4WD Camping Guide | Everything You Need To Know

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We all love spontaneous road trips and adventures so much, so you know that the best way to achieve all your wanderlust is through taking your 4WD along with you. The gorgeous extended coastal lines and great inclined trails are frequently found in Australia, which makes 4WD much more needed to access remote areas. So, what are the perks of having 4WD when camping?

4WD makes your camping experience extra convenient and satisfying because it can easily reach challenging tracks, whether it is sandy, muddy or snowy. It improves your driving experience, and it is way safer than 2WD.  You can visit all the best campsites in Australia with fantastic scenery through 4WD because it will be your best companion in terms of getting into challenging trails.

Are you getting ready for an adventure with your 4WD? Read the full article and know more!

What Should I Know About 4WD Camping?

In 1898 in France, Italy, the first 4WDs were the tractors and gun tractors, when they made the front-wheel drive. In the 1900s, Spyker was built, it was the first vehicle that was established as a full-time 4WD, then Caldwell Vale 4×4 trucks were created by Felix and Norman Caldwell, and they introduced trucks with four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering.

During the First World War, they are always stuck in the middle of the road even if it’s a smooth or rough track using the two-wheel-drive. They were so sick of getting stuck up, so they came to an idea of making 4WD, like two trucks in one. 4WD has the ability of the regular drive at the back, and also has the front wheels that stir. 

Today, 4WD may seem like a necessity especially for those people who are always up for camping, because it can take you to the farthest place to camp in the country. Honestly, the unreachable sites offer the best and the most authentic views and camping opportunities and only accessible by 4WD. 

What Are the Best 4WD Campgrounds?

These are some of the best campgrounds that are only accessible by a 4WD:

Middle Rock Camping Ground

Middle Rock Camping Ground in Queensland is a small, yet cosy camp situated nearby South of Agnes Waters in the Deepwater National Park. Its campsites are a bit cramped; three sets of campers may overcrowd the area. Other than the beautiful camps, there is also a decent 100-metre track that runs from north to south around the National Park and the stunning raw beaches of the Middle Rock is a huge bonus that you can have all to yourself. 

Hunter Gorge

Hunter Gorge is located at Diamantina National Park in Queensland is the perfect place to explore the secluded outback with the challenging track on the way. This place may be too far, but it will surely be worth it because you will be rewarded with the beautiful and significant birdlife habitat of Billabong, that will give you a reason to put Hunter George on your bucket list.

Cocoparra National Park

Cocoparra National Park in the east of Griffith in central New South Wales is a stunner. It has a wide range of beautiful facilities such as picnic tables, toilets, and abundance of wildlife will make anything better. Only a few roads from the town, this place is a perfect spot to wind down and relax. 

Sandy Blight Junction

Sandy Blight Junction in Western Australia is filled with the lovely view of Desert Oak trees that will blow your mind. This area does not have the crazy and hard to reach tracks, but it is the best place to spend your night under the clear skies where you can watch the stars. 

Deep Creek

Deep Creek, Bay of Fires in Tasmania is situated about a few hours drive north-east of Launceston, that leads to Ansons Bay and Eddystone Lighthouse. The campsite has six comfy spots and is easy to find because it is directly located at the beach where you can pitch your tent and have a gorgeous background of Tasman Sea. The campsite is pretty accessible by 4WD and has proper drop toilets. 

Davenport Creek

Davenport Creek in South Australia is a good camp, especially for your 4WD where you can try to drive through the massive amount of sand in the area while you’re on your way. The campground also has a creek that makes a good spot for fishing and eco-toilets.

Lake Gairdner

Lake Gairdner in South Australia is the third largest saltwater lake in Australia. It has a beautiful landscape for camping and provides cooling shades from trees that create a lovely spot to set your tent up. Also, it has a large field where you can pitch and scatter your tents and offers a good view of the lake. 

Jacksons Crossing

Jacksons Crossing in Snowy River, Victoria. A decent camp with steep trails and climbs that will give you the rush of Adrenaline with your 4WD. The area is not too popular so you can guarantee that the place is all to yourself except during the peak season and the downside is the facilities are not available.

Haunted Stream

Haunted Stream in Victoria is not the best campsite, yet has the best tracks, so better take your 4WD truck with you. The steep trails need your patience and demand low-range high clearance 4WD to cross the 17-kilometre Haunted Stream. However, there are no facilities present in the area.

