GET the diaries out, load up the fourbie and tell work you’ll be back in a few days as there’s a smorgasbord of 4x4 events and activities taking place across Australia.
Regardless of where you are in this big red country – refreshing with an ale in outback NSW, crossing the Nullarbor or sussing out what’s biting in the Top End – there’ll be an event taking place that should tickle your fancy. More often than not you’ll need a capable fourbie to reach the outback locations – city slickers fear not, as we’ll list suburban events, too.
So to make life easier when you’re plotting your next off-road adventure, here’s a calendar of upcoming Australian 4x4 events and activities.
*This article was updated on 4-April-2019
Autumn in the High Country
Date: May 3 - 19th
Location: Victoria High Country, Vic
The annual Feast High Country Festival, a celebration of fine food, wine and beer in Victoria’s spectacular north-east, is held across three weekends from May 3-19.
There will be 40 events in all, including the Fermentation Degustation, where Bridge Road Brewers in Beechworth hosts top-notch chefs and their dishes, and matches different beers to each. Food, wine and four-wheel driving – sounds perfect to us! See www.feasthighcountry.com.au
Shark Bay Fishing Fiesta
Date: May 17 - 24th
Location: Shark Bay, WA
This brilliant fishing festival has been running for a quarter of a century – an impressive effort, but easily understood when you see what’s on offer.
The festival provides anglers not only the chance to throw a line in at the World Heritage-listed Shark Bay (and potentially snare some of the $10K-plus in prize money) but also to sit back and enjoy great live entertainment or the sponsor’s auction. Run over the week of Friday, May 17 to Friday, May 24 the Fiesta includes family activities, bar and food outlets, and art and craft workshops.
See www.sharkbayfishingfiesta.com for more info.
Ord Valley Muster
Date: May 17 - 26th
Location: Ord River, WA
This is the 19th year of one of Australia’s favourite outback events. Held over 10 days, from May 17 to May 26, the Argyle Diamonds Ord Valley Muster, on the banks of the Ord River in the East Kimberley region of WA, will be a cracker. With more than 30 events on offer including a dance/dinner/concert evening, rodeo and the Kimberley Moon Experience, it will be awesome.
See www.ordvalleymuster.com.au for more info.
Finke Desert Race
Date: June 7 - 10th
Location: Alice Springs, NT
For some of the most exciting desert driving, the Northern Territory’s famous Finke Desert Race is essential viewing. The two-day off-road event runs over the June long weekend (June 7-10) with a mix of monster off-road buggies, modified vehicles, quads and dirt-bike racing to keep you entertained.
The race route runs from Alice Springs to the Aputula community and then back to Alice, with plenty of trackside viewing spots along the way. You can even camp anywhere along the 250km route, so you’re right next to the action.
Check out www.finkedesertrace.com.au for more information.
Coober Pedy Opal Festival
Date: June 21 - 23rd
Location: Coober Pedy, SA
Head out to South Australia’s famous opal town for the 31st running of this brilliant festival. Scheduled to run from Friday, June 21 to Sunday, June 23, the Coober Pedy Opal Festival has something for everyone.
There will be opal displays, tours, a massive street parade, fireworks and plenty of live music. There will also be a speedway event on the Sunday. While you are there, be sure to tackle a tour of an opal mine, or explore some of the town’s surrounding four-wheel drive tracks – there are plenty out there.
Check out www.opalfestival.com.au for more information.
4x4 explore: 4x4 trip from Coober Pedy to Mt Dare
Free campsites across the country
For many years now, the team at the ExplorOz website has offered a list of free campsites. That list has continued to grow in size and detail each year, as members add information.
For that last-minute camping adventure, head online to www.exploroz.com and check out what digs are located near the area that you’re travelling to.The website is updated with new camp spots regularly, and punters can browse by map, place and current location. A very handy tool.
Gear up for the Cape
It’s time to start thinking about tackling one of Australia’s most iconic 4x4 adventures: the journey from Cooktown to Cape York. Start planning your route, as there are more than a few options, plus myriad side trips that make the trip to ‘the Tip’ what it is.
So book your leave, get your rig checked over and ensure you replace anything near its use-by date. Then grab yourself a copy of Hema Maps’ Cape York Atlas & Guide to read about the many ways to make the most of the trip. Also check out Tropical North Queensland Tourism’s online guide: www.tropicalnorthqueensland.org.au
The Million-Acre Playground
Location: Lorella Springs Wilderness Park, NT
Lorella Springs Wilderness Park, located 29km north of the Savannah Way, between Borroloola and Roper Bar, sprawls over one million acres of spectacular Gulf Country.
It offers a brilliant winter escape for off-road tourers, anglers, bushwalkers, birdwatchers and boaties. The property includes 20km of Gulf coastline, big rivers and creeks, waterfalls, thermal springs and 4WD tracks.
Run by Rhett Walker and family, Lorella Springs is a contender for the destination bucket-list. Accommodation includes self-contained cabins, bedrooms (16), and a campground. See www.lorellasprings.com.au.
Get in the corner
It’s time to start planning a visit to one of this country’s iconic destinations: Corner Country. Packed with some famous desert routes including the Strzelecki (and Old Strzelecki) and Birdsville tracks, it also contains some of the country’s best outback pubs: Innamincka, Cameron Corner Store, Tilpa, Birdsville and Tibooburra.
Stand on the junction of three states at Cameron Corner, and history buffs can visit the Burke and Wills Dig Tree.
Take a break with 4x4 Pub Guides
Organiser: 4WD Victoria
You can never know too much about off-road driving, regardless of how good you think your skills are. Hence 4WD Victoria runs a number of accredited and non-accredited courses covering everything from 4x4 basics through to vehicle recovery procedures, map reading, GPS use, sand driving, winter driving and track classification.
There’s even a course on chainsaw use; for those who venture into heavily timbered areas, this is a must. All these skills are pretty much essential knowledge for anyone considering spending even the occasional weekend off-road, exploring tracks and destinations. See www.4wdvictoria.org.au.