My cart

Best tracks to go and do Four-wheel Driving in Central Australia

Adventure awaits all across Central Australia’s four-wheel-drive accessible gorges, waterholes and campsites. Away from civilisation, there’s nothing quite like a roaring campfire and nights spent under a star-filled sky. Whether you choose to tackle the wide open desert or trickier river and rocky terrain, you will be rewarded.

 

Top Four-wheel-drive Spots in Central Australia

Ruby Gap

Three hours east of Alice Springs, Arltunga and Ruby Gap both have interesting history as sites of Central Australia’s gold rush. Upon entering Ruby Gap National Park, you will be met with the Hale River. You’ll need to cross its boulder-filled, soft-sand river bed to progress any further. Depending on when it last rained, there may be water in the Hale River and Ruby Gap.

N'Dhala Gorge 

While you will need a four-wheel-drive to get there, the best parts of N’Dhala Gorge are seen on foot. The gorge is filled with carvings from an estimated 10,000 years ago, and even more from around 3,000 years ago. The petroglyphs are thought to be made using two different methods, with signage along the walk helping to interpret them. 

 

Trephina Gorge - John Hayes Rockhole 

Within Trephina Gorge Nature Park, John Hayes Rockhole is a permanent waterhole accessible only by four-wheel-drive. The track is a short but challenging drive, there is a camping ground but generators are not permitted. The rockhole can be very cold, even in summer, so enjoy a quick dip before warming up on the rocks around the water’s edge. 

Birthday Waterhole & Hugh Gorge

This track is also a part of the Larapinta Trail, the access points to Sections four and five. Birthday Waterhole is a scenic camping spot but has no facilities. The water here is also likely to be warmer than other waterholes tucked away in gorges. As the track follows parts of the river, it may be eroded, providing a challenge for drivers.

 

Finke Gorge National Park - Boggy Hole - Illamurta Springs

Finke River track takes visitors through Finke Gorge National Park, home to Palm Valley and some historic reserves. Primarily a soft sandy track, it will lead you to Boggy Hole (a semi-permanent billabong). South of the national park is a route to Illamurta Springs, a desert oasis thanks to a natural spring, here you will see many aquatic plants and the ruins of the Illamurta Police Camp.

 

Owen Springs Reserve

Formally Owen Springs Cattle Station, visitors to the reserve can still see ruins of Central Australia’s first pastoralist homestead. You’ll drive through some sandy riverbed to get to the campsites and walking trails within the reserve.

Four-wheel-drive Tracks

Binns Track - Mt Dare to Timber Creek

If you’ve got a bit more time, the Binns Track is an excellent journey taking you from the South Australia/Northern Territory border, through some lesser-known but spectacular sights, and finishing at Timber Creek.

 

Hay River Track & Batton Hill Camp

Hay River Track and Batton Hill Camp are relatively new areas to be opened to the public for adventuring and camping in the Outback. Access is via the Plenty Highway, east of Alice Springs to Poeppels Corner (the NT, Qld, SA tri-border).

Madigan Line - Birdsville to Mt Dare via Simpson Desert

Follow the route of a 1939 scientific expedition that trekked through the Simpson Desert. You’ll find some of the most challenging but also interesting landscapes as you head from Birdsville and cross the unforgiving Simpson Desert before arriving on the South Australia/Northern Territory border at Mt Dare. 

 

Colson Track - Madigan Line to South Australia border

This is a North-South crossing of the Simpson Desert, the Colson Track is an enjoyable trip through sand dunes and coolibah swamps. Along the way, the track intersects with the Madigan Line, an East-West crossing of the Simpson Desert.

 

Frew River Loop - Davenport Ranges

A remote loop drive, turn off from the Stuart Highway and take your time exploring through the Davenport Ranges National Park. Enjoy a swim at the Old Police Station Waterhole then rest at the campsite. The national park is home to some unique bird and fish species as the landscape borders between tropical and desert.

Subscribe

Sign up to receive the latest news, deals and travel information about the Northern Territory.

Choose to book with the Red Centre’s local experts

Need a hand choosing or booking your red centre adventure?