Willandra National Park

Willandra National Park in New South Wales gives the best-shaded campsites, beautiful landscapes, and outback experience. Getting there, you can experience moderate tracks, and there are flush toilets, showers, fireplaces, and wood supplies. 

What Are The Important Things To Remember During 4WD Camping?

Whenever you’re going on a 4WD camping trip, you should remember these things:

  • Obey the imposed local guidelines.
  • Give respect to the natural and cultural values.
  • Do not disturb the wildlife.
  • Keep your vehicle clean every time you visit natural reserves. Doing so prevents contamination and infecting wildlife through soil-borne diseases.
  • Leave no trace. Always bring your rubbish home.
  • Always check if the National Parks or Reserves require permits and passes.
  • Be responsible. Plan your trip wisely.
  • Always carry extra food and water.
  • Always be aware of the facilities – in different locations, facilities vary.
  • Do not overload your vehicle.
  • Make a pre-departure maintenance checklist.
  • Always make sure that you and your vehicle are both in good condition.

How to Handle Wildlife During Camping?

Camping in the wilderness will inevitably make you encounter the local wildlife. So, don’t be alarmed and read the following for you to know the right thing to do whenever this happens:

Do Your Research

Familiarise the area that you are staying in and always be aware of its safety measures. Distinguish the species of animals present on the site so you’ll know what you are dealing with or are there any possibly dangerous species that you may encounter such as venomous snakes or cougars. 

Do Not Meddle With The Local Wildlife’s Natural Habitat

Animals will automatically defend themselves if they sense a threat, so always remember to keep a proper distance, and resist your urge to take selfies with them if you do not want to be in any sorts of danger. Take photos from a distance and respect the wildlife as you respect yourself, and take note that they have a life as well.

Don’t Feed Nor Attract Wildlife 

Store your food in a sealed container to eliminate the odour that will cause attraction to animals, especially to predators, and do not feed them with your food because it may be unhealthy for them.

It’s Okay To Make Some Noise

Human noises keep the animals away but do not do anything that will cause disturbances that will trigger them to attack you. 

Take Your Trash With You

This thing is a rule of thumb. Always keep your area clean and tidy to avoid contaminations for the wildlife, and always remember that the wild is not for you to keep, so leave the site squeaky clean as possible. 

Don’t Take Random Wildlife As Pets

Animals belong in their natural habitat, and it is unethical nor potentially illegal to pick animals then put them in a cage and culture them. Let the animals enjoy their place, where they are free to do what is right and let them be wild. 

Keep Your Pets On A Leash or Leave Them Home

Understandably, you love your pets so much and you want them to enjoy things as much as you do, but it is not logical to let them just roam around. In this case, you may put your life and your loving pet’s life at risk by being irresponsible enough to make them stroll everywhere. Keep them leashed and buy a spiral stake for an alternative to always holding the other end of the leash. 

Bring Your Appropriate Gear

Always pick the right equipment for your safety, such as snake boots that are recommended to wear if you’re camping to a place where venomous snakes are common. Bring your binoculars to have a clear view or sight especially when birdwatching and bring insect repellents to avoid being bitten by common insects, also, during night-time, nocturnal animals are active, so always bring flashlights to scare them away.

Always Be Alert

When you’re clearing your campsites, moving logs, and clearing bushes, always keep in mind to wear safety gloves and sturdy boots. Tap the logs and shake the bushes with a stick to scare snakes but do not harm them. 

Don’t Cause Harm To Any Animals

You do not own any of the wildlife, so you must not hurt any of them. Harming or eating animals may cause detrimental effects on our environment and imbalance to the food chain. Floras, Faunas and every aspect of nature must be preserved well because we are protected and governed by it.  

What Are The Tips On Driving Safely During 4WD Camping?

Knowing how to drive safely on tracks is very important as it will guarantee your safety and your vehicle’s roadworthiness. So, here are some of the ways for you to remember whenever you’re driving to a 4WD-only campground:

Have A Plan

Camping is like building a house that you must always present the blueprints first, perhaps your camping plan. You must learn how to get in and out of the area whether or not there is a mobile network service, so if not, you must get yourself equipped with a satellite phone or having family or friends nearby just in case of emergency. Do your research and be a bit familiar with the area because 4WD trails are usually located at remote sites and often not frequently checked and well-maintained.

Learn How To Get Out

Usually, 4WD tracks are unspoiled and get muddy and sometimes sandy. So, getting out of it is something you must learn if you’re going to explore excellent campsites located in secluded areas. You can’t spin your tyre all day when you can’t get off in the mud or sand and expect that there is someone who will miraculously appear and save you in the end. 

