Go you good thing!

Almost 4 year ago I was dragged kicking and screaming into the world of online advocacy, the live export ban had just been put in place, the Ban Live Export Supporters were jumping up and down for joy and hurling abuse at farmers and the farmers themselves had been caught completely unprepared and were just learning the power of social media.

Fast forward to the present day and its a completely different story – ok not much has changed re: the hurling of abuse but where once an Animal Right’s group could launch a campaign and be met with stunned silence from farmers and cheers from their supporters, Australian Farmers and their supporters are fighting back and making their voices heard.

In less then four years we have seen the start of such amazing pages as Aussie Farms, Ask The Farmers, Peterson Farm Bros, I am Agriculture Proud, Farmers 4 Animal Welfare, Dairy Carrie, Onward Murray Greys, Rural Miss and many, many more – these are just the ones that immediately spring to mind for me.  Yes, some of these are American pages but they are still fighting the exact same fight with Animal Rights Activists (ARA’s) that we are here in Australia and doing a brilliant job of building support for all farmers in the process.

In less then four years it has gone from me staring in horror at some of the things that come across my timeline and the blatant misrepresentation of facts by certain factions (sad to say THAT is still happening) and only being challenged by a minute number of people to me rolling my eyes at yet another piece of propaganda and then smiling with pride at the number of people from all walks of life telling them they are wrong and holding them to account.

To those that have been on the front lines of this fight since day one- both farmers and non-farmers (you know who you all are) I take my hat off to you and say again how proud I am to know you all, you guys and girls are the ones who stepped up to the plate and made this happen.  It was you leading the way that has given others the courage and know how to follow in your footsteps.  Well done and I hope you are every bit as proud of what you have managed to accomplish in a relatively short time as I am.  I look forward to seeing what you will have accomplished in another four years.

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Schools – Step Away from the Easter Eggs!

This morning I woke up to a very sad 7 yo.  He was upset because the Easter Bunny had only brought him chocolate.  Now before you start thinking I’m raising an ungrateful, spoilt, little sh*t, let me tell you why he was upset.  While he loves chocolate, he wants to be “healthy” and chocolate is a “sometimes” food.  For all you chocolate lovers out there let me just reassure you that he doesn’t get that attitude from me! – or his father, or any other adult in his home life.  Yet still my 8yo son who is small for his age and only weighs 17kg, who loves salad and eats all his vegetables, who runs/rides his bike everyday is worried about being unhealthy.  And this makes me worried.  Am I going to be dealing with a teenage boy fighting with anorexia in a few years?

Lets get one thing clear, I’m the first one to admit that not all our meals are the best, but I always try to balance the bad stuff out with healthier stuff as well.  We don’t eat a lot of junk food full stop and takeaway is almost non existent.  Our kids are encouraged to be physically active and both their father and I try to lead by example.  But we do not go overboard.

Careful questioning of my boy on previous occasions (“Mum full cream milk is full of fat, its no good for me”, “Mum is honey a rarely food or a sometimes food?”) traces his attitude back to his school and their constant push for kids to eat healthy.  Now I can handle the “no junk food in lunchboxes” policy, fair enough if my kid gets hyped up on sugar after their lunch, their teacher is the one who has to deal with it.  But when a 7 yo is worried about his chocolate consumption on Easter day?  Then they’ve gone too far.

I’m ok with them teaching my kids whats healthy and whats not and encouraging them to choose the healthier options.  What I’m not okay with is the schools leaving them with the mindset that the very occasional splurge on junk food (like Easter) is cause for major concern.

 

The haul that started it all..

 

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Dummy Spits & Tantrums – Pot meet Kettle

Its rather ironic that a page that has supposedly been set up to showcase other people’s supposed dummy spits and tantrums actually seems to dedicated to doing just that – spitting the dummy and indulging in behaviour that you’d expect to find in a school yard – not on a social media site and certainly not from what one would presume is a mature individual given the most active age bracket on the page is 45-54 years old.

The behaviour of both the people commenting on this page and its admin/s is absolutely atrocious and they should be highly ashamed of themselves for stooping to this level.  Given that the major contributors to the page are proponents of veganism, one does wonder how a lifestyle that is supposedly all about compassion for our fellow animals can contain so many people who have little to no compassion for their fellow mankind and take such great delight in maligning anyone who disagrees with you.  Congratulations Dummy Spits & Tantrums you are absolutely amazing advocates for your cause (That was me being sarcastic by the way, just in cased you missed it).

