Categories
Gear Guides

MAXTRAX vs TRED – Which is Better?

Lets face it if you are a keen 4WDer it is likely that you have been bogged at least once or twice during your time hitting the tracks and exploring Australia. It is no wonder that there are a large number of devices dedicated to getting us out of trouble. Recovery tracks such as MaxTrax and more recently TRED have gained some ‘traction’ in the market, but are they two identical products? Or does one brand offer better value for money over the other? We explore the differences between the two recovery devices and ask our fans for their vote.

BENEFIT SUMMARY

What features are better in one brand over the other?

MaxTrax

REPUTATION

Overall from the general comments when asking our fans of their preference it seems MaxTrax has a slightly better reputation and is used by more people than we spoke to over TRED.

STORAGE

MaxTrax seems to have more storage and accessory options when it comes to linking and harnessing the tracks into place.

WORKS ON BOTH SIDES

As both brands have issues with broken knobs MaxTrax has an advantage in that it can be turned upside down and work on both sided. This means if you wear out one set of knobs you can just turn it around on the other side and start again.

TRED

WARRANTY

TRED has a better warranty than MaxTrax, offering a lifetime warranty rather than a 2-year warranty

 PRICE

TRED offers 2 sizes with the 800 model being significantly cheaper and the 1100 model being approx. $70 cheaper than MaxTrax (RRP).

4 CHANNEL DESIGN  

While the MaxTrax has a three-channel design the TRED has a 4 channel design which is intended to provide more stability. So if your wheels or the boards move there is more chance of traction being maintained.

While researching the topic it seems in terms of performance both brands can have some issues with melting or broken knobs/teeth on occasion. The key with both brands is to keep momentum steady to reduce excessive wheel spin which generally is the cause of broken knobs. But overall performance seems good for both brands in terms of actual recovery when driven correctly. From looking at the comments below it is interesting to note when both MaxTrax and TRED were taken out on the field MaxTrax were lighter and easier to clean after the recovery itself. This may be due to clay and mud being more likely to become lodged in the TRED recovery tracks. From our research, it is also important to note there is a strong consensus that the MaxTrax second generation is superior to the first, so if you choose MaxTrax to ensure you are getting the second generation.

“MAXTRAX is the innovative, lightweight vehicle recovery device that’s Australian designed, engineered and manufactured, PATENTED and rigorously tested here and in the world’s toughest offroad events and expeditions; and now sold in 35 countries. Launched in Brisbane in 2005, MAXTRAX has been proven around the globe as the SAFE, SIMPLE, QUICK and EASY method of vehicle recovery from sand, mud and snow. Designed by multiple Australian Design Award-winning industrial designers in Brisbane and manufactured in Australia from high quality, super tough engineering-grade, UV-stabilized, reinforced Nylon, MAXTRAX are the trusted recovery device among 4WDrivers the world over.”

– Brad McCarthy, MaxTrax managing director

“Simply put, TRED has been designed from day one to be functional … from the TRED grip, to the handles, to the shovel … it’s all about being practical and easy to use.  We have also put a huge amount of time and our plastic engineering expertise into the design to ensure we could produce a product that was accessible to everyone. People simply don’t want to pay $300 for a plastic recovery device. Enter TRED”.

– Ty Hermans, Managing Director (The Evolve Group).

What the BillyGoat Community had to say:

“Maxtrax, Original and the best!”

– Nick Byard

“I haven’t used Treds so I can’t comment on them, the cheap stuff I have used is useless and a waste of time, money and space. My Maxtrax have copped a hammering from heaps of recoveries over the years, not always me being recovered, and they seem to be still holding up Ok. Maxtrax for me, for sure.”

– Steve Dinka

“They are all the same.”

– David Morrison

“You can easily get Treds for $200 or under, and Treads lugs don’t rip off like has been known to happen with Maxtrax.”

– Ian Kaslar

“I say Max as I had a set of Treds fail me, never had Max fail me, despite a tone of abuse”

– Glenn Moore

“Treds are a cheaper copy that aren’t cheap enough to make the trade off worth it. ”

– Nathan Harriss

 

Categories
Uncategorized

Which is Australia’s most difficult 4WD track?

Ellis Track, Wesburn, Victoria

The votes are in and it seems Ellis Track in Wesburn, Victoria has been voted Australia’s most difficult 4WD track by the BillyGoat 4WD Community.

With massive boulders, highly uneven terrain and ruts as deep as your hips, it is no wonder why Ellis Track has gained a reputation for being the hairiest track in Aus. The combination of mud and orange clay makes the track slippery and difficult to overcome. Gaining traction over the boulders can test even the most seasoned veterans among us. Add some rainfall to the mix and you have yourself a white knuckle, hair raising adventure.

Not for the faint-hearted!

This track is certainly not for the faint-hearted or those fearing panel damage, as most vehicles go home with quite a few dints and scratches.  Get a very thorough service before you go. Check and tighten everything.

You will need: 

  • a good set of muddies
  • minimum 35s
  • decent lift
  • lockers recommended
  • at least one vehicle in your convoy with a winch
  • at least 2 vehicles in your convoy (don’t attempt alone)

There is one thing you can be sure of when attempting Ellis, you will be guaranteed an unforgettable adventure!

Categories
Adventure Guides

Oodnadatta Track: The iconic Aussie Adventure

The Oodnadatta Track in South Australia is 620km of unsealed road running from the outback towns of Maree to Marla via the town of Oodnadatta and offers an iconic Outback Adventure.

“I think the great thing about this track is that there are a lot of ‘little’ stops along the way. Each unique in it’s own way”

— Ben Woods

It is this sense of discovery combined with the rich sense of history that makes the Oodnadatta Track an iconic Aussie Adventure. The track conditions tend to change drastically with the weather, so be sure to check conditions before you head off. The intermittent flood markers along the way stand as constant reminders of how much rain can impact this region, and the serious trouble you could face if hit by sudden rain. It is not uncommon to have floodwaters over a meter high engulfing the track.

Flood markers a reminder of drastic rainfall.

 

Things to see on Oodnadatta Track

The Old Ghan Railway
The Oodnadatta track roughly follows the former railway line of The Old Ghan Railway. Many remnants and ruins can be viewed along the way providing a portal into the past and painting a picture of a time gone by that shaped this magnificent region of Australia. The railway also played a major role during World War II transporting troops and equipment. Photographers and explorers will love discovering the rustic ruins and marvelling at the tales they have preserved over time.

