From outback ranges to desert sand dunes, South Australia ticks many boxes for any level of those that like to get off the bitumen.
Radiating from the state’s capital, Adelaide, the winding roads lead you to a mind boggling array of delights – and for 4WD enthusiasts, the adventures are endless. Have a go at our favourite places to 4WD in South Australia.
4WD in Flinders Ranges
Explore a landscape more than 600 million years old as towering cliffs and deep craters border your track. Around 200 kilometres from Adelaide, the Flinders Ranges form the biggest range in South Australia. This dramatic drive will have you pulling up time and time again.
The ranges are rich in Aboriginal heritage, pioneering history and set in an alluring and magnificent region where around every corner something new awaits. The area is also home to an array of wildlife, some endangered, like the Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies who rest on the craggy ledges perfectly camouflaged. You’ll need to keep en eye out for these guys as they can be hard to see against the rocky cliffs.
Wilpena Pound is one of the spectacular aspects of the range with its natural amphitheatre boasting St Mary Peak, the highest peak. Past the peaks, your journey becomes flat, however, the spectacular scene that accompanies you does not stop. Accommodation options vary from station stays to camping, to a night away in a luxury eco villa — all combine making this region an unforgettable 4WD experience for all.
Wilpena Pound is a large natural amphitheatre created by erosion over millions of years. Consider taking a scenic flight as from an aerial view you truly relate to its beauty and scale. Or opt for a sunset tour (with drinks and canapés) to learn a bit more about the area.
Take on the Oodnadatta Track, East of Coober Pedy
Once a corrugated, rough and dusty trail, the Oodnadatta Track – also known as the String of Springs – is now a perfect medium 4WD adventure through a classic desert landscape. Stretching 618 kilometres from Marla to Maree through William Creek to Oodnadatta, this unsealed track is best travelled from April to September.
Boasting spectacular outback desert scenery, it traces the path that was once an Aboriginal trading route. While the Oodnadatta Track can be challenging, this is a great drive for those new into outback adventuring.
During your journey, you come across Australia’s lowest point – Halligan Bay – and have the opportunity to marvel at the sheer enormity of Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre. It’s Australia’s largest lake – the rivers that feed it cover more than 1.2 million square kilometres. But please remember, driving on the surface of Lake Eyre is illegal and dangerous. The tracks into the lake are not suitable for caravans and camping trailers.
Two spare tyres are recommended; the track is renowned to be hard on tyres.
Strzelecki Track, Eastern South Australia
Close to the borders on NSW and Queensland, the Strzelecki Track is a gorgeous desert drive, south of Innamincka. Once a famous favoured route for cattle thief Harry Redford in 1870, the Strzelecki Track today is one of Australia’s most tantalising 4WD tracks.
Allow a minimum of two days to cover the 475 kilometres from Lyndhurst to Innamincka (though we recommend four days) which is longer than what it took Harry to move his ‘acquired’ 1000 head of cattle. Harry was found not guilty by a jury in 1872 due to much astonishment.
Today the journey can be easily completed in a 4WD vehicle without any cattle duffing skills required.
Ngarkat Conservation Park
Located 300 kilometres east of Adelaide, the tracks within this park vary from easy to hard through desert, rocky terrain, to massive sand dunes. The best time to visit is April to September as the dunes can get very, very hot in summer.
Discover heathlands, mallee scrub and the many animals from birds to reptiles that call this special slice of South Australia home. The Border Track, which follows the border of Victoria or South Australia can be difficult and is connected to the Centre Track leading you to other trails in the park. It’s a 4WD drivers dream as a track less travelled.
Trade the car keys for the hiking books and explore the Orchid Hike. It leads to a beautiful pine forest where delicate orchids cascade from the trees. There are other walking trails such as Gosse Hill and Mount Rescue Hike – each offer amazing views.
From Mount Rescue Hike, you can also take another track up north from Jimmys Well Track to Box Flat to camp under the stars. Campsite offering amenities include those suitable for caravans and 2WD access.
Canunda National Park
Located 400 kilometres southeast of Adelaide, this little-known national park offers 65.77 kilometres of tracks ranging from easy to difficult, and terrain from beach to bush. You will view rugged limestone cliffs, massive rock stacks, travel through bushland teeming with flora and fauna and then there’s the beach drive. Geltwood Beach is a good start as it leads you to different sections within the park. The views make this a memorable drive.
The beaches can have choppy waters so be extra careful. At Number 2 Rocks campground there is a lagoon that is perfect for children. The nearby limestone headlands are brilliant, and you must explore Cape Banks Lighthouse.
If you want to explore the sand dunes, head to the southern section of the park. The Bevilaqua Ford and Khyber Pass are excellent. The dunes in these areas are very solid and are challenging to climb.
There are also hiking trails, wildlife spotting for sea birds, dolphins, seals, and whales, or maybe venture underwater and dive the coral reefs in the park.
To read about a great Australian road trip that you need to try, click here.
To discover our complete guide to adventure activities in Australia, click here.
Travel to South Australia
Rex operates flights to South Australia. Book your flights here and check out the route map below.