The Hay River Track map above outlines our journey, it runs for 350km from the Plenty Highway near Jervois Station to Poeppels Corner in the Simpson Desert. Jervois Station is approximately 300km from Alice Springs, and Poeppels Corner is about 170km from Birdsville. The track ventures through Atnetye Aboriginal Land and it takes a bit of organising to travel this track, but the effort is rewarded through the greatexperiences and scenery in this remote area of Central Australia.
In the past, this part of the Northern Simpson Desert was closed to the public. The Aboriginal custodians now welcome visitors to their land and will show even more great scenery during a Bush Tucker Tour. A permit is required and needs to be arranged well in advance, and if travelling through into South Australia a desert parks pass will also be needed. All travellers to this area owe their thanks to Jol Fleming from Alice Springs whose persistence led to this area being opened up for outback travel. In the mid-1990s, Jol contacted Lindsay Bookie with a request to travel down the Hay River. Lindsay was not keen at first to let anyone travel through his lands, but with further discussions Jol was given the OK. After several attempts Jol and Lindsay managed to forge a track in 1999 to Madigan’s Camp 15 and 16 and then out to Beachcomber Oil Well. After the trip, Lindsay approached Jol about using Batton Hill as a base to do Bush Tucker Tours of the surrounding area, which were advertised and the first Bush Tucker Trip was carried out in August 2000. Unfortunately Lindsay passed away in late 2014 but his family still maintain the Batton Hill Camp.
Coming from Alice Springs there are a couple of different ways to get to the start of the Hay River Track, including travelling up the bitumen on the Stuart Highway then across to the East on the Plenty Highway. A more interesting route is to travel on the section of Binns Track that leads directly east out from Alice Springs via the East MacDonald ranges taking in the various gorges and sights such as Trephina Gorge, Arltunga Gold fields, and Ruby Gap. Ruby Gap is a great place visit with some challenging 4W driving to get to the end of the track, a fantastic walk to take through the gorge, and some terrific camping options along the riverbed. From Ruby Gap continue along Binns Track turning right into Pinnacle Road and eventually joining the Plenty Highway. Just prior to the access to Batton Hill and the Hay River track is Jervois Station, so-called after the nearby Jervois Ranges named by H. V. Barclay in 1879. Jervois Station is a large working cattle station that has a fuel outlet and small kiosk open during daylight hours. It is a good idea to top up your fuel supplies here as this will be your last chance to replenish fuel stocks before Birdsville, approximately 700km away. Jervois Station can be contacted on (08) 8956 6307.
Batton Hill is about 80km from the well signposted turn-off on the Plenty Highway. The access track heads directly east along a boundary fence before coming to a gate at the entrance of the Batton Hill camp.
The Batton Hill camp consists of a number of campsites. There are two shower/toilet blocks with donkey boilers, a bush kitchen and a number of sheds. Good quality water for the site is provided from a solar powered bore that pumps water to a couple of overhead tanks. More details on Batton Hill are found on the website. At Batton Hill you will usually be welcomed by one of the locals who will show you to your campground and explain the features of the camp. Wood is supplied here which is great and saves having to collect your own for the essential campfire.
From the campground there is a marked nature trail that leads 2km to the top of Batton Hill. This walk crosses spinifex plains to the base of Batton Hill and then up to the 30m summit which affords 360 degree views of the camp and surrounding area. There are marked points of interest along the way, and early morning or late afternoon walk is rewarded with magnificent views. While at Batton Hill it is well worth joining one of Bookie Families famous bush tucker tours. This laid-back tour traverses much of the land around Batton Hill, with regular stops to show various bush-tucker and features of the area. You will be shown and try a variety of bush-tucker including bush bananas, black currents, bush tomatoes, and coconuts. Travelling around the country with commentary from the locals is just great, and one of the highlights of the tour is the evening visit out to Goyder’s Pillar to watch the sunset. At Goyder’s Pillar keep an eye out for artifacts from previous generations of the Bookie family around the rock shelter they used to frequent.
