We are spoilt for choice when it comes to 4WD tracks in and around Sydney. Off-road discovery is all about packing the esky and heading off to find a new track and an idyllic camp spot. With an abundance of off-road adventures to choose from, we have compiled a short list of 4wd tracks within easy reach of Sydney.
These tracks provide drives that range from easy to medium so if you have a few hours or a week there is something for everyone’s 4wd driving abilities ranging from varying landscapes of mountain drives, beach and river-crossings. So, if your just not sure in which direction to head off, this guide of local favourites is for you.
Here is an overview of the top 12 4WD tracks near Sydney (in no particular order)
- Discovery Trail- Kurrajong
- The Barraba Track
- The Barrington Tops National Park
- Lobs Hole Ravine Campgrounds, Snowy Mountains
- Cocoparra National Park- Woolshed Flats
- Southern Highlands- Sojourn
- Stockton Beach
- Levuka 4WD Park
- Yengo National Park
- Abercrombie River National Park
- The Dowling Track
- Ados 4WD Course
Despite these 12 4WD tracks being listed as relatively always remember to plan your route carefully and let someone know where you are going and your expected return time just in case you get lost or stuck somewhere. Better still traveling in groups of at least 2 vehicles is highly recommended. No matter where your off-road adventure begins, remember to stay safe, always drive sensibly, pay attention to any cautionary road signs and drive within your skill limits and the capabilities of your vehicle.
Keep in mind distances, the condition of the roads or environment you will be driving in, as well as weather and traffic conditions. Be sure to stop at least every 2 hours for a break, and make sure your vehicle has everything you need for a safe journey.
1.Discovery Trail: Kurrajong
Length: 81 km (round trip)
Driving Time: 2 hrs (roundtrip)
Highlights: Don’t miss out on several lookouts (along Bells Line of Road and up Bellbird Hill- Don’t miss the view over the Hawkesbury from Bellbird Lookout) and two national park camping/picnic areas plus the fruit stalls and galleries on Bells Line and in Kurrajong Heights.
Alerts: This round trip includes 4WD only trails in order to complete the trip and preferably completed in dry weather only.
This is a beautiful scenic bushland round trip starting and finishing in Kurrajong. The trail transverses through the Blue Mountains National Park and Wollemi National Park with a mixture of narrow sealed and unsealed roads, highway and 4WD trails.
When you access the 4WD trial via Blue Mountains National Park you will descend into the Burralow Valley through a superb forest and shortly after the intersection, you will reach the camping/picnic area on a large alluvial flat – the site of an early experiment in irrigated rice-growing in Australia. An easy walking track to a ferny grotto begins from here.
Enroute is Mountain Lagoon, a small lake which was caused by geological tilting of the plateau and for a real treat opt to go around the lagoon via Sams Way turn onto the T3 and continue onto the viewpoint overlooking the Colo River gorge and Wollemi Wilderness. Wheeny Creek has a picnic site shaded by Sydney blue gums and a camping area with lush grassed sites. All in all, you’re in for a treat on the Kurrajong trail.
We don’t have major ground clearance on our 4WD will we be able to complete this trail?
Some sections do tend to wash away after heavy rains, but ground clearance should not be a problem, there are no major ruts or areas that would require skills in traction control. Top tip! There is a great pizza place on Bells Line to end off your days trip!
2.Mount Kaputar National Park: The Barraba Track (7 hrs from Sydney)
Length: 8 KM
Min Drive Time: 1 Day
Highlights: Spectacular high-altitude views and almost exclusivity since its unlikely that you’re going to see anyone else on the trial.
Alerts: The use of the 4WD track requires a key and permit with very specific conditions which may affect journey time, routes and availability especially when its wet, so check park alerts on the day.
If you long for remote and peaceful places, then head for Mount Kaputar National Park, the Barraba track will not disappoint you. A restricted 4WD trail accessible all year round with only 8 vehicles a week permitted entry. The track is situated in northern New South Wales, stretching from Kapitar plateau to the eastern boundary of the park. While this track isn’t particularly hard or challenging you do need a 4X4 with reasonable ground clearance.
