The Map Patrol explored South East Queensland in a whirlwind month that was filled with twenty distinct 4WD trips close to Brisbane.
Being part of the Map Patrol is exhilarating, with the opportunity to be a professional explorer so enjoyable it almost seems unfair. This particular South East Queensland expedition was broken into five distinct regions: Sunshine Coast Hinterland and South Burnett, Brisbane and Moreton Bay Islands, the Cooloola Coast, the Fraser Coast and North Burnett, and Main Range and the South West.
This covered the 20 tracks found within 4WD + Camping Escapes – South East Queensland, which collectively emobody the diversity of tracks, landscapes, camping areas and ecosystems available to explore close to Brisbane. From as far north as Fraser Island, down to Border Ranges and west to Sundown National Park, Brisbanites don’t have to go far to find somewhere new to discover.
View the tracks from this trip online
Possibly the most memorable location of the trip was a typical one: Fraser Island. Moreton Island is also spectacular, however it lacks the size that makes Fraser so ‘adventurable’. The sheer amount of unique highlights on Fraser Island is mind-boggling: dense rainforest, open beaches, sand blows, perched lakes, and other singular attractions make it undeniably one of Australia’s must-visit off-road destinations. The only downside to Fraser is inevitably that it’s popularity makes it a tourist destination, so it’s not uncommon to see convoys of four or five 80 Series Landcruisers each packed with eight backpackers.
LEFT TO RIGHT: Fraser Island is awash with scenic attractions like Lake McKenzie; Moreton Island is more remote and adventurable than at first glance.
For those who don’t like sand driving and are looking for adventure, the most technical 4WDing during the trip came from Sundown National Park. The granite country that characterises Sundown means that all the tracks are rocky and so some of the more difficult runs, such as Rats Castle, require driving that takes more than just foot to the floor. As a contrast to the relative remoteness and inaccessibility of Sundown, only 20 minutes down the road is Girraween National Park, which is a very relaxed drive with very little need to engage 4WD. However, it does have plenty to offer in terms of short walks and beautiful campsites, and is an accessible family-friendly destination.
During an intensive fieldwork schedule, the scenic spot that was most undeniable was The Pinnacle lookout along the Border Ranges track. An easy walk to the lookout rewards you with immersive views around the entire park and to the coastline itself. The track is nothing difficult; a Prius was spotted driving it. In saying that, the track becomes slippery when it is raining and after recent rain.
LEFT TO RIGHT: Sundown NP is remote and challenging in areas; Girraween NP is an ideal scenic trip for those not intent on four-wheel driving.
If you are looking for something easy to start your 4WD experience but don’t want just a gravel road, then Duck Creek Road and Condamine Gorge are perfect starting points. Both have varying challenges, with Duck Creek’s steep climbs offering some slightly more challenging lines if taken. Condamine is famous for its many creek crossings, 14 of them to be exact, though when it’s relatively dry around Main Range National Park they do not offer a great challenge; though it is a great training ground for more challenging tracks.
Few things enhance a trip more than a fantastic campsite, and along this expedition many were sighted. Of the hundreds of camping areas seen and utilised over the course of the month, the most memorable was a tie between Waddy Point on Fraser Island and Booloumba Creek in Conondale National Park. The serenity of Waddy Point and sublime location of Booloumba Creek Camping Area 3 made them stand out, though there were countless others similarly special depending on what you’re looking for.
This expedition reinforced a valuable lesson that, while it’s easy to look further and further afield when planning that next escape into the wild, sometimes what we’re looking for can be found in our own backyard.
LEFT TO RIGHT: Duck Creek Road is 4WD-only but is also an excellent off-road training ground; Booloumba Creek Camping Area 3.