The first white person to successfully travel through this area was the South Australian Surveyor, Charles Winnecke in mid 1883. Winnecke named many land forms in the area including the Hay River and Goyder’s Pillar, named after G.W. Goyder the Surveyor-General of South Australia. Leaving Batton Hill (after signing the visitor’s book which is recommended), it is time to head south down the Hay River Track. The well-defined track passed through wide sandy plains of various grasses and spinifex with a variety of bushes and trees. Travelling close and parallel to the Hay River, the wide sandy riverbed and impressive River Red Gums are never far from sight. Depending on recent rains, you may be lucky enough to see a range of wildflowers which just carpet the area under the right conditions and make a truly spectacular sight.
The next landmark is the Tropic of Capricorn, identified by a small sign on the edge of the track. After the obligatory photographs it’s time to continue along the track before reaching a nice campsite by the river which is perfect for a break or even an overnight stop. Now it is time to further reduce tyre pressure for a run down the river to the Lake Caroline turn-off. The run through the soft power-sucking sand in the Hay River is great fun and a good change from the slow winding track beside the river, but the payback is a dramatic increase in fuel usage – make sure you have plenty of fuel reserves before starting. The river is also reknown for claiming bogged vehicles, so tackle the river run at your peril! At the Lake Caroline turn-off it is time to get back onto the main track to ensure you will have enough fuel to make it to your eventual destination – Poeppel’s Corner and Birdsville.
Lake Caroline is approximately 10km from the main Hay River Track and is worth a detour particularly if recent rains have filled the lake and surrounding areas. It is open and firewood is scarce so not the greatest place to camp; there are plenty of better options further alongside the Hay River.
Continue down the Hay River Track and expect tight sections of dense undergrowth intermingled with the occasional burnt-out area. On this section of the track there are a few good campsites but make sure you pick a spot early enough to enjoy the surrounds in daylight with plenty of time to set up camp and take time to relax after a long day on the track.
Travelling onwards and the once mighty Hay River diminishes to a series of narrow creek beds which the track follows. Soon the track arrives at Madigan’s camps 15 and 16 – at 16 there is the Blaze tree where there is a visitors book to sign and check back for records of other trips and other travellers.
The creek beds eventually disappear completely and the scenery changes dramatically to that of treeless plains and striking red sand dunes. Continuing on there are more areas of rugged vegetation and you may wonder if there is anywhere to camp but fortunately there are some great spots further on between some massive sand dunes.
The Hay River Track continues southwards with the occasional dune crossing, with some of these dunes a little trickier than they look. The track eventually takes a hard right and follows an old shotline that heads straight westerly towards the Beachcomber No.1 well. Now it is time to tackle some of the adjacent sand dunes after travelling alongside them for several hundred kilometers. This is great fun and quite a change from the winding track followed up to now, but this doesn’t last long and you will arrive at the old oil well.
From Beachcomber well, the Hay River track follows the old K1 line which was once one of the major roads for transporting mining equipment. So conditions improve and the average speed will increase, but driver attention is needed as there are many washouts and ruts to avoid as the road has not been maintained for many years. After about 40km from the oil well, an interesting detour is to head to across to Kilpatha native well. This track consists of just a couple of faint wheel tracks but with the assistance of a GPS you should be able to locate it OK and take up the challenge! After crossing several dunes, some which may require a couple of tries to ascend, the track comes to the native well. Unfortunately, the original well has been bulldozed by the oil exploration teams in the 1960s but there is still a large depression where it used to be and there were plenty of aboriginal artifacts lying around the site.
Heading directly south from Kilpatha well on a track running parallel with the main Hay River (K1 Line) track, the track strikes its first salt pan which has also been used as an airstrip back in the oil exploration days. The smooth surface of the salt pan is a welcome change from the dunes and a chance to make up some time on your way to Poeppel Corner.
A short drive alongside Lake Poeppel and you will arrive at Poeppel Corner – the point where the Northern Territory, South Australia, and Queensland intersect. Augustus Poeppel was the SA government surveyor tasked with the job of plotting the tri-State corner. In 1879 he marked the corner boundary by running a chain (measuring tape) from Birdsville. Unfortunately his initial work was at fault due to his chain being one inch too long causing his survey peg to be planted 15 chains (274m) short of the actual corner. His assistant, Larry Wells corrected Poeppel’s error in 1884 – the actual peg is now in the Adelaide museum and a replica is in its place.
