Tired of the same routine every weekend? Make plans to shake things up a bit. Load up your 4WD – or a weekend 4wd rental from Fleetcrew – and leave Brisbane behind when Friday afternoon arrives. Wave goodbye to the monotony of highways and traffic jams and explore one of the three best 4WD only escapes.
Before heading off, check that you’ve got all the correct access and camping permits. Along with camping gear, pack all the necessary fuel, food and water you’ll need for each of trip. Though we’ve suggested a few places to eat, shops and restaurants are scarce where only 4WDs can go.
A quick list of the top three 4WD getaways from Brisbane for you to choose:
- Head North to Conondale Range
- Travel South to the Granite Belt Parks
- Visit Noosa North Shore and its surrounds
Distance from Brisbane – 95km (1 hour, 25 minutes)
Conondale Range runs alongside the Sunshine Coast hinterland making for a serene drive both on the road and off. The fresh air and rich rainforests mean any pit stops on your drive will be pleasant ones. There are three key 4WDing areas in the Conondale Range and they can all be easily reached from Charlie Moreland Campground or Yabbaloumba Retreat. Start your weekend off with:
Stop 1: Imbil State Forest
Skill level – Easy to Moderate
Highlight – Lake Borumba
Perfect for starting off your Conondale trek is Imbil State Forest in the range’s North. You’ll find picturesque tracks with the occasional stream crossing and low hanging vines.
The trails are concentrated in the north of the forest. They are approachable and plentiful so feel free to spend the daylight hours following their twists and turns. Borumba Lake is a relaxing spot to eat a packed lunch.
Stop 2 – Conondale National Park
Skill Level – Moderate
Highlights – Bouloumba Creek; Bouloumba Falls
Conondale’s tracks are well signposted although steep, low-gear climbs and sharp corners are always lurking. You’ll need a high clearance 4WD in order to get across the many stream and river crossings.
Allow at least half a day to discover the park. The Bouloumba Creek Day Use Area is a great spot to let the kids stretch their legs or go for a splash. It’s also the start line for many rewarding hikes, including scenic fire tower or gold mine routes.
Stop 3 – Bellthorpe National Park
Skill Level – Moderate to Difficult
Highlights – Beacon View Look Out; Stony Creek
On the way back to Brisbane is Bellthorpe. It offers the most challenging runs out of the three Conondale Range parks but provides hours of enjoyment. The setting is tangled forests and waterfalls bordered by open valleys and farmland.
The descents can be hard and steep, while the hill climbs are loose and subject to erosion and wash outs. Signs clearly mark each tracks difficulty however, and all weather roads run throughout Bellthorpe. Remember to pack lunch and the kids’ swimmers for when you get to Stony Creek.
Distance from Brisbane – 220km (2 hours, 40 minutes)
Where to Eat – Granite Belt Brewery Restaurant
The Granite Belt is Queensland’s home of crisp, fresh produce, high altitude wine and the odd snowfall. With its unique geography and climate, there’s no wonder why it’s also been shaped into ideal territory for a 4WD getaway. Depending on which track you’re at, bounce between Burrows Waterhole and The Springs for camping (we don’t advise camping in this region during winter). Alternatively, base yourself in Stanthorpe at the cosy Ridgemill Estate and while you’re there grab a meal at Granite Belt Brewery Restaurant. Then spend your weekend getting lost within one of our top three picks for the Granite Belt:
Stop 1: Girraween National Park
Skill level – Easy
Highlight – The Pyramid
South-east of Stanthorpe is Girraween National Park. Studded with baffling granite outcrops and rock formations, the park is a straightforward, yet stunning drive.
Follow Mt Norman Road toward the park and you’ll soon be on the 4WD track which cuts right through its middle. After passing by wetlands and crossing creeks, you’ll loop through the camping area. Young adventurers can follow one of the walking tracks to try and spot some wildlife.
Stop 2: Sundown National Park
Skill Level – Moderate to Difficult
Highlights – Castle Rock; Severn River
In the other direction, south-west from Stanthorpe, is Sundown National Park. The tracks in Sundown will take you past magnificent gorges, waterholes and panoramic lookouts.
