If you like the open paved and wide roads, you should know that Australia has so much to offer. The Australian continent is home to some of the best off-road driving tracks in the world – something like a road tripper’s dream. Swaths of grassland, rugged mountain ranges, and remote deserts, with hundreds of off-road routes that lead you through this wonderful scenery (not without a few obstacles, of course).
What makes their tracks even better is the fact that, in Australia, people have access to bushland, outback, beaches, and everything there is in between, all within several hours’ drive from one another. These are our picks for the top 5 off-road tracks in Australia.
The Cape York Track is known as the Old Telegraph Track, because it was once the northern region’s only line of communication. It guides you through tropical northern reaches of Australia, featuring different river crossings (some of which involve near-vertical exits), such as Gunshot Creek and Jardine River. Before undertaking these crossings, a check for sturdy recovery points and make sure to have all-terrain tires.
Twin Falls, Eliot Falls, and Fruit Bat Falls are just some of the swimming holes you can enjoy, while Chili Beach, Lakefield National Park and Thursday Island are a few scenic stop-off points along the way. The 848 km track will lead you from Cooktown to Seisia (Queensland).
Best time of year for the Cape York Track from May to October.
There are two versions of the Birdsville track – the Inside and Outside Track. The Inside Track follows the original stock path, as the Birdsville Track was once established as a cattle route.
The Outside Track is a safer route, created by travelers who wanted to avoid the Diamantina floodplain. The track is not that difficult to traverse, as the surface is mostly gibber-covered sand. However, sudden braking can be dangerous, because the track can offer poor traction and be slippery, due to large pebbles. There’s wandering kangaroos, emus, livestock, and cattle grids that pop-up without warning. The 534 km-long track goes from Marree (South Australia) to Birdsville (Queensland).
Best time of year for Birdsville Track is April and October.
If you want to traverse the Simpson Desert, this track offers the quickest way. However, the challenge comes in the form of narrow tracks and frequent dune crossings. It’s very important to be wary of oncoming traffic, because the French Line is only wide enough for one vehicle.
To avoid head-on collisions, you must be aware of your surroundings, beep warning signals on dune crests, carry a radio, and fly a dune flag. This track is 439 km long, it connects Dalhousie Springs (South Australia) and Birdsville (Queensland).
Best time of year for traversing the Simpson desert is from May to September.
Running for 930 km, from Kununurra to Derby (West Australia), the Gibb River Road will give you fresh water gorges, secluded swimming holes, and fantastic outback landscapes. It traces through the Kimberley region, leading you to points such as the coastal Aboriginal settlement of Kalumburu and the falls of Mitchell Plateau.
During peak season (May-September), it can be a bit crowded, even though it’s a very remote route. You can opt for April or October, just check road conditions, because they can be closed during the wet season. Some parts of the Gibb are quite challenging, but you can choose detours and different routes along the way (just be sure to research the road before taking it).
Best time of year for Gibbs River Road is from April to October.
The Hay River Track is very remote and only after a series of negotiations with the Aboriginal custodian of that area was the track opened to the public in 2000. It follows the course of a dried-up river and can’t be accessed without a permit, because the authorities want to preserve the environment of the most isolated region in Australia.
The Hay River Track is 928 km long, offering stunning landscape contrasts, because it passes by the Spinifex and Big Red dunes, on to the Gypcrete and Georgina Gidgee Interdunes, leveling out to the bed of Lake Caroline and the Hay River.
Best time of year to traverse the Hay River track from May to September.
If you’re about to drive through a remote area, you’ll need to invest in some quality equipment. There’s a plethora of things you should consider, but we’ll keep it simple with some essentials. Start with tent and sleeping bags (shelter and bed), enough water and food (a good-sized, hard esky), a portable camp stove, cooking utensils, LED lanterns and torches, and some foldable chairs and a table. Bring a basic tool kit, vehicle recovery gear, first-aid kit, and some spare parts.
Make sure to prepare your vehicle, perform an overall check, and use quality parts like King Springs to ensure that your vehicle can endure rough road tracks. Always pack your essentials first and always use lightweight alternatives. Less weight – less fuel used.
If you ask us, this is the best of the best of Australian off road tracks. There are many more of them that suit any skill level, but that just didn’t make our top five – Coorong National Park, Kingsford Smith Mail Run, and Tasmania’s Montezuma Falls. Pack your things, call your friends, and tell them that there’s an interesting drive that they wouldn’t want to miss.
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