From Poeppel Corner it is time to head to the QAA line, across the Queensland Border and straight towards Birdsville. Unfortunately the relatively quiet Hay River Track has given way to the very popular and busy section of the Simpson Desert and care is needed crossing every dune, making
sure the coast is clear from oncoming traffic. Expect the track to be chopped up, but enjoy the challenge of tackling some big dunes. The biggest dune of all is the last challenge – Big Red. With several track options to get to the top, give it a go and you will be rewarded with fantastic views of the lake to the East and back across the Simpson Desert to the West.
After enjoying the scenery from the top of Big Red it is time to air back up and make the easy run into Birdsville. Time for a photo shot in front of Birdsville Pub and a cleansing ale after a great trip, reliving many of the great times you will have had on the Hay River Track and Simpson Desert. More details on the Birdsville area are available from the tourist information centre or the website.
Take sufficient food and drinking water for the planned duration of your trip, with extra allowance in case of problems. The last chance for groceries is the store at the Atitjera Community if coming in from the North-West, but a better idea is to stock up at Alice Springs before commencing this trip. Basic equipment spares, air compressor with tyre pressure gauge and recovery equipment should also be carried. There is no mobile phone coverage until Birdsville, so alternative communication such as a satellite phone is essential. As this area is quite remote, consider taking a PLB or EPIRB in case of emergency. When planning a trip to this area you need ensure you have enough fuel to get to Birdsville. a distance of about 700km from Jervois Station. As much of the trip is through sandy terrain your fuel consumption will be quite high so make allowance for this.
The winter months are definitely the best time to visit the Hay River region, with mild days and cool nights. Summer is a no-go with extreme temperatures and the authorities close this area to visitors.
The Hay River Track requires quite a bit of organisation and planning to tackle, but the rewards are more than worth the effort. It is a great privilege to travel through the previously closed Atnetye Aboriginal Land and learn first-hand about this area from Bookie Family members. Consider taking in this section of the Simpson Desert rather than other very popular routes – you will not be disappointed!
Author Geoff Martin is a passionate photographer and keen 4WDriver who loves camping in the Australian Bush. He has traveled extensively both in Australia and Overseas, recently on photography tours to Africa and Alaska. He is a regular contributor to a range of publications including 4WD Action and Unsealed 4×4.
The West Coast is one of the iconic regions of Australia when it comes to 4WDriving
and camping. Spectacular coastal scenery, challenging 4WD tracks, remote and stunning
campsites make this area one of the premier destinations that every 4WDriver should make an
effort to get to and experience for themselves.
The Tassie West coast is also well-known for its wild and variable weather, but if you have a slideon
camper such as the Trayon you are well prepared for whatever conditions Mother Nature throws at
If you are like the majority of Australian’s and live on the “big island”, the first task is to actually get
yourself and your vehicle across Bass Strait. This requires booking a trip across on the Spirit of
Tasmania – make sure you do this well in advance of your planned
trip as places can be limited particularly if you are towing or traveling during peak times. There are a
range of accommodation options on the boat and also day; night sailings – I would suggest
booking an overnight trip with a cabin so you can start off your trip rested; refreshed ready to
make the most of your stay in Tasmania.
Now the vehicle fare across to Tasmania is subsidized by the government so it is pretty cheap,
however if you are towing the caravan/trailer it attracts full price and can be quite expensive.
Another advantage of owning and using a tray-top camper such as the Trayon!
After a 10hr trip across on the Spirit you will arrive at Devonport. Head into town and stock up with
supplies for the next few days from one of the many supermarkets and shops in Devonport. From
Devonport head west on the Bass Highway along the Northern coastline past many pretty towns
including Burnie and Wynyard. There are plenty of opportunities to stop and explore this region
further if you have time. Head past the turn-off to Stanley and its signature
“nut” (distinctive rounded mountain) – another place worthy of a few days stay to explore.
Head through Smithton (a good place for any last minute supplies) and continue along the Bass
Highway. Past the Tarkine Forest and then turn left into the Arthur River road. Arthur River is just
14km further south.
The pretty town of Arthur River has a small shop for basic supplies, a tavern for a meal or a drink, and a caravan
park if wanting to stay overnight. You can even take a cruise up the Arthur River into the Tarkine
Arthur River is also the gateway to this wild region of Tasmania, where the winds and sea swell
lashes the western coast. The Northwest area of Tasmania is dominated by the Arthur Pieman
Conservation Area, which is the name given to the area between the mighty Arthur and Pieman
The Arthur Pieman Conservation Area is managed
by the Parks and Wildlife service, and a permit is required for access to this area. This can be
obtained from the Ranger Office at Arthur River, along with a camping permit for the days you wish
to camp in the park.