The Old Ghan Railway.

Oodnadatta track follows The Old Ghan Railway and outlining some of the many ruins that can be discovered along the way.

Lake Eyre

As you approach the majestic Lake Eyre you will notice the bright white sand dunes reaching out over the horizon. Lake Eyre fills once every 25 years, however floodwaters can reach the Lake more often and lead to a spectacular sight contrasting the barren Aussie Outback. When filled to capacity Lake Eyre becomes the largest Lake in Australia.  If you are lucky enough to witness the filled Lake, it will no doubt rate as a highlight of your trip.  This is a great spot to stretch out the legs and explore.

“I guess that’s why we have done it four times, you keep finding highlights!! Lake Eyre full of floodwater certainly rates. ”

— Ben Woods

Mound Springs Conservation Park

Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs Conservation Park is worth adding to the ‘to do’ list. It can be accessed along a sidetrack about 4km off the Oodnadatta Track. Here you will view The Bubbler and Blanche Cup the two natural spring water holes, that form interesting natural mounds as the mineral-rich water seeps to the surface. If you have a trailer consider parking it to the side before entering as the road to the park is in terrible condition.

 

“So much to see along the track and what ever you do dot miss the Coward Springs water hole. ”

— Daniel Strickland
The Bubbler.

 

Camping on the Oodnadatta Track

“We camped in our camper trailer with our 5 kids that ranged from 11 down to 6 weeks of age! Usually the camp sites are at the back of the pubs in Maree, William Creek and Oodnadatta”

— Daniel Strickland

 

“Just completed this track a few days ago. Stayed at Maree. It was very full because it was the day before the Camel Cup, but very nice with hot showers. ”

— Lachlan Mitchell

Coward Springs Camping Area

Coward Springs Camping Area flourishes like an Oasis amongst the barren landscape and provides a great stay while exploring the Oodnadatta Track. Prue and Greg are the resident hosts who have lovingly restored this heritage listed property that was once a train station and planted native trees to add character and shade. Situated west of Lake Eyre, Coward Springs makes for a good stop off on your adventure. Here you will also find a small spa built into the natural springs, which offers a perfect spot to take a refreshing dip.

“William Creek pub is well worth an overnight stop!”

— Troy Mckay

Quirky Surprises

The Oodnadatta Track would not be complete without the fabulously quirky attractions along the way. Here is just a snapshot:

Tips from the Community:

The general theme when speaking to people about their experience is to really set some good time aside to take in all the little stops and quirky attractions the Oodnandatta track has to offer.   Set aside at least 3-4 days and enjoy each little stop-off and piece of Aussie history this region has to offer.

“Take your time and take your rubbish, this is dingo country. It is a little sad seeing rubbish being left behind by campers, only to have the dingos spread it everywhere. ”

— Ben Woods

“Bag out and don’t speed. ”

— Adam Peter Hinchliff

“We did the oodnadatta track last year over 3 days. One tip I would give would to give yourself more time. When visiting the old telegraph station leave your camper at the entry to this side track…gets a bit rough in parts and easier without. Pack a face fly net…William Creek flies are horrendous.”

— Daniel Strickland

“First tip would be don’t try driving into Peak Creek! Was there in January, stuck for 18 hours, in 50+ degree heat!”

— Troy Mckay

“My only tips are take your time on the roads and have fun whilst it is still as beautiful out here as it is now.”

— Lachlan Mitchell

 

Categories
Adventure Guides

Everything You Need To Know about 4WD & Camping on Fraser Island

Access to Fraser Island

Vehicle access to Fraser Island is by Ferry (Barge) only. Barges can be boarded from the West or South of the Island.

From River Heads

Fraser Island Barges depart at set times from River Heads. Cost is roughly $160 return per vehicle with 3 passengers Additional charges apply for more passengers and those towing boats or trailers.

From River Heads you can choose Barges to either Wanggoolba Creek or Kingfisher Bay Resort. Advanced bookings are required: Ph: 1800 227 437.

From Inskip Point

Ferries depart from Inskip Point via Rainbow Beach from 6:00 am to 5:30 pm every day and carry vehicles to Hook Point, the southern point of the island. The crossing takes approximately 10 minutes. Charges do apply but bookings are not necessary. If you need somewhere to camp before embarking on your adventure, Ross Hendry also recommends camping at Inskip Point. Great inexpensive camping and excellent fishing spot.

If you have a limited time to spend on the Island, getting on and off from the West is recommended as you will enter directly in the centre of the Island, accessing some of the best attractions and conserving petrol. However, if you have a good amount of time to explore and are planning an epic Fraser Trip coming in from the South will also allow you to explore Rainbow Beach and surrounding areas.

Beach Driving on Fraser Island

Top Ten Tips when 4WDing on Fraser:

1)  Permits are required for beach driving at Fraser Island. They can be obtained from the Queensland Parks Booking Website and should be obtained in advance.

2) Give your vehicle a very good service before heading off. Check and grease EVERYTHING under your vehicle before going. Replacing parts or repairing your vehicle can be an expensive exercise on Fraser and can ruin your long-anticipated trip.

Look out for planes taking off and landing on the beach. From our awesome Facebook fan Stephen Andrews.

3) Vehicle preparation: Ground clearance enhancement would be highly recommended. In terms of tyres, a good set of all terrains will serve you better than an aggressive set of Muddies. Ensure you have recovery points both front and back.

4) Ensure you pack all of the recovery gear needed. For more info on recovery gear needed read MUDMAP’s BEACH DRIVING GUIDE

Avoid Driving at High Tide, from our mate Stephen Andrews

5) Before you head off check track conditions and closures thoroughly. Fraser is prone to severe weather impact and conditions can change rapidly. Hazards are common as are track closures. To check current conditions: DOWNLOAD THE PDF and READ PARK ALERTS.

6) Be familiar with tide times and have plans on timing to ensure you have clear access to and from your destination. Simply only drive on the beach at low tide. The risk of a rollover or falling into a deep wash-away is too great at high tide.

7)  Make sure you know where you can and can’t drive before you get somewhere (ie. top end you can’t drive further than the lighthouse.) Makes for a decent effort to get up there, then nowhere to go but back. Which you can’t do if you get the tide wrong. If you do drive to sandy camp/lighthouse leave as the tides are going out and don’t linger too long or be prepared to camp somewhere.