This is a bit of a weekend trip from Sydney, but this track should not be missed, a truly superb location and special experience that’ll make you feel like you’re the only person on earth! The weather can change overnight and usually quite unpredictable so make sure your well-prepared for any eventuality. Valleys and cliffs along a wilderness trail that eventually leads to an altitude of 1510m looking out over an unforgettable view from the summit where you can just see the spectacular volcanic landscape of Mount Dowe and Lindsay Rock Tops.
3.The Barrington Tops National Park: The Barrington Trail (3 1/2hr NW of Sydney)
Length: 15 KM
Min Drive Time: 1 Day
Highlights: There are many 4WD camp spots nearby and well worth the overnight stay!
Alerts: Best driven during the months of October – May (most tracks tend to be closed from 1st of June to 30th September)
Ensure you check park closure information thoroughly before you go as opening times are only a rough guide and tracks are subject to closure with little notice in the event of harsh unpredictable conditions. Accurate GPS device is highly recommended as signage in the area is poor, and many tracks are hidden and difficult to find.
Barrington Tops is a picture-perfect paradise perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer escape. Once you have visited this mystical subalpine terrain you will find this area quite addictive. The rainforests of Barrington Tops National Park forms part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area.
Possibly the most iconic 4WD track in the Barrington Tops National Park, this track will take you from the lower Barringtons up to the Tomalla road intersection. The trail was once a foot traffic only trail and has recently been opened for drivers. The Barrington Trail has some of the oldest trees in Australia and spectacular views out over the mountains.
I have no 4×4 experience would I be able to get to Junction Pools campground travelling the Barrington trail?
Firstly, we do recommend that you grab yourself a good map and usually anywhere that sells topos can provide you with one or the Barrington Tops NP will have one for you. The track in and out can be challenging when it’s been raining (they lock the gates in winter) any other time of the year the access is fairly good. If the gates are locked, you could still get to Gummi Falls Camp via Bullock Brush road if you needed a place to stay.
4.The Lobs Hole Ravine Campgrounds, Snowy Mountains
Length: 22 KM
Min Drive Time: 1 Day
Highlights: This area has a range of beautiful bushwalks including the historic ruin on the Jounama heritage walk and the magnificent Yarrangobilly River. If you enjoy paddling and swimming opt to visit during the warmer months.
Alerts: Check water levels before attempting any river crossings as Yarrangobilly River may be impassable after heavy rains
If you need an invigorating dose of spectacular mountain views, fresh air and nature then head for the 4WD trail of Lobs Hole Ravine. The Lobs Hole Ravine Trail, located in the Snowy Mountains is a 4WD enthusiast playground and accessible all year round.
This track was used by gold miners in the 1800 and you can still see remnants of the past along the track. A true piece of Australian Gold mining along with spectacular views. This trail leads from Jounama all the way to Wallace Creek viewpoint through the northern regions of Kosciuszko National Park. This trail is ideal for an exhilarating day out fishing, walking, mountain biking, some historic sightseeing and camping off the beaten track.
5.Cocoparra National Park: Woolshed Flats Camp
Min Drive Time: 1 Day
Highlights: At Woolshed Flat campground, you can camp right on the edge of the gorgeous Turon River and access here involves an exciting 4WD river crossing.
This easy track is a leisurely drive out of Griffith through some beautiful sandy off-road driving to the campgrounds. There are plenty of tracks to explore within the park that ranges in difficulty. Cocoparra is a colourful tapestry of green forest, scenic gullies, vibrant red rocks, ephemeral waterways and striking wildflowers after the rains.
It’s one of the few remnant forested areas in the Riverina region. This tranquil, relaxed spot makes an idyllic getaway for self-sufficient campers and 4WD explorers. The campsite has large level sites, BBQ’s, eco-toilets and plenty of wildlife to see and many internal 4WD tracks to explore.
