10 4WD Beaches That You Should Try in NSW

There are lots of 4WD tracks in New South Wales, but some of them are very far from the city. Some are also closed for some time especially during the winter. So, some drivers prefer driving on beaches as the activities that one can do are many compared with exploring the highlands or deserts.

Most residents in Sydney or nearby cities in NSW are accustomed to living next to the beach. Once work is done, many go to the beach to swim or surf. However, sometimes tourists and locals alike flock the beaches which can make it very crowded. For some, an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city is all they need to recharge for the week ahead.

There are numerous beaches that are spread across the state but only some of them are fit for 4WD. There are also several beaches that prohibit driving so they’re out of the options. But before you head out to the beaches on this list, you should prepare for it beforehand.

Research about the time when high tide will come in your destination as some tracks become impossible to cross because of the water. Several beaches also require permits which grant you access to drive. Most importantly, don’t forget to bring your recovery tools like winches just to be sure. Another thing to consider is the weather because rain can significantly add to the challenge of driving through the tracks. Although for some veteran 4WD enthusiasts this can be a good thing, newbies should beware and drive when the weather is fine.

Enough talk. Here are some of the best 4WD beaches in New South Wales!

  • Stockton Beach
  • Blacksmiths Beach (Nine Mile Beach)
  • Pebbly Beach
  • South Ballina Beach
  • Mungo Beach
  • Redhead Beach (Nine Mile Beach)
  • Boat Harbour (Kurnell Beach)
  • McBrides Beach
  • Evans Head Beach
  • Illaroo-Sandon Beach

So before you continue, If your new to 4WD and offroading or are not sure what equipment to take out with you on your adventures, make sure to check out the Off Road Aussies Essential 4×4 Equipment List where I have taken the time to review and recommend the equipment I use. If you kit yourself out correctly you will be able to tackle everything that your new adventures will throw at you.

Stockton Beach

Location: 177 km northeast of Sydney

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Track Length: 53 km
Track Time: 1 day
Terrain: Sandy

Stockton Beach is one of the most popular 4WD beach track in NSW. It deserves this recognition because of the numerous dunes of varying sizes and the sights that you’ll see. If you’re done the driving, you can also swim at the beach to cool down especially in summer. You can also do other activities like surfing, whale watching, and exploring the culture of Aborigines in various campsites dotted around the area.

When the tides recede, you can also see vestiges of World War II like tank traps and the wreckage of MV Synga. You will also pass by the famous town with a population of three – Tin City. 

You can find more information about Stockton Beach on this page.

Blacksmiths Beach (Nine Mile Beach)

Location: 133 km northeast of Sydney

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Track Length: Varies
Track Time: Varies
Terrain: Sandy

The reason why many people keep coming back to this beach is a quiet atmosphere. You can usually camp away from other people even in summer! You can also test your vehicle’s suspension because the beach has one of the softest sands in Australia. So, before you start driving, lower your tyre pressure to 12-14 psi. 

Aside from driving you can also have a picnic, swim, fish, slide down from the sand dunes, and meditate when you get tired from exploring the area. You should also catch the sunset by walking up the top of the sand dunes. If you do, then you’ll witness arguably one of the best sunsets in the country.

One bonus is the pet-friendly rules in the area. Dogs can run free without a leash up until you reach Redhead Beach. You can also let them swim at the beach or lagoons. In the summer, your dog can even meet other dogs that he/she can be friends with.

Important: You should secure a permit before you head out to Blacksmiths because you will be slapped with a $220 fine. The permits can be bought from establishments near the beach (Caltex Star Mart Swansea, Blacksmith’s Home Hardware, etc.) and they can last from one week to one year.

You can find more information about Blacksmiths Beach on this page.

Pebbly Beach

Location: 273 km southwest of Sydney

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Track Length: 2.5 km
Track Time: 1 hour
Terrain: Sandy

Pebbly Beach is one of the more unknown sites in this list, however, that is a good thing! It may not be the first thing that comes to your mind, but it offers breathtaking views of the sea and the forest (Yuraygir National Park). However, the beach is well-known among 4WD enthusiasts so prepare yourself to camp with crowds if you head out during long weekends and holidays. 

Before heading to Pebbly Beach, you should make sure that you’re travelling when then tides are low as the track is impassable during high tide (especially at the intersection leading to Station Creek). 

