Whether you’re crossing off those bucket list destinations, searching for hidden gems or giving your 4X4 the ultimate test, we’ve got the top Australian destinations you need to know right here.
We’ve searched far and wide to give you an iconic destination, one hidden gem and one for seasoned 4X4 enthusiasts for every state across Australia. So, strap yourself in and gear up – it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Iconic Destination: The Grampians
Magnificent summits, mountain ranges, picturesque waterfalls and lush forests as far as the eye can see – there’s something truly special about the Grampians. Located 260km west of Melbourne, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to hiking! From sedate paths to challenging treks, there’s a network of more than 30 tracks on offer - with the challenging trails rewarding those who venture into the remote wilderness with an overnight stay at Borough Huts or Boreang campgrounds. It also plays host to Halls Gap, another absolute gem nestled in the heart of the Grampians, that rounds off this magnificent trip with several lakes for canoeing or fishing and even more spectacular sights you won’t want to miss.
Hidden Gem: Snowy River National Park
Often missed by many trekking through Victoria, the Snowy River is a breathtaking display of spectacular river scenery, magnificent deep gorges and diverse forests. And the best place to see what the Snowy River has to offer is the Snowy River National Park. Protecting roughly 55% of the lower part of the Snowy River, the Snowy River National Park is an adventure lover’s paradise with countless walking tracks and trails, water rapids for canoeing or kayaking, and a 43km long four-wheel drive track that travels through the heart of the national park. There’s plenty of gentle sloping sand bars stretched along the river that provide the perfect camping spot and enough space to have your own little plot of solitude. Located 390km north-east of Melbourne, this is one outstanding national park you won’t want to miss.
One for experienced 4X4: The High Country
Number one on many 4X4 enthusiasts bucket lists, the Victorian High Country spans 646,000 hectares and, if you want to see all of it, it’ll take you a minimum of 8 days just to see all of the sights. The second you arrive, you’re met with a plethora of overflowing history cascading over the entire alpine region. Famous for its ties to Aboriginal culture and the gold rush in the 1800s, the High Country is nothing more than a utopia of tracks, where there’s something special hidden around almost every corner. This is a region that hosts unforgettable, and at times, challenging drives, through lush forested valleys and stunning vistas of blue-tinged, snow gum-covered ranges. It’s one off-road destination you won’t want to miss, but one you’ll need to plan for and worth extending the trip so you can take your time to soak it all in.
Iconic Destination: Blue Mountains National Park
Just a 2-hour drive from Sydney’s city centre and you’ll be met with a vast sea of green (not blue) stretched as far as the eye can see. This rugged and, at times, confronting region is best known for its dramatic scenery of steep cliffs, eucalyptus forest, stunning waterfalls and sparse villages spread throughout - that seem to just appear out of nowhere as if you’ve just found a clearing to a lost tribe. Whether you drive or hike through the dense forest, you’ll be met by sandstone plateaus that so defines the region, and will leave you lingering in thought as time just passes by.
Hidden Gem: Oxley Wild Rivers NP, NSW
This is one for the 4-wheel drivers. Not particularly difficult, but certainly rewarding, the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park has an extensive 4WD track that spans 95km and hosts a number of monumental views that will force you to pull over so you can just take it all in. Once you’ve conquered this track, you can either venture out to Mary’s View for a stunning 7 hour round trip, visit Wollomombi, the highest waterfall in NSW, or visit the Macleay River for some challenging kayaking or canoeing, while gazing at the picturesque beauty from ground level – hell, why not all three!
One for experienced 4X4: Port Stephens
Seen enough sights and beautiful views? Then Port Stephens has just the thing for you. Don’t get us wrong, Port Stephens is a haven of beautiful ocean views that we’d love to marvel at all day, but for the thrill seekers it plays host to a sandy playground your 4X4 will absolutely love. The Worimi Conservation Lands is only accessible to those with a 4X4 and features over 350 hectares of dune driving. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss and when you’ve challenged your 4X4 skills enough, head to Stockton for more than 22 km of beach front to set up shop, kick back and relax – thrill seeking and serenity in the one place, bliss.
Iconic Destination: Namadgi National Park
It might play host to our nation's capital but the ACT is often considered by many Canberrans as the bush capital of Australia. Why? Well, with 106,095 hectares and 160 kilometres of marked walking tracks to explore, the Namadgi National Park makes up nearly half of the ACT and, quite frankly, is an adventurers’ paradise! Located just 60km south of Canberra, there’s quite a lot to see here with scores of Aboriginal history to discover, with preservation sites showcasing how the Ngunawal people lived during the last ice age, homesteads built by European settlers (and still standing today) and an array of walking tracks that seem to home different wildlife and flora such as dingos, kangaroos, crimson rosellas, broad-leaved peppermints, snow gums and even an almost alien mountain katydid. For nature lovers, this is certainly worth the trip.