8) Get decent mapping and GPS navigation equipment. We recommend the Billy Goat 4WD mapping app for iPhone and iPad. It highlights all camping areas and facilities, including relevant 4WD tracks and no driving zones of Fraser Island. Giving you the ability to plan your trip and navigate in confidence.

9)  Look out for planes landing and taking off on the beach. Above photo sent in by Stephen Andrews shows just how close they can get to 4WDs on the beach.

10) As soon as you have finished beach driving give your vehicle a very good wash. Ensure you use a strong blaster and remove all excess sand and saltwater. This will be easier on your mechanic and your wallet in the long run as serious damage can result from the residue. – Richard Cluley and Tim Dudes

Fraser Island Attractions

Maheno Shipwreck

The grand Maheno was built in 1904, weighing a massive 5, 323 tonnes. After she was launched she held the blue ribbon in trans-Atlantic crossing. She then served as a hospital ship during World War 1.  Now this magnificent wreck rests on the coast of Fraser Island providing a portal into the past.  Capturing a photo of your beloved 4WD next to this towering ship is a must.

Champagne Pools

These naturally formed shallow rock pools provide a popular swimming spot. The ocean crashes into the surrounding rocks and fills the pools with bubbly foamy water, hence the name ‘Champagne Pools’. The pools are located just north of Indian Heads, along 75 mile beach and are certainly worth adding to the ‘To Do’ list while on Fraser Island.

Champagne Pools, great swimming spot, from our lovely facebook fan Kellie Smith

The Pinnacles

Out of all of Fraser Island’s beautiful landmarks, the Pinnacle Coloured Sands are one of the most breathtaking.  Best viewed in morning light, the sands are a photographer’s delight. They have formed over hundreds of thousands of years as the elements interacted with minerals on the exposed sand dunes.

The Pinnacles Fraser Island. From our good friends at Austrail4X4

Lake McKenzie

Lake McKenzie is one of the most iconic destinations of Fraser Island. This stunning freshwater lake with crystal clear water and perfect white sand makes for the ideal spot to relax and gaze in ore at the magnificent beauty Fraser has to offer.

Lake McKenzie, crystal clear water, from your friends at 4X4 Australia

“Don’t drive dad’s 3 week old BMW on Fraser. Just because all wheels turn does not make it a 4WD. Just ask the 18 year old I scull dragged back to the shore from lake Mckenzie. It was a write off”  

– James Thomo Thompson

Eli Creek

Eli Creek is the largest freshwater stream on the east coast of Fraser Island. It can be viewed via wooden walkways that snake around the edges of its immaculate natural beauty.  The swiftly flowing creek is a popular spot for walks, picnics and swimming. Swimming at the far end on the boardwalk can make for a very refreshing experience of a hot day.

Fishing

Fraser Island is renowned for it’s rich and diverse fish population. Freshwater fishing is prohibited on the island but ocean fishing is welcomed.

Popular fishing spots on Fraser Island include Indian Head, Sandy Cape, Waddy Point and Middle Rocks, north-east of the Island.  These spots are home to bream, mackerel, shark and tailor and are very popular with anglers in particular between July and October when tailor are abundant.  During peak times fishing can become quite crowded so you may wish to explore around and find your own sweet fishing spot.

Over to the west of the island toward Wathumba flathead, bream and whiting maybe your catch of the day.

Whether you are new to fishing or a seasoned angler, be sure to pack your rod.  As no Fraser trip is complete without a little spot of fishing.

Camping on Fraser Island

According to Chris Yeo permits are required for camping at Fraser Island.  It is recommended that you book your campsites well in advance by visiting the  Queensland Parks Booking Website.

Lighting Fires

According to Adam Peter Hinchliff, fires are not permitted in the majority of campsites around Fraser Island. Fines of up to $500 apply to those lighting fires in restricted areas. Hence it is recommended that you bring a portable BBQ or camper stove with you. There are a small number of sites that do allow you to light fires in designated fire rings such as Waddy Point and Dundubara.  If you do book one of these sites make sure you bring your own firewood as collecting firewood on Fraser Island is prohibited and purchasing firewood on the Island can be quite pricey.

Keep it clean

Elena Leong suggests taking all rubbish out of the island as litter can be harmful to the environment and spoil the natural beauty of the island.

Drinking Water on Fraser Island

Ensure you bring your own drinking water and containers when camping on Fraser Island.  All water collected from the island must be treated prior to drinking. This includes water collected from taps, lakes or streams. There are water taps at Central Station, Dundubara and Waddy Point Campgrounds and at day-use areas. There is also a water collection tap in front of Eurong Information Centre.  To treat collected water you can use water treatment tablets or boil the water for 10-15 minutes.

National Park Run Campgrounds

National Park Campsites and Fraser Island require pre-booking via the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Website. These sites provide basic facilities such as toilets, picnic areas, BBQs, running water and showers. Make sure you bring plenty of dollar coins with you if you want hot showers. There are also numerous signed campsites along the beach which make for beautiful spots to set up for the night. These sites do not provide the same facilities as National Park Campsites and require visitors to take all rubbish back with them.

Waddy Point

Waddy Point is situated on the northern edge of Fraser Island and according to Darren Magor it is a great place to camp. Pre-booking a site here is well worth it as it one of the few places on Fraser Island that allows for fires to be lit in concrete pots at each camp spot. Darren recommends bringing your own fire wood as collecting and burning of wood from Fraser Island is not permitted,  and can be extremely expensive to purchase at Orchid Beach. Waddy point is only one 1km away from Indian Head, which is an awesome fishing spot. Also a great place to camp when visiting Champagne Pools.

Indian Head a stunning beach and great fishing spot, from our great Facebook fan Kellie Smith

Dundaburra

Set in coastal woodland, Dundaburra is one of the few fenced-off campgrounds around Fraser. Some of the facilities here include hot showers, gas barbecues, phone access and a rangers station. There are large areas for big groups as well as access for camper trailers.  There are also communal fire pots that can be used to light fires, however, no fires are permitted outside of these fire rings.  Advanced booking well in advance is essential.

Wathumba Creek

Great camping spot for boat owners. With boat access and boat camping available.

