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At Camping Adventures, we know that camping really becomes an adventure when you're heading off-road with your rig!
Tackling Victoria's 4x4 tracks can give you a rush of adrenaline and a feeling like no other! But the whole process can also be pretty nerve-wracking, especially if you've never really hit the off-road trails before.
As Melbourne's premier camper trailer and off-road destination, we know a thing or two about getting started with 4WDing.
We offer a great range of 4x4 camping accessories in our Melbourne 4WD store, as well as offering 4x4 trays for sale, 4WD canopies for sale, and 4WD tray installation and canopy fit-out services.
But you'll need more than just the gear to go 4WDing for the first time. You'll also need an idea of where to go!
That's why we've assembled a list of the best Victorian 4x4 tracks for beginners ordered according to their distance from the heart of Melbourne.
Maybe you want to get into off-roading or you're just looking to take your camper trailer through an unsealed track to get to an isolated campsite. Either way, this list will be sure to whet your appetite and give you a few ideas.
You'll be spoilt for choice when you go off-roading in the great state of Victoria. There are many different tracks to choose from ranging from beginner to more experienced trails. There are also many places you can stay overnight to extend your off-road adventure, from isolated campgrounds to well-stocked caravan parks.
Beginner 4WDers should consider travelling in a group and hitting easier tracks first. If you're bringing along a camper trailer or another tow that will see some off-road action, make sure it is suitable for the task. At Camping Adventures, we offer off-road campers for sale in our range.
It's also important to ensure you have all the 4WD camping accessories and essentials that you need. This includes everything from winches to bull bars to heavy-duty suspension, as well as toolkits, spare parts, first aid kits, all-terrain tyres, UHF radios, satellite phones, advanced recovery gear, and 4WD LED driving lights.
First up on our list and approximately 64km northwest of Melbourne is Lerderderg State Park.
Perfect for camping, bushwalking, and a range of other outdoor activities, this is also a great place to take your first off-road drive.
Simply head to Ratcliffe Track at the eastern end of Lerderderg State Park. It can be steep and moderately difficult in places, but as long as it hasn't been raining, this is a fun track for first-time 4WDers.
Warburton is about 75km east of Melbourne and home to a range of 4WD tracks. The area is defined by mud and clay tracks, so be prepared to get a bit dirty and pull out the pressure cleaner when you get home. There are options for 4x4 enthusiasts at all levels, including beginners.
The Burns Track is located off the Summer Spur Track and you can travel across it for just a few km or up to 10km. If your 4WD has a few inches of lift and some solid all-terrain/mud tyres, this is a fun beginner track to tackle. Just keep your momentum consistent and enjoy the ride!
Next up we're heading northeast past Dixons Creek, about 78km from the heart of Melbourne.
Toolangi State Forest offers scenic views that you will want to stop and marvel at. Just make sure you keep your eyes on the road when you're on the 4WD tracks.
Toolangi offers some notoriously difficult tracks, especially when things get wet, but the Loop Track off Pauls Creek Road is easy-going in dry weather and won't need much more than a stock 4x4. You can even keep your highway tyres on. Just be aware of wet weather as this can quickly change the difficulty of the track!
There are plenty of walking trails and camping spots in Toolangi State forest too!
We're heading out in the other direction back towards Lerderderg State Park. Wombat State Forest is about 82km from central Melbourne and actually borders Lerderderg.
Just like Lerderderg, there are various drives to enjoy for 4WDers of all skill levels. For a long yet easy drive through Wombat State Forest with plenty of stops to enjoy, try the Wombat 4WD Tour as described here.
Located north of Melbourne and east of Wallan, Mount Disappointment is about 83km from the heart of the city.
And no, we're not going to make the joke about how it's anything but disappointing (... except I guess we just did that!)
There are plenty of gentle tracks for 4WDing and dirt bike riding around Mount Disappointment. Our recommendation is to head up to Regular Camp via Main Mountain Road, have a poke around, and maybe camp for a few nights. Keep your eyes peeled for tracks that look too challenging, as well as seasonal road closures.
If you're looking for Mount Disappointment's most notorious track, check out The Ladder. Not unlike a ladder, this track gets scarier the further up you go. It's actually pretty easy at the start but gets steeper, rougher, and rockier towards the top, so beware!
Located about 97km northeast of Melbourne, Marysville offers both challenging and scenic 4x4 adventures for drivers of all experience levels.
To take a scenic drive, head to Lady Talbot Drive from Woods Point Rd. Take your 4WD up past the Keppel Falls car park and enjoy the many attractions you can see along the way.
If you're ready to tackle a more difficult track, the steep ascents, sharp descents, and rocky terrain of Strickland Spur Track have your name all over it.
For those who are keen to 4WD around the snow season, the tracks around Marysville can transform completely in look and feel after a bit of snowfall.
Just over 100km north of Melbourne, Tallarook is a great place to visit not just for some 4WD action but for a spot of camping. Pack up your tent or your off-road camper trailer and check out the many 4x4 tracks and campsites.
There are many beginner-friendly tracks in the Tallarook State Forest area, as well as more challenging terrains featuring sharp rocks, steep ascents, and a mixture of clay and rock surfaces.
If it's your first time in the area, take a drive down Jenkins Link Track, which is fairly easy in dry weather and moderately challenging in the wet.
Nestled within the Great Dividing Range, Bunyip State Park is about 104km east of Melbourne, not too far from the town of Gembrook. There will be plenty of greenery and wildlife to enjoy when you're driving through this landscape, as well as steep, slippery, and rocky tracks to explore.
Check out tracks like Little Bunyip Track, Bunyip Ridge Track, and Gentle Annie Track, but be sure to check for seasonal closures before you drive up!
Positioned 115km northeast of Melbourne, Cathedral Range State Park offers great driving, great walking, and plenty to enjoy in the surrounding township of Taggerty.
Simply head into the park and enjoy the many tracks and trails. You're sure to find an option for all experience levels.
At the time of writing, Cathedral Ranges is closed due to storms and floods, which just shows how important it is to research your destination and have up-to-date information before you go!
However, we're sure you will find a range of excellent 4WD tracks when Cathedral State Park is back and open for business again!
A trip to Victoria's high country is certainly worth the drive if you're looking for some great 4WDing. Woods Point is about 178km east of Melbourne, out past Marysville and Yarra Ranges National Park.
The Woods Point area is full to the brim with beginner-friendly tracks, so you won't have to look far to find an option. If 4WDing in the snow sounds good to you, then head to Woods Point after some snowfall. Just be sure to pull on the chains and keep in mind that snowfall will change conditions and increase difficulty.
If you're travelling to Woods Point, then it's worth taking the trip about 30km south to Aberfeldy. This historic destination is about 207km from the heart of Melbourne, and you can combine Woods Point and Aberfeldy tracks into one big trip!
The Aberfeldy Track is a historic 4WD touring route that was originally used by horse and cart in the 1800s. As you drive through what was once gold rush country, you will see historic cemeteries, old abandoned mines, and of course, some truly magnificent landscapes.
The full Aberfeldy Track will take you a few days to tackle and can get difficult at points, but it's worth driving along a few of the easier parts if you are getting into 4x4 tracks. Check it out on the Visit Gippsland website.
Other 4x4 tracks worth exploring in Aberfeldy, Woods Point, and the surrounds include parts of Jordan Valley Loop and Donnelly Creek Track.
If you're still in the Aberfeldy area, then you've got a long drive ahead for our next destination! Great Otway National Park and the Otway Ranges are about 209km southwest of Melbourne. Home to magical forest ecosystems, towering waterfalls, and diverse flora and fauna, you can also enjoy thrilling 4WD experiences in the Otways.
For less experienced drivers, the Otways has many well-travelled and well-beaten 4x4 tracks that are much more dirt road than they are steep, rocky, or jutting terrain. Of course, if you're a bit more experienced, some of these less-worn and more secluded tracks can be highly rewarding to traverse.
Mt Sabine Road is a nice, leisurely drive through the surrounding Otways area. You can enjoy magnificent forest landscapes, wonderful waterfall lookouts, and more - and that's all without getting into the heart of the National Park itself!