The rangers will provide up-to-date information about the track conditions and
are a good source of knowledge for the best campsites in the area.
From Arthur River head south on the Temma Road south is a well-maintained road all the way
down to Temma. There are a number of camping options off the Temma Road including Nelson
Bay, Stinking Beach and Camp Elsewhere. Camp Elsewhere is our pick of these spots with a
number of sheltered camping areas amongst the tea-tree, and usually you have this area pretty
much to yourself. The beach is only a short walk across the dunes from the campsites, and the top
of the dunes is a great place to watch the sun set into the ocean. With all the luxuries of the Trayon
you can camp in this fantastic place without roughing it, and even finish your day with a hot shower
and a warm room with the onboard heater.
From Temma the road peters out to a rough track so air down, lock in the hubs and engage 4WD.
This is now the Temma-Greens Creek Track which meanders through coastal heathlands. There
are a number of water holes along the track and the depth of these will depend on recent rains, but
generally these will not cause any concern. Approximately 5km from Temma is the infamous
Balfour Track on the left, more on the Balfour Track a little later.
From the Balfour Track junction continue southwards to Greens Point where is there is a lookout
that affords spectacular views up and down the coast, with the Sandy Cape lighthouse clearly in
view. Continue down the hill to Greens Creek which is also a designated camping area and the start
of the Sandy Cape Track.
The track down to Sandy Cape is one of the great 4WD adventures in Tasmania with the beaches,
headlands and rivers presenting a challenge that you are unlikely to find anywhere else in Australia.
However the area is wild and should not be taken lightly. The beaches are treacherous with
extremely soft sand and quicksand areas, and misjudging the river crossings have claimed many
vehicles. On average, several vehicles are lost in this area every year. Towing is not recommended
so having a slideon such as the Trayon is a great advantage. Travel with the company of at least
one other vehicle, stay close together, and take particular care at the river mouths. Generally the
best course of action is to keep as close as possible to the sea and when crossing rivers, wait for
the waves to recede and cross on the hard washed sand at the immediate outlet of the river.
The reward at the end of the Sandy Cape Track is the fantastic coastal views from the rocky
outcrops around the lighthouse and the great remote camping. Also there is real satisfaction and a
sense of achievement at completing one of the great 4WD challenges in Tasmania and Australia.
At Sandy Cape there are two main camping areas – Sandy Cape and Pedder River. The Pedder
River campsite has the advantage of the river for swimming and dishes water, and both sites have
plenty of shade and flat sites.
There is a track heading south from Sandy Cape but this only travels a few kilometers to Johnsons
Head. Access further south is only permitted under special circumstances with a permit (and key)
from Parks Wildlife Service. There is a chance that this area may be opened for 4WDing in the
future, but don’t hold your breath!
After a pleasant night or two at Sandy Cape, it’s time to backtrack along the beach and then back to
the Balfour Track junction. Now is a good time to tackle the Balfour Track if continuing southwards.
The Balfour Track joins into the Western Explorer (Norfolk Road) which is the main road between
Arthur River and Corinna, so after taking the Balfour Track you can head back north to Arthur River
or south to Corinna and further down the west coast.
Heading south from Balfour it is only about an hour via the Western Explorer to Corinna on the Pieman River. To cross the Pieman River you need to engage the
services of ‘The Fatman’ – Tasmania’s only cable-driven vehicle barge. The ferry operates on
demand and charges a small fee; make sure you arrive within the designated operating hours (9am
– 7pm). There is a nice campground in Corinna if you miss the ferry or want to spend a little more
time in this picturesque town.
Once across the Pieman River, continue south down the Corinna Road then turn right at Heemskirk
Road before taking the Granville Harbour Road a further 10km. Now it’s only another 9km to
Granville Harbour consists of several beachside houses with some good camping sites north of the
settlement. Pieman Heads can be accessed by continuing northwards, however this is a difficult
track particularly the section along the Four Mile Beach. The reward is spectacular coastal scenery
and some challenging driving.
