While there’s something profound about the solitude and scale of the outback and beaches are always great for fun in the sun and sand, it’s hard to beat our national parks for lush variety of life and sheer magnificence. Great lookouts are often separated by trails exhibiting unique challenges and varying degrees of difficulty, there are walking tracks in abundance if you feel like stretching your legs and the local wildlife will constantly surprise you by popping up when you least expect it – in the trees, in the bushes, in your trash (and if you’re really unlucky, in your tent…).
If your kind of getaway is falling asleep to the sound of insects buzzing, spotting unique Aussie critters in their natural habitat and 4WDing muddy trails to get from one scenic campsite to the next, we’ve got 6 routes that will inspire you to go inland for your next trip:
Length: Day trip out of Zeehan
Tasmania’s tallest waterfall is just a short track off the Murchison Highway near Rosebery. Rough and rocky, it follows the old route of the North East Dundas Tramway and culminates in a suspension bridge walk that will take you over the tops of green tree ferns to the base of the falls.
While you will need to take it slow and steady because of the ruts and bogs, it isn’t an arduous track and you do not need an extensively modified 4WD to travel it. Look out for potholes, prepare to get dirty and go for it!
Photo credit: Tassie Trails
Length: Day trip out of Rockhampton
On the edge of Queensland’s sandstone belt, Blackdown Tableland rises up abruptly from dry plains and features deep gorges, scenic waterfalls and Ghungalu aboriginal rock art. While there’s plenty of walking tracks and you can still see lots of lookouts, heritage sites and creeks on foot, it’s worth taking your 4WD out here so you can also do the scenic 4WD-only loop road that includes Charlevue Lookout and picnic area. Look out for super-slippery pea gravel!
Photo credit: Parks Australia
Length: 2 days
Access to Jim Jim Falls has improved enough that you can drive to the camping area in a regular car, but if you want to actually get to the falls you will need a 4WD for the last 10km. You’ll have sand, ruts and water crossings to look forward to, making a snorkel and high clearance an advantage. Cool off in the plunge pool and walk to the top of the falls if you have enough time. Depending on water levels, you may be able to cross the Jim Jim Creek to get to Twin Falls too.
Be sure to check the weather when planning your trip – this road is inaccessible in the wet season.
Photo credit: Hamilton Lund & NSW National Parks
Length: Day trip out of Sydney
The Three Sisters aren’t the only things worth seeing in the Blue Mountains. The pagoda rock formations, domes eroded from sandstone escarpments, cliffs and canyons make Gardens of Stone National Park a must-do destination for keen photographers. The Moffit Trail will take you all the way to Baal Bone Gap and Wolgan State Forest.
Ian Glover describes it as wild country, with no shortage of steep climbs and descents: “While there’s plenty to see here, there’s also some driving challenges – and you simply won’t get through unless you have a high clearance 4WD and low range. A set of good quality off-road tyres and a 50mm suspension upgrade are highly recommended.”
Thanks to Pat Callinan’s 4X4 Adventures – read Ian’s full article in Iss. 003.
Photo credit: Holiday Point
Length: 2 – 3 days
The Grampians National Park is just 3 hours west of Melbourne and has a good network of dirt roads; allocate a few days as one is not enough to see everything in this picturesque place! This drive will take you to and around rugged mountains, dramatic rock forms, waterfalls, aboriginal rock art sites and amazing views, including The Chimney Pots and Wonderland Range.
While the Grampians Drive is a walk in the park (pun intended) for experienced 4WDers with well-equipped vehicles, we’ve classed this as moderate since there are some steep tracks with rocky, slippery or sandy sections that beginners may find a bit hairy. The tracks become more difficult in wet conditions and there is serious fire danger here, so check the forecast before you go.
Photo credit: Lucas Boyd & NSW National Parks
Length: 4 days
If you haven’t done so already, venture into the mountains of the national parks running parallel to NSW’s famous South Coast. Its fire trails link up to form a journey through rich wilderness that dates back to the Jurassic era, bringing you into a world of soaring trees, green gullies, untamed forest and imposing cliffs. Be sure to make time for walks to the Big Hole, the Marble Arch and Bendethera Caves.
Don Fuchs travelled on the Dry Creek, Merricumbene, Dampier, Minuma Range and Peak Alone Fire Trails and lists some tips for anyone tempted to try out Deua: Check the forecast (fire danger is very real here), make sure your 4WD is well-equipped and research to see if you have enough experience to tackle the trails. The Merricumbene in particular is challenging, with sharp ascents and descents to test your 4WDing skills.
Thanks to Pat Callinan’s 4X4 Adventures – read Don’s full article in Iss. 012.
Before leaving on your trip, do a quick safety check of your vehicle so you can fix any problems while you’re still within civilisation. Adjust your tyre pressures when you leave the bitumen to hit the dirt. You’ll find that your driving experience is more comfortable, plus your tyres will be better able to mould around rocks and other obstacles. Reduce your speed to match the lower pressure and don’t forget to choose the right tyre for the job – all-terrain, heavy duty all-terrain or super tough – so you have the optimal balance of on-road comfort and dirt road traction.
Call us on 1300 COOPER for advice on off-road driving and tyre choices or send us an email.