When you reach Station Creek, get ready for some challenge. You’ll need to lower the pressure of your tyres before you tread the sand track that will lead you to the beach. One more thing to note is that you need to find the shallowest route in the crossing by walking on it first. The tides can alter them regularly so you should be careful. However, if that seems to be a bit of a hassle, following the signs dotted across the tracks can lead you to the campsite safely.

The best thing about going to Pebbly Beach is the magnificent view of the sea and forests. Even from the campsite itself, you will feel that you’re in a tropical paradise. You can also fish, swim, walk along the beach, or wait for the sunset, so you’ll never be bored.

You can find more information about Pebbly Beach on this page.

South Ballina Beach

Location: 736 km northeast of Sydney

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Track Length: 31 km
Track Time: 1 day
Terrain: Sandy

The best thing about South Ballina is its proximity to other beaches like Evans Head or Airforce Beach. So, if you’ve finished traversing it you can move on to the nearby beaches to continue the fun. The well-maintained tracks also add to the attractiveness of the beach to all types of 4WD enthusiasts.

There are many things that you can do on the beach. You can have a picnic, surf, or play with your dog on the beach. Swimming in South Ballina is also very safe because it is patrolled by lifeguards during holidays or summer. For bushwalkers, taking the trail in the nearby Broadwater National Park will be a pleasure. Heading to South Ballina in the winter or spring can also be a chance for you to encounter whales or dolphins. In addition, the most unique attraction in this beach is horseback riding in around the beach and the surrounding coasts.

You can find more information about South Ballina Beach on this page.

Mungo Beach

Location: 236 km northeast of Sydney

Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
Track Length: 21 km
Track Time: 1 day
Terrain: Sandy

Located just three hours away from Sydney, Mungo Beach is perfect for those who want to reward themselves of a weekend break after. Starting from Mungo Brush Campground, you will be greeted by a wide swathe of coast that is very enjoyable for beach driving. You will also encounter sand dunes, big surfs, and a lot of blowouts. However, you need to keep an eye for the end of the track because you can’t access the beach behind the fenced-off area. 

Unlike other beaches, you are not advised to swim in this area because of the strong currents. However, when the weather is fine, you can surf on the outer bar of the beach. You can also bring your fishing rod because Mungo Beach is one of the best places to do this. Aside from that, you can also try sandboarding on the massive dunes that are found throughout the beach.

From the Mungo Brush camp, you can also do bushwalks, swimming, and kayaking which will make your weekend trip much more memorable.

Important: Before heading to Mungo Beach, secure a permit as hefty fines are charged if you come without one.

You can find more information about Mungo Beach on this page.

Redhead Beach (Nine Mile Beach)

Location: 142 km northeast of Sydney

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Track Length: 11 km
Track Time: 1 day
Terrain: Sandy

Located in the northernmost end of Nine Mile Beach, it is a popular spot for surfing and swimming. Redhead Beach is very wide and offers a stunning view of the sea. The beach is named after the prominent red rocky cliff found at its northern end.

If you finished exploring the beach, then you should head to Belmont Wetlands State Park which is perfect for hiking. The beach is also dog-friendly like in Blacksmiths Beach (southernmost end of Nine Mile Beach), so you can bring along your dog with you instead of leaving them in your home. 

However, you need to have a permit if you want to access the 4WD track. The sand is also boggy so lower your tyre pressure to 15 psi and bring along with you your recovery gear.

You can find more information about Redhead Beach on this page.

Boat Harbour (Kurnell Beach)

Location: 38 km south of Sydney

Difficulty: Easy
Track Length: 150 m
Track Time: 30 mins
Terrain: Sandy

This one is the nearest beach to Sydney CBD; however, you’d have to shell out $30 as an entry fee for the vehicle. The track is also short and not challenging for veteran 4WD enthusiasts, but it is perfect for newbies to practice. 

The beach also has numerous portable barbecues, ample choices of food and drinks, and a very nice view of the sea. The area is frequented by people who want to escape the city but not venture too far into the countryside. Visitors can also enjoy riding boats, fishing, and swimming in the clear waters of the once very polluted beach.

You can find more information about Boat Harbour on this page.

McBrides Beach

Location: 302 km northeast of Sydney

Difficulty: Hard
Track Length: 917 m (one-way)
Track Time: 1 hour
Terrain: Sandy & Dirt

Even though the 4WD track in McBrides Beach is on the shorter side, it is still very challenging with steep climbs and abrupt descents. You also need a vehicle with at least 30 cm of ground clearance as the tracks are poorly maintained and it can aide in the climbs. 

