Australia is a big place. It takes around 40 hours to drive from one side to the other, and we have a much smaller population than most countries in the world.
So… why is it often hard to find a campsite that isn’t packed in like sardines? The answer is pretty simple, really – it all boils down to access. If there’s a bitumen road with stacks of signposts and a wealth of information online, you can guarantee that campsite is going to be packed in the peak seasons.
To me, camping is about getting away from it all. I don’t want to be within 50 metres of anyone else if I can avoid it, let alone a little 4 x 4-metre allotted slot in a caravan park!
To me, camping is about getting away from it all.
If you want to get away from the crowds, you need to improve your level of access. You can do this in one of two ways:
- Increase where you can get to
- Travel to the lesser-known spots
There is only a small part of Australia that is accessible by a sealed road – which means to see the rest of it, you’ve got to get off the beaten track. How do you do that? The easiest, safest, and best way is in a 4WD!
Be it a stunning beach, isolated campsite along some inland river, or camping near one of Australia’s beautiful gorges – a 4WD opens up the access you have to campsites all over Australia, not to mention the activities you can do in between.
Be it a stunning beach, isolated campsite along some inland river, or camping near one of Australia’s beautiful gorges – a 4WD opens access to campsites all over Australia.
How Does a 4WD Provide More Access?
Knowing you can safely take your 4WD down a rough track or drive along the beach provides the confidence to access a whole new world. Instead of being tied to bitumen roads, you can deflate your tyres, lock the hubs, and explore!
If you think you’ve seen the best beaches in Australia on postcards, wait until you see what you can access with a 4WD. Access via 2WD in Australia has nothing on what you can see from a 4WD.
The primary issue with 2WD vehicles is the lack of clearance between the ground and the lowest point of your vehicle. There are a lot of campsites in Australia that you could probably get a 2WD vehicle into, but the chances of damaging something underneath your vehicle are substantially increased.
With a 4WD, you have at least double the clearance of a 2WD vehicle – rocks, holes, and rough tracks aren’t nearly as much of a concern. I don’t want to be concerned about damaging a vehicle by driving it where it wasn’t intended to go!
Instead of being tied to bitumen roads – deflate your tyres, lock the hubs, and explore!
With a 4WD, all four wheels are driven as opposed to only two on a 2WD vehicle. If you have both clearance and traction, you can go pretty much anywhere. Lose one or the other, and you are in trouble!
On tracks where traction is limited, a 4WD vehicle is substantially safer than a 2WD. A typical example is the thousands of kilometres of gravel roads. Some are flat and smoother than the average bitumen road, while many will shake your bones apart! That’s not to say you shouldn’t take a 2WD vehicle on gravel roads, but you do need to be more cautious. A 4WD’s tyres are intended for rough tracks and have the ability to deflate the air safely, which further improves traction.
I believe in using a vehicle for its intended purpose. Whilst you might be able to take your 2WD vehicle on some rough tracks, how long will it last? A 4WD is designed to be driven on rough terrain and built worlds apart from your average 2WD vehicle.
Shock absorbers are probably the best example, with 4WD shock absorbers heating well over 100 degrees on rough corrugations. How long do you think a 2WD version will last?
Crossing the Pentecost River is an achievable feat with the right rugged vehicle.
Benefits of a 4WD
Better Opportunities for Day Travel
In between campsites, we love to travel. Whether it’s just to explore a beautiful region like Murchison House station in Kalbarri, or finding a secluded spot on the beach, a 4WD allows you to take your gear for the day and find a slice of Australian paradise.
Storage and Accessories
A 4WD has more storage space, especially with the addition of a roof rack. It’s also easier to install a fridge and a second battery, along with awnings, lights, and so much more. I’ve camped out of a 2WD vehicle on many occasions, but I’d never go back – the comfort and enjoyment you get out of camping from a 4WD is so worth it!
4WDing is Fun!
Until you’ve been 4WDing, you won’t know what you’re missing out on. You don’t need to undertake a full-fledged 4WD course to explore a large majority of Australia. For the most part, you’ll just need some basic gear, a few safety considerations, and a well-thought-out plan. There’s something about cruising down the beach or navigating up a muddy slope that has you grinning from ear to ear every time!
A 4WD allows you to take your gear for the day and find a slice of Australian paradise.
Where Can You Go in a 4WD?
We’re lucky that Australia is very open to 4WDs. There are tracks all over the country, and as long as it’s not private property, fenced off, or under local regulations that prevent adventurers passing through, it’s open for business. That said, where you take your 4WD should suit its capabilities, your skills, and basic common sense.
Beaches are a brilliant place to take your 4WD, but if you aren’t aware of the tides you can end up in all sorts of strife! National parks are home to some fantastic 4WD tracks and campsites – but again, stick to where you’re allowed to and you’ll have no issues.
I find that campsites in the long run don’t offer a true camping experience!
Caravan Park or Private Bush Camp?
There are caravan parks all over the country. Some are great, and some fall way below the mark. We tend to avoid them normally, and will head to lesser-known campsites where available. These sites are substantially cheaper, or free. There are fewer people, and the scenery is almost always better.
We do make a habit of calling into a caravan park from time to time, though; it’s nice to have a break, wash your clothes with ease, have a good shower, and swim in the pool! I have nothing against camping in caravan parks, but I find that in the long run they are expensive and don’t offer a true camping experience!
Nonetheless, more preparation is required if you are camping in the bush. There’s no issue if you’re self-sufficient, but things like water, toilets, cooking, and showers need to be considered.
More preparation is required if you are camping in the bush.
Finding a Lesser-Known Campsite
There’s never been an easier time to find the perfect campsite. Gone are the days where you need a book with a list of places to camp – apps have by far surpassed that.
If you haven’t already, do yourself a favour and download WikiCamps! It’s free for a trial, and with just a few bucks you can access over 8000 listed campsites across Australia. To top it all off, it’s contributed to by those who use it every day. You can often find up-to-date photos and reviews of the places you want to travel to and explore. Every day, more camp sites, reviews, and photos are added!
With Google Earth – find an area you want to go to, look for tracks, and mark out possible campsites.
If you’ve not used Google Earth to find a campsite, give it a go. Find a beautiful area you want to go to, look for tracks, and mark out possible campsites. We’ve found some truly epic campsites this way – although, occasionally, you arrive at a fence or realise it’s not actually possible to get there!
Google Search Engine
Google is a fantastic resource these days. Pick anywhere you want and type it in (for example, ‘Bunbury Camping’). Guaranteed, if more than a few people go there a year, there will be some information available on the net about it.
For more info on the variety of useful outdoor apps available, check out this blog here.
Every day, more camp sites, reviews, and photos are added to WikiCamps!
Chat to the Locals
Believe it or not, one of the most effective ways to find that perfect campsite is to chat to people along the way. They are almost always friendly, and appreciate a bit of a chat.
Time to Head Out There!
With a 4WD and the above tools, the world’s your oyster! Next time you are planning a trip away, don’t limit yourself to the bitumen road and well-known tourist attractions. Get off the beaten track in a 4WD and you will thank yourself for it!
Of course, planning makes all the difference. Do your own thorough research and you’ll have a ball.
See you out there!
With a 4WD and the above tools, the world’s your oyster!
Where do you go to get away from the crowds… or is it too good to give away?
If it involves four-wheel driving, Aaron loves it. When he isn’t writing for his blog, 4WDing Australia or the Snowys Blog, you’ll find him camping and driving around Western Australia.