Get Away For A Day: Australia's Best 4WD Day Trips

WRITTEN BY: Gregor Stronach

Got a beaut new Isuzu D-MAX or MU-X and not enough time to lap Australia? Fret not, here are the choicest cuts for quick trips to get off the beaten track.

With a lot of us living very busy lives, it can sometimes be difficult to plan a week-long 4WD adventure alongside running around the kids and with work deadlines piling up. Don’t worry, we get it. But that doesn’t mean you have to let go of your desire for adventure. So here’s a ray of hope that will have you traveling around the countryside like a wayward Leyland brother and still be home in time to get the kids into bed on schedule. It’s time to Go Your Own Way.

1. YALGORUP NATIONAL PARK, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Starting point: Mandurah
Distance from Perth: 71km
Difficulty: Easy to medium

An hour south of Perth is the gateway to some fantastic beach driving through Yalgorup National Park to Preston Beach and White Hills Beach. An excellent area to stop and wet a line, or simply explore the sights and enjoy a packed lunch on the sand, it’s ridiculously close to Perth, but will still feel like a proper adventure.

www.parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/yalgorup

2. BRINDABELLA NATIONAL PARK, NEW SOUTH WALES

Starting point: Brindabella
Distance from Canberra: 60km
Difficulty: Easy to hard

Arguably the very best day trip for an off-road experience near Canberra, Brindabella National Park offers a massive network of 4WD trails through rugged alpine mountain terrain. It’s stunning, it’s fun and it’s often quite busy—so a mid-week day trip can be the best option. But if you don’t mind sharing, the weekends are great fun, too.

www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/brindabella-national-park 

3. MUNDARING POWER LINES TRACK, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Starting point: Mundaring
Distance from Perth: 35km
Difficulty: Very hard

Pack every piece of recovery gear you own, call all of your 4WDing mates and prepare for a pretty brutal track that will test your skills to the limit—and beyond. The Mundaring Power Line Track runs from Mundaring through to York and is definitely not for novices—but it can be buckets of fun if you’re well prepared and know what you’re doing.

www.4-wheeling-in-western-australia.com/mundaring.html

4. MORETON ISLAND, QUEENSLAND

Starting point: Brisbane
Distance from Brisbane: 57km
Difficulty: Easy to medium

Moreton Island is the third largest sand island in the world and practically on the doorstep of Brisbane itself. You’ll need to get a ferry across to the island (and pre-booking your spot is essential) but the pay off is worth it, with fantastic sand driving and plenty to see around the island, including shipwrecks and the chance to hand-feed wild dolphins at the Tangalooma Beach Resort. 

www.australia.com/en/places/brisbane-and-surrounds/guide-to-moreton-island.html

5. SUNDOWN NATIONAL PARK, QUEENSLAND

Starting point: Ballandean
Distance from Brisbane: 235km
Difficulty: Medium to hard

If you really want to test your off-roading skills then this is the kind of drive you’ll be after. The 4WD-only tracks at Sundown National Park are far from easy, but they’re very rewarding for a skilled off-roader and perfect for exploring what the true wilderness has to offer. There is zero in the way of facilities, so take everything you’ll need with you into the park. Old school. 

www.parks.des.qld.gov.au/parks/sundown/visiting-safely

6. DISCOVERY TRAIL: KURRAJONG, NEW SOUTH WALES

Starting point: Kurrajong
Distance from Sydney: 75km
Difficulty: Easy

This is a must-do, extremely family friendly drive that will take you through parts of the Blue Mountains National Park and Wollemi National Park, west of Sydney. The Discovery Trail is a mix of road surfaces, with areas that are definitely 4WD only. Check the forecast before you leave as it’s a dry-weather-only track.

www.greaterbluemountainsdrive.com.au/the-drive-in-detail/discovery-trails/kurrajong

7. STOCKTON BEACH, NEW SOUTH WALES

Starting point: Anna Bay
Distance from Sydney: 200km
Difficulty: Medium

About three hours north of Sydney lies Stockton Beach, a phenomenal 19km stretch of sand with a full 350 hectares of dunes for you to explore and really test your D-MAX or MU-X. Sand driving requires research and skill, so do your homework—and you’ll need to buy a permit before you head out onto the sand. And be sure to check out Tin City.

www.worimiconservationlands.com/beach-driving

8. WELLINGTON RANGES 4WD TRACK, TASMANIA

Starting point: Fern Tree
Distance from Hobart: 9km
Difficulty: Medium to hard

Righto, if you really want to challenge yourself, spend a day on any of the five different tracks through Wellington Park. These tracks are challenging—and not just because of the terrain. The weather changes very quickly in these parts and it’s easy to get caught unawares. You’ll need to plan well and get a permit to head off-road (except for Jeffreys Track)—and it’s best not to drive these areas alone.

www.wellingtonpark.org.au/permits-approvals

9. SWANSTON 4WD TRACK, TASMANIA

Starting point: Runnymede
Distance from Hobart: 50km
Difficulty: Medium

Less than an hour from Hobart is an awesome 33km off-road drive known as the Swanston 4WD Track. It’s rated by those in the know as a medium difficulty drive, with plenty to challenge you and your rig. This is a great trail to tackle with a buddy in another 4WD and with all the right recovery gear—and it gets a bit hairy after wet weather, so plan your trip accordingly.

www.4wdtasmania.com/swanston-4wd-track

10. KAKADU NATIONAL PARK, NORTHERN TERRITORY

Starting point: Kakadu
Distance from Darwin: 150km
Difficulty: Easy to medium

We’re pretty sure you’ve heard of Kakadu and all of the amazing sights it encompasses—but it’s still worth tacking onto this list because it offers a long-ish day trip from Darwin and the chance to use your D-MAX or MU-X to explore the park’s tracks and trails at your own pace. Check with local authorities about seasonal closures—and don’t mess with the crocodiles. Seriously… they will eat you. Or some will, anyway.

www.parksaustralia.gov.au/kakadu

11. GRAMPIANS NATIONAL PARK, VICTORIA

Starting point: Halls Gap
Distance from Melbourne: 250km
Difficulty: Easy

Another of the must-do 4WDing experiences near Melbourne is a visit (or two, or three) to Grampians National Park. The park itself is truly beautiful, with a wide variety of terrain to tackle and each section of the park offering its own rewards. If you want to make a weekend of it, there are 10 4WD-friendly camping areas as well.

www.parks.vic.gov.au/places-to-see/parks/grampians-national-park

12. LERDERDERG STATE PARK, VICTORIA

Starting point: Bacchus Marsh
Distance from Melbourne: 70km
Difficulty: Easy to medium

One of the staples of the Melbournian off-road driving scene, Lerderderg State Park is a very popular spot to get your wheels muddy and see some of the stunning sights around the Lerderderg River. There are tonnes of tracks to choose from but some are seasonally closed from mid-June to October. Check with Parks Victoria for more info.

www.parks.vic.gov.au/places-to-see/parks/lerderderg-state-park

13. LITCHFIELD NATIONAL PARK, NORTHERN TERRITORY

Starting point: Batchelor
Distance from Darwin: 98km
Difficulty: Easy to medium

Another of the incredible national parks close to Darwin, Litchfield is the less-crowded but just-as-awesome cousin of nearby Kakadu. If you’re looking to get away from most of the other visitors, the access tracks to Tabletop Swamp and The Lost City are definitely the go. Be conscious of the wildlife and pay attention to all the warning signs—the critters up this way don’t mess around.

www.northernterritory.com/darwin-and-surrounds/destinations/litchfield-national-park 

14. COORONG NATIONAL PARK, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Starting point: Meningie
Distance from Adelaide: 150km
Difficulty: Easy to medium

A very easy drive from Adelaide will get you to Coorong National Park, home to a gorgeous wetlands and ocean experience. There are a number of tracks through the park to reach the ocean, ranging in difficulty. Some roads and sections of the park are seasonally closed, so check with SA Parks and Wildlife before you head out—and it’s duck season between late March and the end of June, so don’t panic if you hear gunshots. Unless you’re a duck.

www.parks.sa.gov.au/parks/coorong-national-park

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