The ultimate guide to 4WD tracks in the Wimmera Mallee
The Wimmera Mallee region is a spectacular and iconic part of Victoria with an awe-inspiring vastness like nowhere else in the state. This is truly desert country.
Four-wheel driving is one of the best ways to discover this vibrant and rugged outback landscape. The 4WD routes here are remote and challenging but you’ll be rewarded with endless views, Wimmera Mallee sunsets, clear night skies and an abundance of native wildlife.
The wildflower season from August to October is a special time to visit due to the Mallee’s spectacular floral display of vibrant colours from the Sandhill Wattles, Silver Banksia, Erect Guinea-flower, Fringe Myrtle, Emu Bush, Spider and Greenhood Orchids and many other species.
Big Desert Wilderness Park
One of the most challenging tracks in the region, should only be attempted by well-prepared people with previous sand driving (sand-dune crossing) experience. Must be traversed North to South through the Ngarkat Conservation Park section. Access via the Mallee Hwy.
Murrayville Nhill Track
Level: Easy (in dry weather conditions)
A favourite route for those with less experience, though still presents some sandy challenges. NOTE: this track contains some clay surfaced areas that can become very boggy after rain. Access via the Western Hwy, Nhill.
Milmed Rock Track
Level: Medium (west to east recommended)
An adventurous drive through the middle of Wyperfeld NP linking the Murrayville Nhill Track to the Lake Albacutya area. It passes the small rocky area known as Milmed Rock. Can become muddy and impassable after rain (particularly near the Lake Albacutya end).
Chinaman Well Track
Level: Medium (west to east recommended)
A challenging sandy track through the southern end of Wyperfeld NP. It passes a well which was used by the Chinese gold diggers who established an overland route through this area in the 1850’s as they travelled from South Australia to the Victorian and NSW goldfields. Access via Murrayville Nhill Track (west) or from Nhill or Rainbow using the Pella Track (east).
Level: Easy (though some sandy patches)
A good introduction to sand driving and the desert environment without getting too far off the beaten track. Access via Rainbow past the historical Pella Church then continue onto the Chinaman Track to the Murrayville Nhill track, or head south to Nhill.
Wyperfeld North-South Route: medium Access via the Mallee Hwy (north) or Lake Albacutya (south), linking the Gunners Track, Plain and Millers Track, and the Freeway Track provides a great sand driving experience through the north-western section of Wyperfeld NP.
- Gunners Track
- Wirrengren Plain and Millers Tracks
- passing dry lakes distinctly different from the south-western part of the National Park.
- North-South Track
Little Desert National Park 4WD
Mt Moffat Track
Giving a northern access to the western section of the Little Desert NP as an alternative to the Border Track. Access via the Western Hwy, links with the East West Track.
East West Track
An adventurous track in the western section of the Little Desert NP. Access via the Border Track or Moffat Track (west), or the Edenhope-Kaniva Rd (east).
A horrendously misnamed sandy track (it’s no highway!) continuing an east-west traverse through the central section of the Little Desert NP. Access via the Edenhope-Kaniva Rd (west), or the Nhill-Harrow Rd (East). Linking with the East West Track and the Eastern Block tracks creates a great extended east-west traverse of the entire National Park.
Little Desert ‘Eastern Block’
The Nhill-Harrow Rd provides easy access to several tracks heading into the eastern section of the Little Desert NP. These provide a fantastic opportunity to experience the challenges of sand driving and can give a great sense of the desert environment without venturing too far off the sealed road.
Tips for tackling the tracks
The desert nature of these 4WD tracks is arguably the main attraction. It’s a great way to challenge your driving ability and your vehicle. However, driving on sand comes with its own bucket of challenges. Here’s some tips to make your trek more enjoyable:
- Keep a steady and constant momentum. It is a common (although perhaps natural) mistake to attack soft sand with speed, but this will only get you into more trouble.
- If wheel slippage occurs, stop, reverse, and try again – maybe in a different gear. Spinning your wheels will only dig your vehicle deeper into the sand.
- If stuck, stop, and dig away any sand that has built up in front and behind the wheels. Use recovery tracks if you have them. If not, laying sticks will help gain traction.
- Lowering your tyre pressure (by 15psi for a medium 4WD) will greatly assist in gaining traction, as the ‘footprint’ of your tyre will become larger, offering greater surface area. A portable compressor is recommended.
- Note that this increases the risk of sidewall damage. Always be wary of sharp objects and sticks.
It’s important to plan ahead for your 4WD journey. Many locations within the park are isolated and have no mobile phone service. Here’s some tips on how to prepare for a safe journey.
Supplies to pack:
- Ample water (more than you think you’ll need)
- Food supplies
- Fuel tanks
- General camping equipment
- Rubbish bags to take all rubbish with you
- Detailed maps of the parks and tracks (printed or downloaded)
- Recovery tracks
- Portable compressor
- Sand flag and pole for dune climbing
- Flat plate for jack to avoid the jack sinking in the sand
- Contact Parks Victoria for current information on park conditions.
- Always travel in pairs or in a group of 4WDs to perform recoveries. Even on ‘easy’ tracks, never assume that you won’t get stuck.
- Inform a responsible person of your travel plans. Develop a communication plan to stay in touch.
- Check the fire rating. All Wyperfeld and Little Desert NP tracks are closed in days declared ‘Code Red’ Fire Danger Rating.