  • Your tyre is struggling to gain traction; that’s why you can’t get off in the first place. Get something that your tyre can grip on like a log or a rock and accelerate gradually.
  • Keep a shovel on your 4WD truck, even a small one so that you can dig around your wheels.
  • If you have your mates with you, try to make them push while accelerating gently.
  • If you’re stuck in the incline, you can try rolling back where the surface is less soft.

Bring Only The Necessities

When camping, you can’t pack the entire house in your truck while carrying your whole family, so you must only bring your essentials. Overloading is one of the reasons why vehicles are getting stuck, and reducing weight is the only way to stop it.

Gear Up

4WD Vehicles are not all the same, so your vehicle may not be well-equipped to conquer some terrain, so it is crucial to take actions and gear up. Modifications can be done to adjust your vehicle capacity for some grounds and the improvement of your driving experience. Just remember that you do not have to do this all at once, you can start by modifying your tyres, or your suspension, and the list goes on. If you’re sticking on a budget, you can always try to DIY the basics, shop and you may find cheaper or durable ones according to your preferences. 

Practise

There are no shortcuts to master the art of driving a challenging track, so it is advisable that you take an accredited 4WD course, or you could have a friend who is an experienced driver. Spend a day with them, and you will surely gain tons of knowledge, and they may be able to share their driving experiences that you can apply to yourself. Excellent driving skills are essential to achieve a calm trip. Also, skilled and experienced drivers are usually familiar with roads and can anticipate what’s going to happen by watching out road obstacles and signs. 

How Should I Take Care of My 4WD?

If you want your vehicle to survive several trips to the bush, you should do the following:

Check Your Vehicle Correctly

Be familiar with your 4WD because the more you know about your car, the more you are aware if there is something that needs to be checked or modified. Always check your vehicle inside and outside to ensure safety while driving. If you think you’re not that good at maintaining your car, get a trustworthy and competent mechanic, so if you’re in doubt, find someone else. 

Before going anywhere, always take time to have a pre-start check; in this way, you can monitor your vehicle and avoid getting driving hassles. Every morning, make an allotted time of 5 minutes for a pre-check. Check your engine oil, brake fluid, clutch fluid, transmission oil, radiator overflow and power steering fluid. Also, check the V-belt tensions and hose condition. Be aware of damaged wiring and loose parts, too, check underneath to see any leaks from your previous tracks and check the wheels if it is properly aligned.

Check Tyre Pressures

For the different terrain, different tyre pressures must be achieved, and if not, your tyre pressure will increase exponentially. It will make a lot of difference when you adequately adjust your pressure according to what type of terrain. If you’d have wrong pressure for your tyre, it may cause unevenness, poor traction and it will wear quicker.

Drive With Mechanical Sympathy

When driving, make your vehicle as an extension of your senses. Always know your vehicle’s capacity and how hard it is working for a day. Listen to the noises that are not normal, so the sooner you will recognise, the cheaper it will cost. 4WDs are built differently, so do not treat them as if they can conquer the world and always check and monitor your vehicle’s temperature; it plays a crucial part in your driving activity. 

Know What Is Bad For Your 4WD

Again, they are built differently. Do not drive your vehicle to saltwater because it causes rust and other substantial damage over the years. So, if you see someone driving their 4WD through saltwater, save yourself if you do not want to spend triple that you usually do. Usually, 4WD vehicles are the best ones to drive in the mud but always remember that it can damage your vehicle’s system, and it is so hard to get off. 

What to Pack for A 4WD Camping?

If you want to have a hassle-free trip, you should remember to pack the following before heading out:

  • Pack all of the important things first – make a checklist of your clothing and personal hygiene products, sleeping gear, cooking gear, tools and spare parts, first-aid kits, recovery gear and maps. By packing all the essential things first, you can avoid necessary left offs and can give you peace of mind. 
  • Bring Water. Best 4WD camping sites are commonly found in the remote areas where most accommodations are not present. Always bring drinking water to avoid drinking from the tap or reservoir that can cause contamination. 
  • Store and bring more Food. Food is a staple and bringing extra in a camping trip is essential. It’s better to have more food than lacking one, so store your food correctly and bring two coolers to make two compartments that one is designated for food. 
  • Fuel Supply. Always check your fuel supply and do not forget to bring one with you, because, in secluded areas, you will not be able to see servo to pop out anywhere. Store your fuel as sealed as possible to avoid leakage.
  • Bin bags for your rubbish. Nature does not deserve any of our waste so bring bin bags for storage. 
  • Awning Tents are the most portable type of tent in terms of camping with your 4WD because it is so easy to pull off and it can be an extension of your vehicle. You can install it on your roof rack, so it saves more space. It gives the protection from the harsh sun and wind that you need, and much needed shelter during camping.
  • Permits are required if you’re going to camp in Northern Territory. Permits are accessible to purchase and can turn into a gift card through online payments. It is the best way to ensure that you’re camping in a site legally and to avoid facing legal consequences. Also, through taking a purchase online, you can browse and see what are the places that are suitable for you.  
  • Add a roof rack for more space: this is a handy hack for all the campers. If you want to save up space and add more storage, you can add a roof rack where you can secure your baggage and install your awning tents. 

