Canning Stock Route – Western Australia
If getting away from everyone else is your bag, this is it! There aren’t too many more remote places in Australia – at least not where you can legally get access. The track is regarded as the most epic desert adventure you can have in Australia, at least while sticking to the track. It will take you 21 days to complete the 1700km journey through the wilds of Western Australia.
You’ll need a permit. Since 2007, these had been issued by the Australian National Four-Wheel Drive Council, but recently, that responsibility was taken over by Kuju Wangka (it means ‘one voice’), a body comprised of the Martu people and four other Aboriginal groups through whose lands the Canning runs.
To find Kuju Wangka, simply Google the name … you’ll find that using the net to secure your permit is easier (and cheaper) than by phone.
Victorian High Country– Victoria
The peaks and valleys of Victoria’s High Country are visually about as far as you can get from the rolling red sand dunes of the Canning. This is very speccy country, a photographer’s delight, and the driving challenges are definitely there if you want them. (Try Blue Rag Track or getting into Wonnangatta Station.)
While the Vic Alps are relatively close to Melbourne (and not too far a drive from Sydney), you’ll need to pick your time carefully. Most of the tracks are closed during winter, so summer’s the go, even though it can get quite hot during the day.
Lake Mungo – New South Wales
Lake Mungo is the site of the oldest known cremation in the world, but is a fascinating record of both Aboriginal and white pastoral occupation, with one of the best preserved shearing sheds in the country. It’s also home to a natural formation of sand and rock called the Great Walls of China, now visited in the company of Aboriginal guides who can interpret the landscape for visitors.
Even though we prefer bush camps, the National Park boasts a great camping area, with separate parking bays and spread sites so that you’re not living on top of the people next door, and the toilets are composting types, so there are none of those unpleasant aromas that characterise blocks with long drops. Wood for campfires (in the fireplaces provided) is also freely available.
Gregory National Park – Northern Territory
This is wild, remote, beautiful country. Located on the WA/NT border, it too has reminders of early pastoral days (at Bullita Homestead, now the Ranger Station), and some great four-wheel driving along the Humbert Track. There’s even a decent water crossing to negotiate!
Now known as Jutpurra National Park, it also has some great Aboriginal heritage, and is comprised of semi-arid vegetation, most striking of which are boab trees. You won’t be able to visit during the Wet Season (summer), because all the tracks are closed, but whatever alternative season you choose, remember to approach the drive as an isolated one, with a Satphone, or even an EPIRB. This is veryremote country, so complete self-sufficiency’s the go.
Cape York – Queensland
Standing on the tip of Australia looking out on Torres Strait is something that every adventurous Aussie should do at least once. There are a few things you should know about Cape York, however.
There are some very serious corrugations up in these parts, that will shake the heck out of your 4X4, but these are soon forgotten when you stumble across great outback pubs (Bramwell Station) and beautiful waterfalls (Fruit Bat and Twin Falls). Some of the water crossings are doozies too, with Nolan’s Brook claiming over 60 unprepared vehicles this season.
You should also do some research about alcohol restrictions. Depending on where you go, you’ll find quite of deal of difference in what’s allowed and what is not. Finding somewhere to unroll the swag isn’t difficult – don’t sleep on the beach or river banks as there are crocodiles – and there are certainly lots of country to go through and lots of things to do and see.
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