DESTINATIONS – TRAVEL DESTINATIONS
We love travelling in the Outback and visiting remote places in Australia. In this section we tell you about some of the amazing places we’ve visited: Cape York, Arnhem Land, The Simpson Desert, The Kimberley, The Red Centre, Len Beadell Tracks, Canning Stock Route, Kakadu, Savannah Way, The Channel Country, The High Country, Flinders Ranges, Aboriginal Art Sites….
Some OTA website visitors have asked us if we’ve done any interesting overseas 4WDing adventures, so we’ve kicked off with a trip Allan Whiting did to Borneo back in 1991. Unfortunately, the images that illustrate this story are digitised from 30-year-old transparency film, so the quality isn’t flash.
The Silo Art Movement is encouraging people from all walks of life to travel along part or all of what is now one of Australia’s great road trips.
We spent all of February 2023 in Tasmania, but it wasn’t the usual off-road-oriented trip that we normally do. We were running-in our 75 Series’ rebuilt engine, so we played normal tourists for the trip, with some dirt road and beach driving thrown in. Younger members of the group did their own adventure thing.
This suggested itinerary around the Gulf of Carpentaria takes in part of the Savannah Way and the old Gulf Track. It’s a great way to travel between North Queensland and the Northern Territory.
The innocuous name doesn’t exactly capture the imagination, but Lawn Hill National Park in north-west Queensland is one of the State’s most spectacular sites.
The Oodnadatta Track is one of the most scenic and interesting drives in Australia. The country is flat to gently undulating for the most part and the gravel road is generally kept in good condition.
With a rich history and old mining towns galore, inland North Queensland is attracting fossicking hobbyists who make the trek in search of gold and gemstones.
The great east-west challenge is the Gunbarrel ‘Highway’, but years of neglect make it a severe 4WD vehicle test. The Great Central Road used to be an easier run from Uluru to The West, but the NT section has always been in worse condition than the WA part.
For many years it seemed that Australia wasn’t home to many large dinosaurs, but discoveries in recent years have revealed the exact opposite. The discovery of the fifth-largest dinosaur ever found and now fondly known as ‘Cooper’ (Australotitancooperensis) has put Australia right up there.
The Beach Run is a fun pursuit today, but Robe’s situation made it an important port in the days when most freight went around the coast by ship. The Beach Run is great 4WD adventure, but there’s plenty more to do in the Robe area.
Australia is a fantastic destination for tourists looking for natural beauty and adventure. Even for locals, there are hundreds of places to explore that will feel just as special as visiting a foreign country.
For years we’ve driven past NSW’s Yanga National Park en route to more distant places, but our OTA Team members Sheree and Simon Martin spent five days there in 2020. It’s a Park that’s well worth a visit.
This World Heritage listed area offers spectacular views of the Mount Warning volcanic site, along with drives and walks through dense rainforest.
This unnamed track connects two of the most remote Aboriginal communities in Central Australia. Outback Travel Australia drove it in 2019, in the company of Alice Springs Expeditions, who organised permits.
Beach driving, fishing boating and camping are easily accessed in the south section of Myall Lakes National Park, near the NSW coastal town of Buladelah, just north of Newcastle.
In response to requests for info on water-based camping venues we’ve checked out some inland waterways in Queensland. More coming in 2021.
This stunning image of the Rainbow Serpent painted under a rock overhang near Mr Borradaile in Arnhem Land is thought to be the largest ever discovered in northern Australia. For Ros and Tim Bowden it was the precursor to three days of joyous discoveries with Davidsons Arnhemland Safaris.
Just half an hour from Coffs Harbour on the NSW North Coast, this challenging track is perfect for the 4WD explorer, as it climbs along the ridges of rocky plateaus and winds through lush rainforest. This journey can take one day or one week depending on how much you’d like to explore the diversity around the National Parks.
We’ve separated the Kimberley into two destinations – east and west – because it’s such a large area and you’ll need more than the customary four weeks to get there from the east, tour the region and then get back home.
Two of the must-visit sites in Western Australia are Karijini National Park and Mount Augustus National Park, although neither place requires a tough 4WD. The access roads to both areas are gravel and that’s the extent of the driving adventure.
Rudall River National Park is one of the most remote national parks in Australia and is strictly for experienced and well equipped 4WD travellers
There’s great scenery and history on this North Queensland trek that weaves along the watercourse of the mighty Burdekin River.
This high-altitude Queensland destination offers rainforest and gorge walks, forest camping, spectacular lookouts and an interesting 4WD loop track.
These two national parks are close together and offer an excellent sandstone escarpment experience for visitors.
There are plenty of 4WD tracks in the NSW Blue Mountains region. We’ve picked out some of the highlights.
The main purpose of the Tanami Road for 4WD travellers is a short cut between Alice Springs and The Kimberley, but there’s plenty to see along the way.
Queensland’s North Stradbroke and Moreton Islands aren’t as well known as Fraser Island, but they’re well worth a visit.
This north-south dune track in South Australia never achieved its original aim to connect arid-region pastoral properties with coastal shipping ports. However, thanks to the persistence of the Denton Family in the 1970s it’s a great 4WD recreational route today.
This track was pioneered by Jol Fleming, from Direct 4WD Awareness in Alice Springs. Unfortunately, since we did this trip, Ethabuka Station has withdrawn access permission, but you could always ask…
If you travel on only one of Len Beadell’s desert tracks the Sandy Blight Junction Road is the one to do. It runs through beautiful, interesting country and was justifiably his favourite.
Len Beadell named this ‘highway’ after his baby daughter, who accompanied him and his wife, Anne, when he drove across country, planning this track that was later finished off by his Gunbarrel Road Construction Party.
This Victorian destination offers easy 4WD touring, bush walking, boating, canoeing, fishing and bird watching.
In 1929 Dr Cecil (CT) Madigan undertook a series of aerial reconnaissances of central Australia and in 1939 followed this up with a scientific expedition into the Simpson Desert. It’s now a popular, but demanding desert expedition.
This 25,000ha National Park was gazetted in 2001 and contains a mixture of rainforest and regrowth and old growth forest. Easy tracks make this an interesting one-day excursion for softroaders.
Here are two routes through Outback NSW that give visitors an excellent impression of this river country that has supported Aboriginal tribes and white pastoralists for eons.
Queensland has gazetted a number of former grazing properties as national parks, to conserve significant geography, flora and fauna, as well as for pastoral historical value. We’ve picked out three parks that lie north-south between the Savannah Way and the Diamantina.
Although not quite as challenging as Michael Palin crossing the Andes by frog, a trip across the continent in a softroader can have its moments.
OTA was asked to consult with some Arnhem Land elders about the prospect of limited tag-along tourism in this heavily restricted area. Nothing has materialised yet, but we’re hopeful.
The normal approach to Cape York is via the east coast tracks and the Peninsula Developmental Road, but this route starts on the western side of the Peninsula, for those coming from the Gulf.
The first trek was two years in the planning. The aim was to escort two senior archaeologists into this remote region, to search for evidence of ancient Aboriginal occupation in what is today an arid, desert region, with no surface water. The second trek is a round-trip journey from Birdsville, recounted by an OTA Supporter.
In Part Two of following Colonel Peter Warburton’s desert footsteps the team, headed by Jol Fleming, spent a great deal of time locating a native well area that has remained hidden for many decades. Originally we thought that we could retrace Warburton’s footsteps in two desert trips, but it will take three – at least.
The best way to appreciate this relatively unspoilt National Park is to enter at the southern end and drive on interesting and sometimes challenging tracks to the more popular and easily visited northern sections.
Located 240 kilometres east of Darwin in Australia’s tropical north, Kakadu National Park is Australia’s largest terrestrial national park. Kakadu covers almost 20,000 square kilometres and is a place of enormous ecological and biological diversity.
Limmen National Park preserves beautfiul savannah country at the base of Arnhem Land. Highlights are riverside campsites and fantastic ‘lost city’ sandstone hills.
Our suggested route takes in some of The Otways highlights, but it’s possible to spend a lifetime exploring this mountainous region.
Yuraygir National Park was created in 1980 and embraces more than 30,000 hectares of coastal land that’s largely unspoilt.
Said to be the worst road in Australia, the Anne Beadell Highway in South Australia lived up to its reputation when OTA ran it.
Idalia National Park is a resumed grazing property in central-west Queensland. The Park protects mulga woodlands, the headwaters of the Bulloo River and tributaries of the Barcoo River. It’s home to 15 native fuchsia species and the endangered yellow-footed rock wallaby.
Victoria’s Mallee National Parks capture arid and river-front landscapes, and flora and fauna that seem quite ‘un-Victorian’ to people accustomed to High Country destinations.
It’s tempting on a Cape York trip to bypass many of the interesting sites along the way in a headlong rush to get to The Tip. One such significant area is Maytown, the centre of the Palmer River Goldfields.