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 three of the countdown to discover which locations and journeys took out places 50 to 26.
50 - The Otways, VIC
The wilder side to the Great Ocean Road is a relatively simple off-road assignment, but what you encounter along the way is anything but rote. Moss-covered boulders and beautiful waterfalls like Beauchamp Falls and Hopetoun Falls punctuate the temperate rainforest, while a stand of giant Californian Redwoods resides down an unsealed road near Beech Forest, illustrating the range and natural mystique the Otways offers.
49 - Mount Mee, QLD
In D’Aguilar National Park north of Brisbane you’ll find Mount Mee, one of the most accessible and well-rounded adventure playgrounds close to Queensland’s capital. Enjoy green rolling hills, thick rainforest and undulating tracks that cut across the range, which you can explore on a day trip or delve into over a weekend with the help of Archer and Neurum Creek campgrounds.
48 - Glasshouse Mountains, QLD
The Glasshouse Mountains are an off-road initiation for South East Queensland four-wheel drivers. Rich red tracks crisscross at will and range from easy to nigh-on impossible, with the iconic silhouette of Mt Tibrogargan overlooking the scene as travellers meander through the pine forests that are so typical of the region.
47 - The Bungle Bungles, WA
One of Australia’s most iconic outback attractions is almost otherworldly, with the black and red striped domes that cover the landscape providing an unforgettable sight for travellers to Purnululu National Park. Walks through the park or a flight overhead are a mind-boggling experience, the region made even more amazing by the fact that the mainstream media wasn’t aware of the Bungle Bungles’ existence until 1983.
46 – Steep Point, WA
The journey to the westernmost point of the Australian mainland is not as sought-after as its northern cousin at the tip of Cape York, but not for lack of adventure. The western entrance to Shark Bay, Steep Point delivers sandy coastal tracks and sheer cliffs to enjoy, which you can stand atop at the end of the trip with the knowledge that you’ve made it to the precipice of infinity.
45 – Lithgow, NSW
Sitting on the edge of the Blue Mountains and recognised as the first true country town west of Sydney, Lithgow is surrounded by culture and nature. Explore nearby national parks (Yengo, Wollemi, Blue Mountains, Gardens of Stone and Kanangra-Boyd form a ring around the town), take in the rural vibe of the region or head west to Outback New South Wales from this quiet icon that is more than just a jumping-off point.
Image credit: Maksym Kozlenko
44 – Innamincka, SA
Situated on the banks of Cooper Creek is Innamincka, a tiny town best remembered for its links to the ill-fated expedition of Burke and Wills. Surrounded by the Strzelecki, Tirari and Sturt Stony Deserts – not to mention the inimitable billabongs and water courses of Coongie Lakes – Innamincka is a community within some of Australia’s wildest country.
Image Credit: Tony McKay
43 – Gawler Ranges National Park, SA
Gawler Ranges’ rolling red hills are quite typical of Outback South Australia, but its main attraction is anything but. In fact the Organ Pipes - which were pushed from beneath the earth over 1500 million years ago – are a one-of-a-kind sight, and they combine with the region’s rocky red gorges and picturesque ranges to make Gawler an enthralling off-road experience.
42 – Gippsland, VIC
Gippsland is a tourist paradise that has something for everyone: reach mainland Australia’s southernmost point at Wilson’s Promontory, explore Croajingolong and Tarra Bulga national parks’ secluded coasts and temperate rainforest, head into the alpine reaches of Mt Baw Baw or discover Australia’s largest inland waterway at Gippsland Lakes. With so many highlights packed into the one region, Gippsland has enough to occupy all-comers to this highly diverse region of Australia.
Image Credit: Ian W. Fieggen
41 - Darling River Run, NSW
One of Australia’s longest river systems is also the source of a true adventure drive, as the Darling River Run wends its way from Walgett to Wentworth through outback towns and isolated natural scenes along a route accessible to anyone with a 4WD. A drive along the Darling lets travellers discover a slice of the Australian Outback that is entrenched in the country’s history and culture, while using the lifeblood of the region to do so.
Image Credit: Mattinbgn
40 - Outback Queensland
A region as diverse as it is vast, Outback Queensland is home to dinosaur trails, opal hunters, ancient floodplains, rich red deserts and more. The Matilda Highway encounters much of this as it rolls through Charleville, Longreach and Winton, however Queensland’s outback charm is stamped on everything you encounter as you traverse this wide-open expanse.
39 – Exmouth, WA
Exmouth is a remote town that functions as the gateway to Ningaloo Marine Park - home to the most vibrant fringing reef system in Australia in Ningaloo Reef. To the east is Cape Range National Park, whose limestone ranges and gorges transform the landscape from coastal paradise to Outback Australia in the blink of an eye.