Hidden Gem: Cotter Campground
More of an overlooked marvel than a secret, set on the banks of the beautiful Cotter River and near the confluence with the Murrumbidgee River, lies the Cotter Campground. In summer, it’s a cool retreat away from the busy city life surrounded by flowing water and mountain views. And in autumn it’s filled with colourful deciduous trees that rival the beautiful hue of red seen in Japan. Providing a great base for those who are after a longer stay in the ACT region, the Cotter Campground is just a 25-minute drive from Canberra and is an easy scenic drive away from the Brindabellas.
One for experienced 4X4: The Brindabellas
Speak of the devil! For 4X4 experts, the Brindabella Range is the reason you’ve headed to the ACT in the first place. Located in the upper reaches of the Australian Alps, the Brindabellas have a range of steep and rocky tracks to negotiate, that could spell trouble for those not equipped with the right gear or those just starting out. With its high peaks, clean air and desolate drives (you’ll have the ranges virtually to yourself), it’s the ideal getaway for adventurous travellers looking to test their 4WD skills.
Iconic Destination: The Daintree Rainforest
Estimated at over 135 million years old, the Daintree Rainforest is one of the largest in Australia and one of the oldest in the world. It’s home to many animal and plant species not seen anywhere else in the world, with the almost prehistoric cassowary topping the must-see list. It also has a river flowing through it that provides an even more incredible journey for four-wheel drive vehicles only to waterfalls and tracks well and truly off the beaten path. There’s a lot to see here and a trip worth taking if you’re around Cairns or Port Douglas with the Daintree beginning at Mossman Gorge, another sight to behold, continuing past the Daintree River, through the rainforest to Cape Tribulation and along the Bloomfield Track towards Cooktown.
Hidden Gem: Middle Rock Camping Ground, Qld
If you’re visiting the coastal region between Bundaberg and Gladstone, the Middle Rock Camping Ground is the perfect spot to get some well-earned R&R. Found just south of Agnes Waters in the Deepwater National Park, Middle Rock isn’t the most hidden or the hardest to get to, but it falls in that fortunate category of being generally unknown – and that will work perfectly for those after a bit of peace and quiet. Just 100 metres off the unsealed 4WD track that runs north-south through the National Park you’ll find this tiny camping ground (that can hold 1-2 vehicles max) and just 100m further is one of the most remote, unspoilt beach Queensland has to offer – and you’ll have it all to yourself.
One for experienced 4X4: Cape York
‘You are standing at the northernmost point of Australia.’ Need a little more selling? How about monsoonal flooding, a wet and dry season bringing a plethora of challenges to tackle, beyond adverse conditions that you can’t really plan for until you’re there and a region that’s realistically only available to four-wheel drive exploration between April and October, now that’s more like it! An absolute marvel is Cape York and a region that you’re going to want to take it nice and slow, not just to see everything the land has to offer, but to minimise the amount of recovery operations that are sure to follow.
Iconic Destination: The Kimberley
Rivalling the Victorian High Country in terms of bucket list drives, the Kimberley could be the most awe-inspiring travel experience that Australia has to offer. From spectacular gorges to barren lands showcasing amazing colours and a distinct untouched impression unfelt anywhere else in the world, the Kimberley certainly is one hell of an attraction. Touring and trekking all there is to see from this natural beauty will see your odometer add some 3000km from Perth, just to get there. For 4X4 lovers, the massive Mitchell Falls, Bungle Bungle Range, El Questro, Cape Leveque’s coastline and other remote beauties will more than double that. Plan carefully for this one! Many travellers often return because there’s far too much they want to see and honestly, one trip simply isn’t enough.
Hidden Gem: Sandy Blight Junction
A spot you’d love to check out when the sun goes down. About 100 kilometres north of the Great Central Road in the heart of the Gibson Desert, you’ll find a beautiful clearing surrounded by an amazing grove of desert oaks just off the Sandy Blight Junction. It’s not an official campsite, with absolutely zero facilities, but the stargazing and tranquillity of being alone in the desert is an experience we simply cannot put into words. This is most definitely a very remote track in WA and much planning is needed. Various permits are required prior to travel.
One for experienced 4X4: The Holland Track
Pack your camping gear, this multi-day 4WD adventure will test your endurance and ability to rough it as you make your way through a perilously long winding track. Heading northeast from Hyden in the Southern Wheatbelt region, into the outback wilderness of Coolgardie, the Holland Track is one vehicle wide, full of holes and trenches that can leave your 4WD nice and stuck if the weather’s wet. If we had to rate it, we’d say it’s about medium difficulty (hard if the weather’s wet) and will take you about 2-3 days to traverse the 290km. Travelling with another vehicle and recovery equipment is strongly recommended as there’s not much out this way if you are in need some urgent help.
Iconic Destination: Kakadu National Park
One of the most significant and ecologically diverse national parks on Earth, the Kakadu National Park is both a paradise, of picturesque waterways and bustling wildlife, and a rural wasteland. You’ll see tranquil waters home to lurking reptiles, vast coastal flood plains, rugged escarpments and the most outstanding concentration of Aboriginal art in the country. The transformative change of the Top End’s monsoonal Wet and Dry season creates awe-inspiring waterfalls, gorges and billabongs that you can’t help but gaze at for hours. And with 20,000sq km of world heritage listed parkland to explore, tranquillity, amazement and wonder can all be found if you make the worthwhile journey.