This sort of thing is not on from either side of the debate and as mature, responsible adults it should be possible to carry on a debate without resorting to this level of school yard bully tactics and threats.

Please note that any names not blanked out in the screenshots below are page names, not individuals – although one individual commenting is linked quite publicily with the organisation behind one of said pages so there is a rather high likelihood that they are one and the same, which makes me question the mental state of said individual given they are prone to having entire conversations with themselves.  Unless said individual has been kicked from yet another organization….

 

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Ag-Gag Laws – lets make a fuss!

There’s been a lot of talk in the news recently about Australia instituting a version of America’s Ag-Gag laws, not surprisingly a lot of farmers seem to be for the idea and a lot of animal rights organisations (and even the RSPCA) have reacted very negatively to the idea.

Farmers say that these laws will protect their privacy and help to prevent the spread of disease to their animals – both fair enough in my books, one of the things I love most about living on a property is the fact that you can walk outside stark naked if you like and not have to worry about someone wandering around in the dark & capturing it on film…

The Animal Rights Activists (ARA) claim they are just another way for the dairy/beef/chicken/pig (insert anything to do with animals here) industries to cover up the rampant abuse they perpetuate on a daily basis (their opinion not mine) and being the suspicious person that I am I decided to do some research into them.  Interestingly you can find a thousand and one ARA complaining about them but finding an accurate account of them is a little harder.

I did manage to find this copy of the legislation which has recently been enacted in Idaho and my understanding is these laws are a fair representation of the laws which have been enacted by at least 7 other American States, although many of them have also included a requirement that all footage obtained must be handed over to the relevant authorities within 24-48 hours (not sure why if they genuinely want to stop the abuse of the animals in question and not just use for publicity purposes that is a problem but apparently it is).

I also found this article by Josh Voorhees which takes a good look at both sides of the debate in America as well as this blog by  Cameron Blewitt, an Australian ARA and vegan which makes for very interesting reading and cuts nicely to the heart of the matter.  Below is a quote from Cameron’s blog:-

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I agree.  I am sick and tired of seeing these exposes as well.  PETA’s recent ‘expose’ of ‘widespread’ cruelty in the sheep industry just highlights the need for laws like this to be introduced.  I have no excuses for the cruelty filmed, it should never have happened and I don’t know one person involved in or out of the industry who wasn’t appalled and angered by the behavior of the shearers involved, but by not immediately handing that footage over to the relevant authorities, the organisation and/or individual filming became an accessory in my opinion.  There is no legitimate reason why a copy of the footage couldn’t have been handed over to the police or the RSPCA at the time of filming for immediate investigation – which is what anyone with a legitimate concern for improving animal welfare would have done.

I’m adding my voice to Senator Chris Back’s  and Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce’s, lets put some laws in place to sort out those who have genuine concerns for animal welfare from those who are just doing it for the donations that roll in from the gullible public.  If, like me, you find it inexcusable for someone to sit on evidence of a crime for months at a time, then I urge you to do the same.

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When Animal Suffering Becomes Big Business

There’s money to be made from the suffering of animals, big money if you know what your doing and how to go about it.  And its not from perpetuating the actual abuse either.  No, the REAL money from animal suffering goes to those who ‘dedicate’ their lives to exposing the cruelty – or at least what they construe as cruelty.  Need a new $1,000 camera lens? Or how about can’t afford to house and feed the 60+ animals you have ‘rescued’ AKA pets? Not a problem, just turn to the general public for help.

These requests are usually accompanied by video or photographs of either abuse they have witnessed (please note that most of the people who witness this abuse rarely speak out against the abuse as its happening and don’t even attempt to stop it and will and have sat on evidence for months at a time before handing it to the appropriate authorities) or the animals they have ‘saved’ from cruel heartless farmers – & yes in some circumstances they have been removed from abusive homes but in others they have simply been ‘found’ on the side of the road or ‘liberated’.

