Would you like to get off the highway and take the less travelled trail? Countless do-it-yourself experiences await you in Queensland, whether you own a 4WD or hire one on vacation. Those that really work for it get some of the best scenery, and these seven spots you can only hit in a four-wheeler really prove the case.
4WD is the only way to access some of the most remote and beautiful natural ecosystems in Queensland. It’s your ticket to hidden beaches, wild campsites, and coves where, if at all, you’re not going to see another individual for miles. Where thick rainforest leads to deserted beaches, you’ll need to be self-sufficient for days at the end of the rough outback. There are excellent national island parks that you can enter from Brisbane on a short getaway.
These Queensland national parks are best explored with 4WD, exploring quiet corners of popular parks or embarking on a daunting journey where a reliable ride is a must-have.
If you do not feel secure going off-road, don’t worry, 4WD tours run throughout the state. It’s simple to escape the bitumen and experience the sights, sounds, and immerse yourself in the incredible natural beauty of the many national parks of Queensland.
4WD hire is also commonly available for 4WD adventures in Queensland, including Brisbane, Gold Coast, Rainbow Beach, Fraser Island, Cape York, and many other top spots.
Driving on the sand, in mud, and on rocky trails requires abilities that can only be developed by experienced off-road drivers with practice and guidance. The most prone to crashes and getting stuck are novice drivers. But everybody who gets behind the wheel is at stake. Be careful and stay safe, including seasoned 4WDers.
It looks easy to drive on sand, but it’s just the opposite: complicated and sometimes risky. It’s important to understand where the firmest sand is located and where you can drive legally. Generally, this is between the waterline and the mark of the high tide. Do not use the brakes, unlike driving on the lane, but instead cause your car to come to a stop by taking your foot off the accelerator. This helps to stop making a deep rut from which it is hard to get out. Here are a couple of tips for beach driving to get you started.
It looks fun, but even in a raised 4×4 with off-road tires, driving in mud is more complicated than it seems. In fact, unless absolutely necessary, most 4WDers will not move on the field. Slow and steady is the way to go when driving through mud, retaining power at all times. Often check the level of dirt and ruts and engage the lock of the 4WD.
You heard the advertisements: if it is flooded, forget it. Do not try to cross creeks that are submerged or fast-moving, even though other vehicles are driving across them. It could be the least of your concerns to get stuck; even heavy vehicles get washed away. This not only places you and your passengers at risk but also aims to assist emergency responders and passers-by.
A challenge you have to take seriously is one of the most exhilarating off-road activities, driving over rocks. No matter how many times you have travelled across similar terrain before. To prevent punctures, turn to the low range, and deflate your tires to 20-25psi. To construct a track to drive over, you can use loose rocks and clear obstructions that can damage the undercarriage. Have someone, preferably, stand at a safe distance and direct you.
There’s no lack of 4WD tracks and off-road experiences to explore in Queensland, from the sundrenched outback to tropical Cape York, the diverse Darling Downs to breathtaking Fraser Island. These 4WD tracks are just a glimpse of what awaits you in Queensland, whether you’re camping under the stars or touring in a 4 wheel drive camper van.
The Cape York Peninsula is the farthest north you can possibly go on our continent. With a 4WD and a little off-road experience, you can only make it there. You should meet up with tours and guides when you’re not sure how to drive yourself. The most extraordinary unspoiled wilderness in northern Australia is well worth it, but you get there.
Literally, Land Cruiser Mountain Park is a bunch of boulders. No wonder all 4WD enthusiasts are getting frothy. There are no constructed roads in or out of the park, about a two-hour drive from Brisbane. But camping and nature are at their best.
In the Mackay area of Queensland, Cape Palmerston National Park is very underrated, particularly when you go off-track to this national park full of rocky headlands, quiet beaches, and sandy dunes. There is nothing quite like camping in unspoiled nature right by the ocean, especially when you catch a sea eagle soaring overhead.
Kalpowar State Forest has nestled at the Burnett Range bottom not far from Bundaberg for a different landscape again. You have burnt orange rock faces here, dense rainforest areas, eucalyptus forests, and pine hoop plantations for your morning bath, not to mention plenty of natural swimming holes and rivers.
This is another paradise of 4WD not far from Bundaberg. For explorers by car, foot, or mountain bike, rugged hills and open eucalyptus forest make it a fantasy. Cordalba State Forest is also an excellent bird-watching spot, even if you’re an amateur. It’s considered extremely thrilling to spot yellow-tufted honeyeaters or barking owls.
At Byfield National Park, 30 minutes from Yeppoon, where sand dune paths and rough pinnacles lead to long sandy beaches, make tracks inland to a 4-4 paradise. For a remote camping experience, pack your tent, paddle your kayak along Water Park Creek, and hiking shoes to explore the area along the many trails up near.
Do you think the turquoise blue waters in the middle of the bushland can’t be here? Head to the Stony Creek. And if you have a family with you, this peaceful swimming hole is great for a dip. Take a quick 15-minute trek through the bush to reach the waterhole. Standard vehicles can enter the national park. If you’re beach driving, however, you’ll need a 4WD. In the park’s north, the more challenging 4WD tracks are.
