With much of the Western Australian pipeline activity occurring in sandy locations, this event paid particular attention to driving safely in sand conditions and how to extricate oneself from a situation where the vehicle has become immobilised or bogged.
The day started at 7 am at the Welshpool offices of Sargent, with breakfast provide by Sargent and a safety briefing provided by HSE Manager for McConnell Dowell Ken Wylie and the lead instructor for the day was Eric Green from Austracks 4WD Training.
The party then departed in a convoy of twelve vehicles, provided predominantly by Sargent with assistance from Nissan Australia and Toyota Australia.
Peak hour traffic was successfully negotiated by the convoy and, amazingly, no-one got lost and all vehicles arrived safely at the first port of call – the sand pit in the Gnangarra Pine Plantation on Perth’s outskirts. It was hard to believe that the city was only 15 minutes away as the 23 participants were put through their paces by Eric and his colleague Wayne.Article continues below…
Training exercises quickly became the real thing as several of the novice and more experienced drivers found themselves trapped by the quickly softening sand. As a result, the participants experienced first-hand the recovery methods needed to extricate bogged vehicles. Three hours of driving up, down and across the sides of sand dunes certainly enhanced the participants’ expertise in sand driving and it was obvious that everyone took on board the information provided by Austracks.
After leaving the sand pit, the team travelled along isolated forest tracks for about an hour en route to lunch, located in the Chittering Valley north of Perth. Watered and fed, the drivers then took to the tracks within the Julimar Forest where they practised low and high range defensive driving techniques before reluctantly commencing the 80 km trip back to Perth. The drive back to the Sargent offices became another practice in convoy and all of the vehicles managed to return safely at 5:30 pm.
Throughout the day, the Austracks instructors continually emphasised the need for drivers to be careful, remain focused and respect the complete environment that they were travelling within– the vehicle, the track and themselves.
This message was taken on board by all of the participants and all finished the day with a more accomplished 4WD technique than they had at the start of the day.
APIA gratefully acknowledges and thanks the team at Sargent for the provision of vehicles, breakfast and all of the other measures that Ed Burrows and Kristian Lennon took to ensure the success of the day. Thanks also go to Nissan Australia, Toyota Australia and Eric Green from Austracks 4WD Training for his excellent management of the specially prepared program.