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Off the beaten track: four wheel driving in Victoria

/ 02 Aug 2016
The compact state of Victoria, with its diversity of landscapes and terrains, means visitors can get seriously off the beaten track. Off road adventures in Victoria are available for everyone from novice drivers taking their own vehicles, to those experienced in a four wheel drive (4WD) or SUV. The landscapes range from the adrenalin pumping action of the rugged high plains to the big deserts and open skies of the Mallee, river red gum forests, hinterland, rainforest and Victoria’s famous coast.

Off roaders can go for a day trip, an overnight stay in a camp site or hotel, or longer. 4WD Victoria provides maps and guidance including a fourlevel colour coded system indicating the degree of difficulty. The following seven drives have been developed by 4WD Victoria and Parks Victoria and cover the breadth and depth of regional Victoria:

Davies Plain Drive: high plains and history

A challenging adventure through remote Alpine landscapes. The trail takes in Snow Gum woodlands, tranquil riverside campsites, historic huts and panoramic mountain views. Best undertaken over a number of days, the track includes demanding 4WD tracks in some of Victoria’s most isolated and scenic country. Highlights include big views, imposing forests, meandering streams and the wildflower-strewn Davies Plain Ridge. Drivers will enjoy views across the Victorian Alps to Kosciuszko National Park from Mount Pinnibar summit. Keen anglers can finish the day by catching a wily brown trout for dinner and cooking over the campfire.

Grampians Drive: rock art and rugged beauty

The spectacular peaks and dramatic rock formations of Grampians National Park provide for an awe-inspiring drive. Picturesque waterfalls, spectacular wildflower displays, panoramic views, and fascinating Aboriginal rock art sites are some of the highlights. Stunning camping and picnic grounds and a network of excellent 4WD and walking tracks make exploring this natural wonderland easy and enjoyable.

Mallee Drive: big deserts and open skies

Victoria’s Mallee region is one of the State’s hidden gems. From sand dunes and pink lakes to woodlands and rolling plains, it features abundant native wildlife and fascinating remains of the pastoral era. It may be Victoria’s driest region, but the Mallee is far from lifeless. Emus, kangaroos, birdlife, woodlands and wildflowers make this a nature lover’s delight. Starting at the Wyperfeld National Park entrance, this drive allows for lots of daytime exploration and night-time star-gazing. Vast open spaces and the famous Pink Lakes offer fantastic photo opportunities. Pitch a tent by dry creek beds, enjoy native woodland walks and stunning Mallee sunsets, before stepping into the area’s pastoral past at the Shearers Quarters Campground in the remote northwest.

Otways Drive: tall trees and tumbling waterfalls

The Otways Drive offers stunning coast and lush green hinterland. Starting from the surf beach village of Anglesea and heading inland to tranquil Mountain Ash forests and lush fern gullies. Drivers can discover the ancient rainforest at Maits Rest, watch the water drop at the stunning Erskine Falls, and walk the rainforest loop to Triplet Falls. The coastal scenery on the return journey along the Great Ocean Road has few equals in the world, with spectacular coastal views. Dinner can be enjoyed with some delicious local seafood at Apollo Bay or the popular seaside resort of Lorne, then tired eyes can hit the sack at one of the many accommodations or campsites.

The world’s largest River Red Gum forest, with backdrops of the mighty Murray River

The natural and cultural heritage of the Murray region is the star of this scenic 4WD which winds through the world’s largest River Red Gum forests adjoining the Murray River. Backdrops of the Murray River, sandy beaches, lagoons, waterbirds, wildlife, aquatic plants, a wide range of camping and picnic grounds, and an extensive network of forest tracks make this natural area one of the most memorable of the collection. It’s a 354-kilometre, two-three day drive to fully appreciate the natural and cultural heritage of these forests which are home to many threatened native plants and animals.

Snowy River Drive: deep gorges and wild river country

The remote Snowy River National Park includes spectacular river scenery, deep gorges, waterfalls and magnificent forests. Best undertaken over two to three days, there are opportunities for walking, swimming, canoeing and enjoying riverside starry nights. From Orbost, the tour heads to Buchan Caves, where limestone formations create an underground wonderland. After a guided tour, visitors can enjoy a bushland picnic or swim in the spring-fed pool. Walking through Ash Saddle Walk’s tall forests, and taking in the views along Tulloch Ard Gorge and the beautiful fern fringed Raymond Falls.

Wonnangatta Drive: a hidden valley and a deep mystery

This tour through rugged bushland and mountain scenery in Victoria’s Alpine National Park is a perfect heritage trail through Victoria’s high country. Dramatic cliff-top lookouts offer panoramic views, and history comes alive amongst old mining town ruins, cattleman’s huts and at the Wonnangatta Station site, the scene of a still unsolved murder mystery. Allow two to three days for this epic 4WD adventure. Travelling among through Victoria’s High Country landscapes, from Mountain Ash forests and sub-alpine vegetation to rugged escarpments and grassy snow plains, one of the scenic highlights of the journey is the steep valley descent into the secluded Wonnangatta Valley.

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