Central Station

Central Stations is the site of an old logging station. The area is rich in history and there are many interesting historical landmarks to explore in the area. Central Station has a beautiful walk that takes you into Basin Lake. Visitors can follow the winding boardwalk and take in the surrounding sub-tropical vegetation and marvel at the stunning crystal clear water of Wanggoolba Creek which runs alongside.

Wanggoolba Creek

4WD TIP:

CHECK PUDDLES before you drive into them. I had one mate submarine his vehicle and put a wave OVER his roof & snorkel. Thankfully it was short and smooth bottom in and out. He was able to momentum through it, but definitely a scare.

-Tim Dudes

Lake Boomanjin

Lake Boomanjin Camping Area is set in open forest surrounds. Facilities include toilets, cold showers and day-use area.

Private Campgrounds

Frasers at Cathedral Beach

Frasers at Cathedral Beach is one of the few privately owned campgrounds on the Island.  It provides a range of accommodation from basic non-powered campsites to cabins.  Unlike Dilli Village, it is not fenced off against dingoes. Here you will find a well-stocked store, laundry facilities, camp oven, toilet and shower blocks.

Dilli Village

Dilli Village provides guests with cabin accommodation, bunk accommodation, powered and unpowered campsites. Clean amenities blocks with hot and cold showers. Picnic tables, barbeques and shaded areas enable guests to make the most of outdoor dining and entertaining. Dilli Village is also fenced off against dingoes. However, being a private campground sites are more expensive than National Park Camping Grounds.

“Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints”

— Bec Mitchell Milne

Dingoes on Fraser Island

The infamous local residents of the island, the Fraser Island dingoes, are to be treated with respect, but also with caution. 

“Dingoes are well rude. Ripped in to our tent with us asleep in it. Tore our sleeping bags and freaked us out. All food was in the car so no excuses.”

— Peter Owens

Handy Dingo tips

  • Keep all of your food in sealed containers, preferably with metal latches.

  • Keep your campsite tidy, it reduces the temptation for dingoes to sniff around.

  • Never store food inside your tent.

  • Ensure human waste is buried very deeply as dingoes have a habit of digging it back up. Consider bringing a porta-potty, or use a campsite with assigned toilets.

  • Keep all children under 12 years old in sight at all times.

  • Prepare your children on appropriate behaviour around dingoes well in advance.

  • If you are very worried about your children’s safety around dingoes at night you may consider camping at one of the fenced-off camping areas around Fraser Island.

If you feel threatened by a dingo

  • Stay calm.

  • Stand to your full height and fold your arms in front of you.

  • Face the dingoes at all time. If you are in a group stand back to back.

  • Do not run or wave your arms as dingoes may see this as a cue to attack.

  • Back away slowly.

If a dingo does attack you  

According to the Queensland Government’s recommendations if a dingo does attack, you should:

  • Defend yourself aggressively as you are fighting for your life

  • Try to strike the dingo with an object within reach such as a large stick or your backpack.

  • If you are bitten seek medical help as soon as possible and report the incident to a ranger.

Dingo Mating Season

Negative dingo behaviour tends to increase during the dingo mating season. Be particularly cautious around the Easter school holiday period. If you are with young children and are worried you may choose to stay at one of the fenced-off campgrounds at Fraser Island.

Dingo joining in for a spot of fishing: From our good friends at Austrail 4X4

“When we took our kids we gave them all whistles that hung around their neck. They were always within our sight , but giving them whistles gave us and them some peace of mind knowing that if a dingo, snake etc come close they could quickly “whistle us” and we knew it was urgent.”

— Bec ‘Mitchell’ Milne

A big thank you to everyone that sent in their amazing pics: Stephen Andrews, Kellie Smith, Peter Thomas, Stuart Freer, Ashley Lipus, James Thomo Thompson and Kyle Young. Also, a special thank you to our friends at Austrail 4X4 for their fantastic contribution.

A huge thank you to the 4wd community that contributed to writing this Blog: 

Halee Mxx, Garry Freeman, Chris Nesbit, Brett Degney, Edward Bramich, Carl Sullivan, Trevor Tricky Buchanan, Jacob Scrivener, Brett Degney, Ian Don, Brody Dilligaf Neill,  Adam Peter Hinchliff  Doucea Usatov, Jordan Paterson, Martin Henderson, Chris Yeo,  Dion Hetherington,  Paul Kelly,  Dallas Ryan,  Brett Degney, Darren Magor, Stuart Freer, Dave Smith, Bec ‘Mitchell’ Milne, Ashley Lipus, Julie East, Matt Flynn, Terrie Parker, Peter Owens, Stephen Colley, Sarah Colley, Stuart Jones, Ron Mcculloch, Rod Nash, Elena Leong,  Ross Hendry, Tracey Stewart, Ryan Lynch, Todd Moyle, Richard Cluley, Rod Hewish, Scott Hissey, Peter Thomas, Dylan Berglund, Cheryl Yeoman, Ron Kaisar, Tim Dudes, Daniel Bush, Damien Walters, Pat Evans, Stephen Andrews, Kelly Cameron, Greg Gall, Daniel Ivins, Dan Ahlsen, Bruce Fuller, Brett Degney, James Thomo Thompson, Kyle Young

Categories
Adventure Guides

Barrington Tops 4WD & Camping | Everything You Need To Know

Barrington Tops National Park at a Glance

Nearby Population Centres

  • Gloucester (nearest town)
  • Sydney (3hr drive – 262kms)
  • Newcastle (2hr – 116kms)
  • Port Macquarie (2.5hrs – 190kms)

Trip Duration & Difficulty

  • Easy to very difficult (route dependent)
  • Overnight

Essential Gear

  • Capable 4WD or AWD
  • Recover equipment
  • GPS, Maps and compass

Best time of year to visit

Spring is the best season, however local weather is known to be erratic so come prepared.

Attractions

Mountain Maid Gold Mine

The Mountain Maid Gold Mine is one destination that comes highly recommended by Rhonda Blackwell, a local that is proud to call Barrington tops her backyard. Although the mine is now closed, it remains a portal into the past and an excellent spot for the family to uncover hidden treasures. Rhonda fondly recalls finding a gold nugget attached to a small piece of quartz that she now wears around her neck, and estimates to be valued at $460. She also tells a story of how a small child found a massive nugget while he was playing downstream with his family around seven years ago. It becomes easy to see just why our ancestors caught the gold rush fever those many years ago. Panning for gold makes for great fun, just watch out for the leaches when panning in the creek.  

