When it comes to 4WDing in Northern NSW, Yvonne and her partner Alan have literally written the book on the best places to go. Below Yvonne shares their top five recommendations for your next 4WDing jaunt.

 

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Country on which these adventures take place, who have occupied and cared for this land for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.


We’ve chosen five fun 4WD tracks from our book
4WD Treks of Northeast NSW for you to check out. Cruise down stunning beaches and pitch your tents by the sea, head for big gorge country for a remote bush camp, or spend a day chasing waterfalls in the rainforest. Whatever your 4WDing flavour, we’ve got you covered.

 

Epic views from Blue Knob on the Cells 4WD track

4WD Track Checklist

Check out these tips before you depart to ensure that you have a fun-filled 4WD adventure:

  • Sometimes roads or national parks are closed due to fires or floods, so make a point of checking that there are no emergency alerts or closures before you leave home. 
  • Make sure you’ve filled up the tank with fuel, and pack some drinks and snacks. These tracks are in remote country areas so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got heaps of everything, just in case!
  • Good luck finding mobile coverage. Take a printed map, or download topographic maps to your phone before you leave home. Don’t rely on your car GPS or Google, they’ll likely lead you astray.
  • Go with a mate. Two vehicles are better than one. You’ll need a tyre gauge and air compressor for the beach, and your Maxtrax. A Silky Saw for ‘gardening’ to remove branches blocking the way, a UHF radio, and a winch are useful for the harder tracks.

Read more: What Should You Carry In Your 4WD Rescue & Repair Kit?

 

Sand driving at low tide on Point Plomer Beach

4WD Tracks in Northern NSW

1. Point Plomer

Closest town: Port Macquarie
Length: 67km
Campsites: Can’t beat the hot showers at Waves Campground!
Need to know: This one is best experienced at low tide, a beach permit is required, $6 for the ferry

Pack a picnic, your fishing rod, and surfboard for a chilled-out day exploring idyllic beaches, headlands, and short walks. Start with a ferry crossing of the Hastings River, then let your tyres down for the sandy beach run to Point Plomer.

Stop along the way to enjoy short walks and whale-spotting at Racecourse Headland or Big Hill, all in Limeburners Creek National Park. Grab a coffee and treat from the popular family-owned Barnett’s Bakery in Crescent Head before returning on the Maria River Road.

Before catching the ferry back to Port Macquarie, drive to the end of the breakwall for a great view over the Hastings River.

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4WDers rendezvous on Point Plomer Beach

2. Nymboida River

Closest town: Dorrigo
Length: 85km
Secret spots: Mobong Creek for wild swimming
Need to know: Bookings required for campsites at Nymboida 

Moonpar Drive is a 2WD friendly touring route with a popular campsite on the wild Nymboida River at Platypus Flat. Take a stroll on any of a number of short walking tracks in the forest: Coachwood, Red Cedar, Box Ridge or Tramline.

If you have a 4WD, you can explore further. Head down the steep 4WD tracks to camp at the secluded Cod Hole or at the Junction. If river levels allow, ford the Blicks River near Platypus Flat and tackle the rougher western section of Nymboi-Binderay National Park.

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!

Find remains of the old railway station at Cascade, and rusty mill equipment being swallowed by jungle. Take some detours into Wild Cattle Creek State Forest to find a swimming hole, cascades, and a high waterfall on Mobong Creek.

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The wild Nymboida River

3. Bindarri Escarpment

Closest town: Coffs Harbour
Length: 50km
Best coffee: Ulong Café in the valley
Need to know: Easy to access, no permits required!

Meander past lush farmland in the upper Orara River, before climbing the escarpment on 4WD Pine Road. Up top, in the cool rainforest, take a short walk to Bangalore Falls and Urumbilum Falls. Or you can choose to cool off in the Urumbilum River beneath subtropical palms at Bindarray Picnic Area.

The beautiful Bindarri National Park has something for everyone. There’s a mountain bike route, an annual trail runners event – Rumble in the Jungle – and the new four day Dorrigo Great Escarpment Walk takes in both the high points and the Urumbilum Valley.

