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.
So if you’re looking for things to do around Brisbane, read it and find out the best 4WD tracks Brisbane and surrounds have to offer.
4WD Tracks Brisbane
1- Keyhole Track
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.
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.
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.
2- 14 Rivers Run
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.
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.
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. If you have an eager eye you may even spot a platypus.
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.
The Condamine River Road is closed when there has been heavy rain. 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. Please obey road closed signs as it’s the only access for some locals in an emergency.
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.
3- The Rainforest Way
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.
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 through 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.
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.
4- Cooloola’s Coloured Sands
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.
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.
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.
This drive can also be easily added to a Fraser Island trip via Inskip Point for those interested in an extended touring option.
Did you know? There are an estimated 72 hues in the coloured sand cliffs.
5- Duck Creek Road
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.
It’s a windy road to the top, twisting and in places very narrow. There are pull off areas at the lookouts but no facilities till you reach the O’Reilly’s guest area.
Through a changing vegetation of grasslands to dry eucalypt and then temperate rainforest the clay parts of the track after rain can become very slippery.
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.
‘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
So don’t wait, get out there and enjoy the best 4WD tracks near Brisbane. Here’s our road trip packing list of things to bring.
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?