The number of sanctuaries (for everything from goats, foxes, bats and rabbits to dogs, horses, sheep, chooks, pigs and cows – you name it there is a sanctuary dedicated to it), Animal Rights groups and individuals calling for donations to support their causes and aid them in their (often illegal) activities is simply phenomenal.  Of the 8 different Go Fund Me pages I visited recently there has been over $9,123 raised of a  massive $76,480 which has been asked for since just before Christmas.  And this is just a minute cross section of the various groups that are out there and doesn’t take into consideration ones like Animal Amnesty (based primarily in WA) who are currently asking on social media sites for people to direct debit money for boat fuel and have previously requested (& received) assistance with acquiring a van/4wd they could use for ‘rescue’ purposes, cameras etc or the bigger official charities like Animals Australia who made a whopping $1,113,350 profit (yes a not-for-profit organisation which made a profit) last financial year.

With the exception of the sanctuaries very little of this money seems to be actually used for hands on Animal Welfare, instead it is used to fund the filming of more animal cruelty which will then be used to call for more money to allow them to film more cruelty, together with public awareness campaigns which are again accompanied by requests for more money… seeing a pattern here?

Personally I can’t help but wonder with the exposure of animal abuse being such a lucrative business, to what lengths will some of these groups go to secure footage?

 

 

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I touch myself… Do you?

I have a confession to make – I don’t do it anywhere near as often as I should, how about you?

In 2009 breast cancer was the most common cancer in Australian women with 13, 668 new cases diagnosed in women and 110 in men (yes guys its not just us girls who need to play with ourselves), this is expected to rise to 17,210 new cases in women by 2020.  A staggering 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer within their lifetime (guys you have a 1 in 688 chance).

Not only is breast cancer the most common cancer in women, its also the second high cause of cancer related deaths in women – accounting for 15.3%.  Now for the good news – as of 2008 breast cancer had a 89% 5yr survival rate, with most women leading healthy lives well past that, if caught before it spreads to the lymph nodes, this rises to 96% -EARLY DETECTION SAVES LIVES.

So what got me started on the idea of doing this blog?  Well it was this video:-

The 21st of April, 2014 marks the 12 month anniversary of Chrissy Amphlett’s (lead singer of the Divinyls for the heathens amongst you who don’t know) death after a fighting the dual battle of breast cancer and multiple sclerosis.   In tribute to her, her friends, family and the Cancer Council of NSW have got together to honour her wish that the song she (and her band) are most famous for be turned into an anthem to remind women to regularly check themselves for signs of breast cancer.

As part of this, the ‘I Touch Myself Project‘ has been launched  to remind women to touch themselves and if they find anything suspicious to see a doctor, you can help spread the message by sharing the video with on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Instagram with the #itouchmyselfproject  or by taking a black and white #itouchmyselfie and posting it to twitter and/or instagram.

I’ve done mine..

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Where’s yours?

PS.  You can also leave a message of support or record your own version of “I Touch Myself”, upload to youtube and share with the I Touch Myself organisation on twitter – I personally won’t be doing this because I’m pretty sure that’d be classified as cruel and unusual punishment for anyone who happened to stumble across it.

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From New York City to Australia…

I caught the tail end of a story on the New York City Carriage Horses over the weekend (for those who have been living under a rock and don’t know, the push is currently on to have them banned from New York courtesy of the Animal Rights movement) which got me to thinking about what would happen to the approximately 200 horses currently being used for this purpose if and when the ban is in place?  According to this article both sides of the debate have committed to the animals being retired to an animal sanctuary – but what about the future animals that could be saved and given a home by the carriage industry in the years to come? Personally I think a chance at life, no matter how long it lasts is better then none.

Now don’t ask me how I went from thinking about carriage horses on one side of the world to drought stricken stock on the other, because I gave up trying to follow my own train of thoughts years ago but that’s what happened.  I’ve seen by a lot of people (and by people I mean the likes of certain animal rights groups supporters) asking why ‘we’ have allowed ‘our’ (technically I own a grand total of 5 head who are all doing quite well atm, so not ‘my’) cattle to get to the stage where they are dying in the paddock.  And I think I finally have an answer.