Goldmining Heritage, Copeland Tops National Park
“It didn’t take long to persuade my hubby to bring us back with some gold panning gear! Awesome fun…”

— Rhonda Blackwell

Thunderbolt’s Lookout  

You can take the challenging walk up to Thunderbolt’s Lookout which starts from Nomads Picnic area. The last part of the walk is quite a challenging climb up large rock formations. Once at the top the 360-degree panoramic views are breathtaking and a great reward for your hard work. On the way back down you can relax and have lunch amongst the shady trees of Nomads Picnic area.

Ladies Well

Ladies well provides a stunning spot to unwind and take in the magnificent scenery. A great spot to perch up on the rocks and watch the water cascade down into the pool below. Also a wonderful spot to take a refreshing swim in the warmer months. 

Ladies Well Barrington Tops National Park. Sent in by our mate Brett Gambrill. 

Polblue Swamp Walk

Polblue Swamp Walking Track, Barrington Tops National Park. Photo NSW Government. 

This easy to follow 3km loop boardwalk can be accessed from Polblue campground and Picnic Area. It will guide you through the mistic wetlands and high altitude forests of the Barrington Tops Plateau. A great platform for spotting wombats, kangaroos and the diverse flora and fauna of this spectacular region. Allow approximately one and a half hours to complete the walk, after which you can enjoy a picnic with family and friends at the picnic area and unwind. 

Gloucester Falls  

The spectacular Gloucester Falls can be discovered by following the Gloucester Falls walking track. The walk begins from the nearby picnic area and takes approximately one hour each way. This relaxed walk is ideal for the whole family to explore the lush sub-alpine forest and marvel at the breathtaking views from the Andrew Laurie Lookout. Continue along the track to uncover the multilevel water cascade offered by Gloucester Falls.  

The stunning Gloucester Falls, Barrington Tops National Park.  Photo from ecobiological.com.au.

Upon your return, you can enjoy a picnic at Gloucester Falls Picnic Area. Toilets and picnic tables are available here for you to enjoy. 

Barrington Tops Camping  

One of the highlights of Barrington Tops is the scenic camping. 

“Awesome place to camp and 4wd. It snows in winter and good tracks and lovely camp sites. One of my favourites is not too far from Barrington which is Frying Pan Creek camping ground.”
– Ryan Bourke

Camping near Ladies Well

Camping near Ladies Well offers great swimming, fishing and scenic views. 

Allyn River Camp Ground 

Situated in the lower Barrington’s, Chichester State Forest, Allyn River campground is a great first stop on your way to exploring Barrington Tops. This is a free campsite and is dog friendly, so feel free to bring you 4 legged best friend along.  Great access to the stunning Ladies Well and great for spotting wildlife. Bring your own firewood.  

Facilities:  

  • Water  
  • Toilets
  • Campfire Sites  
“We went at the end of April, the days were warm the nights chilly but great with a campfire. Kids loved it too, nice swimming holes. We want to go back.”

— Anthony Getleman

Camping near Thunderbolts Lookout
Manning River Campground 

Facilities:  

  • Picnic Tables  
  • Water (treat before drinking)
  •  Fire pits
Devil’s Hole Campground

With an altitude of around 1,400 m, Devil’s Hole campground is one of the highest camping spots in Australia.  It provides access to Devil’s hole lookout, an easy walk that leads to a large viewing platform with magnificent views of the peaks.  Toilets and picnic tables available at the day-use area.

Facilities:  

  • Fire pits  
Gummi Falls Campground 

Beautiful setting by the river and close proximity to Gummi Falls.  This grassy spot is ideal for the self-sufficient camper and provides a scenic sanctuary perfect for fishing, swimming and spotting the diverse wildlife in the area.  

Facilities:  

  • Picnic Tables 
  • Drop toilets  
  • Wood barbecues 

Camping Near Gloucester Falls  

Gloucester River Camp Ground

This is a scenic riverside camping and picnic area situated on the eastern edge of Barrington Tops National Park. This wide-open space allows you to pick your ideal spot by the river among towering trees providing welcome shade from the afternoon sun.  The site allows trailer and caravan access making it ideal for groups of all ages and vehicle levels.    

Facilities Available:  

  • Picnic Tables  
  • Free Electric BBQ  
  • Drop Toilets  
“Gloucester River Camp Ground is a great spot to stay. Excellent facilities and not too far to drive to the Roundabout Inn, Gloucester for their terrific pizzas.”
– Steve Poole

Camping near Polblue Swamp Walk

Polblue Campground

Set in the picturesque subalpine forest, with lovely grassy picnic area and access to Polblue Swamp Walking Trail and Barrington Trail (4WD track).  This spacious ground caters for caravans, trailers and tents.  A great scenic spot perfect for a picnic or barbecue and great for families.  

Facilities Available:  

  • Picnic tables  
  • Wood Barbecues (BYO firewood)  
  • Free Electric Barbecues  
  • Drop Toilets  
“We stayed in tents on the other side of the Tops called “Frying Pan Creek” at Telegherry (Chichester state Forest) with my family, we went on a push bike adventure & loved the scenery. At night we took our Torches & spotted some amazing & scary things! The river is wide at dotted with different sized boulders.. You can swim during summer & if your crazy you can swim during winter, or do what ever you like for that matter? ”
– Rhonda Blackwell

4WD Track Notes

  • Most tracks closed from June to 30th of September, so best time to access 4WD tracks is between October and May.  Coming in winter can still be fun to check out the snow.
  • Ensure you check park closure information thoroughly before you go as opening times are only a rough guide and tracks are subject to closure with little notice in the event of harsh unpredictable conditions.   
  • Accurate GPS device is highly recommended as signage in the area is poor, and many tracks are hidden and difficult to find. 
“Love the place, snows in winter and plenty of creek crossings”
— Terry Callen

Barrington Tops Trail 4WD Track

Possibly the most iconic 4WD track in the Barrington Tops National Park. This track will take you from the lower Barringtons up to Tomalla road intersection.  

