If you’re interested in taking the road less travelled, it’s hard to beat the thrill of getting off the beaten path, quite literally. Accessible only by cars with 4WD, these roads can take you deep into the remote wilderness. In a country like Australia, some of the most memorable sights are only accessible by 4WD. Yet 4WD tracks are not just about the sights or the destination; they’re all about the thrill of the journey. The following are a few of Australia’s most exciting roads to get lost on.
The Birdsville Track
Perhaps the most iconic 4WD track in Australia, the Birdsville Track was first carved out in the 1860’s to use for moving cattle. You’ll pass a number of epic sights along the way as you work your way down this medium difficulty track, including abandoned ruins, wetlands, and the vast Simpson Desert. Although the road’s been improved over the years, the road is still remote and you’ll only find one stop along the way for services at the Mungerannie Hotel. The total distance is 655km, so be sure to stock your car well and be prepared for rough patches of track with spare tyres.
Anne Beadell Highway
The remote Anne Beadell Highway was built to support British nuclear testing after WWII. It passes through both South Australia and Western Australia, with over 1000 sand dunes along the way from Coober Pedy to Laverton. The road is quite varied, ranging from rough corrugated track to soft piles of sand. You’ll need a rugged, versatile vehicle so be sure to compare your 4X4 options carefully to find a car up for the challenge. You’ll be rewarded along the track with native wildlife and stunning desert landscapes.
Gibb River Road
Another popular option for adventurers is the Gibb River Road, passing through the massive Kimberley Region of Australia. This route takes you through savannah grasslands, impressive rock formations, and freshwater oases, for a total distance of 710km. You’ll spot a multitude of freshwater crocodiles in areas like Windjana Gorge, along with kangaroos and other native species. One of the most challenging aspects of the track is the Penecost River crossing, but the full route is quite challenging.
Passing through the Northern Territory and Simpson Desert, Binns Track is named after Bill Binns, who worked for 32 years with the NT Parks Service. The track runs for 2,191km for a truly epic journey lasting at least 10 days. You’ll pass through Gregory National Park, the Mac Clark Conservation Reserve and areas of the Simpson Desert on this path, which makes for an extremely varied driving experience. Enjoy the sight of ancient rock carvings and the massive Victoria River Downs cattle station, and be sure to check weather conditions in advance.
Although this trek is only 469km, it passes through a wide range of terrain including mountain gorges and the sand dunes of the Strzelecki Desert. You’ll see remote homesteads, native dingoes, and salt bush plains before finishing at Cameron Corner at the intersection of New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia. It’s best to travel between April and October to avoid slippery wet weather.
Before attempting any of these adventurous 4WD journeys, be sure to have your car serviced and check all weather forecasts carefully. What is usually an easy track can quickly become treacherous in the wrong conditions. You’re sure to have a ride to remember on any of these diverse roads.