We ‘allow’ our animals to get to that stage because we believe they deserve a fighting chance at life.  We ‘let’ them get to that stage because we care – not because we don’t, if we didn’t it’d be a hell of a lot easier to look them in the eye and pull the trigger.  If we didn’t care we would have shot them at the first sign of feed running low – instead of forking out hundreds of thousands of dollars (which a lot of places have) to keep them alive.  If we didn’t care we wouldn’t bother spending over $100 on a bag of milk that will only last a week to feed 7 poddies twice a day.  If we didn’t care we wouldn’t spend another couple of hundred dollars on grain for the other 7 that have lost their mothers as well. If we didn’t care my mother wouldn’t proudly point out the individual cows she’s been able to save.

And she’d stop ringing me in tears because they’ve had to shoot another one they couldn’t.

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The Spirit of the Bush

I’ve lived out west for the vast majority of my life, except for a few years where I decided to sample city life and see what it was all about – and I hated it.  I missed the wide open spaces, the gorgeous sunsets and amazing starry night skys. But most of all I missed the people.  The ones who think its strange to sit down beside someone and not make a conversation.  The ones who see somebody new moving into the house next door and not only do they come over to help, but they bring the beer to have a cold drink after its all done.  The ones who see a tough job needs doing so they step up to the plate and do it themselves rather than expecting somebody else to do it for them.

To me the spirit of the bush is about seeing a job that needs to be done and getting in and doing it.  Its the attitude that no matter how bad your struggling personally, there’s always somebody out there doing it harder.  Its about standing up and fighting for what you believe in.  Its about respecting everyone, no matter their background.  Its about offering help – even when you could do with a helping hand yourself.  And its also about being too stubborn to know when to quit.

Many people across rural Australia are struggling at the moment, financially and emotionally.  Farmers, graziers and their employees.  Trucking companies and their drivers – stretched to the limit carting drought stock and feed for them.  Shop owners whose customers are struggling to make ends meet so not buying as much.  Small communities cancelling social events – or worse reeling from the loss of another member to suicide.  The drought is not just affecting farmers and graziers, its affecting everyone who lives rurally.  I talk to my farming mates and I hear the anguish in their voices and written word as they tell of yet another beast they’ve lost, of a windmill breaking down and no way to fix it.  I talk to people up town and watch them shake their head as they talk about the rain and how dry it is.  I drive to the next town do some shopping and pass the drovers on the roads with their mobs of hungry cattle, taking advantage of the bit of green pick that’s managed to grow from just a couple of inches of rain.  And then I drive one more town over to visit family and I watch the knee high buffel grass turn to dry bare earth…

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To our city counterparts, Rural Australia needs you now.  That ‘she’ll be right, mate’ attitude the bush is famous for is dieing.  Along with our animals and our menfolk.  Its getting harder and harder to believe that things will improve with each day that passes with no rain.  We need feed and water for our animals.  But mostly what we need is the emotional support.  We need to see more messages of support and to stop seeing posts about how the drought is our fault and we should of been better prepared for it.  The fact of the matter is the drought is no one’s fault and you can only be so prepared and lets face it, its a bit like telling people who are the victims of bush fires and floods that they should have been better prepared – raises a lot of ill feelings and doesn’t help anyone.  Drought is a natural disaster like any other, it just takes longer to hit home.  We need to stop seeing posts by morons saying that they hope more farmers take their lives, that the drought is the least they deserve.

To Rural Australia lumping the majority of our city counterparts in with a minute number of keyboard warriors is a mistake.  By far the vast majority of Australia does appreciate what you do but keep talking about refusing to sell produce once the drought breaks and your just going to turn more against you.  Which makes the jobs of those like Ask an Aussie Farmer, Rural Miss, Farmers 4 Animal Welfare etc who are trying to bridge the city/country divide that much harder.  If you don’t believe me that the majority support you, then think about this – to date Buy A Bale has raised over $713,000.00 and received numerous messages of support for farmers.  Aussie Helpers has raised over $252,000.00 – in less then two (2) months.  Farmers Across Borders – Hay from WA have organised over 500 bales of hay to be delivered to drought stricken farmers – and have been inundated with requests to make monetary donations.  None of this could happen if the support and appreciation wasn’t there.