Hidden Gem: Arnhem Land
A two-day drive from Katherine, Arnhem Land takes a bit to get to but boy is it worth it! This one is for 4WD travellers only (no cars or caravans, sorry) and you’ll need a permit before making the trip north. There isn’t really a single place in Arnhem Land to call out because the entire 100,000 sq km has something for everything. Whether it’s embarking on 4WD treks through stunning wetlands, swamps or floodplains, becoming deeply immersed into indigenous culture or escaping to Nhulunbuy for some of the best beachfront camping Australia has to offer, Arnhem Land is an absolute gem not to be missed.
One for experienced 4X4: The Madigan Line
If your 4X4 isn’t equipped with some quality driving lights for early morning or dusky drives, be prepared for some seriously dark remoteness – and a whole lot of soul searching. Widely regarded as the most challenging way of crossing the Simpson Desert, the Madigan Line is not a trip to be taken lightly. In essence, there is no track. Wheel tracks are almost discernible in windy conditions, the sand dunes present severe traction problems for some, and if you’re without a GPS (we mean an actual fixed GPS with inbuilt maps) following the ‘correct’ line could spell disaster if you’re travelling alone.
Iconic Destination: The Flinders Ranges
Hard to miss this one, located 200km north of Adelaide, this ancient landscape of rugged, weathered peaks and rocky gorges that seem to span endlessly across the horizon make up the largest mountain range in South Australia. You don’t ‘need’ a 4WD to traverse the Flinders Ranges but it sure would make the journey all that more comfortable! It takes about 3 days to reach the Flinders’ Ranges lofty heights and along the way you’ll find the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, the epic amphitheater of Wilpena Pound and, of course, the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park. Not just wine country, South Australia has a destination you need to visit.
Hidden Gem: Davenport Creek
It takes a bit of effort to get there, but we’re telling you, this amazing campsite is absolutely worth it! Head out west of Ceduna, just a couple of kilometres, and you’ll find Davenport Creek. However, for the real hidden gem you’ll need to drive out past Denial Bay around the edge of Tourville Bay until you find a carpark with the still waters of the mangrove-lined Davenport Creek on your left. Then, follow the wheel tracks into the vast sand dunes and eventually you’ll come to a small campsite that’s literally a fisherman’s paradise! Our tip, drop the tyre pressure for the soft sand to avoid getting stuck and you shouldn’t have any trouble.
One for experienced 4X4: The Birdsville Track
It only takes about 2 days to travel this unsealed track, which is rather short compared to others on this list, but the acres of gravel, sand dunes and gibber pains make this a tough track to navigate. Once Australia's most hazardous stock route that linked Australia’s best-known outback towns in Marree and Birdsville, barren is an understatement when it comes to this track, with Mungerannie Station the closest supply point for weary travellers. The track begins in Marree and crosses three deserts - the Tirari, the Sturt Stony and the Strzelecki. Our tip, be well prepared for supplies and equipment before tackling this one.
Iconic Destination: The Tarkine
477,000 hectares of untouched wilderness and unique habitats you won’t find anywhere else in the world, if you love getting amongst the wilderness, nothing compared to Tassie’s Tarkine. Whether you walk it or drive it, Australia’s largest remaining tract of cool-temperate rainforest is a truly unique environment that’s teeming with animal and plant life hidden in dense flora. And that’s not all, the Tarkine is a mosaic of rivers, bare mountain ranges, plateaus, cave systems and more wonders just waiting to be explored.
Hidden Gem: Deep Creek, Bay of Fires
You’re probably scratching your head thinking ‘where?’ And wondering why we’ve included this destination out of the thousands of others across Tasmania on the list. Well, aside from being well and truly off-the-radar of many outback lovers (just the way we like it), there’s a particular campsite at Deep Creek that’s a paradise of its very own. Accessible via Eddystone Lighthouse, another marvel - constructed from local granite deposits in the area – you should check out, the campsite is on the shores of Deep Creek, a wide tannin-coloured waterway that empties into the Tasman Sea just minutes from your tent. Just promise us one thing, keep this spot between us yeah?
One for experienced 4X4: Wellington Park Fire Trails
Alpine scenery? Check. Technical driving to challenge your 4WD skills? Check. Extremely muddy and high clearance tracks ready to expose the posers? Check. The Wellington Park Fire Trails is so difficult that you’re only allowed to take on this challenge in the summer when trails are drier and less prone to erosion. That doesn’t mean it’s one to take lightly. Recovery operations will be in abundance here as even the most experienced 4WD veterans can make a tiny mistake to become bogged amongst Mount Patrick, Mount Charles or Trestle Mountain. Our tip, vehicles with a wide clearance only, pack your recovery essentials and ensure you travel in pairs.