10 Easy 4WD Tracks in South Australia

South Australia has some of the best tracks that will take you to the hills around Adelaide, the Eyre, the famous Flinders Ranges, and the notorious outback. But what if you’re just starting as a 4WD enthusiast?

Contrary to what most people know, there are a lot of easy to moderately difficult tracks within South Australia. So, you won’t have a shortage of choices where you can hone your off-roading skills. But the only drawback is you only have a few opportunities to practice on the sandy beaches as it’s heavily regulated in the state. 

So, are you looking for the best place to take your shiny new 4WD vehicle? Here are the best tracks to do so:

Walkers Crossing

Location: 1029 km north of Adelaide

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Track Length: 364.62 km

Track Time: 1 day

Terrain: Sand

This track is designated as a Public Access Route. It is an alternative route for driving between Birdsville and Innamincka through the flood plain country of the northern overflow of the Cooper Creek before climbing onto the Sturt Stony Desert and joining the Birdsville Track. Unmaintained and often impassable because of rains or floods, this track is strictly for dry weather travel only. It also takes about 6 hours to complete it in good condition. The trail also cuts through private property, so please follow the markers carefully to avoid becoming lost in the maze of tracks. It is 4WD only, and travel in the company of a convoy or with a digital navigational mapping system guiding the way is recommended.

Nullarbor Roadhouse to Cook

Location: 1070 km west of Adelaide

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Track Length: 128.33 km

Track Time: 1 day

Terrain: Sand, rock, dirt

The appeal of this trek is the effortlessness of which four-wheel drivers can visit the ghost town of Cook on the Trans Australian Railway line. Also, along the way, see caves, sinkholes, blowholes, bores, tanks, and various ruins that typify the Nullarbor plain north of the primary Eyre Highway today. To explore these relics, you’ll quickly appreciate how harsh life has been for those who once lived on the Nullarbor 

Plain several decades ago.

Cook is found at the center of the Nullarbor, and it has one of the harshest of climates. There is nothing but flat saltbush plains that you can see all around you. Also, even the Eyre Highway is 105km away to the south, and Adelaide and Perth are more than a thousand kilometers away on both sides. The nearest town is Ceduna. However, it’s a whopping five-hour drive away from Cook.

Despite it being a ghost town, today it is still a resting point for all trains traversing the Trans Australian Railway Line. It’s also the only place on the TARL with a permanent caretaker, employed by the railway. The Indian-Pacific (today’s Sydney-Adelaide-Perth passenger train), stops here four times a week and freight trains also stop by to refresh their crews.

This trek starts from the Nullarbor Roadhouse on the Eyre Highway and will take you to the north-west along dirt roads, and sometimes only single wheel tracks, to Cook by passing by Knowles Cave. 

Knowles is one of many caves in this calcareous karst environment. Knowles, however, is a worthy visit as it is one of the most open caves in the whole country, and will give you a clear sense of what lies beneath the nearly empty barren plains. Many of the Nullarbor caves are very dangerous and can not be reached without a permit and specialized caving and abseiling equipment. But Knowles Cave, being an elongated doline, is a simple walk. The entire Nullarbor is one big piece of calcareous stone, and you will find karsts anywhere you can find any calcareous stone. At Knowles Cave, you will quickly see these karsts, which have evidence of fossilized marine life confined within — fixed into the rocky entrance to the cave lookout for shells stuck into the rock, along with impressions where the shell was once found. 

You also shouldn’t miss, the short side-trip to the “Bore & Tank”. The borehole plunges to an astounding depth and is surrounded by limestone blocks to create a large well that is quite mind-boggling. You will also see a timber hut that houses an old fireplace. These relics from a bygone era lined against the vast Nullarbor background make for the perfect subjects for your social media posts. 

Chowilla Old Coach Road

Location: 257 km east of Adelaide

Difficulty: Easy

Track Length: 356.01 km

Track Time: 1 day

Terrain: Sand

The Chowilla Old Coach Road offers travelers an opportunity to visit an area that is very rich in Aboriginal and European History. The backdrop to this area is Australia’s largest river, The Murray. Great in the past and still today, the Murray and its tributaries offer travelers the chance to camp and to enjoy the tranquillity and solitude of the Riverland. However, it’s still within easy reach of Renmark.

Anyone that loves doing water activities shouldn’t make this trip without your canoe or kayak. These tranquil waters have some of the safest and best waters to paddle where you can be sure that you will be the only person on the river. From forests of large River Red Gums, through to dense lignum scrublands of the backwaters and billabongs, the Old Coach Road offers everything that you would expect from an outback trip.

Dig Tree Circuit

Location: 1225 km northeast of Adelaide

Difficulty: Easy

Track Length: 172.75 km

Track Time: 4-5 hours

Terrain: Sand and dirt

The main natural attractions on the Dig Tree Circuit are the Cooper Creek waterholes. It includes Cullymurra, Queerbidie, Bullah Bullah, and Burke waterholes. But travelers are also drawn to this remote portion of the country for many other reasons, mainly to see the place where, arguably Australia’s most renowned explorers, Burke & Wills made their final stand.

The area is located inside the beautiful Innamincka Regional Reserve. Like an oasis in the heart of a desert, it offers a lush, watery paradise that is a stark contrast to the extremely arid Australian outback. The region is not only historically important but also culturally rich, and has spiritual importance for many Indigenous groups such as the people of Yandruwandha, Yawarrawarrka, and Dieri. The region is currently being managed in a responsible and sustainable manner to protect the biodiversity, cultural and historical values of the region, as well as the cattle industry and critical energy reserves.

Oodnadatta Track

Location: 908 km northwest of Adelaide

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Track Length: 672.86 km

Track Time: 2 days

Terrain: Sand and gravel

Following the Oodnadatta Track will take you back to the days of early European exploration and settlement. The most visible historical relics are the last sleepers and ruins of the first Ghan railway that run parallel along the track from the town of Marree to William Creek.

The track also follows a main Aboriginal trade route – the original track where the explorer Stuart traveled on, the historic Overland Telegraph Line and the now-defunct Ghan Railway Line.

Along the way, there are mound springs, Kati Thandi (once known as Lake Eyre) which is Australia’s largest salt lake. You will also encounter the world’s biggest cattle station (Anna Creek Station – owned by the Kidman family) and an ever-changing countryside that is both glaring and beautiful.

Track conditions are generally good enough even for a 2WD vehicle to complete the route. However, a 4WD will be more reliable to drive over the potholes. Also, you need to be better equipped if the weather changes as rain will make the track very slippery, and some sections are prone to sudden wash away. It’s also impossible to visit Kati Thandi (Lake Eyre) if you’re not using an all-wheel-drive vehicle because some parts being very sandy, particularly the Halligan Bay Track.

Robe Beach Run

Location: 334 km southeast of Adelaide

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Track Length: 58.31 km

Track Time: 1 day

Terrain: Dirt and gravel

Starting in Robe, a modern coastal town in south-east SA, this trek will take you south into Little Dip Conservation Park and then a wild, windy beach. The route follows the beachline to Beachport, but most people go out for a day trip and go back into Robe for the night. Also, there are camps at the Gums, Little Dip CP, Lake Robe, Stony Rise, Long Gully, Freshwater Lake, and Old Man Lake. Some of them also have pit toilets.

There is no specific route as numerous tracks are leading to the beach – its more of an adventurous journey along the coastline. 

Note: You can no longer drive the full length of the beach, especially between Beachport and Robe. So, a detour is required between Stinky Bay and Little Dip National Park. Fortunately, the bypass can be avoided by accessing a short private track that takes you across the Nora Creina land. The Cullen family, owners of the Nora Creina, are supportive of recreational four-wheel drivers and allow access along the track, which is less than a kilometer long. This track is also used by several holidaymakers who own shacks along the trail. 

Flinders Ranges

Location: 471 km north of Adelaide

Difficulty: Easy

Track Length: 498.44 km

Track Time: 2 days

Terrain: Gravel, sealed roads, and dirt

The Flinders Ranges stretches about 430 km from Port Pirie to Lake Callabonna and is one of South Australia’s most extensive mountain ranges. They also feature scenic landscapes, rugged mountains, cavernous and spectacular gorges, creeks lined with River Red Gums, and abundant wildlife. 

The most distinctive landmark is Wilpena Pound which is a large, naturally-formed amphitheater. It covers around 80 square kilometers and has the highest peak throughout the Flinders Ranges, the St Mary Peak at 1170 meters above sea level. 

There are also a lot of things to do in the area, including cycling, walking, bird watching, horse-riding, and photography. Although driving in the area in a 4WD is excellent, a lot of the Flinders is easy for 2WD vehicles. There are also many half and full-day tours to choose from and are usually found right across the region, such as organizations that offer Aboriginal rock art tours and ancient fossil tours.