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Get Your Ag-titude Right

I’m going to do something I don’t do very often and post a rebuttal to comments made by someone else.  In fact this is something I’ve only done once before (see MOP – In reply) and this time its not a group of Animal Rights Activists I have in my line of sight but an Agtivist (someone who promotes agriculture for those who don’t know), someone I have tended to agree with more often then not lately but I do have a few issues with his latest post, and hence since my issues run to more then what I consider a comment I decided to write it down here.  The blog I’m taking issue with is Sam Trethewey’s Think Clearly, Get Muddy which appears in the Queensland Country Life, the post in particular is his “Ditch The Ag-titude“.

Now just so we’re clear, I’m not a farmer who has taken issue with being told that I have a chip on my shoulder, while I grew up and currently live rurally I’ve done my time in the city and have quite a few friends and family who still live there.

I disagree that we don’t ‘owe’ farmers anything for producing our food – in actual fact we do, we owe them respect and a decent wage, just like any other person in any other industry or else they will do what every employee who isn’t getting these things will do – find another job.

I also don’t agree that farmers shouldn’t try to ‘educate’ the general public – they shouldn’t lecture them but they most definitely should educate them. ‘Educate’ can be defined as to provide with information; inform or to bring to an understanding or acceptance and isn’t that the whole goal of agtivating?  To first engage with the general public so we can inform and then educate them? And as we’ve already seen from the live export debacle, if farmers don’t speak up on their behalf and explain things, no one will.

Its also interesting to note from Sam’s link to the Readers Digest Poll that Farmers are rated at number 10 of the Most Trusted Professions – ahead of child care workers, teachers, armed service personnel AND Policeman.  And given that not one of the 645 respondents in the Roy Morgan Image of Professions poll, was asked to rank farmers, it should come as no surprise that they didn’t make the cut.

I would, however, like to see the “Thank a Farmer” campaigns replaced with one that explains what farmers want a little clearer, and from the ones I’m friends with that isn’t a thank you from their city cousins but their support.  I’d like to see a campaign that acknowledges that everyone is doing it tough at the moment and farmers understand this  and are trying to do their jobs as efficiently as possible so that we can afford to eat the quality food that our farmers grow, one that asks the Australian public to Help our Farmers to Help you, Buy Australian.

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Wet Weather Driving & Rural Road Etiquette

After months of our roads looking like this:-

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Today it rained, and it looked like this:-

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If I hadn’t needed to be in town tomorrow and or had access to a four-wheel drive this wouldn’t have bothered me.  Fortunately for a couple of tourists I came across this wasn’t the case, even luckier for them I had a 4×4 following me.  After chatting to them and a couple of other people I realised that unless your born and bred out this way you really don’t know how treacherous the roads (even bitumen ones) can become in a short period of time and what to do if you find yourself bogged in the middle of nowhere and you don’t have a winch etc.  So I thought I’d share with you the knowledge, and some of the etiquette, I’ve had drilled into me over the years.