Speaking of challenging driving, the trek southwards from Granville Harbour along Climies Track is
one of the more difficult assignments to be faced in this area. Climies Track starts with a steep
climb from the bridge at the Tasman River through a severely rutted and clay-based section that is
extremely difficult especially if recent rain has fallen. And this is just the beginning! Further along is
the infamous crossing of Granite Creek at the top of a waterfall plunging straight down into the sea
way below, and plenty of more challenges before reaching Trial Harbour. An alternative is to
backtrack along Granville Harbour Road to Heemskirk Road, turn right towards Zeehan and then
turn right into Trial Harbour Road. This is longer but certainly the quickest route, and given the
continued deterioration of Climies Track may be a more prudent choice.
Trial Harbour is adjacent the small settlement of Remine that consists of a few holiday cottages.
There is a camping area to the north and a number of 4WD tracks to old mines in the area worth
exploring if you have time.
Back inland from Trial Harbour is the small town of Zeehan. Zeehan was known as the
‘silver city’ in its glory days in the late nineteenth century due to the large deposits of silver and lead
extensively mined in the area. For more details on the area the West Coast Pioneers Memorial
museum in Zeehan is worth a visit. This museum has a range of exhibits displaying the history of
west coast mining and the resilience and resourcefulness of the early pioneers.
On the outskirts of Zeehan is the Spray Mine and Tunnel, which vehicles used to be able to drive
through but now is a pleasant walk. The tunnel and road leading to it formed part of a railway that
was used to transport ore from the Spray Mine to the smelters in Zeehan.
Montezuma Falls is highest single fall
waterfall in Tasmania (104m) and only a short drive from Zeehan. The drive into the falls is via the
old railway formation through dense rainforest and is a fantastic experience.
The narrow railway cuttings make you feel like you are fully immersed into the forest. The track has
a number of challenging creek crossings and plenty of muddy sections to keep you on your toes. A
lookout and suspension bridge is found at the end of the track, which allows for great viewing of the
spectacular waterfall. For an extra challenge on the way back take the Ring River Track which
commences 4km back from falls. Note that this track is very difficult with huge ruts, steep slippery
sections, and dense undergrowth.
Take sufficient food and drinking water for the planned duration of your trip to the North-west coast.
Supplies can be obtained at Smithton at the start and Zeehan at the end of this trip.
Basic equipment spares and recovery equipment should also be carried. There is mobile phone
coverage available near Arthur River and Zeehan, but limited coverage outside these areas so
alternative communication such as a satellite phone is needed and should be carried. As this area
is quite remote, consider taking a PLB or EPIRB in case of emergency.
The summer months are definitely the best time to visit this area, but be aware that wild weather
can strike at any time so be prepared and flexible with your travel plans.
The West Coast of Tasmania presents many challenges to the avid 4WDriver and many difficulties
are likely to be encountered. It is not an area to take lightly and comprehensive preparation is
needed to tackle the more difficult tracks. But the reward is certainly a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip full of
memorable moments and spectacular scenery that is unlike anywhere else in Australia, and once
completed you are likely to start planning your next trip back to this wonderful part of Australia.
Author Geoff Martin is a passionate photographer and keen 4WDriver who loves camping in the Australian Bush. He has traveled extensively both in Australia and Overseas, recently on photography tours to Africa and Alaska. He is a regular contributor to a range of publications including 4WD Action and Unsealed 4×4.
There is something special about sleeping in a proper cotton canvas tent, but that special feeling is hard to explain. It’s just… comfortable. Perhaps it’s the smell. Or maybe it’s the fact it just feels like living breathing organic material. Alternatives like polyester just don’t have that same feel.
Whatever it is, it works.
For many of us, it represents real camping. It takes us back to our childhoods. Good wholesome memories enjoying the great outdoors, which we were lucky to have.
In addition to its feel and ability to invoke memories of the good old days, it is simply effective. For a country like Australia, where hard wearing protection from the elements is essential, cotton canvas is the perfect option.
However there is one key factor in the success or failure of canvas – you need to keep it ALIVE! And there is one sure as rain way to keep it alive. You need to season it. Seasoning canvas is an absolute must. There is no other way to achieve full canvas tent waterproofing.
Seasoning and waterproofing canvas is a secret that many have forgotten.