Track Rating:  

Moderate  

Open Times: 

From October to May annually (check park closures before going)   

Track Features:  

  • access to numerous campsites  
  • scenic drive 
  • river crossings 


Categories
Adventure Guides

Ultimate 4WD & Camping Guide to North Stradbroke Island

North Stradbroke Island at a Glance

Trip Duration & Difficulty
  • Half-day minimum
  • Easy to Moderate (Decent vehicle clearance advisable)
Essential Gear
  • Capable 4WD or AWD
  • Tyre gauge, air compressor, shovel
  • Recover equipment
  • GPS, Maps and compass
Longest distance without fuel
  • 40kms
Best time of year to visit
  • Anytime.
  • High season during school holidays and tailor fishing season (Spring and Summer)
4WD Tracks

  1. Flinders Beach
  2. Main Beach
  3. Tripod Track
Campgrounds
  1. Adams beach campground, Dunwich (rating)
  2. Adder rock & cylinder beach campground, Point lookout
  3. Amity point campground, Amity
  4. Bradbury beach campground, Dunwich
  5. Flinders beach foreshore camping area
  6. Homebeach campground, Point lookout
  7. Main beach foreshore camping area

Download this Trip Guide for offline use on your iPhone or iPad with the BillyGoat 4WD & Camping app.

About North Stradbroke Island

North Stradbroke Island, commonly referred to as Straddie, is located in Moreton Bay, 30kms southeast of Brisbane CBD. Spanning an area of 275 sq kilomertres, it’s the second-largest sand island in the world. Minjerribah is the Aboriginal name for the island, which translates to “island of the sun.” 

With its stunning beaches, lakes’ and natural beauty, the island has plenty to offer visitors all year around. Being so close to Brisbane, it’s usually packed during school holidays. Additionally, it’s also popular as a fishing destination, attracting many angulars during tailor fishing season between spring and summer.

A network of paved roads connects the three small townships (Dunwich, Amity, and Point Lookout) on the island and major attractions. Vehicles are allowed on Flinders beach on the north shoreline and Main beach on the island’s east coast. Make sure to buy a permit before driving on either beach. Tripod Lookout, accessible via a 4wd track running through the island, offers stunning panoramic views and is worth visiting.

A range of accommodation is available for those looking to stay overnight. There are also plenty of campgrounds to choose from, including camping on the foreshore! Reservations are essential so be sure to book ahead.

4G coverage is pretty good along the shore. However, coverage can get a bit patchy in the interior of the island. 

Getting to North Stradbroke Island

A barge transporting visitors and vehicles to and from Straddie departs from Toondah Harbour, Cleveland, in east Brisbane, about a 40min drive from the CBD. Barges depart on an hourly basis with more services added for weekends and school holidays. The barge will head east across Moreton Bay and arrive at Dunwich, the main township on Straddie. A one-way ride usually takes about 50 mins.

Tip: Discounts are available for booking ahead of time. For pricing, timetables and to make a booking, visit the operator’s website.

Image from stradbrokeferries.com.au

Map of North Stradbroke Island

Download this Trip Guide for offline use on your iPhone or iPad with the BillyGoat 4WD & Camping app

4WD Tracks

Stradbroke Island offers two stretches of beach and an inland track for the keen 4WDer.

Beach access points are usually covered by soft sand. Lower your tyre pressures before venturing out.

Vehicle access permits are required for 4WDing on Flinders and Main beaches. Just like driving on regular roads, the same road rules apply when driving on the beach. Vehicles are not allowed on other beaches.

Driving on sand is different from driving on hard surfaces. You will need a 4WD vehicle. Be alert and familiar with sand-driving techniques, and only travel at low tide times, stay on harder sand, do not drive or park in the water or the dunes, and slow down for other beach users and wildlife.

Flinders Beach

Running along the northern edge of North Stradbroke Island, Flinders beach is the shorter (7kms) of the two beaches where 4WD vehicles are permitted. A vehicle access permit is required to drive on the beach and can be purchased online.

Photo credit: @lotzies_on_tour

There are three separate access points onto Flinders beach; Amity Point, Adder Rock, and Flinders beach township. Try to avoid the Amity Point access point where possible as it’s often closed due to frequent erosion from tides. 

Before heading onto the beach, make sure your vehicle is well prepared, and you have dropped your tyre pressures accordingly. Once on the beach, the sand is usually quite firm, perfect for cruising but stay below the limit of 40 km/h. The beach is a natural surface, which is different from a paved road. Always be alert, especially around hide tide, which can cause sharp cutaways to form. 

Main Beach 

As the name suggests, Main beach is the longest beach on Straddie. It runs along the eastern coastline of the island and spans an impressive 38 kilometres!

Photo credit: @tripinavan

Vehicle access to Main beach is possible at two points. There is an access point at the northern end of the beach, near Point Lookout. The other access point is off Alfred Martin Way, roughly two-thirds of the way up the island. Soft sand covers both access points and will require a considered approach. Once on the beach, the sand is usually firm and there are no creek crossings to worry about. This is not an invitation to hoon so make sure to stay below the 60 km/h limit.

Tripod Track & Lookout

Tripod track is the only inland 4WD track on the island. The track runs through the interior of the island, over sandy dunes covered in dense vegetation. Its two access points are off East Coast Road to the north or off Alfred Martin Way in the south. 

The overall track surface is generally firm and offers an easy drive. After a dry spell, its sandy track surface tends to loosen up, providing some challenges. 

Tripod Lookout is a standout highlight on this drive. As a result of its elevation, this informal outpost offers spectacular panoramic views of the island. Definitely worth checking out!

Download this Trip Guide for offline use on your iPhone or iPad with the BillyGoat 4WD & Camping app

Amity Point

Amity is a small seaside village at the north-west edge of the island. It’s popular with young families looking to spend some time in the calm waters of the enclosure. 

Photo credit: @ahtheserenity

For the more active, heading out for a paddle in a rented kayak is always a fun way to explore the coastal waters. If you are lucky, you may even spot the occasional dolphin gliding through these waters.

Whatever it is you end up doing, make sure not to miss a sunset here. It’s truly a spectacular view and well worth checking out.

Point Lookout

Point outlook is well known for its coal sea views, fantastic surf beaches, land-based beautiful North Gorge walk and lively cafes and restaurants. 

North Gorge walk is the best land-based vantage point for watching dolphins, mantra rays, turtles and humpback whales migrating along the east coast of Australia between June to November.

North Gorge Walk is the best land-based vantage point for watching Whales & Dolphins

Brown Lake

Location: 4km east of Dunwich. 

How does the lake get its brown colour?

Paperbark and Tea-trees surround Brown Lake, whos leaves fall and end up lining the bottom of the lake. Tannins within the leaves mix with water, resulting in the signature rich brown, tea-like colour.

