Drivers, start your engines; we’ve selected the best 4WD-only campsites in Australia. You’ll find these five camping areas at the end of bumpy roads in some of the most spectacular corners of the country, from the croc-patrolled beaches of the Northern Territory to the challenging mountains of Man From Snowy River land in Victoria. This is no-frills camping, and you’ll need to be completely self-sufficient – but that’s half the fun, isn’t it?
This is just about as remote as you can get, and just about as beautiful. Garig Gunak Barlu National Park is at the very tip of the Cobourg Peninsula, and can only be accessed by boat or by a long and bumpy 4WD trek through Arnhem Land. You’ll need three permits: one to enter Arnhem Land, one to enter the national park and one to stay overnight. Oh, and you’ll have to be entirely self-sufficient. If that all sounds like a lot of effort, there are rewards aplenty for those intrepid enough to tackle the trip – including a jaw-dropping view of the Arafura Sea towards East Timor (don’t forget to keep an eye out for crocs as you stand there gawping).
If you like your beach views slightly more accessible, Flinders Beach camping area on North Stradbroke Island, a tropical paradise only a short commute from Brisbane, might fit the bill. The camping area can only be accessed by a dirt road, or along the beach at low tide. There are 200 campsites hidden behind the dunes in the coastal shrub, and forget about the proximity to the city – this is back-to-basics self-sufficient camping. Flinders Beach camping area will provide the stupendous beach views; you’ll have to bring the rest.
When you think about outback South Australia, you probably don’t think about a lake and wetland system teeming with birds and other wildlife. But that’s exactly what you’ll find at Coongie Lake, about halfway between Innamincka and Birdsville. You can set up tent right next to the impossible-seeming lake; it’s a simple camping area for the self-sufficient, and you need to leave it as you found it, so no fires or generators allowed.
Youdales Hut camping area is deep in the wild country of northern New South Wales, along a 4WD-only gravel track in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. This is a land of deep gorges, dense and misty rainforests, and epic views. You can only imagine what the early settlers who built Youdales Hut must have thought when they first saw it! Not much has changed at Youdales Hut from that time, apart from the added amenities of toilets and picnic tables. Don’t miss a plunge in one of the swimming holes at nearby Kunderang Brook.
If, after a long day of driving the challenging 4WD tracks along the mountains of Alpine National Park, you’re in search of a spacious and charming site to set up camp, look no further than Pineapple Flat camping area. Don’t let the name mislead you, there aren’t any pineapples or other surprising amenities here – you get toilets, water… and that’s it. Oh, and large grassy sites under shady trees, with easy access to some of the best 4WD tracks in the park.