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
ARB EASTER IN OCTOBER
THE ARB Easter Festival at Eldee Station, NSW, has become a highlight of the calendar and it’s back with a difference this year. After having to be called off on its usual Easter weekend dates it will now be happening from October 2 to 6.
Eldee Station is around 40km north-west of Silverton and is a working property that has miles of 4x4 tracks, accommodation and all the things you want for a true outback experience.
October 2 is scheduled to be a public holiday in Victoria for the AFL Grand Final but that looks like it could yet change, while Monday October 6 is a holiday for folks in NSW, South Australia and Queensland so the new date should suit everyone.
The ARB Easter at Eldee event is a family friendly occasion with fun and games for everyone on this amazing property. For all details, go to
OFF-ROAD RACING CHAMPIONSHIP
The ARB Australian Off Road Racing Championship has been cut back to just two rounds for 2020 with the Albins ARB Goondiwindi 400 in August and finishing up at Millicent with the Teagle Excavations ARB Pines Enduro in September.
The Goondi round in SE Qld, on the border with NSW is running a week later than planned on August 22 and 23, but there are plenty of the country’s top off-road racing teams itching to get there and back in to the action.
The abbreviated racing season will conclude with the Teagle Excavations ARB Pines Enduro, held near Millicent, SA on September 26 to 28.
More information on both events at: www.offroadracing.com.au
WINTER is the best time to experience all the Northern Territory has to offer and where better to escape the cold than Darwin and its surrounds.
The annual Darwin Festival is on over August 6 to 23 with a program packed with local, national and international talent.
The Darwin Festival celebrates the quintessential spirit and energy of Darwin, with its laidback, friendly lifestyle in Festival Park where you can enjoy dinner and drinks from food stalls and pop-up bars as you listen to bands in the warm night air.
More info at: www.darwinfestival.org.au
PARRTJIMA - A FESTIVAL IN LIGHT
Farther south in Alice Springs, Parrtjima – A Festival in Light, will be held over 10 nights from September 11 to 20 in the heart of the Red Centre.
Parrtjima 2020 is all about lifting the spirits from the work of artists – old and new – to the spirits of audiences who discover the festival in Mparntwe (Alice Springs).
Each evening, prepare to be transported to another world as nearly two kilometres of the beautiful MacDonnell ranges comes to life with spectacular lighting effects, all crowned by the brilliant star-scape above.
Check the details at www.parrtjimaaustralia.com.au
DRIVE 4 LIFE
DRIVE 4 Life is another group that has had to change its plans in 2020, cancelling a planned 2020 tour as the travel bans prevented it passing through aboriginal communities.
But the hard-working team has had the maps out and planned a fresh trip which will take in some iconic outback locations and stop in at some well-known bush pubs.
The revised 2020 tour will start and finish in Broken Hill, NSW and will run over the week from Saturday September 26 to October 3.
The tour will visit Blinman, Maree and Mungerannie in South Australia; duck in to Queensland for Birdsville, Big Red and Betoota; back to SA for Innamincka and Cameron Corner, before returning to NSW to visit Tibooburra, Milparinka, Packsaddle and Silverton.
This is not a difficult 4x4 trip but your vehicle will need to be well-maintained and properly equipped as would any trailers and caravans which are also suitable for the tour.
Participant numbers will be limited to 40 vehicles in total and these will be split in to four groups with one going clockwise and the other going anti-clockwise around the same route.
As with all Drive 4 Life tours, entry is via a $1000 tax deductible donation to Northcott Disability Services (www.northcott.com.au). Tour logistics and operating costs are covered by long-time Drive 4 Life partners ARB 4x4 Accessories, IGA Supermarkets and 4x4 Australia Magazine.
These tours are always a lot of fun with a great crew of people along to take in the awesome tracks and in this case, visit some top Aussie pubs.
Of course, this trip will be subject to interstate travel being allowed by the end of September as we hope and expect they will be. If restrictions or any other reason prevents the trip going ahead, the donation is fully refundable.
The guys tells us that spots are filling fast for this trip so get on to the website at www.drive4life.com.au for all the details and the registration form so you don’t miss out.
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