38 – Cape Leveque, WA
Known as the place where the desert meets the sea, Cape Leveque is a particularly unique area within one of Australia’s most diverse regions: the Kimberley. Impossibly red tracks give way to sheer pindan cliffs and white silica beaches, with mind-blowing camping spots and rugged terrain to keep you occupied while you explore.
37 - Gold Coast Hinterland
Dense Gondwana rainforest covers the ranges that sit inland from the Gold Coast’s famous beaches, where explorers will find lush national parks with camping and hiking aplenty to fuel their inner explorer. Springbrook’s waterfalls, the Tweed Range’s picturesque vistas, not to mention the off-road opportunities throughout much of the Scenic Rim make the Gold Coast Hinterland an attractive prospect for tourists and adventure-seekers alike.
36 - Eyre Peninsula, SA
Known for its tall jagged coastline, aquamarine waters and gentle mix of tourism and nature, the Eyre Peninsula is one of South Australia’s best travel destinations. Backing onto the Nullarbor Plain's limestone expanses, Gawler Ranges’ ancient red hills and home to the coastal wonderlands of Coffin Bay and Lincoln national parks – in addition to the availability and quality of its seafood – the Eyre Peninsula is a great destination on its own or as a stop in a larger outback journey.
35 - The Grampians, VIC
Imposing sandstone ranges dominate Grampians National Park, which is famous for its wealth of walking trails and stunning natural scenes. The park, which is 260km west of Melbourne, is home to significant Aboriginal rock art sites, as well as some quite breathtaking waterfalls and lookouts that are perfect photo opportunities.
34 - The Nullarbor Plain, SA
Literally meaning ‘no tree’, the Nullarbor Plain is comprised of the world’s largest chunk of limestone bedrock, giving this 200,000 square-kilometre biogeographic region an almost unearthly appearance. Don’t let its emptiness fool you though – the Nullarbor’s scope and endless coastline make it one of Australia’s most memorable journeys.
33 - Murray River, VIC
Australia’s longest river carves a 2500km path from the Australian Alps to the Indian Ocean by way of rural Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, its waters giving life to a wild and sometimes harsh part of Australia. Travellers can navigate the river by canoe, or follow its course with a four-wheel drive and some camping gear to get a taste of life on the Murray.
32 - Lake Eyre, SA
In the middle of Australia’s central deserts is Lake Eyre, the largest salt lake in Australia and perhaps its most perplexing. Monsoonal rains from Queensland and the Northern Territory transform the lake from a crusted white expanse into an oasis in the outback, where it then becomes overtaken by birdlife. Its proximity to the Simpson Desert, Birdsville Track and Oodnadatta Track make Lake Eyre an iconic detour for many an outback adventure.
31 - The Brindabellas, ACT
The Brindabella Range is a 4WD, camping and hiking haven that can be reached on a day trip from Canberra. Located in the upper reaches of the Australian Alps, the Brindabellas have a range of steep and rocky tracks to negotiate, with its high peaks and clean air making it an ideal getaway into the wild for adventurous travellers.
30 - Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park, QLD
Tucked away in Queensland’s remote north-west highlands, Boodjamulla National Park is a Top End oasis of the highest calibre. The crowning jewel of the park is Lawn Hill Gorge, which cuts through the Constance Range as it flows all year round, and is fed by freshwater springs that bring clear water, lush vegetation and animal life. Walk, canoe, camp and get off-road to soak in the abundance of Boodjamulla’s vibrant wilderness.
29 - The Savannah Way, QLD NT WA
The Savannah Way is perhaps the Top End’s definitive adventure drive, linking Cairns and Broome by way of some 3,700km, 15 national parks and five world heritage areas. The central leg of the journey is the most remote and challenging, however along the entire route you will find many outback towns, attractions like gorges and hot springs, opportunities to camp and fish, and almost too many worthwhile side trips to count.
28 - Oodnadatta Track, SA
The Oodnadatta is one of Australia’s most iconic outback tracks, and with good reason: it offers a slice of outback history, typical desert landscapes and a relatively straightforward off-road experience through the heart of Australia. The track also links travellers up with a variety of other outback tracks and attractions, including Lake Eyre, the Simpson Desert and the red centre at large for those coming from the south.
27 - Coffs Harbour Hinterland, NSW
This lush coastal hinterland holds its own against more exotic and far-flung wildernesses, its combination of deep rainforest, secluded coastline and ample tracks and trails making the Coffs Harbour region more than a casual weekend destination. Some of the tracks that traverse the ranges are highly technical, while the scenery along the way make you feel a world away from the quaint town of nearby Coffs Harbour.
26 - The Gunbarrel Highway, WA NT SA
For those who long for rugged outback tracks, secluded bush camps and a sense of self-sufficiency, the Gunbarrel Highway is the answer. Be prepared to tackle heavy corrugations and washaways on this thrilling outback drive, which gives any and all-comers a deep insight into the stark beauty and harsh conditions of the real Australian Outback.
Discover more of Australia's best adventure destinations for 2017 with our off-road top 100: