5 Best 4WD Tracks Near Brisbane

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Most people who visit Brisbane are impressed by the city attractions around the Brisbane River. But venture a little further away from the city and head off-road to discover a world of nature just begging to be discovered. Where to go? Winner of the Australian Society of Travel Writers 2014 Best Travel Book award, Danielle Lancaster, shares five 4WD tracks from her book 4WDTreks Close to Brisbane.

4WDTreks Close to Brisbane is the first mapping book of its kind to be available by electronic download. If you’re looking for adventurous things to do around Brisbane, read it and find out the best 4WD tracks Brisbane and surrounds have to offer.

Take a cue from this inspirational travel quote by Helen Keller, who said: “Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all”, and plan your next 4X4 adventure near Brisbane. 

4WD Tracks Brisbane

1- Keyhole Track

Trek: 23
Rated: Difficult
Length: 1 day

Stray behind the sand dunes on North Stradbroke Island and you’ll discover Fisherman’s Road, also known as the number plate cruncher.

It’s one of those 4WD tracks near Brisbane for adventurous travellers.

It traverses through heathlands, marshlands, past lakes and lagoons and at times through some very deep bog holes.

Flooded 4X4 tracks brisbane stradbroke queensland
An exciting 4×4 track near Brisbane is this one on Stradbroke Island.

A high clearance four-wheel drive, fitted with a snorkel is recommended as these holes may not only be wide and deep but additionally have steep drop-offs.

Walking water crossings before driving them is a must.

4wd tracks brisbane

The entry and exit to this 4WD track is either from the southern end via Tarzi Road or the northern approach from Main Beach, two kilometres south of the beach entry from George Nothling Drive near Point Lookout.

This is the tourist hub of Stradbroke Island.

This access and entry point is via a creek bed, which in places becomes very narrow and subject to erosion and flooding.

You’ll need to time your drive with the tide if you’re exiting the 4WD track from here.

There are a few pull off areas around the lakes for a swim or picnic but other than that there are no facilities.

The lakes are great for kayaks and canoes and wildlife can be prolific especially in the early morning and late afternoon.

The fishing along Main Beach, particularly when the tailor and whiting are running is fantastic and a great way to finish off the drive.

4wd tracks brisbane Keyhole
The Keyhole Track is an exciting 4WD track near Brisbane.

2- 14 Rivers Run

Rated: Medium
Length: 1–2 days

Following an old bullock wagon track, you cross the Condamine River fourteen times.

It’s one of those 4WD tracks you’ll talk about forever as this is the headwaters of the mighty Murray-Darling River system.

4wd tracks brisbane
River Run is one of the scenic 4WD tracks near Brisbane.

Boonah, 100 kilometres south-west of Brisbane, is the best place to start and finish this drive.

Mark the historic Dugandan Hotel, one kilometre west of Boonah as a stopping point on your return.

It’s a friendly country pub with a good hearty menu for meals and a top spot to toast the end of the drive.

Dugandan Pub Boonah
The Dugandan Pub in Boonah is one of the stops while exploring one of the 4wd tracks Brisbane.

This is also one of the more scenic 4WD tracks, past farms framed by rolling hills.

Hauling timber has stopped but the track is used by locals, walkers, trail bikers and horse riders.

Many of the river crossings have grassed areas suitable for pulling over and if you have an eager eye you may even spot a platypus.

A farm on one of the 4wd tracks brisbane

Queen Mary Falls, tumbling 400 metres remains one of the main attractions of the 4WD track but don’t overlook pulling up for the shorter walks to falls such as Daggs, which can often be just as spectacular.

Queen Mary Falls
Queen Mary Falls is one of the sights to see while exploring this 4WD track from Brisbane.

The Condamine River Road is closed when there has been heavy rain as the river itself often carries large boulders and trees and can rise very quickly.

Vehicles have been washed away so walking crossings is strongly advised, so please obey road closed signs as it’s the only access for some locals in an emergency.

Crossing the Condamine River on 4wd tracks brisbane
Crossing the Condamine River can be dangerous so take heed of the signs while on this 4WD track.

Camping and cabins are available at the privately owned and pet-friendly Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park and there are B&B’s along the track and accommodation options in Killarney and Boonah.

If you’d like to venture further, here are more driving adventures in Queensland and some tips for your Australian road trip. Also, if you love driving, have you considered a Tasmanian driving trip or a Canadian driving trip?

3- The Rainforest Way

Trek: 4
Rated: Easy
Length: 1–2 days

Along this drive you will skirt the rims of ancient volcanoes through the rainforest and have access to camping areas, walking trails, lookouts and local wares.

It’s one of the most scenic 4WD tracks you’ll find in the area. While it is easily accomplished this 4WD track in a day’s drive from Brisbane we do recommend you consider an overnight stay.

waterfalls on one of the 4WD tracks from Brisbane
Brisbane’s 4WD tracks offer beautiful forest scenery.

Heading from Beaudesert, approximately 65 kilometres south-west of Brisbane, this easy drive follows the bitumen along the Mount Lindsey Highway.

