Explore Western Australia with these 5 unmissable 4WD tracks
Western Australia is our biggest state (by land mass), covering a whopping third of the country, and it certainly doesn’t come up short in delivering stunning locations to go four-wheel driving. Despite being dominated by desert, Western Australia offers many varied terrains and environments so it’s easy to see why so many choose this as their road trip destination. Read on to discover our favourite spots for offroad adventures.
There’s no better place to start your WA touring adventure than in the impressively tall Boranup Forest, about three and a half hours southwest of Perth by car. The track starts in Margaret River, heading west towards Prevelly, and ends at the beach. The track to the beach is rocky in parts but then is sandy towards the end. You can drive straight onto the beach but it’s better in summer when the beach is wider and not eroded by storms. In wintery weather, watch out for sharp drop-offs that will swallow up the unwary. Reducing tyre pressures is an absolute must and preferably go with another vehicle.
Best time to visit: Anytime, although spring is best for wildflowers and winters can be wet.
Points of interest: Boranup Forest, Boranup Scenic Drive, Limestone caves (including Jewel, Mammoth and Lake), Hamelin Bay and Boranup Beach.
Warnings: Parts of these tracks are along the Cape to Cape Track, so beware of walkers with heavy backpacks. Tracks are narrow so be aware of cars coming the other way too.
Cape Le Grand National Park
Right on the edge of the Great Australian Bight, Cape Le Grand National Park is well worth the eight-hour car journey southeast from Perth. The track starts in Esperance, heading east towards Wharton, and ends at (and goes through) the beautiful Cape Le Grand National Park. The park is made up of ancient and massive granite headlands that dominate the coastline as they plunge into water that is impossibly blue — make no mistake, this is one of those pinch-yourself locations that they likely use in Aussie tourism ads. Away from the dramatic coastline, the park is made up of sandplains that support many species of plants, birds and mammals, not to mention the impressive peaks rising out of the plains, including Frenchman Peak.
Best time to visit: Anytime, although spring is best for wildflowers.
Points of interest: Esperance, Lucky Bay, Frenchman Peak and Cape Le Grand Beach.
Warnings: If beach driving, ensure you wait for low tide and have recovery gear on board and experience driving these conditions.
Cape Range National Park
Teetering the westernmost point of Australia, Cape Range National Park is a breathtaking location about a 13.5-hour drive north from Perth. This is a beautiful drive, mostly on sealed roads but further south will require a high clearance 4WD (especially if crossing Yardie Creek, more on this below), that takes you to the world-famous Ningaloo Reef. One of WA’s greatest natural wonders, Ningaloo Reef is home to over 200 species of coral and over 500 species of fish and stretches for a massive 260km. If you come in between March and June, you might just see the majestic whale sharks that migrate to the area during this time. With so much to see and do in such a unique part of the country, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Best time to visit: March to October — but be warned that it is very busy during school holidays. Summer is best avoided as the region is prone to cyclones.
Points of interest: Ningaloo Reef, Exmouth, Coral Bay, Turquoise Bay, Ningaloo Marine Park and Yardie Creek.
Warnings: Yardie Creek can be treacherous, and after two cyclones its alignment has changed. It’s advised not to cross the creek as many have lost their vehicles here. However, it’s not officially shut so if you choose to cross, take extreme care and only at very low tide.
Karlamilyi National Park (formerly Rudall River)
Covering a whopping 1.2 million hectares, Karlamilyi National Park — formerly Rudall River — is the largest national park in WA, and one of the most remote. Deep in the Pilbara and a 19.5-hour drive northeast from Perth, the park is dominated by red sand dunes, stony hills, salt lakes and vast spinifex plains. Starting at Newman, the drive heads northeast towards the Queen Desert Baths, a series of picturesque rockpools within a gorge and a great place to camp, and through varying terrain all the way to Marble Bar. Please be aware that the park is only accessible by high clearance 4WD over rough and unmaintained roads and there are no facilities, so all visitors need to be completely self-sufficient.
Best time to visit: July and August — summer is dangerously hot and winter nights can be cold.
Points of interest: Newman, Marble Bar, Queen Desert Baths, Watrara Pool, Great and Little Sandy Deserts, Rudall River and Running Waters Waterhole.
Warnings: Take your own water — there is a manual water pump near the northern access point to the park but it cannot be replied upon. This is a remote desert area, so be totally self-sufficient and carry a UHF radio or satellite phone for emergencies.
Lake Jasper lies within the lushest and greenest part of WA, just three and a half hours south from Perth by car. The scenery in this beautiful location is varied and spectacular with wild rocky coastline, deserted white beaches, freshwater lakes and karri forest. From Alexandra Bridge, the drive heads east towards the coast, finishing up in at between Lake Jasper and Black Point (black-basalt cliffs that plunge into the sea in brick-like formations). Lake Jasper is the largest permanent freshwater lake in the state, providing a picturesque place to unwind in. This is a great spot for families but be aware that summer and school holidays get very busy.
Best time to visit: Anytime, although spring is best for wildflowers. Winters can be wet and windy.
Points of interest: Jasper Beach, Pemberton, Karridale, D’Entrecasteaux National Park, Black Point and Mandalay Beach.
Warnings: The coastline is very susceptible to king waves, making rock fishing dangerous. Some sections require lowered tyre pressures.
If you would like more information regarding each of the tracks above, they’re featured in our Western Australia Road & 4WD Track Atlas, which we’ve just updated, and will be publishing the 4th Edition in February 2024. For more information on this product or any products from Hema Maps, just click here.
At Hema Maps, we strive to provide the most comprehensive and accurate maps and guides for outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore Australia's natural wonders.
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