There are so many great 4WD trails in NSW to choose from, so finding a top 5 is challenging.
We’ve attempted to cover the coast, inland, mountains and rainforest to get a taste of which off-roading adventures await the more daring at heart.
4WD Trails in NSW – Barrington Tops
When it comes to a 4WD or AWD challenge, it literally doesn’t get much higher than Barrington Tops.
This is one fantastic drive with tremendous views across the remote Barrington Wilderness. The drive takes you up and down steep sections of dense rainforest and Antarctic beech forest. In the highest areas (around 1500 metres) there are even stands of gnarly snow gums. The variety of natural habitats and rare plants and animals partly explains why the 80,000-hectare Barrington Tops National Park has made the World Heritage List.
The trail is not difficult by the usual 4WD standards, but conditions can change in a flash with the notoriously unpredictable alpine weather. Watch out for snow and ice, especially if you’re visiting from mid-Autumn to mid-Spring.
Tips for driving Barrington Tops
- Visit in the summer. Wintertime is snow time, so Barrington Tops Trail is closed from June to September.
- Camp overnight or stay in Gloucester. The total length of the drive is around 290km, which makes it a long day’s drive.
- There are plenty of great hiking trails for the more active – make sure to check out The Grandis, the tallest known tree in NSW.
If you’re into fishing, birdwatching, swimming or a general escape from the rat-race, look no further than Myall Lakes.
This pristine coastal area is made up of a long chain of connecting lakes that provide a haven for waterbirds and many fish species. A narrow stretch of coastal dunes and beaches popular with surfers, beach anglers and 4WDers separates the national park’s lake system from the open Pacific Ocean. The whole drive usually starts in Bulahdelah and ends at Hawks Nest (around 140kms, not counting beach driving).
Tips for 4WD trails in Myall Lakes, NSW
- Avoid peak times for a more tranquil experience. Lots of camping means the area can get pretty crowded on weekends and school holidays.
- For a real wilderness experience, visit one of the campsites only available by hiking trail or watercraft.
- Challenge your 4WDing abilities on the sand – legally. Only drive on designated 4WD beaches and lower your tyre pressure.
4WD tracks at Gardens of Stone National Park
This 4WD trail winding through Gardens of Stone National Park would have to be one of my favourite off-road drives in NSW.
The reasons are plenty. The geology in the region is varied and spectacular, a mix of towering cliffs, sandstone escarpments and limestone outcrops. Most interesting of all are the eroded domes known as Pagoda rock formations. Small banksias and other trees thrive between these rocks, which look like a garden (hence the name).
The twisting drive provides plenty of ever-changing views. There is a section that can be done in an AWD vehicle if you’re going to Baal Bone Gap and back. More challenging sections lay ahead, requiring low range, high clearance 4WD vehicles. There’s a particularly steep rocky section that climbs out of a lush narrow valley lined by ferns and tall trees.
The park is located in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, with Lithgow being the closest major centre.
Tips for tackling the 4WD trail in Gardens of Stone National Park
- Take care when driving around blind bends.
- Check which areas of the park are open. Some sections may be closed due to the devastating fires of 2019 and 2020.
- Stop at the picnic area at Baal Bone Gap for some superb views.
Deua National Park 4WD Trails
When it comes to things to do, this park features an expansive array: hiking and mountain biking trails, swimming, fishing, birdwatching, camping, picnics and even some exciting cave exploring. For wildlife encounters, camp out at Bendethera Valley campground where wombats, wallabies and kangaroos come out at dusk to play.
As a 4WD destination, the park throws up plenty of challenges including steep ascents and descents, muddy boggy areas, rocky sections and several potentially tricky water crossings. Don’t try driving around here in anything less than a high clearance, low range 4WD.
Tips for driving Deua National Park, NSW
- Check for closures. Some areas of the park may be closed due to bushfire damage, and trails can be shut at a moment’s notice in wet weather.
- Be careful with currents. Creek crossings rise and fall without warning, making driving seriously slippery. Always check current alerts on nationalparks.nsw.gov.au before heading out.
- Visit during Spring and Autumn. Winter is often icy and even snowy.
Mungo National Park
At around 875km west of Sydney, Mungo National Park may seem a long way to go, but it’s well worth it for very special reasons.
Most of the driving around Mungo National Park is AWD friendly, with some rough bits thrown in for good measure. But for us, it’s not the driving that’s the main highlight. The park is part of the greater Willandra Lakes region. The (now ancient) eroded landscape was, and still is, the home of local Aboriginal people, so the area is a designated World Heritage site. Ancient burial sites were found here with human remains dating back 42,000 years – most famously Mungo Lady and Mungo Man.
Tips for taking on the Mungo National Park 4WD trail
- Check out the eroded dunes of the Walls of China near sunset or sunrise. The colours are extraordinary.
- Take in all the best spots on the 70km self-guided tour.
- Spend some time visiting the fascinating ruins of a once-thriving pastoral station on the Zanci Pastoral Loop.
Did you know we have recently launched TrulyAus Tagalong Tours? We take groups of 4WD enthusiasts on epic adventures around the country. See if there’s a tour happening near you by visiting our adventure hub.
Ready to explore more of Australia by car? Take a look at these: