The coastal city of Townsville features enough sunshine to tan yourself 320 days out of each year. So, it is a perfect destination for those seeking to escape the bitter cold of winter. The numerous World Heritage-listed national parks and tropical gardens also sweeten the deal for the township. In addition, it is also home to some of the most spectacular natural landscapes and attractions in Australia.
Townsville is considered as the gateway to North Queensland, Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics, and the Queensland outback. It is a vibrant and bustling city located under the towering Castle Hill. The town also features numerous restaurants with alfresco dining, buildings set in Federation-style architecture, several boutique shops, and a cool and soothing ocean breeze adding to its coastal vibe. The town may have all these attractions but most good 4WD tracks are located quite far.
Are you planning to take head to Townsville on your next trip? Here are the best 4WD tracks near Townsville…
- Poison Valley Road
- Lochern National Park
- Mount Lewis Track
- Paluma Range Bluewater Track
- CREB Track
- Bonus: Bloomfield Track
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.
Poison Valley Road
Location: 260 km southwest of Townsville
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Track Length: 28 km
Track Time: 1-2 hours
Terrain: Clay or mud
The Poison Valley Road passes through heavily vegetated areas like open eucalyptus woodlands, acacia scrubs, and heaths. It is also surrounded by the rugged hills that make up the Torrens Creek catchment. The road and the namesake valley got its name from the heart-leaf poison bush (Gastrolboum grandiflora) that grows abundantly in the area. This plant is harmful to humans because it contains the poison mono sodium fluoroacetate which is more commonly known as 1080. The Poison Valley Road ends atop the banks of Torrens Creek which is the most northerly stream that runs directly onto Lake Eyre.
The road is located inside White Mountains National Park which is situated 80 km northeast from the town of Hughenden and 140 km southwest of Charters. While on the way, you can pass by Burra Range lookout and the site is accessible even for conventional vehicles.
The park covers a total of 112,000 hectares and the rugged wilderness features spectacular natural features like white sandstone gorges and bluffs. It is also home to diverse flora and fauna. The also hosts 14 unique ecosystems in the Desert Uplands’ bioregion which makes it one of the most botanically diverse national parks in inland Queensland.
The access road that leads to Canns Camp Creek will also challenge your 4WD skills. When dry, it is accessible for vehicles with high clearance and camper trailers (excluding caravans or buses). However, during the wet season, which usually lasts from November to April, the road may be boggy and impassable especially for non-4WD vehicles. So, care should be taken when driving through the area after rain.
You can find more information about Poison Valley Road here.
Lochern National Park
Location: 921 km southwest of Townsville
Difficulty: Easy to Hard
Track Length: Varies
Track Time: Varies
Terrain: Sand, Rocky, Clay
The area was once a grazing property but it was declared as a national park in 1994. This was done by the government because it sits by the banks of the Thomson River which measures more than 20 kilometres. In addition, the area hosts the four species of Mitchell Grass particularly the bull, curly, barley and hoop. The property also has diverse species of plants and animals which is typical of the undisturbed areas in Channel Country.
The most challenging 4WD track at the park is the Lochern Habitat Drive. It is a two to four-hour scenic drive that can only be accessed by 4WD vehicles even in good weather. After heavy rain, the track is closed for visitors. The track passes through tall trees like gidgee, bloodwood, and mulga before you reach the grass plains composed of Mitchell. The track will also lead you to other sites like the floodplains of the Thomson River and the Bluebush Lagoon. You can either take a dip or watch the birds on both of these sites.
The park provides two camping site choices for its visitors. One is at the shore of the Broadwater while the other is located near the Thomson River and the park’s eastern boundary. When you head to the latter, you will have to tackle a track that follows along the edge of a steep bank that travels down to a long and vegetated billabong. The Broadwater campsite is also ideal for bird watching as the pond is flocked by thousands of birds. At night, you will hear the cacophony of bird noises that these animals make. However, you will need to secure permits and fees before you can set up camp. In addition, the camping tag and booking that will be provided to you after you secure the proper documents must be displayed at your campsite.
