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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

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

Things To Do

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!

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.