles were overheating to the point we had to all pull over on the side of the road to let them cool on the first hill we had to climb. There was no doubting it that mud was the culprit and it had blocked our radiators so the fan couldn’t do its job properly.

After getting back to camp we used a few buckets of water from a nearby creek to try and wash some of the mud away from the radiator to help the vehicles on the tracks keep cool the next day. As we poured water over the radiators, lots of muddy water started falling from the bottom of the radiator and it was pretty clear that they were properly covered. The next day on the tracks it was clear that the water had helped clear some of the mud, but these radiators were so blocked that it hardly made a difference. So the next night at camp, out came the spanners and we pulled a radiator out to properly clean it and we couldn’t believe our eyes! More than three quarters of the radiator was jammed-packed full of mud. What was interesting to note, was that 90% of the mud had been pushed into the radiator from the fan as the front of the radiator was almost perfectly clean.

After cleaning radiators we thought that our muddy issues were well behind us, but after the 80 series camera vehicle started pulling madly to the right we pulled over to inspect what was causing this. On inspection we smelled burning brakes and it was pretty clear the front brake calliper had seized shut and have a guess what was to blame. Yep, 100% pure Tassie mud.

To think we experienced all of those mechanical dramas from a few muddy tracks was a bit of a reality call. The scary thing will be once we get back home from Tassie and pull the spanners out again to check diff and gearbox oils and inspect bearings to see what else has suffered from the mud.

You’d think after this sort of trip I would have wised up a little and would vow to avoid the mud like the plague. But, if you asked me would I do it again, I would smile like a chimp and do it all again in a heartbeat. I think as 4WDers we have to come to terms with mud and be prepared to deal with its mechanical consequences. Sure you won’t catch me driving it just for the sake of it, but if it’s part of an insane track or leads to an amazing campsite, I won’t hesitate!