  1. Make sure somebody knows where your going, which road your taking, what time your leaving and what time your expected to arrive so they can launch a rescue party if needed.
  2. Stay with your car.
  3. Always carry a couple of liters of water.
  4. Semi -trucks (especially those carrying livestock), cattle trucks & horse floats have right of way – it is a LOT easier for you to slow down and move over then it is for them, plus you don’t have livestock that can get jostled by sudden movements in a different direction.  Getting completely off the road and coming to a stop is even better and most truckies will show their appreciation with a wave (most not all & unfortunately there is a few bad eggs out there who feel it is their god given right for you to do so and will make you get right over, again not all and certainly not the majority but they do exist).
  5. Slow down when passing – especially if you have move over onto the shoulder to do so and don’t accelerate again until you have completely passed the other car/s – it just might save someone a broken windscreen.
  6. The one exception to the “get completely of the road” rule is when it is raining/has rained – be very, very careful about letting all 4 tires get off the bitumen surface if it has rained recently.  The shoulders can be deceptively slippery and boggy.  Be even more careful if you are towing something – ie a trailer, if its wheels get too far out it can actually pull you down in the table drain (which is what happened to my ‘friends’ today) & you DEFINITELY do not want to be there when its wet.
  7. If you do end up with all 4 wheels off the bitumen after it has rained – don’t stop.  Don’t plant your foot either, but don’t stop.  (see rule 15 about driving on wet black soil)
  8. If there has been recent rain in an area you are more likely to see kangaroos on the road then you are otherwise – ie although the peak times for kangaroos are around sunrise/sunset if it has rained enough to leave water there is a good chance they will be taking the opportunity to have a drink from a convenient puddle – even if it is midday when they are usually asleep.  Rain also means green ‘pick’ (grass) along the side of the road, kangaroos LOVE fresh green pick and that lovely expanse that has been mowed so they can’t hide in long grass also happens to be the first place to green up and attracts them in the hundreds. So slow down and keep an eye out.
  9. If its raining, your driving out of the sun, or any circumstances in which visibility is poor, turn your headlights on – this makes it easier for oncoming vehicles to see you sooner and react accordingly.  If visibility is poor cars coming up behind you will also see you sooner.
  10. Cars handle completely differently on dirt roads then they do on bitumen, if your not an experienced dirt road driver, slow down (yes I know I keep saying that but it really is the best way to ensure you arrive at your destination in one piece.).  Dirt roads can grab your car and pull it all over the place.
  11. Tyre tracks – try not to drop your vehicle into tyre tracks, especially important if your driving something with  low clearance, if you do drop your vehicle in, don’t try to pull it out if your traveling at any speed, & definitely don’t try to jerk it out, chances are you will end up on your roof, slow down slowly, and let the tracks guide you until your either out of them or you can safely pull the vehicle out of them.
  12. An exception to the avoid tyre track rule is crossing water, in this case tyre tracks can be your best friend, if its obvious from them that a car has previously made it across there successfully (ie hasn’t got bogged) odds are good that if you follow them you will make it across yourself.
  13. Never cross flood waters. Always wait for it to go down to a safe level.
  14. Driving on gravel/sandy roads – slow down on corners, if you don’t you will find yourself out in the table drain – not fun if the person following behind you sees this happen – you will not, I repeat will not, live this down.  They will still remind you of this 15 years later, so slow down and avoid the pain.
  15. Driving on wet black soil is completely different to driving on dry.  It manages to be slippery and sticky at once and will both grab your car and cause it to slide around.  It doesn’t take much rain to cause this phenomena either and it isn’t fun – don’t let anyone tell you differently.  The trick to driving on wet black soil (besides only doing it when you have to) is slow and steady & don’t stop, if the rear end starts sliding, lift your foot a little and make minor adjustments to steering, don’t jerk the wheel or turn it too sharply or you’ll end up in more trouble.
  16. When I said wet black soil is sticky I wasn’t being entirely honest – its not sticky, its bloody sticky – superglue sticky.  It sticks to everything, including itself and forms massive clumps which will clog up your wheel wells before they fall off.  You can stop and pry them off but you probably won’t move again.
  17. If you find your car won’t go forward, reverse back a little way and try again.  If this works your not bogged.  DO NOT press your foot flat to the floor, all this achieves is a spray of mud behind you and digs the car in deeper.
  18. If the reversing trick didn’t work its time to get out and have a look at the problem.  What is stopping the car from going forward? If its sunk then you need to either dig the front of it out at an angle or jack it up.  My personal preference as someone without a great deal of experience is the former.  If its a tyre not being able to get a purchase then you need to give it something to grip.  Rocks, sticks and even grass can be a huge help with this, simply place in front of & right up against the tyre.  At times a combination of these methods may be needed.  Use your own common sense in that situation.
  19. If the car still won’t move its time to call for backup – or wait for backup to arrive.  With very little mobile phone coverage in remote and regional Australia this is where rule 1 really comes into its own.  Once it becomes clear its not going to move, stop, the more you try the deeper you’ll dig it in and the harder it will be to get out.
  20. Wet roads (including bitumen roads) are slippery roads, its very easy for a vehicle to aquaplane:-

    Surprisingly it doesn’t take much water for this to happen – so again slow down.  For tips on how to deal with aquaplaning, check here.  Wet roads are also slippery for kangaroos etc, making it more likely for them to fall in front of you, so again SLOW DOWN!
      DISCLAIMER:-  I am not a 4×4 expert or driving instructor by any stretch of the imagination.  If you follow my tips and still have an accident/get bogged I am not responsible.
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