6.Southern Highlands Sojourn: Wombeyan Caves Reserve (approx. 180km from Sydney)
Min Drive Time: 1 Day
Highlights: A great mix of relaxing and adventure means you can Camp by a river, have a thrilling off-roading adventure and marvel at one of the more than 200 caverns here that make up some of the region’s undeniable appeal.
Alerts: Wollondilly River Station Camp is best booked ahead of time.
Approximately 120km south-west of Sydney, Wombeyan Caves Road in the Southern Highlands can be accessed from Mittagong or Berrima. Once you are in Nattai and Blue Mountains national parks the track is generally well maintained. Be prepared to be wowed because all along the way there are unbelievable views into Burragorang Valley. Another stop-worthy sight is the 25m long Bullio Tunnel that was hand-cut into the sandstone in 1899.
From Berrima to the caves, at the southern end of the Blue Mountains National Park is Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve (about 65km or so) and camping is permitted here. There are five caves to explore Kooringa, Fig Tree, Wollondilly, Junction and Mulwaree. If you decide not to stay at the cave site consider camping at Wollondilly River Station super spot that has great views, is pet-friendly, has fire-pits and offers great amenities.
7.Stockton Beach (170km from Sydney)
Length: 53 KM
Min Drive Time: 1 Day
Highlights: Exceptional driving and scenery plus going out onto the shore at low tide you may spot Tank Traps from WWII and the MV Synga wreck.
Alerts: Camping is only permitted in designated camping areas located south-west from Tin City, behind the beach and frontal dune. Prior to departing for Stockton Beach make sure you have a Permit for your vehicle.
Stay on defined routes and only use the WCL-designated vehicle access points, either via Gan Gan road or Lavis Lane and lastly avoid driving along the beachfront an hour or two either side of high tide.
If you ask any 4WD enthusiast which is the best 4WD beach spot in NSW you will probably hear the words Stockton Beach uttered. Arguably the most popular track, while accessible all year round its most popular in Summer when you can head out and take a dip to cool off and the kids just love rolling down the steep dunes.
Located just north of Newcastle, running between Williamtown to Anna Bay you’ll see immense dunes that form an awesome backdrop for a day of sand driving and scenes of stranded shipwrecks on the shoreline. Nothing beats the freedom of beach driving so don’t miss the opportunity to visit Stockton Beach.
8.Levuka 4WD Park
Length: 50 KM
Min Drive Time: 1 Day
Levuka is located in Northern NSW near Woodenbong on the edge of the “Scenic Rim”, of an ancient volcanic formation. Levuka is awesome for 4WDrivers offering a huge range of difficulties and the more modifications you have done to your 4wd the more tracks you will be able to go on so there really is something for every level and driving ability.
Levuka has been Australia’s most guarded secret for many years with some of the most spectacular views across the valleys. This is a great all-year-round family destination with a bit of everything for anyone from 4WDing, kayaking, bushwalking, Camping and biking, Levuka Rainforest Recreation Park has it all.
9.Yengo National Park (130km / Approx. two-hour drive)
Min Drive Time: 1 Day
Alert: The Mount Yengo Loop Trail can become challenging in deteriorating wet weather and the track must be driven one way in an anti-clockwise direction and remember the track only allows 4WD vehicles.
Yengo National Park’s is so close to Sydney it’s probably the reason why so many favour this track. Once you’re in the Lower Hunter region it will feel like civilisation is a million miles away. Yengo is part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, 154,328ha mixture of craggy gorges, open grasslands and thick bushland. The potential for adventure here is endless with a mix of Aboriginal cultural heritage, mountain-biking, bush-walking, 4WD touring, horse-riding and even birdwatching.
You will need to have a permit to access the Big Yango Loop Trail (which is 4WD only) and there will be a locked gate at the start of the trail. There are two options to overnight either the Mountain Arm campgrounds or Big Yango Homestead. There are plenty of gravel roads and dirt tracks on which to take an AWD – and the park is no less enjoyable if you do – but if you want to do the Loop, make sure you’re in a 4WD.
