Australia is full of challenging locations that will push your suspension to the limit, but which ones provide the toughest test?
- Canning Stock Route, WA
The Canning is one of the most demanding drives not just in Australia but across the entire globe. It stretches over 1,800km through the most remote parts of Western Australia, meaning that any takers must have supreme levels of endurance to match a stern amount of food and water. In fact, the CSR’s endless corrugations have been known to shake vehicles and trailers apart (but only those unprepared with inadequate suspension and purpose-built setups). Despite this warning, the Canning Stock Route is certainly doable for any experienced off-roader with the right gear; plus, the attraction of untouched desert landscapes to enjoy and a hatful of stories to tell at the end is a tough carrot to turn down.
- Coffs Harbour Hinterland, NSW
An unlikely candidate: known more for its sparkling coastline and quiet café culture, the state forests inland from Coffs hold some devilishly difficult tracks. The area is full of ruts, washouts and bog holes (especially after a touch of rain) that, combined with the up-and-down terrain leading into the New England High Country, means the threat of recoveries and rollovers are ever-present. So, be warned when tackling this lush 4WD wonderland. However, if you get a taste and want to get off the ride, there are plenty of offshoots from most tracks, allowing you to count your blessings and enjoy the scenery without quite so many white-knuckle moments.
- Old Coach Road, QLD
A Gold Rush-era journey that arcs over the heights of the Great Dividing Range, the Old Coach Road is criminally overlooked as one of Cape York’s most infamous drives. Its rocky climbs and descents require a highly capable 4WD, a full arsenal of recovery gear and an unflappable driver, because anything else can spell trouble. Look around you (if you dare) on the trip to spy leftover remnants from the region’s 19th century mining camps, which add some nice history to (ahem, distractions from) the tricky drive down the range.
- Ellis Track, VIC
Short and sharp, Ellis Track is a slow-motion rollercoaster that produces white-knuckle moments and demands respect. The difficulty from the drive comes from the many obstacles your rig will have to stretch, dip and grip to overcome: bulging boulders to scrape yourself on, deep ruts to tiptoe across and all manner of spots to get twisted. It says a lot that, in a state like Victoria that’s famous for its alpine ridges and steep 4WD tracks, a 2km track in the Yarra Ranges is perhaps the most hair-raising.
- Munja Track, WA
One of the Kimberley’s last wild frontiers. The Munja is technically a side trip from the Gibb River Road, but that hardly does this slow rumble to the coast justice. The journey to Walcott Inlet from Mt Elizabeth has plenty of jump-ups and steep rocky sections to push vehicles to their limit and bring sweat to any driver’s palms, plus the threat of bottoming out is a consistent concern. The drive is slow and requires a fair bit of spotting, but the views across the Kimberley’s iconic ranges and gorge country is a fair price for your toil. Meanwhile, the remote reward of Walcott Inlet is a haven for explorers and heaven for fishermen.