It’s a long way from anywhere, but the long transport stage is worth it! The Kimberley is arguably the most picturesque of any of our ‘must-see’ destinations, and is remarkably similar to South Africa (hence the name!)
Famed for its stunningly beautiful gorges, the Kimberley is also home to a ‘must-do’ 4WD icon – the Gibb River Road – though it’s pretty mild these days, but inevitably dusty! Something else that should not be missed is Cape Leveque, just ‘up the road’ from the pearl city of Broome. The image of glittering white sand, glistening turquoise water and bold red cliffs, all under a cerulean sky, is something that will burn itself into your brain forever.
Best time to visit is anytime from autumn to spring; the summer months are when The Big Wet hits and going anywhere or seeing anything becomes a mammoth undertaking!
Victorian High Country
History buffs can appreciate the magnificent heritage of cattlemen’s huts, shutter-buggers can revel in speccy Alpine scenery and keen four-wheel drivers can experience tracks like the access to Wonnangatta Station, Billy Goats Bluff or notorious Blue Rag – tracks that will demand every milligram of their 4WD skills and experience. (Any time but winter, when many of the tracks are closed to vehicular access; this is not soft roader country either.)
Away from driving challenges, you can visit gourmet restaurants, friendly pubs and wineries, perhaps visit Yackandandah to see exactly why it was classified by the National Trust, or take in the township of Bright – absolutely breathtaking in autumn. The High Country has something for everyone from adrenalin junkies to families.
An iconic 4WD destination, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. It’s a Mecca for fishermen and families, and to get around you really need a 4WD. (You need a 4WD just to get off the barge, where the sand in extremely soft and churned up.)
Be warned, however, Fraser is a very popular spot, so isolation isn’t something you’re going to experience at all. But you might see whales cruising off the coast, as well as experience wonderful rock pools and freshwater lakes.
Fraser was discovered by Captain Cook in 1770, but is named after Eliza Fraser, who was shipwrecked there and lived with the local Aborigines. (The Aboriginal name for Fraser Island means ‘Paradise’, by the way.)
Yep, this is one of the ones you have to do. Last of Australia’s deserts to be explored, the Simpson is well within the reach of any modern, high clearance 4WD. You must however be completely self sufficient, carrying more than enough food, fuel and water.
There are a number of ways you can tackle the Simpson. Some routes, like the QAA and French Lines, and the Rig Road, were put in by oil and gas exploration teams in the 1960s, and of these, the QAA/French Lines represent the most direct route across. You’ll cross 1100 dunes, but there are side tracks if the bigger ones prove too daunting. If you’re not a highly experienced trailer person, leave it at home – inexperienced towers really chop up the dunes.
Best times to travel are in spring and autumn. It can be bitterly cold in winter at night, and in the summer it’s officially off-limits.
The Blue Mountains have an undeserved reputation as purely a touristy destination. And that’s understandable, with landmarks like the Three Sisters and the Scenic Railway drawing millions of visitors from interstate and overseas every year.
But there’s an adventurous side to the region. Even visiting a landmark like the Lost City just out of Lithgow can be exciting if you take the more demanding tracks, and at Mount Airlie, out of Capertee, well, bring your skill levels with you. Families will enjoy the Glow Worm Tunnel at Newnes, there is a variety of accommodation available from bush camps to six star resorts and everything in between, and you’re only literally an hour or so out of Sydney.
Hint: Try to take in High Tea at the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba. It’s like travelling back in time.
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