Tasmania offers some of the best spots for those who want to get off the bitumen.Australia’s most southern state has an array of pristine locations, from secluded beaches to ancient rainforests. Here are four Tasmania 4WD off road touring drives for your next adventure.
We have rated the drives as easy (mostly on unsealed roads suitable for two-wheel drive vehicles), medium (suitable for four-wheel drive vehicles and trail bikes) and hard (for experienced four-wheel drivers) according to Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Services’ rating.
On a medium drive, expect to encounter some areas of boggy soil, rocks or sand so some off-road driving experience is recommended. Hard drives are really only for experienced four-wheel drive or trail bike users as there might be deep bogs, steep slopes and soft sand.
The Wild West is the setting for this 4WD off road touring adventure along the longest beach in Tasmania. Access is via Ocean Beach Road in Strahan, which is an old fishing village 298km west of Hobart. It’s also the western-most point in Tasmania.
Ocean Beach’s rugged landscape makes it a unique driving experience, with dunes, fast-moving tides and huge battering waves.
The beach has recorded some of Australia’s largest waves. When standing on the beach you are actually further south than the Cape of Good Hope. It’s on the same latitude as southern Patagonia.
Seals and sea lions frequently rest on the beach, which is also home to mutton birds from September for the summer.
You may even encounter the whitening bones of whales protruding from the sand. Unfortunately, many whales have become stranded on the beach over the years.
There are some good camping areas and the township of Strahan warrants some time exploring its buildings and old-world charm.
Fishing is also popular along the beach. The main prizes for keen anglers are salmon, squid and flathead. For those that like to lure trout both Henty River and Little Henty River are excellent spots.
Swimming is not recommended due to the strong undercurrents, rips and large waves. This is a beach for admiring.
1-Be aware of the quicksand around the Hently River mouth. It’s a trap for new drivers and claiming the odd vehicle over the years.
2-Time your drive to the tide and consider having another vehicle accompany you.
An area renowned for its magnificent coastline, Bruny Island has long white beaches and towering coastal cliffs. It’s an excellent location for boating, fishing and water sports, such as swimming and surfing (when the waves are right).
Bruny Island is south of Hobart and accessed via Adventure Bay. Part of the island is National Park but fortunately, it’s easily accessible. A passenger and vehicle ferry departs regularly from Kettering, 40kmsouth of Hobart.
Bruny Island is a great introduction into four-wheel driving as most of the islands roads can be driven in a 2WD.
For accommodation, there is a variety of private providers including caravan parks and self-contained units. You can pitch the tent or roll out the swag in camping areas at Neck Beach, Cloudy Bay and Jetty Beach.
There’s also a campsite behind the beach at Cloudy Corner (at the southern end of Cloudy Beach) accessible by 4WD and about three kilometres of beach driving (so please time your drive with the tide).
Beach driving is only allowed at low tide to the camping area and all drivers must stay above the high tide mark to protect the fragile environs of the island. Numerous shorebirds rest and nest along Bruny’s edge.
Designated camping areas have pit toilets, limited water and fireplaces so bring your own firewood and a fuel stove.
The campgrounds have no rubbish removal so you need to take your waste with you. Park entry fees apply if you wish to enter South Bruny National Park and passes are available from the D’Entrecasteaux Visitor Centre at Kettering.
1-Take the 9km drive along the Coolangatta Road from Adventure Bay to Lunawanna. There is some awesome scenery and access to Trig Station walking track.
2-Take the 18km drive from Adventure Bay via Lockleys and Staffords Roads to the Cloudy Bay Rd north of the beach. There’s a scenic rainforest walk beside a stream to the Mavista Picnic Area.
While on the island, other attractions to add to your list is the Cape Bruny Lighthouse and the Labillardiere Peninsula Walking Track
3-Wellington Park Fire Trails
Like a little adventure? This 4×4 off road touring track passes through some spectacular alpine scenery is only open during the summer months.
Mount Wellington, or as the locals call it ‘the mountain’ is a park encompassing more than 18,000 hectares close to Hobart, Tasmania’s capital. It’s home to many species of flora and fauna endemic to Tasmania.
Summer means less erosion and the tracks are drier, allowing easier access. When they are wet they are very sticky, muddy and getting bogged can mean disaster. The drive is rated hard for experienced drivers with a high clearance vehicle.
There are a few different options so pick your track carefully according to your level of experience and the type of vehicle you’re driving. The tracks are steep, rocky and sometimes very difficult. All access points are gated and you’ll need to pick up a key from Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service be pre-arranging and calling (03) 6165 4053
Before entering the park all vehicles must be cleaned to reduce the spread of Phytophthora cinnamomi, commonly known as root rot. This is a fungus and carried in soil on tyres. Once it hits a plant it is lethal.
1-Jefferys Track, which runs north to south between Lachlan (Derwent Valley) and Crabtree Huon Valley), can get extremely muddy. Permits are not required for this track but be prepared to share it with horse riders, cyclists and walkers.
2-The East West Trail via Montrose Road is a difficult trail into high and remote country. Access is one way only from Montrose Road in the Eastern Section to Jefferys Track (as above) in the west. Only attempt this drive if you have suitable off-road experience and a vehicle with adequate clearance.
Must do’s while in the area include the lookout on Pinnacle Road and the walk to Sphinx Rock with great views over Hobart and the Derwent River and the Mountain’s Organ Pipes. No camping, fires, pets or firearms are allowed.
4-Ben Lomond National Park
Rating: Depending on the conditions easy-hard
Ben Lomond is a jewel of a national park rising over 1500m. It has lovely alpine scenery as is a favourite location for skiing. The park has 222 plant species (many rare and endangered).
Located 50km south-east of Launceston, the park is only accessible via Ben Lomond Road. Between the months of June and September, the upper section of the road is often covered with ice and snow. Jacobs Ladder is the final accent to the village.
It’s a steep and very windy climb with hairpin bends and amazing views. This part of the drive alone is worth the trip to the plateau.
Legges Tor, a summit on the plateau is the second highest point in Tasmania reaching 1572 metres.
1-Carry wheel chains between June and September. They can be hired before you attempt the drive.
2-Use an antifreeze to ensure your engine is not damaged.
3-Fuel is not available on the mountain.
Camping is allowed in designated areas and you are required to display a current Parks Pass when visiting the park.
Along with skiing there are walking trails, which afford some brilliant views. A good map is essential and keep in mind the weather can change very quickly.
Walkers and cross-country skiers should register details of their trip at the self-registration booth in the alpine village and don’t forget to de-register on your return.
For more information see Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania