Experienced 4WDer Shaun Whale has seen the best and worst of what Australia has to offer, whether it's island getaways, tough tracks or remote camping, he's been there and done it.
REDARC caught up with Shaun to find out the best places from around the country for beginners to 4x4ing to test themselves out and see all of the natural beauty the country has to offer.
There’s no doubt about it, Fraser Island is one of my favourite off-road destinations of all time. Apart from it being a sensational island escape, Fraser is so appealing to many because it is the perfect destination for novice 4WDers. Just by letting your tyres down to around 20PSI, you will find that even a basic stock-standard 4WD will let you get anywhere on this massive sand Island. My suggestion is to camp a few nights on the eastern side on the beach and from there take in many of the hotspots like Lake Mackenzie, Eli Creek, the Maheno Wreck and Lake Wabby. From there, head north and either camp at Orchid Beach or at Sandy Cape and see the Champagne Pools and Sandy Cape Lighthouse, while you’re, are relaxing up here and finish your trip off by camping on a secluded campsite on the western side of the island. My pick of the crop is Coongul Creek; even in the busy school holiday periods, you can get away from the crowds and have some of the best coastal camping in the country all to yourself.
Victorian High Country
At only a few hours from Melbourne, the Victorian High country is one of the best off-road and camping destinations in Australia. If you stick to the main tracks and fire trails, the High Country is very achievable by stock 4WDers and very basic skills. The only consideration you really need to have is that many of these tracks are steep and a vehicle with low range is required and that it can become very slippery after rain.
In my opinion, no trip to the High Country is complete without visiting Craig’s Hut and driving the Blue Rag Track. In my opinion, this is the single most scenic track in Australia and needs to be on the bucket list of every 4WDer. There is some great camping just north of Dargo along the creek which is very good. But if you’re into bush camping, there are so many different campsites scattered through the High Country, you’d be hard-pressed experiencing them all in a lifetime. Some of the best camps I have found over the years is by following little goat tracks off the main track that lead down to a creek. These are not listed in any books or website, but there are enough of these types of campsites around you will be able to find your own after a couple of hours of exploring.
Outback Pub Run
There’s just something about the Aussie Outback that stirs up all kinds of excitement and adventure for me. They call the Outback, ‘big sky country’ for a very good reason and when you’re kicked back at a campsite with a landscape of red dirt around you a fire burning some mulga wood and a cold beer in your hand, you’ll soon understand why camping in the Outback is so special. Outback pubs are usually very quirky and full of character and history about our early pioneering days and no Outback experience is complete without visiting a few. Plan a trip via some backroads, that takes in a few Outback landmarks and pubs and you have all the ingredients of a quintessential Outback experience.
Some of my Favourite Outback Pubs worth seeing are; The Birdsville Hotel, The Royal Mail Hotel at Hungerford QLD, Nindigully Pub, The Tilpa Hotel and The Prairie Hotel in Parachilna. Of course, there are many more great iconic pubs, but if you can plan an Outback trip that incorporates at least two of these pubs, you will have a great time. Better yet, plan your trip around a few of the events that happen in the Outback from camel racing to yabbie races and you will have an absolute ball!
Double Island Point and Teewah Beach
If you are in SE QLD, you simply have to book in a weekend where you can go up to Double Island Point and camp at Teewah Beach. It’s super affordable and offers some great camping and beach driving only a couple of hours away from Brisbane. It’s the perfect destination for complete beginners and those that want to try out a bit of camping, not too far away from civilisation. My opinion is to pick a weekend that is not in the holiday period or around a public holiday, or better yet, take a couple of days midweek to avoid the crowds.
Pebbly Beach, Coffs Coast
It’s not a big secret of mine, that one of my favourite campsites on the east coast of Australia is Pebbly Beach about 40 minutes north of Coffs Harbour. What makes this place so great is that you have to access the magnificent campsites via a short beach drive and it is truly a 4WD only campsite. That keeps most of the undesirables out and makes it the perfect place to take your family. When you’re planning a trip to Pebbly Beach, make sure you plan your trip around the tides. There is a small brackish creek that you will need to cross to get in and out of the campsite. At low tide, the water barely comes up to your hubs and you will have no issues getting in and out. The caretaker Rob is also a top bloke and will make you and your family feel very comfortable camping here.