Going on an off road holiday is a rite of passage for Aussies. Whether you’re visiting from overseas, making a new life for yourself here or you’re a local looking for some ideas, we’re exploring some of Australia’s top four wheel drive holiday destinations.
Popular places for hiking, mountain biking and adventure tours like the Blue Mountains and Fraser Island are off road driving paradises and should be at the top of your 4WD bucket list. Or maybe you want the full Aussie outback experience in Alice Springs or Simpson Desert. We’re going to discover all of these and more.
Off road driving
Australia has some of the best beaches and national parks in the world but, due to the country’s sheer size, a lot of them can only be accessed by 4WD. The roads can be rugged, dirty and unforgiving, so if you are going to head to one of these destinations make sure you’ve got the right kit.
Being ‘off road’ can mean anything from red dirt unsealed back roads through a national park to beach driving, getting bogged in sand dunes or floating across river crossings. This means a little bit of research and driving within your capabilities is essential. It’s ideal to go with someone else, use a two-way radio and take spare tyres and safety equipment with you.
If you’ve got everything you need, then potentially sticky situations can be handled and actually become part of the fun. If you don’t own your own kit or you’re not very experienced, you can book a guided tour or a 4WD tour at some of the more popular spots or hire a kitted-out car from most rentals.
Top Australian off road trips
There are few things in life better than being with your loved ones on a remote beach under a sky so clear you can see the Milky Way from the horizon.
World Class River Crossings
We’re going to start our destination guide right at the tip of Australia where the stars illuminate the ocean as far as you can see. Cape York is the northernmost peninsula in Australia and lays claim to some of the world’s best 4WD tracks. It’s the largest unspoiled wilderness in northern Australia and is home to some of our finest natural beauty.
If you are into off roading, you’ve probably already heard of the Old Tele Track and Gunshot Creek and you can’t wait to get muddy in these extreme river crossings. If you’re less experienced, try heading for the coloured sand dunes towards Eddie’s Camp on Elim beach. Blissful beach camping and fishing.
Endless sand dunes
If it’s sand dunes you’re after, then you need to head to Simpson Desert, southeast of Alice Springs. This is where you’ll find the ultimate outback and 4WD adventure; hundreds of kilometres of sand dunes underneath the clearest of skies and no one within cooee. Simpson is home to the longest parallel dunes in the world and some of them measure over 40 metres high.
This desert is so big it spans three states! Here you are truly remote, with hundreds of kilometres between food, fuel and water stops – so be prepared. Temperatures can reach 50 degrees Celsius which is no joke when things go wrong. The desert is Aboriginal land and you will need a permit to drive here but you can easily get one from the Central Land Council or get a Desert Parks Pass from South Australia. If you’re not the most experienced off road driver, then you can book adventure tours through companies like this Tagalong Tours.
Island beach drives
If all that driving through the hot desert makes you thirsty, get your sand dune fix on the famous Fraser Island instead, a popular spot off the coast of Queensland for off road trips. Here you can drive along some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Due to the nature of the tracks, you are only allowed to drive 4WD on Fraser Island; 2WD vehicles are only allowed in Kingfisher Bay resort. There are a lot of 4×4 hire and tour companies around if you’re flying in from other states or overseas. This is a great place for those who are less experienced drivers and still want to zip over the sand and catch the killer vistas.
If it’s vistas you’re searching for, then you need to head to the High Country in Victoria, home to the state’s highest mountains and best views. Camp in the wilderness under the trees, go skiing, drink wine and tear up some off road track.
Try the Blue Rag Range Track for a long distance testing run, or Cobblers Track for some gnarly rocky ascents. All over the High Country there are steep gradients, river crossings and big rocky outcrops to keep you guessing.
The High Country is a well-travelled holiday destination for Victorians, so there are plenty of campgrounds and you’ll never be too far from supplies or someone to help you get unstuck!
Best off road trips for endless vistas
Last stop is New South Wales and the Blue Mountains, so named for the blue oil haze given off from the eucalyptus trees. This National Park is very popular with Sydneysiders for hiking and mountain biking, but also with the 4WD community. There’re river crossings, muddy traverses, waterfalls and beautiful mountain views! The Lost City and old Zig Zag Railway are tracks not to be missed that offer something a bit different. If you’re visiting Sydney, this paradise is only a three hour drive away and is a must see for any outdoor lover.
If you’re planning an off road adventure, arm yourself with maps from places like Hema Maps and get familiar with them before you set off.
Not into off road trips?
If you’re more of a sealed-road type of driver, check out these other guides: