There are plenty of scenic spots and plenty of lengthy off-road trips in Australia, but few combine both elements quite as well as these classic touring trails. So, get ready to grab a map, pack the car and head for the horizon.
Starting in Mt Dare on the edge of the Simpson Desert and finishing in the small town of Timber Creek, Binns Track is an all-encompassing 4WD trek through Central Australia. Along the way you’ll encounter small towns and abandoned stations, head-turning ranges and dusty plains, testing corrugations and newly sealed roads; sometimes each pole is separated by a few kilometres, sometimes by a few days.
The Flinders Ranges
Dotted with red folded ranges that have never failed to turn a head, the Flinders Ranges are one of the country’s most awe-inspiring off-road destinations. The journey from Wilpena Pound to Arkaroola – the former in the South Flinders Ranges and the latter in the North Flinders Ranges – takes in the most impressive peaks in the region. This trip also gives travellers the chance to visit stunning gorges, old stations and ruins and try their hand at some tougher tracks, most of which can be found through the northern section around Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park.
The Oodnadatta Track
Less of a 4WD challenge and more of an Outback exploration tour, the Oodnadatta Track should be on everyone’s off-road bucket list. The drive itself combines stunning scenery with big dollops of history, which in large part is thanks to its path that runs alongside the Old Ghan Railway. Along the way you’ll encounter rich red landscapes, multiple ruins and attractions like the Pink Roadhouse and the Painted Desert.
The Savannah Way
The Top End’s classic touring route has been well grooved by countless travellers over the years, and with good reason: the drive in its entirety can take you through five world heritage sites and 15 national parks across three states and territories over a mammoth 3,700km. The broadest definition of the Savannah Way is the route between Cairns and Boome (though many also say it’s between Normanton and Mataranka), between which is a highlight reel of things to see and do including the lush Outback oases, crystalline artesian springs, deep red gorges and remote campsites in the middle of nowhere.
Darling River Run
The longest river system in Australia has a firm place in the country’s pastoralist history, while its course intersects with a heap of interesting and unique off-road regions. The drive loosely follows the river, which itself comes in contact with established ports that sprung up in days gone by: Bourke, Wentworth and Tilpa to name a few. Aside from these classic Outback towns, the journey along the Darling River also gives you the chance to head off on side trips to Mungo, Kinchega and White Cliffs national parks – each of which have unique arid landscapes, wildlife and tracks to discover.
The Gibb River Road
Once an unknown frontier but now a fan favourite among 4WD tourers, the Gibb River Road’s weather-worn red gorges, countless side trips and variety of landscapes makes it the ultimate off-road adventure. In truth, the Gibb’s popularity has drained some of its mystery; the sealed sections which are slowly inching across its length prove this. However, despite this knock, the heights the Kimberley reaches are simply higher than most any other off-road destination on Earth. In fact, all told a trip down the Gibb River Road can explode from the standard 650km to over 3000km with all its side trips included, within which are places like Mitchell Falls, Walcott Inlet, Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary and much more.