Getting down and dirty on the weekends
VICE PRESIDENT of the Cooloola 4WD Club, Meredith Jones doesn't seem like the kind of girl who'd be into 4x4.
A hairdresser by trade, she's your typical girl - hair always immaculately coiffed, flawless make-up and gorgeous finger-nails painted bright colours and at least a centimetre long.
But that doesn't stop her from getting dirt under those nails on the weekends when she and the club she belongs to hits the numerous tracks and trails around the region.
"We're basically a group of like-minded people that enjoy getting out and seeing a bit of the countryside and we like to have a bit of a challenge to where we want to go,” she said with a shrug.
Meredith got involved in the club when her and her ex-husband were looking for something they and their two young boys could do together as a family.
"He got the car, but I got to keep the club,” she laughed.
After getting her own 4WD she jumped back into club life almost straight away.
She said she loves the friends she's made at the group.
"I would say the comraderie (is what she enjoys most) and also too, you learn from other people's experiences. And if you have questions about how you should be inflating your tyres or what gear you should use you get on the UHF and you'll get six different versions of what you should do, pick one and go,” she said.
But in all seriousness, she said the Gympie region is blessed with many and varied 4WDing experiences.
"We do day drives but we also do long weekends camping. There's lots of great camping areas and other areas within an hour's drive.
"There's lots of national parks around here and we try to work with QPWS (Qld Parks and Wildlife Service).
"We have adopted a track near Rainbow Beach and we're also involved in Clean Up Australia Day.
"The guys just did the fresh water track - cleaned up that one - and then once a year we also go to Fraser Island for Clean up Fraser, where we get free camping from Parks and Recreation and a discount barge trip in lieu of picking up rubbish on the Sunday.
"That's a great way to see the countryside and we've got so many great local areas, we don't have to travel far to see beautiful countryside.”
In addition to getting down and dirty on the weekends, the club is heavily involved with the community, taking part in annual events like The Pink Run which raises money for breast cancer research and taking part in a new event, Killy Utes and Boots, which, over the Australia Day weekend, raised money for the Variety Club.
Hitting the tracks as part of a group as opposed to going solo has many advantages, the most obvious being there is someone there to help out if you run into trouble.
"Number one, if you have any trouble, you've got assistance because things can turn dangerous very very quickly out there.
"And also too, being in a club you've got so many different walks of life and everyone's got an idea of what should and shouldn't be done so you've got accumulated experiences.”
Joining a group like Cooloola 4WD makes an awful lot of sense and each new member is run through an orientation to ensure they know the basics needed for the sport, have the correct equipment, are familiar with procedures and can get the most out of their experiences.
Cooloola 4WD have a Facebook page and have monthly meetings that are free for anyone to attend.