AS SOME state borders open while others close, events that were postponed or in doubt are coming back online, so it’s time to get out and about to enjoy the great land and support the communities.
The situation is still fluid and things are changing all the time, so please check with event organisers before locking in your plans.
ROLLING COVERAGE: State-by-state COVID-19 travel guide
BRIGHT ADVENTURE FILM FESTIVAL
The summer break is coming up and that means the Adventure Film Festival in Bright, Victoria must be just around the corner.
The 2021 festival is on over the weekend of February 12 to 14, making it the perfect time to take a special Valentine’s Day getaway for you and your loved one.
It’s not just a celebration of the world’s greatest adventure travel films, the festival is also a weekend of inspiring speakers and authors, and moonlight entertainment.
All held at the foot of the Victorian High Country in the town of Bright, arguably Victoria’s adventure capital with plenty of hiking tracks, 4x4 terrain and mountain-bike trails close at hand.
More info at: http://bitly.ws/9PMw
PERTH 4X4 SHOW
All the latest products for four-wheel driving, caravanning, camping, fishing and more – all in the one place at Perth’s McCallum Park over the weekend of November 6 to 9, 2020.
The Perth 4WD and Adventure Show will have the latest gear exhibited, plus family entertainment and attractions. Highlights include the Engel Bush Camp, fishing stage, Fourby Forum info stage, special guests, 4WD Test Track, recovery demos, adventure motorbike demo area, Isuzu Team D-Max stunt rides and the Land Rover Terrapod.
That’s plenty to fill your weekend and stock up on all the latest gear. More info at https://perth.4wdshow.com.au
SPRING RAIN IN THE RANGES
Good rainfalls in the Flinders and Gammon Ranges of South Australia back in September should have the region looking spectacular for what is left of spring and the start of summer.
This is the time of year that the usually rugged terrain comes in to bloom with grasses and wildflowers that make this make this part of the outback truly spectacular.
At the time of going to press, SA had just reopened its borders to every state bar Victoria so there’s no better time to get out there and see it. Many of the pastoral properties in the region offer camping, accommodation and four-wheel drive tracks that will take you to amazing places.
Some of our favourites include Willow Springs/Skytrek, Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, and Warraweena – all places we have visited on our travels last year for our Adventure Series videos.
STAY IN STURT, NSW
Take the time to make a stop when traveling through Sturt National Park in north-west NSW.
The park’s Gorge Loop Road is a 100-kilometre round-trip that offers numerous places to stop and soak up the atmosphere. Plan on two to three hours driving time, and a few more for breaks and bushwalking opportunities.
Stop and enjoy the tranquil solitude, fossicking in dry creek beds, wandering through the trees, or following the four-kilometre Mount Wood Summit walking track, which reaches 120m above the surrounding plans.
You can capture the park’s rich pastoral heritage with an overnight stay at the Mount Wood Homestead complex, which dates back to 1886. Accommodation is available in the main homestead or the shearers’ quarters.
Booking for accommodation at Mount Wood Homestead and park access fees can be made at http://bitly.ws/9PMq
HOOK A MILLION-DOLLAR CATCH
The Top End’s Million Dollar Fish (MDF) competition is back and this year there are a staggering seven red-tagged barramundi worth $1 million each swimming around Northern Territory waterways.
MDF has been running for six years and as yet no one has snagged a million-dollar barra, hence there are seven of them swimming around now. Once any one of the seven are caught, the remaining six revert to $10,000 value.
There are a further 100 red-tagged barra worth $10,000 each; 20 $5000 purple-tagged barra worth $2500 for you, and $2500 for the MDF charity of your choice. Plus thousands of dollars worth of prizes from MDF supporting companies.
Tagged fish are released all over the Territory’s waterways, so whether you’re fishing from a boat or land, the bluewater or freshwater, on your own or on a charter, you’re in with a chance.
Registration for the MDF is free and you must be registered to claim a prize. The season runs until 31 March 2021. Register at www.milliondollarfish.com.au
PARRTJIMMA LIGHTS UP THE RED CENTRE
The sights and sounds of Parrtjima Festival lit up Alice Springs in September in a stunning display but if you missed it, you won’t need to wait a full year for the next event.
The Parrtjima Festival will return to its regular dates in 2021, lighting up The Alice from April 9 to 18. The 2020 festival was rescheduled from April due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Each year Parrtjima draws people to the Red Centre for what has proved to be an enchanting visitor experience and provides a boost for the local economy.
