Brisbane just might be the best place to live if your passion is heading bush in your 4WD.
There are plenty of options within three hours’ drive of Brisbane. You could almost make Fraser Island but that’s not on this list. Even so, you can drive for 20 minutes from this CBD and get onto the car ferry to Moreton Island.
The great beaches and sand islands don’t take your fancy? Then go west to Sundown NP which is just on the three-hour limit of this yarn. Best to take your swag, ’cause you won’t want to come back anytime soon.
Sundown a place too far? Then head south for some real mountains, steep tracks and plenty of creek crossings in the Mt Barney area.
It doesn’t matter if you are avoiding the beach… Cooloola offers a whole heap more than just the great beach driving and fabulous fishing. Looking for some steep, dark forest tracks? Then Amamoor might just be the place for you!
Yep, 20 minutes from the CBD and you are taking the 4WD for a cruise on the Micat Ferry across Moreton Bay to paradise. Sure, the ferry costs a bit but you save that on petrol and enjoy the journey. There may even be whales to spot in winter.
Drive straight off the ferry onto the western beaches. This is the calm side of the island, providing shelter from the onshore winds common on the surfside. There are a number of campsites along the western side, with one being close to the small settlement of Bulwer (which is the place to re-supply at the small shop).
The surfside beaches offer beach camping in certain areas and a great campsite behind the dunes at Blue Lagoon. Keep heading north along the beach and you’ll find Cape Moreton with its rocky headland and obligatory lighthouse. There’s another great campsite at Northpoint.
Towards the southern end of the island are some derelict WW2 bunkers. With inland lakes, terrific beaches, great campsites and a lot fewer people than Fraser, Moreton Island is hard to go past.
Girraween NP is one of the most popular National Parks in southern Qld, but across the highway is Sundown NP where 4WDs are mandatory! The steep rocky tracks keep the tourists down so you are likely to have the place to yourself.
The rocky terrain and Cyprus pine woodlands will remind you of the Flinders Ranges. The camping at Burrows Waterhole is very pleasant with swimming in the long stretch of creek. You might even catch some dinner as there are some nice sized fish for some anglers… but they are known to be elusive so bring a can of tuna just in case.
You will need a 4X4 to get to Burrows Waterhole but the real difficulty starts when you take the Rats Castle circuit. This is a difficult track and not for the inexperienced. Sundown NP has plenty to offer everyone with even some wine tasting at a few local vineyards on the way out to Ballandean.
An hour and a half south of Brisbane via Beaudesert or Boonah, the Mt Barney area offers great camping; steep, scenic tracks; and water skiing in Lake Maroon.
The multiple peaks of Mt Barney can be seen from many parts of Brisbane – but once you are in the foothills, the city is the last thing on your mind. There are some great swimming holes and creeks, with some requiring a bit of hiking and others right alongside the tracks. The Lower Portals in the Mt Barney NP is a favourite (but a bit of a walk).
There are a few campgrounds in the area close to your favourite pastime. They are extremely popular at times like Easter but are often pretty peaceful during off-peak. Keep an eye out for an upcoming article on Condamine Gorge… for more details on 14 creek crossings in as many kilometres.
We’ve all seen images of drowned fourbies near Rainbow Beach and the views of Double Island point, but have you ever heard of Harry’s Hut? There is a lot to see and do behind the massive sand blows of the Cooloola Coast.
Boating on Lake Cootharaba is very popular, as is cruising the Narrows of the Noosa River. If you paddle a canoe or kayak, there are a number of campsites only accessible from the river. The camping at Harry’s Hut is excellent but bookings are recommended.
If the upper reaches of the Noosa River is not your thing, Teewah Beach is very accessible and some people’s heaven on earth. Plenty of beach camping is available, even if you tow a van. Fishing and whale watching are popular at Double Island Point. There is even a great right-hander for those with a surfboard on the roof (if you don’t mind sharks).
By the way, you do need a 4X4 – although I have seen an old Sigma driving up the beach but I wouldn’t recommend it!
Now this is a place you may not have heard of before. Amamoor is located south of Gympie and west of Noosa and has been a favourite of four-wheel drivers for years. There are steep, slippery tracks amongst forests of hoop pine with great views once you make it to the lookouts.
Some tracks are overgrown (some with lantana for a bit of pin striping) and some tracks end in locked gates. This is part of the attraction, as tracks lead you all over the hills. A sense of adventure and a willingness to explore are requirements for some of the more challenging tracks.
There are a couple of very nice campsites along Amamoor Creek, with walking tracks and waterholes for when it gets hot.