You can also take your boat or canoe to the park and tour the length of the Broadwater. If you’re done exploring the waterways, you can also fish to catch fresh fish which can serve as your lunch or dinner. However, fish size and bag limits do apply.
You can find more information about Lochern National Park here.
Mount Lewis Track
Location: 473 km northwest of Townsville
Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
Track Length: 28 km
Track Time: 3-5 hours (one-way)
Terrain: Mud and clay
The North Queensland region is also known as the Wet Tropics World Heritage Region which begins at Black Mountain National Park in the north near Cooktown and ends at the Paluma National Park on the north of Townsville. The area is an unbroken chain of lush forests declared as national parks and reserves which measures a total of 9000km2. However, the nearest part of the Wet Tropics that has a decent 4WD track is Mount Lewis National Park which is situated on the Julatten Tableland, west of Mossman. The park is set apart from the other rainforests in the area as it is a “rainforest in the clouds”. It got this moniker because the forest is located on the third highest mountain range in Australia.
The most famous track on the park is the Mount Lewis Track which will lead you to Round Mountain and Lyons Lookout. The latter will enable you to witness the vast wilderness and towering mountains. The track also ascends up to 1200 metres above sea level making it one of the highest tracks in Queensland.
Mount Lewis Track also cuts through the lush rainforest and follows the contours of the watershed that feeds famous rivers like Mossman, Daintree, Mitchell, and McLeod. The track is only 28 km long but it is definitely worth it. The track starts at the Highland Tavern located on the Mossman-Mount Molly Road which continues as a sealed road for about a kilometre. After crossing the bridge and heading to the mountain, the track rises 500 metres above sea level. It also cuts through dense rainforest and the road is bordered by deep valleys and gorges.
The track is narrow along its entire route and common sense is needed when you need to pass other vehicles. You should also be aware of trail bikers and bird watchers who will immediately stop without warning the moment they see a bird. In addition, the Mount Lewis Track does not loop through and you must return the same way that you came in.
Mount Lewis Track is recommended only for 4WD vehicles but it has seen a lot of improvements to make it more accessible to more visitors. However, you may have to check on the weather first before coming here as the track is closed after heavy rain or during the wet season. Usually, the park receives up to four metres of rain that will make the track impassable.
You can find more information about Mount Lewis Track here.
Paluma Range Bluewater Track
Location: 64.8 km east of Townsville
Track Length: 54 km
Track Time: 2-3 days
Terrain: Muddy and Rainforest
The Paluma Range National Park has everything that an adventurer wants especially 4WD tracks. There are tracks like the old Bluewater Forestry Road which leads to the town of Paluma. Meanwhile, on the southern section of the range, the Bluewater Range Track is a favourite among four-wheel drivers and it leads on the northern part of the park through the old Paluma logging road.
The Paluma Range Bluewater Track (PRB) was first established by Vietnam War veterans a few years ago. However, some parts of the track were destroyed by Cyclone Yasi back in 2011 and no one has gained access to it because of the debris. Since then, there has been a total of 30 km of track that was cleared by off-road and bushwalking enthusiasts. These sections are located in the Forestry Rd section and near the town of Paluma. But there is still about 10 km of track in the middle that is still impassable for visitors.
Currently, there is an undergoing project to recut the track from the northern end by some volunteers of the national park. Once it is done, the track will potentially become comparable to the Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island. However, we cannot recommend this track for beginners until the process is complete or if you don’t have all the safety and navigational equipment needed for the trip.
There are also some sidetracks that you can find along the PRB Track:
- Circle View Mountain: There are two tracks that lead to Circle View Mountain. The Tube Creek track will pass by Tube Falls and will lead you near the Big Ollera Falls. Meanwhile, the Three Ways track will follow along the ridgeline to reach Oller Creek and it is also the easiest way to reach the summit of the Circle View Mountain. You can also reach Big Rock by following along the ridgeline from Circle View Mountain.
- Mt Halifax & Godwins Peak: This track follows along Roly Creek up to a portion of the track between Halifax & Godwins (hence the name). You will also reach the Roly Falls where you can take a dip.
- Roly Creek: As the name implies, this track follows along the creek, Roly Gorge, and Roly Falls. The track terminates near Paces Road where the Mt Halifax begins.
