The 7 Best 4WD Tracks To Tackle This Summer

16 Dec 2021

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It's no secret that Australia's stunning outdoor landscapes are an off-roaders' dream, from the breezy coastal tracks of our sunshine state through to the spectacular wild west of our island state and the beautiful National Parks in our western states. If you're looking for some 4WD tracks to tackle over the summer holidays, here are our seven favourite tracks across Australia.

Queensland - Byfield National Park

Location: 1-hour drive from Rockhampton and 30-minutes north of Yeppoon

Length: Tracks range from app. 1km - 20km with around 14km of beach driving.

Difficulty/Skill Level: Easy to difficult (see here for more details)

Entry fees/Permit: A permit is required if you wish to camp

Byfield offers both a National Park and a State Forest, so you really get the best of both worlds here where you can experience coastal tracks as well as laidback beach driving. 

To experience the best tracks, you will have to tackle Big Sandy first, a one-kilometre sand dune track that weeds out the people who don’t have the necessary sand driving experience. We recommend dropping your tyre pressure and using low range to conquer this one. Be careful though as the track is mostly one lane and the sand is thick in some places

Once you’re over this fun hurdle, you will now have access to Stockyard Point Track, Death Valley Track and the Southern Access Track which will take you down to Nine Mile Beach for some summer beach cruising. Don’t miss the walking track to the Orange Bowl, a sand blow worthy of the climb for the slide back down.

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(Photo - Five Rocks at Byfield National Park. Credit - Capricorn Enterprise.)

Victoria - Toolangi State Forest

Location: 90-minutes drive north-west of Melbourne City

Length: Tracks mentioned below are around 2.4 km - 13km

Difficulty/Skill Level: Easy to difficult

Entry fees/Permit: Fees apply at some sites if you wish to camp

The Toolangi State Forest is located in the northern region of the Yarra Valley and is a popular destination for four-wheel drive enthusiasts with many 4WD tracks. 

Rocky Track is a 2.4km track and a popular choice for the steep ascents and descents across its short length. The Aeroplane Track is the most difficult track. At just over 5km, this track features a tonne of mud and clay so you can expect to use your recovery gear at some point.  We recommend travelling with other people for this one as the track has a lot of deep ruts. Other great tracks include the Red West track, Martins Track and Blowhard Road, an easy track that is mostly dirt with some rocky sections. 

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(Photo - Entrance to Toolangi State Forest)

Western Australia - Wellington National Park

Location: 30-minutes drive west of Bunbury or 2-hours 10-min south of Perth

Length: 12km

Difficulty/Skill Level: Moderate

Entry fees/Permit: nil

The Lennard Track is the one to tackle in the Wellington National Park and is part of a 12-kilometre circuit that includes Sailors Gully and The Jump Ups. It is a challenging track, starting off fairly easy and increasing in difficulty as you progress. After you conquer this track, it’s not too hard to hunt around and find some more.

As for difficulties, there are sections of the track that are steep, rutted, rocky and slippery. It shouldn’t be too difficult for experienced drivers but may be difficult for those lacking a lot of 4WD experience. Summer is the best time to tackle this one when the ground is dry and hard. 

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(Photo - Harvey Hills / Wellington National Park)

Northern Territory - Ruby Gap Nature Reserve

Location: 150km north-east of Alice Springs

Length: 40km from Arltunga Historical Reserve to Ruby Gap Nature Reserve (1 - 2 hours) and around 5km at Ruby Gap one way

Difficulty/Skill Level: Moderate - difficult

Entry fees/Permit: National Park camping fees apply if you wish to camp

Ruby Gap was the site of a ‘ruby rush’ in the 19th Century. The rubies were later found to be red garnets (which are worth far less) and it’s very easy to find them in the riverbed today. 

Getting to Ruby Gap is half the fun but you will need 4WD experience to tackle both the track in and the reserve itself.  Located around 150km east of Alice Springs in the East Macdonnell Ranges, access is via the Binns Track and Arltunga Historical Reserve. The track to Ruby Gap features multiple river crossings which may or may not be dry. When you reach the reserve, expect to drop straight down into the sandy river bed of the Hale River which varies between deep sand, rough rocky sections and water holes. Navigate around 5km up the semi-dry river bed until you see a sign that advises not to drive any further. From here, it’s a 2km walk into the Glen Annie Gorge water hole. You can camp anywhere along this 5km stretch however, this adventure is not for newbies!

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(Photo - Ruby Gap in the East Macdonnell Ranges)

New South Wales - Barrington Tops

Location: 3-hours 20-min north of Sydney and 1-hour 40-min west of Forster

Length: The tracks mentioned below range from 2km - 14km

Difficulty/Skill Level: Easy to difficult

Entry fees/Permit: National Park camping fees apply if you wish to camp

Barrington Tops is only a few hours from Sydney and features great camping and four-wheel driving and the Barrington Trail is a popular track that runs through various sections. The section through to Junction Pools Campground is fairly easy going but a moderate challenge can be found on Horseswamp Trail and Polblue Ridge Road. Expect to find a few short hill climbs, mud holes and ruts on these short tracks. North Branch Road is also a decent track with a few tricky bits. Those looking for a serious challenge might like to conquer the Bull Ridge Road and Bull Gully Road track but make sure to bring a winch and another vehicle.

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(Photo - Barrington Tops)

Tasmania - Sandy Cape Track

Location: 3-hours 45-min from Launceston and 2-hours 40-min from Devonport (where the Spirit of Tasmania docks)

Length: 48km return

Difficulty/Skill Level: Difficult

Entry fees/Permit: Recreational driver pass for the Arthur-Pieman Conservation area - $33 month / $55 annual

The Sandy Cape Track in the wild north-west of Tasmania is serious 4WD country and you would be unwise to take this track lightly. Described as an ego humbler, Sandy Cape features many challenges including quicksand, tidal movements, unpredictable weather, water crossings, and sandy/rocky tracks. Some of the tracks are narrow so you may score some one-of-a-kind pin-striping courtesy of the bush. All will agree that the challenges are worth it for the stunning views and some of the best beach driving around.

The Sandy Cape Track is usually open from December to April but make sure to travel in a convoy so you don’t get stuck.

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(Photo - Sandy Cape Tasmania)

South Australia - Robe Beach Run

Location: 3-hours 40-min south of Adelaide

Length: Around 55km

Difficulty/Skill Level: Moderate

Entry fees/Permit: Camping fees apply if you wish to camp

Starting in Robe and ending in Beachport, the Robe Beach Run is a beach day-tripper’s dream. Known for its challenging beach exits and ultra-soft sand, the wind can be surprisingly brutal along this route, which weaves from beachfront to inland tracks as it skirts around headlands and small bays. These inland tracks are essential across several sections at high tide and it’s ideal to travel with another vehicle. A flag is recommended to avoid head-on collisions on track.

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(Photo - Robe Beach Run)

Make sure to pack your gear

As most seasoned 4WDers would know, you should always come prepared for any situation. That’s why carrying recovery tracks, shovels, straps and jerry cans are a must but they need to be easy to access and securely fastened. The Rhino-Rack Pioneer roof rack systems and accessories are the perfect way to do just that so you can get on with the adventure knowing your gear is ready when you need it. Fit your vehicle with Rhino-Rack today.