We're counting down the top 100 off-road tracks and destinations in Australia for 2017, voted on by you, the adventure travel community! Read part one of the countdown to discover which locations and journeys took out places 100 to 76.
100 - Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park, QLD
North of Archer River on the eastern coast of Cape York is Kutini-Payamu National Park, a remote coastal region that houses Australia’s largest remaining lowland rainforest. A worthy diversion on the way to the northernmost tip of Australia, Kutini-Payamu has tracks and camping for those in search of true tropical rainforest north of the Daintree.
99 - Mt Dare, SA
Mt Dare is a beacon of civilisation in the middle of the Australian outback – situated on the western edge of the Simpson Desert, and just south of the Northern Territory-South Australia border. Visitors arrive at the iconic Mt Dare Hotel before, after or during an outback trip, coming together in this place in the middle of nowhere to swap stories, refuel and leave some sort of residue from their own epic adventures in this remote checkpoint.
98 - Hay River Track, NT
The Hay River Track is the eastern vehicular link between the north and south Simpson Desert, guiding travellers parallel to the desert’s famous dunes along the Hay River itself. Even without the challenge of crossing the Simpson’s parallel dunes, the Hay River is an entrancing journey through a surprisingly vibrant part of Australia’s outback.
97 – Anne Beadell Highway, WA
One of Australia’s most remote tracks that also traverses some of its harshest regions, the Anne Beadell Highway was pioneered by surveyor Len Beadell and named after his wife in the middle of the last century. Requiring a high level of self-sufficiency and driving skill to negotiate, the Anne Beadell is representative of much of what makes the Australian outback so enticing to travellers.
96 - Cape Flattery, QLD
The home of the world’s largest silica mine is also a bona fide Cape York adventure, with Cape Flattery offering some interesting four-wheel driving, secluded beaches and bush camping for those with the time to head to the beautiful Starcke Coast.
95 – Cooloola Coast, QLD
Heading north from Noosa to Fraser Island is a remote strip of coast that will quench the thirst of those in search of real beach driving. Cooloola’s vital coastline, endless ocean and links to Double Island Point, Rainbow Beach and the aforementioned Fraser makes it perfect as either a preparatory or standalone adventure.
94 – Currawinya National Park, QLD
Combining arid outback landscapes with expansive wetlands that attract a range of birds and other wildlife, Currawinya is a pleasing collision of environs. Camp on the banks of outback Queensland’s last free-flowing river, and enjoy the life that the Paroo River breathes into this rugged part of Australia while you camp and explore the park by 4WD.
93 – North Stradbroke Island, QLD
Straddie is iconic for many reasons – it’s off-road without being remote, filled with beach camping areas to enjoy, and has plenty of things to see and places to fish. It’s this rare balance that makes North Stradbroke Island so attractive – both to the initiated and the first-timer – leaving no questions as to why it’s a summer classic for so many adventurers.
92 – West MacDonnell Ranges, NT
The spectacular ranges of the West Macs are a sight to behold, within which are countless places of beauty and significance. Outback hiking trails, Aboriginal sites, lookouts, gorges and more are littered throughout the area, all of which are overseen by the rough red quartzite peaks that have stood sentry over the Red Centre for over 300 million years.
91 – The Strzelecki Track, SA
One of Australia’s major outback roads, the Strzelecki Track was blazed by famous cattle thief Harry Readford in an attempt make it to South Australia from Queensland with 1000 head of cattle. When he was apprehended in 1872 – over a year after his amazing feat – the jury was so impressed with his actions that he was found not guilty of the crime. Nowadays, the track is a classic outback journey that doesn’t require a high level of four-wheel driving ability in good conditions.
90 – Nymboida National Park, NSW
A pristine wilderness that’s fed by the flow of the Nymboida River, Nymboida National Park is a quiet achiever just waiting to be explored. Venture to its western side for a secluded camping experience, push a canoe into the briskly-flowing waters of the Nymboida, or drive its tracks with the windows down to listen to melodic birdsong that fills the air.
89 – Palm Valley, NT
Palm Valley is a quintessential oasis: home to the only Cabbage Palms within an 850km radius, and with the world’s oldest river running through this untouched wilderness, it’s both a refuge and a relic. Even without that information in mind, a visit to Palm Valley imbues travellers with a sense that they’re experiencing a truly special place.
88 – Kennedy Range National Park, WA
The Kennedy Range rises ominously above the surrounding Gascoyne region like a huge sandstone block pull upwards out of the earth. Effectively a single plateau broken by deep canyons and gorges, exploring Kennedy Range National Park by foot or by vehicle is a unique experience.
87 – Dampier Peninsula, WA
Vibrant reds and electric blues collide at will in the Dampier Peninsula, a place where the outback is only ended by the brilliant white beaches that seemingly stretch out endlessly along this remote Kimberley coastline. Filled with culture, history and a plentiful supply of awe-inspiring scenes to marvel at, the Dampier Peninsula is unique even by the Kimberley’s standards.
86 – Rainbow Beach, QLD
Rainbow Beach is a true adventure hub. Whether they’re heading to Fraser Island, have arrived from the Cooloola or Double Island Point region (or heading back that way), or are simply there to drive on the beach past the infamous Mudlo Rocks, travellers of all types and destinations always arrive at Rainbow Beach with adventure well and truly in their midst.
85 – Cape Arid National Park, WA
A place that typifies South West Western Australia in so many ways, Cape Arid National Park is a pristine wilderness of coastal heathland filled with banksia, paperbark and all manner of fauna that meets the sea by way of crisp white sand and intense turquoise waters. The park’s walks offer a quiet way to observe a variety of birds and mammals, while its sandy tracks and some top campsites make it even easier to spend a few days simply enjoying the serenity.
84 - The Plenty Highway, NT
Stretching from the western edge of Queensland to Alice Springs, the Plenty Highway is a partly sealed outback track that pumps travellers to and from the beating heart of the Red Centre. As you travel, take some time to look around while the landscape subtly shifts and morphs from one kind of outback scene to another with harmonious ease.
83 – Turon River Region, NSW
The Turon River witnessed the explosion and disappearance of gold fever around its fertile banks in the 1850s, while today it quietly flows through a scene more conducive to crowd-averse travellers. Drive through forest and farmland with the Turon as an intermittent companion, letting you know you’re in paradise while you explore.
82 – Cobourg Peninsula, NT
Located at the top of the Top End in the farthest reaches of Arnhem Land, Cobourg Peninsula is a stunning coastal destination whose wonders must be earned with some serious preparation. Thanks to its isolation, permit requirements and torrid beauty, the Cobourg Peninsula is tailor-made for the serious traveller.
81 – Pilliga National Park
Covering over half a million hectares between Coonabarabran and Narrabri, Pilliga’s forests are vast enough to be the largest remaining native forest on the Australian continent. Discover the forest’s criss-crossing tracks by vehicle or on foot, with the knowledge that this special region is home to over 240 bird species as well as tribal sites of the local Gamilaroi people.
80 – Wombat State Forest, VIC
Wombat has a cult following around the Victorian 4WD scene, and with good reason. Wedged between the towns of Blackwood and Daylesford, Wombat State Forest is a maze of 4WD tracks set amongst thick forest that straddles the 3,500km-long Great Dividing Range, making it both an off-road challenge and a natural spectacle.
79 – Murray Sunset National Park, VIC
Bordering South Australia to the west and the Murray River to the north, Murray Sunset is a 4x4 haven of sandy tracks, expansive Mallee country and some fascinating salt lakes thrown in for good measure. The aptly-named Pink Lakes are a unique highlight - though in truth, much of Victoria’s second-largest national park is equally enthralling.
78 – D’Entrecasteaux National Park, WA
A coastal strip of unspoilt wilderness in South West WA, D’Entrecasteaux is a white silica wonderland interwoven with green coastal heathlands, tall Karri forest and imposing cliffs that meet the Indian Ocean. Black Point’s eerily symmetrical basalt columns are a unique feature, while the 10km-long Yeagarup Dunes are an off-road adventure worth the price of admission.
77 – Litchfield National Park, NT
A day trip from Darwin but a world away from civilisation, Litchfield National Park is a veritable oasis in more ways than one. Waterfalls flow all year round – and there are plenty – with the bonus of croc-free swimming to go with incomparable rock formations, historic locations and a range of 4WD tracks all within the park (including some deep water crossings).
76 – Watagans, NSW
Encompassing the national park and ranges of the same name, the Watagans is a formidable all-rounder with a wealth of 4WD tracks and some idyllic campgrounds to enjoy. Choose between winch-worthy tracks, Aboriginal art sites and remnants of settlement along your journey throughout the Watagans’ tall eucalyptus forest.
Discover more of Australia's best adventure destinations for 2017 with our off-road top 100: