Bunyip State Park is a great place to go exploring if you find yourself in the Melbourne area. It’s a 166 sq km area with heaps of bushwalking trails and a good dose of 4WD tracks. If you’re a 4WD enthusiast looking to get your fix in Victoria State, read on to check out our take on Bunyip State Park 4WD Adventuring.
How to get here:
From Melbourne, get on the M1 (Monash Freeway) to head east towards Tonimbuk Rd. Stay on the M1 for about 80 km until you reach Bunyip, then take a left to exit onto Tonimbuk Rd. After about 8 km heading north, take a right onto Jolley Rd, then another right to stay on this road when you pass by the nice, contemporary-looking Tonimbuk House. After 2 km, take a left onto Towt Rd (the path with the grade) and continue for about 7 km before taking a left to enter the state park.
You should be able to get to the park in just under two hours coming from Melbourne on a good day. The park is also accessible from Labertouche (southeast), Tynong North (southwest) and Gembrook (west).
Do I need any permits?
Unlike most national and state parks in other states of Australia, Bunyip State Park does not require you to purchase or obtain vehicle or camping permits when you come here (yay!).
Remember, however, that you need to be a licensed driver with a registered vehicle when you drive anywhere in Australia.
Do I need to follow any guidelines at the park?
Respect the park trails and the local wildlife.
Bunyip State Park has its own PDF file that details the “do’s and don’ts” while you’re there. You should check out the Parks Victoria website for the complete set of detailed guidelines, but here are some important bits:
- Only use licensed, registered cars when driving in the park.
- Never go off “formed roads” as you may be fined.
- ATV’s and motorbikes are not recommended.
- Don’t disturb any animals you find.
- No pets allowed on the premises.
A provision in the park guidelines states that vehicles with noise emissions exceeding a certain decibel point will be subject to fines or removal, so keep this in mind.
Above all, just be a good, respectful neighbor and don’t do anything obnoxious. It’s a public park, not your own personal playground!
Bunyip State Park has several notable tracks for 4WD’ers that can range from Easy to Moderate-hard. Also, be mindful that some of these tracks are also walking trails so watch for foot traffic.
A very short 4WD track that serves as a shortcut for Gentle Annie.
Length: 0.5 KM
Time to finish: About 5 mins
Difficulty: Easy (Moderate during wet seasons)
Terrain: Gravel, mud, dirt, clay, rocky
The Birrell Track is a short track that runs in the southeast area of the park, just north of Labertouche. Not much to be said here; it’s short and links Forest Rd to Robertson Creek Track (or Firetrail) and is 4WD’able in spite of it not showing up on the official park guidelines brochure.
You may encounter deep ruts and mud puddles here during wet seasons.
Robertson’s Creek Track
A moderate track that gets tricky after rain.
Length: About 10 KM
Time to finish: Under 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy-moderate (Hard during wet seasons)
Terrain: Gravel, mud, dirt, clay, rocky
Robertson’s Creek Track runs from the southeast to the eastern most tip of the state park and can be a difficult track to complete when wet. Depending on the road conditions, you may want to complete this track with another 4WD vehicle if you can.
This track may be closed during bad weather conditions, so keep up-to-date with the track closures.
Gentle Annie Track
A famous track that provides a challenge for most avid 4WD’ers.
Length: About 43 KM
Time to finish: About 3-4 hours
Difficulty: Moderate (Hard during wet seasons)
Terrain: Gravel, mud, dirt, clay, rocky, river
The Gentle Annie Track is the most popular 4WD track in Bunyip State Park and is located on the northeastern portion of the park. You don’t necessarily need any mods to your 4WD when taking on this track; some 4WD message board users have reportedly finished the track on stock suspensions and smaller 4WD models. While not a particularly difficult track to complete, it may prove challenging when wet.
You can access this track by getting onto Forest Rd, north of Labertouche. You can choose to attack it from the south and enter Robertson Creek Track, or head north towards Tea Tree Rd and ride along the Western Track.
Certain portions of this track may be closed during bad weather conditions, (mainly Western Track and Tea Tree Trail) so keep yourself updated.
Blue Range Track (circuit)
A winding circuit that runs the northern section of Bunyip State Park.
Length: About 15 KM
Time to finish: About an hour
Difficulty: Easy (Moderate-hard during wet seasons)
Terrain: Sand, mud, dirt, rocky, river, clay
Also known as Blue Range Trail Ride, the Blue Range Track is a long, but easy circuit that runs through a good portion of Bunyip State Park’s northern area. While not particularly a hard track (drivers in Toyota RAV4’s can easily complete this), it does offer access to several walking trails and is a decent, winding track to consider if you want a drive that isn’t too much of a challenge.
To get here, get onto Andersons Rd and choose either Little Bunyip Track or Andersons Track as your starting point. Continue 4WD’ing along Bunyip Ridge Track and you should be able to get back to your starting point via Bunyip River Rd.
You can also choose to continue east towards Labertouche, to head out or north to proceed towards Gentle Annie.
When you’re done slogging through the muck and feel like kicking your boots off to appreciate the wondrous nature that surrounds you, you may want to consider checking out the following areas.
A quiet waterfall great to refresh yourself in during the springtime.
The Lawson Falls is a relatively low profile waterfall located on the east end of Bunyip State Park. It is directly north of Labertouche and can be accessed via a 2-3 km hike from the Lawson Falls Picnic Ground or taking your vehicle north towards Forest Rd. If you decide to hike, you may need to gear up accordingly as the track can be overgrown with greenery in some areas. Alternatively, you may find it hard to look for parking if you drive up as there are no parking lots on Forest Rd.
The best times in the year to visit are in the winter and spring when the water flows are at their heaviest.
Take note, when at the falls:
- No swimming
- No camping
- No wheelchair access
- No rubbish
- No pets
- No bikes
Four Brothers Rocks (circuit)
A scenic, but steep, trail that offers a challenge to seasoned bushwalkers.
Four Brothers Rocks is a 14 km scenic bush walk located on the western side of Bunyip State Park. It’s about a half hour away from Gembrook to the west. You can get here by heading east on Beenak E Rd, taking a right to get onto Gembrook-Tonimbuk Rd and parking at Mortimer Camping Ground on your left, after traveling about 7 km.
Alternatively, you could also start the trail from the Four Brothers Car Park by taking a left onto Link Rd, then head north until you take a right at Burgess Rd. The car park should be at the end of this road. This route can be considered if you don’t have plans on camping overnight.
Certain park websites and trail websites rate this walk as a Grade 3 or 4 hike, so extensive bushwalking experience is highly recommended!
As its name suggests, you can expect a lot of granite rock formations on your hike. Hiking poles are recommended as the first sections of the trail can be steep and either dusty or full of clay if you come in the summer or winter.
You can expect to finish this trail in about 3-4 hours and expect elevation changes of about 500 meters.
Bunyip State Park & Fire Hazards
Bunyip State Park only established itself as a park entity in 1992, but has suffered immensely from bushfires since. In 2009, roughly 45% of the state park was burned during the Black Saturday Bushfires. However, the park and its residents suffered from bushfires during May of this year.
If you should consider lighting campfires or stoves when in the area, always check the Fire Danger Ratings and active Fire Bans before camping.If you find that you are near an active bushfire, stay calm and turn back. Also, if you should find reason to believe there is an active, unsupervised fire nearby, notify authorities by calling in 000, or the Victoria Emergency Hotline 1800-226-226.