You can find more information about Paluma Range Bluewater Track here.
Location: 466 km northwest of Townsville
Track Length: 82 km
Track Time: Varies
CREB Track is nestled on both sides by lush rainforest and is composed of red clay. The track also has very steep ascents and descents that can only be tackled by 4WD vehicles with good ground clearance. The unpredictable angles also make the track impossible to drive on after a light rain. As a result, you should tread this track carefully especially when going downhill as it can get very slippery.
At the beginning of the track (for about 15 km), CREB Track is relatively easy to drive on. It’s just a winding gravel road that passes through the Daintree Rainforest. So, you will have great views of the verdant forest and pass by numerous waterfalls while driving.
As you reach the McDowall Range, the track will finally show its true colours and give you the challenge that you want. The rough track will continue onto the Daintree River where you will need to pass through a river crossing to reach the town of Daintree.
Due to its very slippery and steep clay slopes, CREB Track is not ideal for newbies. Even experienced 4WD enthusiasts are not recommended taking the track during wet weather. The track is also hard even when the weather is dry (most will even struggle to finish it). So, when the rain pours the track will increase in difficulty significantly. It can be very dangerous and vehicles will inevitably get bogged down.
The CREB Track passes through Daintree Rainforest which is a World Heritage-listed site. Due to this distinction, you must respect the rules and regulations of the park. Care and utmost respect must also be given to the native flora and fauna of the rainforest. In addition, do not litter and make a new track.
You can find more information about CREB Track here.
Bonus: Bloomfield Track
Location: 466 km northwest of Townsville
Track Length: 30 km
Track Time: 2-3 hours
Terrain: Muddy and rocky
This track must be the most famous 4WD tracks in the nation on the account of its accessibility and the shocking sights of the Daintree Rainforest. The track follows along the coast from the legendary Cape Tribulation and will end at the town of Wujul Wujul. You can likewise take this track on the off chance that you need to make a beeline for The Tip which will just take a multi-day outing to reach.
The excellent track likewise shrouds a controversial past. During the 1980s, numerous individuals contradicted the choice of the authorities to slice through an enormous piece of the Daintree Rainforest. Fortunately, the two sides traded off and met midway. The track was worked without bends so fewer trees were chopped down and it came about to the track having steep segments. Eventually, these high segments, especially on the Cowie and Donovan Ranges, have been cleared and this makes the drive simpler especially for beginners. In any case, on the off chance that you need to handle an all the more testing track, you can travel west to take on CREB Track.
Depending upon the climate and different variables, the main segment of the Bloomfield Track can be somewhat uneven because of various washouts. You will likewise go by waterway crossing which can be closed after overwhelming precipitation (check for data about the stream intersections before you begin driving). The lofty grades will likewise empower you to observe stunning perspectives on the rainforest on the Cowie Range before dropping onto progressively earth tracks and a couple more stream intersections.
Due to the moderately laid-back nature of the track, you can drive AWD rental vehicles or even trains on it. While the track may not be the most testing contrasted with CREB Track, track conditions will at present play the main consideration while handling it. In this way, don’t attempt to propel yourself outside of your customary range of familiarity and head back on the off chance that you feel awkward
You can find more information about Bloomfield Track here.
Where did Townsville Get Its Name?
Townsville – named after the financial patron as opposed to Black – at that point comprised of the few squares east of Wickham Street and subdivisions along the Strand up to Burke Street, and a comparative design along the west bank of Ross Creek.
Why Is Townsville Famous?
Townsville is a noteworthy entryway to the Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics, and the Queensland outback. It’s an energetic and clamouring city sitting under the vigilant eye of Castle Hill. Appreciate in the open-air eating, Federation-style engineering, and boutique shopping, just as the cooling sea breeze and beachfront vibe.
Where Can I Swim at Townsville?
Balgal Beach is the main shoreline toward the north of Townsville with watched swimming walled in areas during stinger season. So, it’s safe to bring the children swimming and there’s likewise a little play area. Be that as it may, don’t, under any conditions, be enticed to swim in the estuary by the fish slope.