What Are The Safety Tips For Driving 4WD During Winter?

For campers, winter means rain and mud and a significant drop in temperature and the best time to try 4WD and have a great time to wander the country’s best 4WD tracks. 

Ensure Your Safety

Your chances at getting bogged are high in winter compared to the summer season. Make sure you are getting the best recovery gear, so you don’t put your life and your 4WD at risk. Snatch straps are only suitable for slightly bogged cars but not for the worse ones because they may just end up smashing your windows. 

Travel With A Mate

Having a company when travelling is one of the pleasures in life because you get to share experiences, and if someone gets bogged, having more than one 4WD truck is helpful. You can always be a lookout of one another, and if something goes wrong, you will not be the only one stressing about it.

Be Careful of Water Crossings

Crossing waters is fun until something went wrong and you got drowned instead. It causes damage even with the most expensive ones, and may potentially fill your entire car with water. Car snorkel can be useful at times like this because it increases the level of air consumption to decrease the chance of water entering your engine when crossing streams. You should also check the depth of the mud or water through poking into the ruts with a stick and see how far it sinks. If the bottom is firm, there is a possibility that you can cross the water, if not, you will surely find yourself in the massive puddles of mud.

Clean Up Your 4WD

Right after you arrive at your destination, make sure to clean your 4WD to avoid further damage and cause malfunctions. If you let your 4WD to dive in saltwater, make sure to clean it all off because it can cause rust to begin. If you dump into a mud, expect clay consistency, and it is hard to get off, so you will have to wet it and get the particles off to yourself.

What Is The Best Time To Try 4WD Camping?

Anytime is the best time to try and experience camping by 4WD, no matter what the weather is, as long as you’re ready and well-equipped, you will have a fantastic adventure. Technically, the best time to go 4WD camping is summer because of the warm weather, but in different regions in Australia, there are some portions that the weather is more defined like in the Northern Part. Winter is also considered the best time because it means rain and mud and the perfect time to try 4WD tracks.

Related Questions

What Is The Best Vehicle For Camping?

Here is the list of some vehicles that are best for 4WD camping:

  • Pontiac Aztek
  • Toyota FJ Cruiser
  • Subaru Outback
  • Land Rover Range Rover
  • Nissan Xterra
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Chevrolet Suburban

What Do You Need to Go 4WD?

Tyre Recovery Gear

  • Tyre Deflator / Gauge 
  • Emergency Off Road Tyre Repair Kit 
  • Recovery Tracks 
  • Air Compressor 

Recovery Gear

  • Foldable Shovel and Pick 
  • Snatch Straps 
  • Bow Shackles 
  • Recovery Hitch & Bow Shackle
  • Winch Extension Strap 
  • Tow Hook Kit 
  • Snatch/Pulley Block 
  • Starter Recovery Kit 
  • Tree Protector 
  • Winch Cable Damper Blanket  
  • Winch With Rope 

Touring/Camping Gear

  • Folding Bucket 
  •  Camp Shower 
  • Fire Extinguisher 
  • Air Pump Inflator

What Is The Best SUV For Camping?

Here are some SUVs that are great for camping:

  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • 2017 Nissan Xterra Pro-4X
  • 2017 GMC Acadia
  • Subaru Forester
  • Ford Expedition
  • Toyota Sienna
  • Chevy Silverado LTZ
  • Subaru XV Crosstrek 2.0 Limited

Is It Okay to Sleep on The Beach in Australia?

Though it varies from state to state, in Australia, it is generally illegal to “wild” camp (including sleeping in your parked car) unless it is in an authorised area. So usually, wherever you are, it is not much different than trying to camp on Bondi, Cottesloe or the Gold Coast.

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