If you want to get off the beaten tracks as a beginner to 4x4ing, it can be pretty daunting to know where to go and what do you need to know.
We've teamed up with with some true 4x4 experts, Ronny, Jed, Michael, Rick and Ned, as they share their favourite 4X4 Beginner Tracks and pass on some of their knowledge. So you can have an enjoyable experience when you get out there for the first few times.
Go local and well-known
Ronny says to pick a local and popular track to start with, so if something goes wrong, help will not be far away.
“Make sure to carry a shovel, basic recovery gear and bring a handheld UHF radio. With the radio, you can call for help within a few kilometres and your passenger can help guide you over any rocks of difficult sections should you find some."
“Above all else, lower the tyres and enjoy the ride. Should you get stuck the number one thing to do is relax and take your time to figure out how and why you got stuck."
"Panic is the worst thing you can do," he says, “so relax, know that help is not far away you are on a local and popular track.”
A question he often gets asked is, can my vehicle do a specific track? His answer is “Usually. Most stock 4WD’s are capable of most tracks but when things get a bit more difficult look at tyres, a small suspension lift and perhaps frontal bar work for animal strikes."
“Add some rated recovery points and a basic recovery gear bag, as well as some recovery tracks (like Maxtrax) and you are more than set to go."
Ronny believes it’s all about safety at the end of the day, so “don’t forget about the fire extinguisher and a good first aid kit that you are actually familiar with for the little ones and the adults."
Don't get too far away from civilization if you are new to the 4X4 world
For those in the West
Jed recommends Lennard Track or Julimar State Forest if you are near the city. Otherwise, if the beach is more your thing, check out White Hills or Wilbinga.
“We’re spoilt for choice in WA”, says Jed, “I’m lucky to have travelled from top to toe on this side of the country.”
Jed also runs the Tag-a-long tours, so it’s worth checking him out if you’re new to the 4x4 scene and want to learn the ropes from someone experienced.
Tag-alongs are a great way to learn the ropes
Beach Track tips
Our biggest advice for any beach track is to AIRDOWN says, Michael.
“The first question we ask anyone we come across who is bogged is "What's your tyre pressure at?" And the majority are still running road pressure. On the sand we let our pressure down to 16psi, this goes for mud as well.”
A great local beach track, if you’re located in the Sunshine State, is Bribie Island. “It’s close to Brisbane yet you feel like you’re on Fraser.” But make sure you have the required beach vehicle permits.
And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, then Land Cruiser Mountain Park is a great location to test out your 4WD capabilities. Located 3 hours from Brisbane, this park is a great place to explore and camp for the weekend.
Michael says they love 4WDing with their 4X4 but suggests picking a destination at the end of the track. “There’s no point in flogging your 4WD for no reason.”
A beach is a great place to get a feel for your new 4X4
If you’re in Victoria
Rick recommends the Victorian High Country, there are simple 4WD tracks like King Basin Road to much more difficult tracks like Billy Goats Bluff which is quite steep.
“Lots of tracks lead to the same destination so you can really choose the kind of track you want to tackle”, says Rick.
Rick says that everything is very well sign-posted to tell you whether tracks are made for dry weather, right through to the level of track difficulty.
“Also, the maps of the High Country, the Hema High Country atlas and other guidebooks offer all grading and information about track difficulty and offer other great advice."
"You will be surrounded by spectacular scenery and it’s very easy on the eye! At the end of it, what’s not to love!"
Join a group
Ned Cakovan who runs the Australian Y62 Patrol owner’s club recommends joining a group for those who are getting into 4WDing but do not yet have the confidence or skills to go out and do it by themselves. Not only is this a great way to make friends but also gives you an opportunity to mingle with other people who share similar interests in certain vehicle types or those of a similar geographical location.
“If you’re only new to the 4x4 scene and want to learn and gain experience, but are apprehensive about going out alone, then join one of the many Facebook groups out there that have a tonne of information about a whole range of areas you could visit safely. There are plenty of people that will be more than happy to help you with important information like what you should take with you, recovery gear, maps, permits etc.”
“My Facebook group “Aussie Patrol Y62” has thousands of people that regularly share their adventures, tips, tricks and advice. We regularly get together with other followers for weekend trips or day trips. These are the best times to tag along with other like-minded people and you can feel safe knowing that you won’t be alone and that no one will leave you behind if things do happen to go wrong.”
Thank you to Ned, Ronny, Rick, Jed and Michael for their contributions.
Cover photo credit to Sean Scott photography