Legend of Brownlake

Brown Lake (Bummiera – Aboriginal name) is one of the two largest lakes on North Stradbroke Island. According to Aboriginal legend, the lake is home to Yuri Kabool, an immense snake spirit. 

Activities

The lake is a popular spot for visitors looking to soak up its picturesque scenery. It’s an ideal spot for a bit of lunch. Bring a picnic, kick back and relax before heading out to explore the rest of the island.

If you are looking to stretch those legs, there’s a short walking trail along the lake that takes about 15mins to complete.

Download this Trip Guide for offline use on your iPhone or iPad with the BillyGoat 4WD & Camping app

Beach driving Tips

Driving on the beach is very different from driving on paved road surfaces. There’s a lot more to it than simply turning on 4×4 then stepping on the load pedal. Driving on the sand, when done correctly, is relatively easy on your vehicle and its drivetrain. However, when done incorrectly, the risk of spending hours recovering and damaging your vehicle is very real. For those without much sand driving experience, we’ve put together a handful of tips so you can hit the soft stuff with confidence.

Beach Driving Gear

Beach driving is relatively accessible. Most 4×4 and All wheel drive vehicles, without modifications or low range gearing, are more than capable of traversing both beaches on Straddie. While a fairly basic vehicle is sufficient, having essential beach driving gear in your vehicle, at all times is critical. These include…

  • Shovel
  • UHF Radio
  • Recovery gear
  • Air-compressor
  • Traction aids such as MaxTrax is not a must-have but do come in handy for recovery
Tyre Pressure

The most useful advice for driving on sand is to lower tyre pressures before hitting the soft stuff. Letting air out of tyres causes them to bulge, increasing its contact area, resulting in more traction. Similar to how snowshoes work, the increased contact area distributes the vehicle’s weight over a larger surface, reducing the tendency for your tyres to sink into the soft sand.

A good rule of thumb is to drop your pressures by 50% for soft sand. Once back on the black stuff, remember to reinflate your tyres back up to normal pressure with an air-compressor.

Rule of thumb. Reduce tyre pressure by 50% before driving through soft sand.

Momentum Is Your Friend

In most off-road conditions, torque is more important than horsepower. This is not so for sand driving. Wheel speed translates to forward momentum, which reduces the chance your vehicle becoming bogged in soft sand. To save potentially hours of recovery effort, avoid stopping while on soft sand. If you must stop, steer your vehicle onto a firmer part of the beach before stopping.

Stick to Formed Tracks

When cruising along the beach, it’s advisable to stick to driving over formed tracks left by other vehicles. Sand in these tracks has been compressed by other vehicles, which makes for a smooth ride and a comfortable cruise.

Stick to formed track where the sand has been compacted by previous vehicles.

Washouts & Water Crossings

The beach is a natural surface shaped by natural forces. Changing tides can often leave behind washouts which you may have to cross. These may look shallow and harmless but can often be deceptive. Running water can hide deep holes and other obstacles along the bottom. For this reason, always walk the washout before attempting to drive through. During your walkthrough, take note of any potential risks. 

Obey Road Rules

It may surprise some that road rules are in full effect on the beaches of Stradbroke Island. On that note, keep left of all oncoming vehicles. Flinders beach has a limit of 40 km/h while the limit on Main Beach is higher at 60 km/h

4WD Permits

Required to access Minjerribah Recreation Area and onto Flinders Beach or Main Beach.

  1. 1 month – $53.65 per vehicle 
  2. 12 months – $160.80 per vehicle

Get a permit -> The quickest way to buy a beach access permit is online at the Straddie Camping website.

First Timer Tips
  • Lower your tyre pressures!
  • Turn off traction control!
  • Don’t drive on the beaches one hour either side of high tide. Click here to tide times
  • If you do end up beached and need a hand shaking the sand loose, RACQ has a car on the island that can help you. Call RACQ on 13 11 11

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Categories
Adventure Guides

A weekend adventure in the Victorian High Country – Licola to Dargo

Trip Duration

  • 2 Nights

Essential Gear 

  • Capable 4WD with low range
  • Recover equipment
  • Good off-road tyres
  • Plenty of food, water and warm clothes!
  • GPS, Maps and compass

Itinerary

Day 1

  • Getting to Licola – Entry point into the Victorian High Country
  • 1st night – Camp along the Wellington River just north of Licola

Day 2

  • Bennison Lookout
  • Pinnacles Lookout & Firetower
  • Billy Goat Bluff Track
  • Crooked River Track
  • Talbotville – Camp overnight – Historical township from the gold rush era

Day 3

  • Grant – Historical township from the gold rush era
  • Dargo

Difficulty / Driver Experience

It’s recommended that this trip is embarked on by intermediate to advanced drivers and navigators in two or more capable 4WDs with low range and appropriate recovery gear.

Overview

The Victorian High Country is a premier camping and 4WD destination that combines breath taking scenery with some of the most spectacular 4WD tracks. Located just 3 hours drive from Melbourne, it’s also extremely accessible, even for a quick weekend adventure. Like a highlight reel, this 3 night 4WD and camping trip through the high Country will lead you to a number of iconic, must visit places. Such a trip is perfect for a long weekend and provides a real taste of what the High Country has to offer.

Where abouts is the High Country?

The Victorian High Country covers a large part of South-Eastern Victoria, ‎with much of the area only accessible via a 4WD. With a huge range of tracks and campsites on offer, the majority of which are completely free of charge, the high country is truly one of the premier camping and 4WDing destinations in Australia.

Best time of year to Visit the High Country?

Being an Alpine region, winters in the Victorian High Country are undoubtly cold. The For this reason, most of the 4WD tracks in the region are closed for from the start of June to November. Parks Victoria website keeps a detailed list of road and track closures. As tracks re-open, they are often slippery and treacherous in some places, especially after any amounts of rain, care and patience must be taken. This is not a problem during hotter months, as the tracks dry out and become quiet dusty. 

Day 1 – Licola, Victorian High Country

The adventure starts at Licola, which is located on the South Eastern edge of the High Country, about a 3 hour drive from Melbourne. This is your last chance to refuel and pickup any last minute supplies from the General Store. Both Diesel and Unleaded types are available. There are plenty shady parks with rest areas nearby for lunch or a quick stop over.