10.Abercrombie River National Park (250km / Approx. Four Hour Drive)
Min Drive Time: 2 Days
Highlights: The drive alone through the surrounding areas of Goulburn and Oberon will have you rubbing your eyes in disbelief at how scenic this part of the world is.
Alerts: Some of the tracks are steep and get slippery after it rains.
Abercrombie River National Park was gazetted in 1995, to preserve some of the last remnants of mountain woodland in the south-western central tablelands and to maintain the pristine quality of the Abercrombie River water catchments.
Simply put there are 3 words to describe this drive- serene- picturesque-stunning. Steep climbing tracks, river crossings, swimming holes, historical landmarks and an abundance of flora and fauna is why we keep going back. There are two park entries and no matter what your 4WD skill level is or vehicle capabilities either entrance will allow you easy access. There are four main campgrounds (Bummaroo Ford, Silent Creek, The Beach and The Sink), all with something unique to offer. Even those with camper trailers are catered for too, as Bummaroo Ford Campsite has access for camper trailers and caravans.
If you have a capable 4WD with low range gearing and higher ground clearance, then you will enjoy the extremely steep portion of the track that is accessed from the eastern Park entrance just off Felled Timber Road. If you are towing or would prefer a more leisurely drive the safe entrance to use is via Arkenstone which is on the western side.
11.The Dowling Track (760km / Approx Nine Hour Drive)
Length: 560 KM (mostly unsealed roads)
Min Drive Time: 7 Days
Highlights: There are plenty of spots and towns to check out along the way including Bourke, one of our most famous outback towns, Fords Bridge, a tiny town along the Warrego River and many more.
Alerts: This touring route involves remote outback driving, so ensure someone knows where you are and an ETA for your destination, carry enough water and ensure your 4WD is mechanically sound.
The Dowling Track is an outback touring route linking Northern NSW (Bourke) to Queensland (Quilpie) and is best navigated in the dry season between Spring to Autumn. This 560km route has to be the ultimate outback adventure that follows the path of Vincent James Dowling, as he explored the “plains of promise” in search of new opportunities throughout the 1860s.
The Dowling track is a great drive, off the beaten track and you will not see not see too many other people. There is plenty to see and do with small towns to break up the journey, friendly locals and 3 great river crossings (The Darling, The Paroo and The Bulloo)
12.Ados 4WD Course (468km / Approx. Six hour Drive)
Length: 50 KM
Min Drive Time: 3 Day
Located near Dubbo is a gem called Ado’s 4WD course. Situated on a working sheep and cattle property, the course lies in the Warrumbungle mountain range in the Central North of NSW and the winding mountain tracks rate at grade 3 and 4 and accessible all year round. You have the option of staying onsite in the shearer’s quarters or head out to the nearby national park for a spot of camping.
Other 4WD trails in magnificent national parks you may want to explore are :
- Woomargama National Park near Holbrook and Albury
- Livingstone National Park near Wagga Wagga
- Orara Escarpment for waterfalls, near Coffs Harbour
- Cunnawarra National Park near Armidale
- Wadbilliga Road’s wild country, on the sparkling Sapphire Coast
So, what are you waiting for?
It’s not all tough as guts stuff out there and within easy reach of Sydney there is no excuse. There are plenty of mild tracks to put your skills to the test and slowly ease you into the low range side of things. There is no reason why a local overnighter or weekend away can’t be every bit as exciting as a major adventure across the country.
What’s not to love about driving only a short distance to find a peaceful spot on a river bend or deserted beach to relax for a day or so? These easy 4WD tracks offer rugged driving pleasure and endless wilderness areas to explore, from waterfalls to beaches and mountaintop vistas, it’s obvious to see why so many Australians love the adventure of off-roading!
Let the 4WD adventure begin!