Strzelecki Track

Location: 1140 km northeast of Adelaide

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Track Length: 427.44 km

Track Time: 1 day

Terrain: Sand and dirt

The roughly 430 km Strzelecki Track between Lyndhurst and Innamincka is the least interesting of the Outback tracks offering little variety in scenery and some rough-as-guts sections of heavily corrugated, a single-lane track that can be treacherous after rain. It’s also restricted to 4WD vehicles by the state’s Road Transport Authority. 

You need to be fully self-sufficient and bring around plenty of water and food and extra fuel. Start at Lyndhurst by filling the tank – the next fuel is at the other end of the track. The drive first takes you past the northern tip of the Flinders Ranges; once you pass them, the journey becomes flat and pretty dull.

Around 190km from Lyndhurst, the road from Arkaroola connects within sight of Mount Hopeless (a pathetic hill, appropriately named); the next place to stop and perhaps camp is at the hot outflow from Montecollina Bore, 30km on. From here the scenery improves slightly as the road runs between dunes, and it’s hard to resist leaving footprints along one of the pristine red crests.

At Strzelecki Crossing there’s a fork in the road: to the east is Cameron Corner, where there’s a store with fuel, a small bar, and a campsite; and to the north, Innamincka via Moomba. Within an hour you’ve crossed into the Innamincka Regional Reserve and are approaching Innamincka’s charms.

Googs Track

Location: 842 km northwest of Adelaide

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Track Length: 568.87 km

Track Time: 2 days

Terrain: Sand and dirt

The track was named after John “Goog” Denton who pictured that a road heading from Ceduna to Tarcoola would be invaluable to the region. Goog decided to face this huge task in 1976, and with assistance from his family, was completed in about three years. 

Goog’s Track is a single-vehicle track that traverses through Yumbarra Conservation Park and Yellabinna Regional Reserve. The trek covers more than 300 sandhill crossings, and it is recommended that the trip be started from south to north. The drive begins at Ceduna and heads north until you reach the Transcontinental Railway Line at the town of Malbooma. The trek then takes you east and follows the road towards Tarcoola.

The track also traverses through Yumbarra Conservation Park and Yellabinna Regional Reserve. So, this area is a nature enthusiast’s dream trip as there is plenty of great wildlife and birdlife to be seen. Malleefowl and Sandhill Dunnarts are two rare species that live in this area. Also, wombats, kangaroos, dingoes, and a wide variety of birds are present. 

Old Eyre Highway

Location: 1122 km northwest of Adelaide

Difficulty: Easy 

Track Length: 203.48 km

Track Time: 1 day

Terrain: Sand and dirt

The Old Eyre Highway is the first route used by the first vehicles crossing the expansive Nullarbor plains before the current tar highway was built. When the new road was built (in the 1970s), it was not a massive upgrade to the existing dirt track. The highway was re-routed with a priority for tourists, to lead them to the magnificent cliff edges and through the scenic Madura pass. But the sudden decline in visitors traversing the old route caused station operators and infrastructure to fall into decay. 

You need to know that the Old Eyre Highway is no shortcut. Your trek will cover the South Australia section from Nullarbor to the border with Western Australia. The track varies in condition all through it and is not maintained. Travelers mostly ignore it. Making the best out of your travel, take the time to know about the track’s history and stop to see the ruins of tanks, and explore the caves and sinkholes – the most remarkable features in this remote landscape.

The Old Eyre Highway is an alternate route to taking the new Eyre Highway and will take you at least 5 hours to complete (with stops to explore the sights). It is not a track where you can take your caravan or camper trailer and very little knowledge, or signage is around to help guide you on your journey.

Koonalda Homestead is worth exploring. You are also welcome to bush camp in the area or set up camp within the buildings in the station. Also, there are limited spots along the track that would make for a perfect camp, so unless you’re planning to push through to a roadside camp off the main highway, it’s a good option.

Related Questions

Do You Need 4WD To Drive On The Beach?

A 4WD vehicle is required to navigate the soft sand. Also, it is recommended that all 4WD vehicles lower their tire pressures down to 15-22 psi before tackling the beach to avoid getting bogged down.

Can You Swim At Victor Harbour?

Victor Harbor’s biggest drawcard is its stunning, accessible beaches. … Some of South Australia’s best surfing spots – Boomer Beach, Petrel Cove, and Knights Beach – can be reached mere minutes away from Victor Harbor. If you’re not as much of a thrill-seeker, Port Elliot and Goolwa are great spots for swimming and fishing.

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