From Licola, head North on the Tamboritha Road for 13kms and you will reach Currawong Camp, which is the first of several scenic campgrounds in the Wellington River Camping area. This is a fantastic option for your first overnight camp.

Wellington River Campgrouds – Victorian High Country

The Wellington River Camping area offers a dozen campgrounds, spread out along a 10km stretch of the river bank. 

Outside of peak periods such as summer long weekends or Easter, there should be plenty of availability to setup camp. Finding each campground is straight forward since all campgrounds are clearly sign posted and easily visible from Tamboritha Road.

Day 2

Image: @andykdoughty

After a night around the campfire, head out east along Tamboritha Road until you reach Bennison Lookout, which is worth a stop as it offers fantastic views towards Lake Tali Karng, Mount Wellington and the Razorback.

Continuing along the high plains on Tamboritha Road and you will arrive at Arbuckle Junction. At this point, turn slightly right onto Moroka Road and continue to head east. 12km from Arbuckle Junction is MacFarland Saddle, which is the trail head for the Lake Tali Karang walking track.

Lake Tali Karng is a hidden jewel nestled deep in the mountains of Gippsland, fed by snowmelt waters of the Wellington Plains. The lake is one of Victoria’s deepest natural lakes and is believed to have been formed about 1500 years ago when a massive rock slide collapsed into the valley damming the waters of Nigothoruk Creek above Wellington River. The walking track is a 31km round trip on foot and takes most hikers 2 days.

Image: @rileystewart

Pinnacles Lookout and Fire tower

From MacFarland Saddle Carpark, continue along Moroka Road for another 14kms and you will cross the Bridget that spans Moroka River. Keep going for another 15 kms and you will reach the Pinnacles Lookout and Fire tower. At this point, park your 4WD and head out on foot. Its a short but steep walk up to the fire tower lookout perched on a rocky summit. When you arrive, you will be rewarded by breathtaking panoramic views of the High Country. On a clear day, you can see as far as Gippsland Lakes, Mt Hotham to the north and the settled areas of the Wonnangatta Valley far below.

Image: @visitmelbourne.com

After a selfie fill session at the Pinnacles lookout, head back down the same road until you reach the turn off for Billy Goat Bluff track. Now its time to prepare for some adrenaline filled 4WDing ahead!

Billy Goat Bluff Track

Image: @racins_adventures

Track Facts

  • Length: 9.5km
  • Access: Closed during winter and on catastrophic fire danger days. Check with Parks Victoria to ensure the track is open before you leave home.
  • 4WD only with high clearance and low range capability.

Billy Goat Bluff is considered one of the most challenging and scenic tracks in the Victorian High Country. Recommended for those with the proper 4WD training, experience and well prepared vehicle, you can take on this challenge with confidence.

It starts with an incredibly steep ascent, elevating 1,200 metres in just 7kms before descending 950m to the valley floor below. From end-to-end, Billy Goat Bluff track is less than 10kms but due to the challenging terrain, its advisable to schedule at least an hour for this trek. The rocky track surface is very slippery when wet so avoid any attempts in poor weather. 

The track itself is extremely narrow at places, with cliff faces on both sides. Passing on coming traffic at these bottlenecks can be extremely challenging. Be considerate of others on the track. Move aside and let on coming convoys pass in safety. Keep your radio handy so you can stay in constant communication with your convoy and other vehicles on the track.

Image: @80series_domination

At the bottom of Billy Goat Bluff is where the track meets Wonnangatta Road. Turning left will take you through to Eaglevale and onto the iconic Wonnanngatta Station, but on this outing we’re turning right towards Dargo.

Follow the Wonnagatta Road for 6kms and you will reach the Kingswell Bridge which crosses the Wonnanngatta River. Make a left turn immediately after the Bridge onto Talbotville Road heading east. Continue to follow the road along the river for another 6km then take a left onto Crooked River Track.

Crooked River Track

Image: @goneoffroad.rocks

Almost immediately after starting down Crooked River Track, you will come to the first of 20+ river crossings along this track. While most of the crossings are small, there are a few deeper ones to watch out for. Most of the time, these crossings are straight forward, however if its been raining recently, take caution and plot your course along firm footings. 

Continue following the Crooked River Track north, through farmland, then some forested areas for 9km, until you reach a large grassy opening. You have arrived at the historical Talbotville Camping Area.

Talbotville – 2nd Overnight Camp

Image: @g63_traveller

Talbotville was another of Gippsland’s small gold mining towns that sprang to life when gold was found in the Crooked River in 1860 but vanished when the gold ran out. About all that remains visible of the township are a few stonewalls and the old gold mines in the area.

Today Talbotville is a beautiful camping area bordered by the Crooked River with lush green grass even when the surrounding bush land is so dry and dusty. The Talbotville camping area has plenty of picnic tables and fireplaces with cooking plates and fresh water flowing in the Crooked River. 

Up stream from Talbotville along the Crooked River there are plenty of old gold mining sites including the New Good Hope Mine and further along to the area of Stonewall with its old gold mine and the remains of the fireplace and oven which are more often than not covered by black berries. 

Day 3 – Township of Grant

From Talbotville head east towards Grant, which is approximately 11km via McMillian Road. During the gold rush era, the township boasted a population of 2,000. To support the community, stores, churches, banks, hotels and even a police station was present. Unfortunately, little of this remains today. There are some information boards position along walking tracks which provide commentary into the story of this former mining town.

From Grant continue along McMillians Rd for another 5km then turn right onto Dargo High Plans Rd and continue for another 18km until you reach the town of Dargo. 

Gateway into the Victorian High Country – Dargo

For those who want to call it a weekend, head south from Drago along Dargo High Plains Rd. From Dargo Melbourne is around a 4 hour drive.

During the gold rush era, the town of Dargo provide a stop over for miners on their way to the goldfields of Grant, Talbotville and Crooked River. Today, Dargo is a very popular destination for 4WDers and is considered a hub of the Victorian High Country. For those heading into the High Country, Dargo offers a chance to grab some last min supplies and fuel from the General Store. 

In my opinion, a high priority is to visit the legendary Dargo Pub. This iconic pub delivers an authentic country pub atmosphere and is a fantastic place to enjoy a drink and a meal. If you wish to make a nigh of it, camping is available out the back of the pub or over at the Dargo River Inn.

From Dargo, Melbourne is about a 4 hour drive.