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Heading up Pine Road surrounded by gorgeous rainforest

4. Racecourse and Youdales

Closest town: Walcha
Length: 70km
Fun fact: You can’t bet on the horses at Racecourse, which is the swampy source of the Hastings River
Need to know: locked gate, bookings required, not suitable for trailers

Off Racecourse Trail in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, a sign warns you to engage a low gear, before the narrow 4WD Youdales Trail appears to plunge off the ridge. With rollovers and precipitous drop-offs, you’re in for an exciting ride as you quickly lose 900m in elevation.

 

Cute-as-a-button Youdales Hut

 

You can’t bunk down in Youdales Hut, but there are similar huts on the Green Gully Track that you can sleep in. Alternatively, you can set up your camp on the grassy bank above Kunderang Brook.

Racecourse Trail continues to Brushy Mountain campground in Werrikimbe National Park. The granite Kemps Pinnacle is a striking landmark above the Kunderang Valley.

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A river crossing on Racecourse Trail

5. The Cells

Closest town: Wauchope
Length: 83km
Epic views: 360° at Blue Knob, off Knodingbul Road
Need to know: Recreational fossicking is allowed

The steep, rutted hills, and many creek crossings in the Cells will delight hardcore 4WDers. Recovery gear is essential for this more difficult track which should be attempted in dry conditions only. Go after rain and you’ll get miserably bogged by clay roads.

There’s a rusty old stamper battery and some gold mine shafts to see along the way, but don’t expect to find a room at The Hilton!

 

‘The Hilton’ – accomodation that’s good for a photo and that’s about it!

 

Make your own loop of the Cells area following your chosen combination of the quirkily named trails Eagle Hawk, Grassy Ridge, Corn Cob, and Jeep.

Exiting onto the Oxley Highway, stop for a feed at Gingers Creek Bush Resort, serving travellers since the 1880s and beloved by motorcyclists riding the tight turns of the Oxley.

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Inspecting Cells Creek before crossing

4WD Tracks in Northern NSW

What are you waiting for? Put some fuel in your tank, get your mates together, and go explore! If you’re a beginner, it’s recommended to tag along with another driver or do a 4WD course before heading out for the first time.

For more 4WD routes and campsite suggestions, grab yourself a copy of our book 4WD Treks of Northeast NSW. Here’s a discount coupon!

 

4WD let’s gooooo!

4WD Tracks in Northern NSW FAQs

Where are the best 4WD tracks in Australia?

Coffs Harbour offers many 4WD tracks in the national parks and state forests that surround the town (plus a tonne of great campgrounds!). Expect steep terrain, forests, waterfalls, and lookouts. Widowmaker is an infamous hill climb – spot the rollover carnage on YouTube – but there are also many less hectic 4WD routes in the region!

Where can I explore by 4WD in Northern NSW?

If you have a few days to play with – pack your tent and head for the hills! We suggest that you link up multiple 4WD routes for a grand multi-day adventure. From Coffs Harbour, start at Station Creek, then Sherwood Nature Reserve, the Orara Goldfields, Bindarri Escarpment, and stay at any of the Nymboida River campsites.

Where can I go 4WDing and camping with my dog?

State Forests welcome dogs, but national parks don’t. Delicate Nobby is a pet-friendly beach campsite near Port Macquarie. Inland, your dog can enjoy the smells of the bush and splash in the river at Georges Junction campsite on the mighty Macleay River. Or you can camp in seclusion at Wattle Flat on the Styx River.

What’s the difference between a 4WD trek and a 4WD track?

A 4WD track is typically quite short, like the ones in this article. A 4WD trek refers to long multi-day expeditions. Combining multiple 4WD tracks can result in a 4WD trek over a few days. Or you may follow a common 4WD trek route but only do a small section, in which case you’d probably call it a 4WD track. There’s no hard and fast rule, but that’s how these terms are most commonly used.

We’ve shared these recommendations because we genuinely rate them and want you to enjoy them too. Our writers use a mix of personal experience and research to compile these lists, and they’re also encouraged to be honest when things aren’t up to scratch. For more information on our approach, check out our Editorial Standards.