April 29, 1988

4WD Clubs Jamboree, Coolendel 1988

It had finally arrived. The big Bicentennial jamboree hosted by the Toyota Landcruiser Club of Sydney. Neil, Ross and Caroline met at my place on Thursday afternoon, we stopped by to pick up Donna, then we were on our reasonably swift way to Nowra. Despite a few Easter traffic hold-ups, we arrived at Coolendel just as night settled in and we set up our campsite by the light of our headlights.

When we drove in, we were informed by the organisers that they had spent the last two years planning for this jamboree. Having been a participant of the 1986 Colo River Jamboree and the 1987 Mount Seaview Jamboree, the Cruiser Club certainly had some pretty hard acts to follow. My compliments must go to the TLCC because they had done a terrific job in organising such a mammoth event. Coolendel was a really beautiful property situated on the Shoalhaven river. Being about an hour out of Nowra on fairly poor dirt roads, the organisers had certainly put a lot of effort, time and money into making this Jamboree a success for all concerned.

However, the rot started to set in when we followed an official past Cruiser Crescent, down ARB Boulevard, to our campsite in "Crapo Crescent".

Now let me make one thing very clear… the endless streams of Suzuki jibes become a bit tedious after a while. Not because I believe for one minute that our little Suzis are inferior. No, I know as well as anyone that there is no such thing as an inferior vehicle; they are only as good as their driver. I will be the first person to admit to being very pro-Suzuki. I would expect a Cruiser Club person to be very pro-Cruiser… that's only natural. But I can't understand why being pro-something means you have to be anti-everything else.. If somebody wants to drive a Patrol or a Lada or a Jeep or a Landrover or whatever, then good luck to them. Hell, we all own 4WDs for pretty much the same reasons anyway. A bit of good old fashioned rivalry is great, but there becomes a point where it gets carried a bit too far.

And that's what happened on the weekend.

Both trips I attended had idiots on them who continually criticised us, not because of the way we drove, but because of our choice of vehicle. There were a few morons who had never seen basic techniques like a stall recovery, and would refuse to listen to any explanations. "Gee, the Suzukis are off to a bad start, they keep stalling and won't start", or, "Do you talk the same way you drive? With a S-s-s-stutter?"

Look, the jamboree is a perfect place for all 4WDers, no matter what their choice of vehicle, club member or non-club member, to get together and see how the other half live. But to have things turn into a malicious mud slinging match is not, to me, what the Jamboree should be all about.

The Suzuki Club members that I saw driving on the weekend were in a class all their own. That is obviously a biased opinion, but I think it's nonetheless accurate. Several trip leaders, who generally speaking did a terrific job, commented on the impressive driving displayed by our club. One said he had never seen a Suzuki being driven with as much control as we displayed. It's possible to drive ALL vehicles with control as far as I'm concerned, most even more so than a Sierra with its dreadful gearing.

The sad thing about all this is that it set up certain tensions that made it so much harder to enjoy this Jamboree than previous ones, which is a real shame because the organisation and location of Coolendel were superb: the facilities, flushing toilets, hot showers, Leon and his Roving Spit, the bush band, the kids' activities… they were all fabulous. Even the wet weather held off for most of the weekend.

The work put into researching the various trips was obvious and the organisers and the Jamboree committee bent over backwards to make sure everybody's stay was an enjoyable one. Full marks to you guys.

But I want to enjoy the jamboree regardless of the type of car I drive, not in spite of it.

I tell you, I saw some people do some really dumb things on the weekend.
  • I saw a MWB Toyota roll over purely because of the stupid way it was being driven.
  • I saw blatant examples of things that would not only get the Greenies upset, but had me furious too.
  • I don't think that drinking beer on a 4WD trip is a responsible thing to do, even there are no booze buses around. And yet I saw one fellow, the son of a senior TLCC committee member, drive all day and every time I saw him he had a beer in his hand.
I don't consider damaging a car by rolling it to be a "normal" event on a club trip.

And yet, I felt I was in a minority. Before you accuse me of being a brat crying about some big bad bully saying nasty things about my car, that's not at all what it's about.

I think that 4WD clubs need to look very carefully at their membership and identify some of these ratbag elements, because they are destroying what the rest of us are working very hard at. They need to take those people aside and explain to them, very carefully, the situation.

The situation is this. We come together at events like the 4WD Clubs Jamboree to share the common interest of 4WDing. Getting stuck into each other about something as petty and personal as our choice of vehicle is self destructive to the whole movement, and that is something we can all do without.

Chris Betcher
April 1988

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