There is a thing called Four Wheel Drive-ism.
It’s an inherent disapproval, dislike, or even hatred, of WLM (Women Like Me) who drive biggish four wheel drive vehicles around suburban streets and not up and down sandhills and random rocky outcrops.
Personally, I don’t really care what people think of my choice of car, but will say I like the fact that it seats eight and that it has lots of room when we go camping – for necessities like the Moroccan tagine, at least five varieties of breakfast cereal, several vats of wine and the king-size doona (I hate and despise sleeping bags).
So when the 4WD haters hate, I can say in all honesty that our family car has felt the sting of sand on it’s undercarriage – but, and here’s the kicker, my husband always drives it when we are off road. Because he knows how to. I don’t know whether he was taught or whether men are born knowing how to drive off road, but until recently I’d never dream of taking the wheel if we’re away from the asphalt. Like doing a wee standing up, it seemed wrong.
But you know something? Although the upright wee is something I’m yet to master, I’m a GUN OFF ROAD DRIVER. I’m the Leyland Brothers’ long-lost sister. I can do it and it’s FUN.
See, at the beginning of the month, I was invited on a girls weekend away. A famil… oh, all right, a junket… to Moreton Island – a short ferry ride from Brisbane. Generally, Moreton is regarded as the home of beery boy-fests, but this itinerary involved ‘glamping’ (permanent tents with floors, bathrooms and beds), champagne at sunset, delicious food (cooked for us) and expert instruction in how to drive off-road, on actual sand. On real beaches.
It’s called – wait for it – Dirty Girls 4X4 Weekends Away. Which at first (and even second) glance looks like the worst kind of Vegas hen’s night, but in fact, it was anything but.
It was a bunch of women, aged between 25 and 50-something, keen for a weekend somewhere beautiful with the added bonus of learning something new – something they’d been meaning to do for aeons.
Because I was a guest on this trip, I was offered the use of a 4×4 vehicle. I thought great! Better to trash someone else’s car than my own and also my husband would need ours to ferry the kids to a volleyball match, hockey clinic, two birthday parties and also to tow the trailer to the tip.
When I showed up on the Friday afternoon to collect the car, I was mildly horrified but mostly thrilled to see my ride was a hot pink Jeep Wrangler with the plate ‘DRTY GRL’ and a big splashy ‘Dirty Girls’ decal on the doors.
‘This’ll be fun at school pickup,’ I thought (my daughters attend a small, very conservative Catholic school).
My older daughter was horrified when my pink jeep appeared in the queue of diver Volvo SUVs – she likes to keep a low profile. My younger daughter is the opposite. She wanted me to continue driving round and round the roundabout while she yelled, ‘MY MUM’S A DIRTY GIRL! WE’RE ALL DIRTY GIRLS!’