People normally have two trains of thought about what seasoning and waterproofing canvas means. The first group of people say you have to wet it, while the second group say you need to spray it with sealing chemicals.
Well the truth is, group one is half right, and group two are completely wrong!
In this article, we explain the true secret of seasoning and waterproofing canvas. This is completely different to treating canvas!
We have been giving our customers the rundown on how to keep canvas alive and well for decades. We explain this during the handover of every one of our slide on campers, which all come with canvas components. We only use Australian made cotton canvas. Australian made canvas is the perfect match for our Australian made campers.
In fact, we’ve been using the same canvas set up on our slide on campers since 1994! That’s the same brand, thickness configuration, sewing, measurements and methods. Why? Because they work. They work so well there is no point in changing.
For this reason, Trayon is uniquely positioned to advise on how best to go about seasoning and waterproofing canvas. This Method can be easily extended to undertake any canvas tent waterproofing. Heed this advice and you are well on the way to finding the full benefits of camping!
When we talk canvas, there’s canvas, and then there is canvas!
There’s the cheap stuff, and then there is proper Australian made cotton canvas. There is no doubt that Aussie canvas is seen today as the best canvas worldwide.
Because, in Australia, we are exposed to some of the harshest conditions in the world. Climate, terrain, animals, you name it. They are severe and extreme. And that is exactly the reason why Australian cotton canvas is so good! It has to be good, or it wouldn’t survive.
Sun and moisture in particular pose a great threat to canvas health. The UV rays streaming down from the heavens are extremely damaging to unmaintained canvas. Moisture has grave impacts when a canvas tent is folded up for storage while wet.
On top of all that, there is the acidity associated with things like bird droppings, bat droppings (aka guano), tree sap, and cicada urine. These biological agents break down the waterproofing products in canvas.
Trayon have a number of strategies to combat all of these threats to canvas health. The front line of protection is our removable camper fly. It reflects solar absorbents through silver material which has reflective properties. It stops moisture from entering the majority of the canvas, ensuring it gets packed up nice and dry, and importantly, it acts as a shield against biological agents.
The reason this is so important is because once biological agents have been splattered on cotton canvas, there is only one way to get them out – hot water and a soft brush! You simply can’t add cleaning chemicals to cotton canvas, it can do more damage than good.
The Trayon fly is synthetic polyester, so even if it gets covered in biological agents, you can just lay it out and scrub with a broom and dishwasher detergent. You can’t do that with cotton canvas.
The fly only takes 10 seconds to add to your Trayon set up, and your canvas components are 100% protected from the elements. Then, when ready to pack up camp you don’t have to wait for canvas to dry out. Once you remove the fly from the camper, you can roll it up seperately.
In recent years there has been an influx of cheaper canvas, which has done two things. One, it has ruined the concept of canvas and caused people to steer clear from anything with canvas. Two, local canvas manufacturers have started trying to compete directly with cheaper canvas, by creating their own cheaper canvas products.
There are however a few which have maintained their world ranking canvas reputation. Perhaps the best known is Bradmills, and it is no surprise that it is the canvas supplier Trayon use. High canvas quality = Bradmills.
Bradmills have been making high quality Australian canvas materials for over 50 years!
Their canvas is made in Melbourne, sown in Maryborough by the Trayon seamstress, and then delivered to the Trayon headquarters. It’s been the same way since 1994! So we can testify that you really you get what you pay for.
Bradmills canvas is tailor made to cope with Australian conditions, and we don’t say that lightly!
They do offer a Bradmills waterproofing canvas chemical treatment, but they do not recommend this unless the canvas is more than 5 years old or it is seeping water. However, if you season the canvas properly, using the method we are about to explain, you will never need to do this.
Seasoning is a perpetual maintenance requirement for canvas. It dramatically extends canvas life span, and puts water resistance through the roof!
Seasoning and waterproofing canvas is all about conditioning it through the use of natural elements. It works because canvas is made from a natural product (cotton), which means it reacts to natural elements. For example, heat, cold, wet and dry. These elements make canvas react in different ways:
A combination of one or two of the above will make it do something different again.If you know what these elements do to canvas, you can make the canvas do whatever you want!
You can then use this to change the structure of the cotton fibres to close all gaps and make it completely waterproof.
