Steve Pizzati is an advanced driving instructor, a race driver for Porsche Australia and the Australian host of Top Gear.
As part of his career, he’s travelled all around Australia searching for unique locations to film and race cars. He told Vacations & Travel, five of those locations rival the best drives in the world and most Australians are yet to discover them because they’re best accessed off-road in a 4WD.
More than a road trip, an off-road holiday is an adventure. And if you’re thinking of rushing out to see these places, you need to know a few things first.
Before you start to plan any 4X4 trip, you need a decent car. Note we said decent, not good.
“With your first off-roader you’re gonna make mistakes you’re gonna you’re gonna bang it up,” Pizzati said.
“Even good guys, get scratches and dents because the conditions are so variable.”
“Ideally you get something you don’t mind, beating up.”
Before you go, make a list and tick it off to ensure you have everything you need with you. These off-road adventures can be a long way from civilisation. If you’re going outback, you’ll need a supply of water. If you have little ones, we highly recommend a port-a-potty and a boot full of snacks.
“Safety-wise, I would definitely be taking a satellite phone, and an E PERB as well as a physical map and a compass,” Pizzati said.
If you can, do a maintenance course before you go. It will help you feel more confident about the drive, even if you think you know what you are doing. Then you can buy some simple to replace spare parts such as batteries online at Battery World so you don’t always have to wait for emergency assistance in the middle of nowhere. The company also has a competition to win a Toyota Hilux.
The best off-road driving in Australia
You would probably think Fraser Island… nope. Steve Pizzati reckons these secret 4WD spots are even better than that.
1. Montezuma Falls, Tasmania
Tasmania is one of the great driving destinations of the world. And if you’re looking for somewhere that is wild and off-the-beaten-track, this place will blow your mind.
Montezuma Falls is near Rosebery on the west coast of Tasmania. At 104m, it is Tasmania’s tallest waterfall.
“It’s lush and green, almost like you’re in the Amazon,” Pizzati said.
“I can’t recommend it enough. And there’s hardly anyone around there.”
Incidentally, houses around here cost as little as $150,000 to buy. Tree-change anyone?
2. Wilpena Pound, South Australia
This incredible spot in SA’s Flinder’s Ranges has the feel of the outback, without the crowds.
“The pound itself is, it’s almost like a moon crater,” Pizzati said. “The mountains sort of fold in on themselves and it’s circular inside.”
The colours of the rocks change at different times of day offering the most spectacular view as you drive.
3. Cape Le Grand, WA
Normally you have off-road driving, or you have the beach. But at Cape Le Grand you can have your cake and eat it too.
The stunning national park on WA’s South West Coast is “proof that you don’t have to slum it to go off-road driving” Pizzati said.
“It’s really great to go in Spring because Cape Le Grand has really unique flora there that you don’t see elsewhere in Australia.”
4. Jarrangbarnmi (Koolpin Gorge), NT
Jarrangbarnmi is south of Jabiru in the Kakadu National Park. It’s a secret spot that Pizzati says is picture-perfect. And most people miss it.
“Most people just go to Jabiru and then Alligator River,” Pizzati said.
“It’s just a gorgeous place you can go for plunge pools and all that sort of stuff, it’s really stunning.”
“You could spend a few weeks just chilling here and never want to leave.”
5. Davies Plain Hutt, Victoria
The track is closed in winter because it’s usually under metres of snow. But when it opens, it offers the quintessential ‘Man from Snowy River’ high country experience.
Pizzati said he loves it because it allows drivers to be “immersed” in the scene.
“We’ve got hundreds of kilometres of the Great Dividing Range along the New South Wales, Victoria border and it’s littered with a criss-cross of 4X4 tracks going everywhere,” he said.
“You can camp somewhere and not see another person for days and days and days.”
“It’s the sort of effect that you would only think you’d get in the, in the desert, but you can actually get it up in the high plains, surrounded by beautiful trees and rivers and potentially snow-capped peaks.”
If you’re feeling inspired, there’s never been a better time to start planning your Australia 4WD trip.
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