The terrain is made up of large rocks, ditches and steep ridges. Along the Rats Castle loop you’ll come to a rocky descent that leads into a valley track along the Severn River. Add a detour past the immense Red Rock Gorge to your itinerary.
Be aware that Sundown is notorious for its tyre-piercing rocks. A good set of tyres – standard on Fleet Crew rentals – should reduce any unwanted hassles to your weekend. Overnight campers should remember to bring the necessary supplies.
Stop 3: The Springs 4×4 Adventure Park
Skill Level – All Skill Levels
Highlights – Beer O’Clock Hill challenge
Cost – $25 (per 4WD per day)
The only private park on our list is The Springs. A short drive north of Stanthorpe, this park caters to all level of driver. Your options include tough hill climbs, rock tracks and soft trails. All tracks are signposted with difficulty ratings so that you can cover The Spring’s 700 acres with confidence.
Camping is also available, allowing you to have shaded solitude or to connect with other 4WD enthusiasts and their families.
It’s a friendly place to stop and use up that last bit of 4wding energy before heading home.
Distance from Brisbane – 140km (2 hours, 20 minutes)
Where to Stay – Teewah Camping Area (camping); Beach Road Holiday Homes
Remarkably, Noosa North Shore gets much less attention than its neighbour, Noosa Heads. This may be because an appropriate vehicle and permit are necessary prerequisites. But with the 4WD packed and ready to carry you from the crowds, Noosa North Shore is exactly where you should be. For the best access to the tracks, pitch your tent at Teewah, or for all the comforts, visit Beach Road Holiday Homes. There’s a few places at either end of the 4WD tracks to grab a hot meal, like Tewantin and Arcobaleno, but for the most part, you’ll need supplies.
Stop 1: Noosa North Shore
Skill level – Moderate to Difficult
Highlight – Lake Cootharaba; Eumundi markets
Hop on the 4wd and make a beeline for the coast on the opposite side. You should soon reach the beginning of the 50km or so of open beach road. In a high clearance 4WD with low gear range, from here you can go just about anywhere. If your vehicle is lacking these requirements, check out Fleetcrew’s 4WD rental options before your weekend away.
Driving north, you’ll be sat snug between the ocean and the trees. Stop and cast a line from the shore or veer inland to canoe friendly, Lake Cootharaba.
Beach driving conditions are always changing so be aware of rough spots that are soft and boggy. Follow safe beach driving practices and ensure the tide is on your side as you head along the beach.
Stop 2: Cooloola Recreation Area
Skill Level – Moderate
Highlights – Cooloola Sandblows
If the tide has made the beaches impassable, double back from Noosa North Shore and up through Coloola. Take the winding roads past Pomona to Kin Kin and then through Como onto Cooloola Way. You’ll see tracks branching out from either side, but if it’s the beach you want, make a right onto Teewah Pump Station Road. It’s not unusual to encounter loose sand and washouts on your path back toward the ocean.
On the beach, continue north beside magnificent sand dunes until you reach Double Island Point. Show the kids around the lighthouse, or if you’ve packed a surfboard, give the point’s celebrated right hand break a go. Close out your day by following Leisha track around to witness the multi-coloured beauty of Rainbow beach.
Stop 3: Bribie Island National Park
Skill Level – Moderate
Highlights – WW2 Forts
On your way back to Brisbane, you can make an easy Detour onto Bribie Island – no ferry needed, just the right permits. In the park is an abundance of birdlife, dugong feeding grounds, sand dunes and inland tracks.
Access to the beach is straightforward but can be rugged at points. On the beach you may encounter streams across the sand as the fresh water from inland heads out to sea. Approach with caution as shifting sands means the depth may vary unexpectedly. Inland you’ll find trickier tracks with soft sand looking to bog 4WDs that don’t have enough momentum.
Patrolled all year round, Woorim Beach in the south provides a family friendly opportunity to splash in the surf.
We’ve put together these destination guides so you’ve got less to worry about when it comes to planning your trip. After all, a weekend getaway should be as stress free as possible.
Don’t have a 4WD of your own, or not confident in your rig’s setup? Get in touch with the team at Fleetcrew about renting a 4WD for the weekend. We’re passionate explorers and will help get you in your element and journeying around Brisbane as soon as possible.