Many people season canvas just once and expect it to live forever. In reality, it is an ongoing maintenance requirement which should be done once straight after you buy it, at your earliest convenience, and then once every 12 months after that, regardless of use during that time. This is the only way to ensure full long term canvas tent waterproofing.
Some canvases need seasoning once a year, while in other situations you may need to do it again after the first time, two or three months later. It really depends on where you’re taking the camper. For example, some people live in the desert while others on the coast. The conditions will affect how often the canvas needs to be seasoned (heat cold wet dry, remember?).
If you don’t season it at least once a year – the canvas will likely start to pull tight to one corner. To combat the risks of this, Trayon has press studs on our flip down weather skirt around the perimeter of the camper. Press studs ensure the canvas is attached to the right part of the camper every time. As opposed to bungee straps which can move, or velcro which will not attach the same way each time, or will completely rip off.
A sure sign that a Trayon slide on camper needs seasoning is when it pulls tight around each corner. If any two press studs on each corner are struggling to be pressed in, then the canvas probably needs seasoning.
Here is the procedure that will preserve Aussie canvas for a looooong time. This seasoning procedure wont work on cheaper canvas, and it wont work on ripstop canvas at all, where a completely different process is required.
The seasoning key – the elements – heat, cold, wet dry.
This is an old army trick which very few people in the public know.
At 7 or 8 AM on a day that is predicted to be nice and hot and sunny with 0% chance of rain, open your slide on camper or tent (remove the camper fly if is attached). This will expose the canvas to the nice warm sun.
Zip up wall windows, and securely close any doors or other openings.
You need to make sure the canvas is as tightly stretched out as possible. If you are seasoning a Trayon slide on camper, this can be achieved by pushing the two center peak adjustments poles up as hard as you can go. Then, make sure all press studs in, the bed/awning is level and you’re ready to go!
This bit is simple – soak the canvas to the bone! This first time you turn the hose on the canvas, it will be like water beading off a duck’s back. This is due to the waterproofing agents. But now it is time to teach it a lesson. Soak every square inch, until it is so heavily waterlogged it can’t absorb another drop. Then walk away and make a cuppa.
Let the sun dry out the canvas, and then heat it up. You want the canvas completely baked. After a cup of tea and a movie, the canvas should be hot to the touch, and at this point it is ready for the next seasoning step.
Once the canvas is baked and piping hot, re-stretch and tighten everything, to ensure the canvas is as stretched out and tight as possible. When seasoning a Trayon slide on camper, push the centre posts up even further than before – you’ll get 5 or 10 more mm than previously.
Go back outside, close windows, flaps and doors, and soak it a second time!
This stage is like shock treatment. The canvas is hot pliable and relaxed, and then shocked by cold wet water. This completes the range of elements to – heat cold wet dry!
The second soak will see the canvas soak up as much water as possible. Its threads will swell out, closing all gaps between individual cotton threads and seams. It will try and pull tight, but because you have secured it properly and slightly streched it,the canvaspulls tight against itself and completely seals everything.
Then, just when you thought it was all over, leave it to completely dry and heat up once again!!
We always recommend a third soak. It’s even in our Trayon owners manual!
After the final soak at around 3 PM, leave the canvas to dry for a final time. Around 6PM, fold the camper or tent up, and it’s good to go for another 12 months!
If you do that and don’t apply any treatment chemicals, that canvas will last a looooong time, and will create new memories of real camping for all involved!
If you require further information about how or when to season canvas, and how best to do so with a Trayon slide on camper, give us a call or swing us an email at the Trayon headquarters.
Author Geoff Martin is a passionate photographer and keen 4WDriver who loves camping in the Australian Bush. He has traveled extensively both in Australia and Overseas, recently on photography tours to Africa and Alaska. He is a regular contributor to a range of publications including 4WD Action and Unsealed 4×4.
The North Coast of NSW has some of the best beaches and campsites in Australia, many accessible by 4WD. With a slide on camper such as the Trayon you are well set to explore the best locations of this region. For this trip we’ll head to one of Australia’s best coastal campsites then explore several other fantastic beaches and locations in this area. Here’s a map of our journey.
We’ll start this trip by heading to one of the best coastal campsites in Australia – Pebbly Beach.