After leaving the highway on Innisplain Road, take the dirt detour under the railway bridge to your left which crosses Running Creek many times before re-joining the tar – it’s more scenic.

On crossing the border of Queensland into New South Wales you are officially on Lions Road, a community built road.

There’s a donation box there so take few minutes and throw in a few gold coins, please.

There are lookouts one after another, walks, villages with fresh produce and market stalls and amazing fauna and flora as you wind through the Border Ranges National Park.

Permits are required for vehicle day use and camping in all areas of the Border Ranges and Mebbin National Parks.

Day vehicle registration stations are at each park entry and exit so take the correct amount of change.

4X4 track brisbane 23 border ranges 4134
Get a view of the Border Ranges while on a 4X4 driving journey from Brisbane.

A top tip is to call into Buck’s at Chillingham for the best and some of the most unusual varieties of fruit and vegetables.

He’s a top bloke! And hidden amongst the ranges are some fabulous secluded B&B’s for couples to families and those that accommodate groups of friends.

One of my favourites is Mavies Kitchen and Cabins.

4wd tracks brisbane 24 border ranges mavies cafe 4191

4- Cooloola’s Coloured Sands

Trek: 16
Rated: Medium
Length: 1–2 days

To one side as you drive, you have towering cliffs of coloured sand and to the other the wide-open ocean and battering surf.

Cooloola coloured cliffs
One of the most amazing sights to see on a 4X4 track from Brisbane is the Cooloola coloured cliffs.

It would have to be Queensland’s best on-shore collection of sand cliffs but along with that, there’s Carlo Sand Blow stretching more than 15 hectares to see and The Million Dollar Car Wash around Mudlo Rocks to navigate.

Expect to share the beach with horse riders, anglers, walkers and emergency services personal undertaking four-wheel driving training.

Give them a friendly wave and the right away.

4x4 tracks brisbane 06 cooloola 2635
An Emergency Services vehicle driving along the Cooloola 4×4 beach.

From Brisbane, head north around 126 kilometres to Cooroy.

Cross the Noosa River on the vehicle barge and continue towards the beach – make sure you have your Vehicle Access Permit displayed.

This is some beach drive!

There are camping areas along the Teewah Beach Camping Zone, at Inskip Peninsula Recreation Area and at Freshwater Campground.

You’ll need to pre-book.

As with all beach drives: time it, folks, with the tide.

Mudlo has earned its reputation as the Million Dollar Car Wash for a reason with an average of one vehicle a week getting lost to the tide.

There is an alternative route but you miss some magnificent coloured sand cliffs.

Car wreck along the Cooloola 4x4 beach
Be wary of the tide as it’s easy to wreck your vehicle along this 4×4 driving beach.

This drive can also be easily added to a Fraser Island trip via Inskip Point for those interested in an extended touring option.

4wd tracks brisbane 10 cooloola 2987

Did you know? There are an estimated 72 hues in the coloured sand cliffs.

4wd tracks brisbane 11 cooloola 3044

5- Duck Creek Road

Trek: 12
Rated: Easy/Medium
Length: 1 day

This is a great day drive from Brisbane into the farmlands of the Scenic Rim ending at the World Heritage-listed Lamington National Park and O’Reilly’s.

The O’Reillys are the original family that settled the area and still live here surrounded by lush rainforest and run the rainforest retreat.

Duck Creek Road, best-accessed south of Beaudesert, is a Do-It-Yourself Road built by the local community from 1980-1988.

You’ll see signs along the way of sites auctioned to raise revenue to maintain the road, hence the donation box for us to add our two bobs to be able to access the track.

4wd tracks brisbane - Duck Creek Road
Duck Creek Road is one of the exciting 4WD tracks near Brisbane.

It’s a windy road to the top, twisting and in places very narrow, with pull-off areas at the lookouts but no facilities till you reach the O’Reilly’s guest area.

Through changing vegetation of grasslands to dry eucalypt and then temperate rainforest the clay parts of the track after rain can become very slippery.

Vehicle driving on one of the 4wd tracks brisbane
Stunning mountain scenery can be seen from this 4WD track.
4wd tracks around brisbane 15 duck creek 4678

There is camping permitted in the Green Mountains Camping Area near O’Reilly’s and free access to many walks ranging from short to multi-day hikes.

Top tip: Look carefully for the Satin Bowerbird that’s been nesting for years not far from the ranger’s information centre and don’t leave anything blue out.

Colourful birds on a branch along one of the 4wd tracks around brisbane
Spot colourful birdlife along the 4WD tracks near Brisbane.

‘4WDTreks Close to Brisbane’ is available from all good bookshops, through Boiling Billy and signed copies directly via Danielle Lancaster.

Watch this video of a 4WD tour in Byfield National Park:

4wd tracks around brisbane queensland

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danielle lancaster
I’m an international award-winning photojournalist, author of an award-winning book 4WD Treks Close To Brisbane and former president of the Australian Society of Travel Writers. Based in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, my work takes me around the world uncovering new adventures, meeting wonderful people, exploring and then sharing these experiences through my writing and imagery.