An authentic Aboriginal festival, Parrtjima connects visitors to Country with new artworks, light shows, performances, workshops, live music, films and talks. Many of the shows might up the majestic red walls of the MacDonnell close to the Alice.
Visit www.parrtjimaaustralia.com.au for all information, and put it in your travel diary.
CAMERON CORNER FOR NEW YEAR
You can celebrate New Year’s three times in one night at Cameron Corner, where the borders of Queensland, NSW and South Australia meet.
The Cameron Corner Store New Year Party will be based at the store but moves to the Corner Post at 10.30pm for the first New Year’s at 11pm (NSW), then 11.30pm (SA) and again at 12am (Qld).
The store has camping, fuel, a licenced bar and supplies, so pack the swags and plenty of water (it gets pretty hot out here at that time of year) for a New Year’s celebration like no other.
Visit Cameron Corner Store on Facebook for details.
FIRST ACROSS THE SIMPSON IN 2021
How would you like to be among the first to cross the Simpson Desert when it reopens in 2021?
The desert is due to open from its summer closure on March 15, and that’s when Ron and Trent Moon plan to leave Birdsville for a trek west across using The Madigan Line. Moon Tours will take you across the desert with the experience and knowledge to get you across safely.
For info on the seven-day trek, visit: www.moontours.com.au
It’s a sombre time for Australia’s airline to be celebrating its centenary, but on November 16 Qantas Airways turns 100 and to celebrate the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach has a number of activities planned.
Entry to the museum will be free on the day, with a birthday cake at morning tea. The museum will be running one-hour Hangar Tours of the facility and the museum curator will present a talk about the history of Qantas. The museum is home to plenty of Qantas history and planes including the mighty 747 Jumbo.
Find more information at www.qfom.com.au
Loveday 4x4 Adventure Park is on 8000 acres of private property, encompassing all the environmental features to create a perfect place for four-wheel driving adventures. The Park is situated on the mighty Murray River, at Barmera SA, with great campsites near the river banks.
From the river the property transforms from smooth clay flats through to creek beds and sand hills, while the northern part of the property has a mix of stony hills and sandy Mallee scrub – perfect 4WD country.
The park’s tavern has a fully licenced bar, lawn area and playground.
www.loveday4x4adventures.com for all the details.
Many pastoral properties in SA’s Flinders Ranges have opened up to offer accommodation, camping and, for some of them, access to 4x4 tracks on their land, such as Upalinna Station.
A family owned and operated working sheep station, Upalinna is located on the eastern side of Ikara Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges, right in the heart of the region’s gorge country, with spectacular 4x4 trips right from their front gate.
The station offers accommodation in traditional shearers’ quarters and remote campsites. The quarters sleep 14 people and includes a kitchen with dining and lounge room, plus an open fireplace. Outside is a barbecue and entertaining area plus a firepit and ablutions block with laundry.
The campsites are unpowered and the pit toilet is the only facility offered, but the solitude and stunning views over Wilpena Pound make up for any lack of creature comforts.
Recent rains, and even a rare dusting of snow in the Flinders, promise a spectacular spring as the wildflowers bloom.
Take a look at Upalinna at www.upalinnastation.com.au
BEST IN THE DESERT
The final round of the Australian Off Road Racing Championship is the Kalgoorlie Desert Race (KDR), held from October 22 to 25. The 2020 race promises to be a big one being the event’s 30th anniversary.
The action gets underway on Friday with the Recon, Prologue and Top Ten Shootout under lights, before Saturday sees laps one and two run before the final lap and presentations on Sunday.
All the details on the spectacle are at www.kdrwa.com.au
WINTON OUTBACK FESTIVAL
Following a successful festival in 2019, the outback Queensland town of Winton will be celebrating its biennial Outback Festival again in 2021 from September 21 to 25.
Held during the school holidays it’s perfect for families or anyone who loves the Aussie Outback. The festival’s hilarious signature event, the Quilton Australian Dunny Derby, will top off five days of quirky events, warm Outback hospitality and nightly live entertainment.
SUNRAYSIA SAFARI DATE CHANGE
The reintroduction of border closures in and out of Victoria have prompted organisers of the Local Legends Sunraysia Safari to move the event from September to the weekend of October 15 to 17. Hopeful that conditions and restrictions will have eased by then, and allowing it to proceed.
Considered as the successor to the Australasian Safari, the Local Legends Sunraysia Safari follows a similar format with the fastest cars, bikes and buggies racing over the dusty, arid country around Wentworth, NSW.
NEW CAFE IN BIRDSVILLE
The iconic Birdsville Races may have been cancelled for 2020 but there’s no reason you couldn’t visit this amazing outback Queensland town regardless.
As the stepping off point for a westward passage through the Simpson Desert, or the stop to knock the top off a frothy at the pub if you’ve just crossed it, it’s a town not to be missed.
There have been a few changes in Birdsville of late with the Hotel and Bakery finding a new owner, and now there’s a new café at the Birdsville Roadhouse. Local legends Barnesy and Bronwynne have sold the roadhouse and the new owners have made some changes to make it their own.
The Roadhouse will continue to offer all fuels and a selection of food and essentials in the general store, while the workshop has seen an overhaul and will continue to offer general repairs, tyres and mechanical service.
The new café opened in July, providing the perfect spot to grab a coffee or a bite to eat. Be sure to stop in, stock up and say g’day anytime you’re passing through town.
2020 OUTBACK CHALLENGE - CANCELLED
THE iconic Outback Challenge was scheduled to take place on September 26 and 27 this year, comprising of an epic Mad Max gorge run on each day.
Unfortunately the event has been cancelled, with event organisers confirming the event will revert back to its original seven-day format in 2021.
The 2021 Outback Challenge will take place from September 25 to October 1.
More info here: www.outbackchallenge.com.au
MELBOURNE 4X4 SHOW - CANCELLED
IF YOU’RE getting excited about the annual National 4x4 Outdoors Show, Fishing & Boating Expo in Melbourne on its usual August date you might want to cool your heels. The 2020 show has been cancelled due to the virus and all the joy it has brought us this year.
The organisers have announced dates for the 2021 shows to be held in Brisbane on March 19 to 21 with Melbourne to follow on August 20 to 22.
In a statement they said: “While we are disappointed that we are unable to come together this year – and know that you will be too – our priority when planning these shows is to create a world-class experience that celebrates the great outdoors, and in a safe environment.
In our best efforts to safely bring the 4x4 and outdoors community together this year, we explored a range of options. One of these was to move the shows to later in the year. After monitoring the ever-evolving situation, there are many uncertainties still in place that impact our ability to deliver the experience that you have come to expect and deserve.”
Keep an eye on www.4x4show.com.au for updates on the 2021 events and with an extra year to prepare organisers are sure the next shows will be bigger and better than ever.
TRACKS AND DESTINATIONS
Location: Northern Territory
There’s more to see in the ACT than Parliament House, the Museum and the Zoo; take a drive out of Canberra and check out the Namadgi National Park and Visitor Centre. Learn about the area’s Aboriginal heritage, admire the birdlife and enjoy the picnic areas and camping spots, or partake in ranger-guided walks or a self-guided walk along the Bendora Arboretum heritage track through conifer and deciduous forests.
It’s a great place to visit in summer and the Visitor Centre is open 9am-4pm weekdays and 9am-4.30pm weekends, except Christmas Day. See visitcanberra.com.au.
NAMADGI NP & VISITOR CENTRE
Location: Australian Capital Territory
Central Australia in summer? The folk at Tourism NT reckon so, stating “the waterholes are full and ready to be plunged into, night-time events light up the mountains … and the warm summer nights are ready to be enjoyed”.
HIGH COUNTRY HUTS
Once COVID-19 restrictions lift, head to the Vic High Country and explore the region’s historic huts. Originally built by the cattlemen to use as shelter when driving their cattle up to the plains in summer, some still stand while others have since been destroyed by fire and rebuilt. These days the huts are popular with four-wheel drivers seeking cover when the weather turns foul.
Search for ‘Cattlemen Huts’ at: www.victoriashighcountry.com.au
VICTORIA’S ICONIC 4WD ADVENTURES
So you want to check out the High Country Huts once restrictions lift but you’re not sure how to get there? Not a problem thanks to 4WD Victoria, which has some great resources on its website under the heading Victoria’s Iconic 4WD Adventures.
As well as the High Country, there’s plenty of detail on areas including the Otways, Murray River Red Gum, Mallee Country and The Grampians. Info includes the history of each area, a general description, tips and advice, track gradings and detailed maps.
FREE CAMPSITES AROUND AUSTRALIA
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.
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.
More info: www.4wdvictoria.org.au