Located 235km northwest of Melbourne, Lake Eildon is worth the visit before you even consider the 4WD tracks on offer! Home to heritage buildings and surrounded by areas including Mansfield and Bonnie Doon, you can practically feel the serenity when you drive through Lake Eildon.
Lake Eildon National Park has many medium-grade tracks and hill climbs to enjoy, including the Highett Ridge Track. Simply head to The Pines area of Lake Eildon National Park and follow the ridgeline. It's steady at first but some areas will test true beginners with steep inclines, slightly sharp descents, and rocky ledges. However, most of the track is fairly moderate as long as it's not too wet!
Drive about 250km northeast of Melbourne and you will reach the mighty Mount Buller. One of the peaks in the Buller mountain range is Mount Sterling, and at the top of Mount Sterling is Craig's Hut.
Who is Craig? Well, to be accurate, he's Jim Craig, the protagonist of the 1982 Australian film "The Man from Snowy River". The movie stars Tom Burlinson as Jim, Kirk Douglas as the Harrison brothers (both of them!), Jack Thompson as Clancy, and Sigrid Thornton as Jessica. The movie is, of course, based on the poem of the same name by Banjo Paterson.
We're taking this detour into movie history because Craig's Hut was built specifically for the filming of The Man from Snowy River, and you can take your 4WD up Circuit Road to visit the Hut and see the Ranges in all their glory. It’s definitely worth the drive to see the panoramic views and a piece of Australian cinema history! Just keep your eyes peeled for seasonal closures from June to November.
You won't have to look far for easy and moderate 4WD tracks at the Grampians. Once you've made the drive 257km northwest of Melbourne, the world becomes your 4WDing oyster!
Explore waterfalls, spot wildflowers, and awe at the Indigenous heritage as you adventure through Grampians National Park.
Just one track we can recommend is the Goat Track, which is on the western side of the National Park. This track will reward you with some sandy and rocky surfaces as well as a few fun ascents and descents, but it is overall easy and enjoyable in dry weather.
Stop into the Cultural Centre to learn more about the history and significance of the area. You can also ask the staff about seasonal track closures when you stop by.
Alpine National Park is about 381km northeast of Melbourne, past Bright and above Falls Creek. This mountainous environment is the perfect destination for 4x4 enthusiasts who are ready to get their wheels dirty. The terrain is amazing to drive through with plenty of easy sections and a few steeper tracks. The best thing to do is head into the Park and explore it for yourself!
Head 437km and about 5 hours north of the heart of Melbourne and you will reach Wyperfeld National Park! Here, you can head down James Barrett Nature Drive, which is a circuit track that can take you up past Eastern Lookout, through empty flood plains and lake beds, across sand dunes, and past Lake Brimin. Tackling all or part of this track is a great way to experience Mallee country for a first-time or novice 4WDer.
Located in far-east Victoria in the East Gippsland region, Croajingolong National Park is just under 498km from central Melbourne. Offering isolated eucalypt forests, rainforests, foothills, and coastlines, there is something for everyone!
Check out East Wingan Track for an easy yet beautiful drive through the area, or try the Cicada Trail, which is moderately easy but does feature a river crossing that can be tricky!
Last but not least, we're heading 538km northwest of Melbourne and close to the Victoria-NSW and Victoria-SA border. Here you will find Murray-Sunset National Park and Border Track.
Border Track isn't the most beginner-friendly track, offering some challenging terrain to tackle as you drive past magnificent sand dunes and down some very narrow roads. However, this is a relatively short track and if you're travelling in convoy - especially with some more experienced 4WDers, Border Track can be a great journey for beginners.
If you're already heading up to Ouyen, Red Cliffs, or Mildura, make a stop at Murray-Sunset for some 4x4 fun!
For more 4x4 inspiration, check out the Parks Victoria website or come and ask the Camping Adventures team about our favourite tracks. If you're looking to turn 4WD day trips into overnight or multi-day adventures, our team can hook you up with an off-road camper! We are authorised dealers of Lifestyle Campers and Patriot Campers in Melbourne and we can recommend the best model for your needs.