Adding to the challenge are the ruts and large boulders hidden along the track. So, it is wise to bring your winch or an accompanying vehicle to help you recover. 

The relatively secret spot is also good for those who seek peace and quiet to recover from stress. You will also encounter native birds in the surrounding forests. 

You can find more information about McBrides Beach on this page.

Evans Head Beach

Location: 713 km northeast of Sydney

Difficulty: Moderate
Track Length: 4.55 km (can last longer if you explore other beaches in the area)
Track Time: 1 hour
Terrain: Sandy 

When you enter the beach through South Ballina Beach and east of River Drive, you will be greeted by the excellent 4WD track. With numerous sand dunes with heights of up to 30 m, 4WD enthusiasts will be thrilled by the drive. There are also facilities like a surf club and showers on the south end of the beach.

The waves at Evans Head Beach is perfect for those who want to learn surfing as its protected from big waves. You can also explore Airforce Beach which is a part of Evans Head that is popular with 4WD beach drivers.

If you’re more comfortable with the greenery and silence of forests, then you can also explore the three adjacent national parks (Bundjalung, Broadwater, and Bungwalbin) in the area. Where you can observe wild animals and follow hiking trails.  

You can also head to the nearby Evans River where you can also do various activities. At the estuary at the end of the river, you can buy fresh seafood like prawns and crabs. One of the best things to do in the estuary is kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. 

You can find more information about Evans Head Beach on this page.

Illaroo-Sandon Beach

Location: 168 km southwest of Sydney

Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
Track Length: 8.5 km
Track Time: 1 day
Terrain: Sandy 

The beaches of Illaroo and Sandon is situated between the Illaroo North and South campsites. If you want to avoid crowds, then the remoteness of this place will suit you. You can also explore the entire beach and the track has plenty of overgrown trees and alcoves that you can explore.

Before you drive through it, you need to lower your tyre pressure. The beach may be remote, but the tracks are still easy to navigate. However, there are areas where the sand is softer where you can get stuck. There are also parts where the track narrows down to a single lane which forces you to be careful. 

Like other beaches on this list, you should research about the best time to drive in order to avoid high tide as some parts of the track will be impassable. If you’re not careful, then you can get stuck with no one to help you.

If the challenge is not enough for you, then you should head to the track that leads to Sandon. This road is very steep and passes through bushland. Adding to the challenge is the very rutty and muddy condition of the track.

If you want to do other things than driving, the beach is also perfect for camping, fishing, and surfing.

You can find more information about Illaroo-Sandon Beach on this page.

Related Questions

Can You Drive on Jimmys Beach?

MidCoast Council now offers 30-day Beach Vehicle Access Permits across the entire region, which is great news for shorty-stay visitors to the area and locals who only require a short-term permit. Vehicles are not permitted to drive on vegetation, sand dunes or bird nesting areas.

Can You Drive On The Beach In NSW?

The park provides four-wheel drive access to more than 22 km of Stockton beachfront and over 350 hectares of dune driving in the Recreational Vehicle Area at the southern end of the park. This is one of the largest coastal dunes driving areas in NSW. … Vehicle access is available for 4WDs.

Do You Need A Permit to Drive on The Beach?

Permit to drive on national parks and beaches. Driving is allowed on some beaches, but you will need a permit. You will need a vehicle access permit (VAP) to drive on recreation areas in Queensland, such as national parks and beaches.

Can You Drive on 7 Mile Beach?

Police are warning the drivers of four-wheel drives to ensure they have a beach access permit to drive on Seven Mile Beach at Lennox Head. Before taking your 4WD on to Seven Mile Beach you need to purchase a beach access permit.

Can You Drive AWD On the Beach?

While some AWD or even front-wheel drive vehicles may be able to drive through certain parts of the beach, specifically along the sound side or any beach that has concrete, packed sand, the majority of the Outer Banks is comprised of deep and soft sand, which can only be navigated with a 4WD vehicle, particularly when it comes to rough terrain.

You can read more infor about AWD Beach Driving here: https://www.offroadaussie.com/4_wheels/can-i-drive-my-awd-all-wheel-drive-on-the-beach/

What Is the Speed Limit on The Beach?

Except when a special hazard exists that requires you to lower your speed in compliance of the beach’s rules, the maximum speed limit for operation of motor vehicles or wind/sand sailors on the ocean beaches shall be twenty-five miles per hour.

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