To find great 4WD tracks around Brisbane, you do not have to travel far from town. North Stradbroke and South Stradbroke, Booloumba Creek, Canungra, are a short hop across the bay. The Gold Coast is a short drive south, just two hours north of the 4WD tracks at Conondale National Park and Kenilworth, and there’s plenty to discover west of Brisbane.
D’Aguilar National Park, beginning on Brisbane’s outskirts and heading north to Woodford and Villeneuve, is a perfect destination for a 4WD day trip. If you fancy spending the night, camping is available at Neurum Creek and Archer Campsite. Mount Mee Forest Drive, Range Road Forest Drive, and The Western Escarpment Forest Drive are the three most famous national parks. There’s excellent swimming here. Be sure to schedule your campaign.
It’s easy to see why Moreton Island National Park is one of the top weekend getaways for Brisbane 4WD enthusiasts, with about 420 kilometres of unsealed tracks awaiting you. Top areas include Champagne Lakes, Blue Lagoon, and Honeymoon Harbor, along with the Wrecks, the island’s most visited attraction. Camping at the beach in Moreton is highly recommended. Care to pack firewood.
The 14 River Crossing Condamine Gorge in Killarney’s Cambanoora Gorge is one of Southeast Queensland’s best-loved 4WD tracks. This muddy, bouncy, and incredibly fun track, located just two hours’ drive from Brisbane, is named after the 14 river crossings you need to make. The river crossings are shallow in average weather conditions, an excellent off-road way for first-time 4WDers, but can be risky during rainy weather. Before setting away, check out the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) website or the Warwick Visitor Information Centre.
In North Queensland, some of the most rugged 4×4 tracks in the state are located. Many routes can only be tried by seasoned off-roaders, but 4WD tours are available with off-road access at most national parks.
Between Cairns and The Tip, there is 1200 km of 4WD tracks and roads to cover, so settle in for the adventure of a lifetime. Cape York is an untamed wilderness region rich in Native culture and revolutionary Australian heritage. Get off the beaten track and onto one of Australia’s best 4WD-only routes, with difficult river crossings and nights spent under the stars.
Frenchmans Lane, spanning 180 km from Archer River Roadhouse to Moreton Telegraph Station, is a fan favourite. You will have access to the Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park, long beaches and rocky outcrops, home to four campsites, numerous walking paths, and freshwater rivers. And while this is croc-country, at Fruit Bat Falls on the Old Telegraph Track, you’ll be able to take a well-earned dip. Around 65 km east of Townsville, several 4WD tracks, including the Paluma Range Bluewater Track, are located in the Paluma Range National Park. Characterized by endless mud and rainforest, it takes 2-3 days to complete the 54 km route. Not advised for beginners.
Without a 4WD beach driving experience, no visit to the Sunshine Coast is complete. The top spots for 4WD adventures include Bribie Island, Fraser Island, Rainbow Shore, Cooloola, Double Island Point, and Noosa North. With plenty of fantastic 4×4 tracks to discover in the national parks around Conondale, Kenilworth, Imbil, and Gympie, the Sunshine Coast hinterland is also perfect.
Scenic Fraser Island is so famous for off-road adventures that there are also 4WD advertisements shot there. The largest sand island in the world is only accessible by 4×4, so if you’re anxious about first reaching the sand, book a slot and learn the fundamentals of 4WD with the Australian Offroad Academy on the coastal and inland tracks of the island.
On Fraser Island, you’ll need to be wary of the tides, distances, and slippery beaches. Still, there’s so much to experience here. Our top picks for adventures with 4WD? 75 Mile Shore, McKenzie Lake and Central Station, Eurong, Eli Creek, and the Shipwreck of Maheno.
Great Sandy National Park, situated a little north of Noosa at Cooloola, seems to be a million miles away from fashionable Hastings Street and Main Beach at Noosa Heads. Great Sandy NP is a 4WD haven with plenty of beachside camping available at Inskip Point and Rainbow Beach, part of the Great Beach Drive, which links the Sunshine Coast, Gympie area, and Fraser Island. With its unique “moonscape” and the family-friendly swimming at Teewah Beach, don’t miss the fantastic coloured sand at Rainbow Beach, Carlo Sand Blow.
Byfield National Park, only a short drive from coastal Yeppoon, is one of Queensland’s best-loved 4WD havens. While most of the park and state forest is 2WD-accessible, if you’re heading for the beaches inside the national park, you’ll need a 4WD with formal suspension, a rescue kit, and plenty of off-road experience. Those running for Five Rocks Beach await long, sandy tracks and dangerous dunes; this is not a track for the faint-hearted.
The rugged Queensland outback is a haven for off-road enthusiasts with its deserted landscapes. To visit several of the most impressive national parks, such as Adventure National Park, Hell Hole Gorge National Park, and Boodjamulla National Park, one of the most underrated national parks in Queensland, you will need a 4WD.
The Birdsville Track is traversable in a 2WD with sufficient clearance, with the right road conditions. Nevertheless, it is advisable to tackle the 517 km route with a 4WD. No permits are necessary, but as there is only one fuel stop along the way, you will have to plan for the 10-hour trip and bring your own fuel with you. Nevertheless, it is well worth the effort. With technicolour sunsets, breathtaking landscapes, and great country watering holes, you’ll be rewarded!