Pebbly Beach campground is located in a small bay within the Yuraygir National Park which is about 50km north from Coffs Harbour and 58km south of Grafton. To get to Pebbly Beach from the north follow the Pacific Highway for 35km south of Grafton and take the signposted road on the left to Station Creek (Yuraygir NP). The gravel road winds its way through to the Newfoundland and Barcoongere State Forests, with signposts directing you towards the Yuraygir National Park.
There are opportunities to explore the many forest tracks if you are looking for some extra adventure on the way, or on the way back out.
It’s not long until you arrive at the park entrance and after another 4km will arrive at a main intersection where there are information boards, rubbish skips, and a firewood pile. Have a read of the information boards, drop off any rubbish, collect some firewood and head down the track towards Pebbly Beach.
From the intersection it’s only a couple of kms to the warning sign advising only high clearance 4WD’s past this point. This is a good place to lower your tyre pressures and engage 4WD prior to heading through the dunes via the tight and bumpy sand track that leads down onto the beach.
The wide beach is spectacular with waves crashing in from the Pacific Ocean. Unlike many other areas no beach permit is required, so just jump onto the beach and head the 2.5km up to the exit and the Station Creek crossing. The beach exit can be soft so take care and ensure there are no oncoming vehicles, and use a little momentum to get up off the beach.
The biggest challenge is the Station Creek crossing. At high tide this crossing is virtually impassable but at low tide is generally easy. Make sure you do your research on tides before coming to Pebbly Beach! There are star picket markers indicating the crossing point, but make sure you walk the creek first and choose the shallowest route as the crossing can change regularly. On our visit the best route was to initially follow the markers then divert upstream before circling back to the exit.
Once across the creek and up the exit a sign welcomes you to the Pebbly Beach Campground. There are around 60 large campsites, many bordering the beach with green grass and shady trees. The place is just like a picture postcard with the deep blue ocean right out front, waves crashing onto a sandy beach, beautiful casuarinas and banksia trees, large grassy campsites, and spectacular headlands to the left and right framing this picturesque cove that is Pebbly Beach. Time to pick your own piece of paradise, set up your campsite, and relax in this beautiful place.
The Trayon is just perfect for a location like Pebbly Beach. With the onboard hot and cold water, 90 litre fridge, shower enclosure, and solar panels to keep the batteries charged you can remain in this magnificent location for as long as you like in absolute luxury!
After a few fabulous days at Pebbly Beach fishing, walking, swimming, or just relaxing it’s time to leave. At low tide cross Station Creek and head back down the beach, through the dunes, and out of the national park. Eventually you will come out onto the Pacific Highway and head south to our next destination – Hat Head National Park.
Hat Head National Park stretches from South West Rocks down to Crescent Head. The northern point (South West Rocks) is 32 km north from Kempsey and 105 km south from Coffs Harbour. The park covers an area of 7220 hectares and hosts a variety of landscapes, wildlife and birdlife. There are a number of campgrounds, walking tracks and fabulous coastal scenery. If you are up for a challenge grab a beach permit and head for a drive along magnificent beaches which is one of the highlights of the area.
South West Rocks is about 14km from the Pacific Highway and is a great place to stock up with supplies from the township. Here you can grab a beach permit for access to the fabulous beaches. There are a couple of caravan parks but there are some great national park campgrounds just out of town including the Trial Bay and Smokey Cape campgrounds.
Trial Bay Gaol is on the outskirts of South West Rocks and the campground is at the base of the ruins. The Gaol was first opened in 1886 and was built to house prison labourers who were there to construct a breakwater to make Trial Bay a safe harbor for boats travelling between Sydney and Brisbane. However the scheme failed, but you can see some remains of the breakwater from the guard tower lookout. The facility was last used during World War I as an internment camp for people of German descent. The Gaol is open daily for self-guided tours – allow about 1hr to explore the ruins and museum, and make sure you check out the fantastic view from the sentry’s lookout.
The campgrounds at Trial Bay are fantastic with a range of sites including ones right on the water’s edge.
Smokey Cape camping area is around 7km from South West Rocks. The campground has shady sites with toilets and picnic tables, and fires are allowed. The resident kangaroos and kookaburras will most probably pay you a visit if staying here. The beach at the base of Smokey Cape lighthouse is only a short walk away.
Smokey Cape was named by Captain Cook on 13th May 1770 as he sailed north on the Endeavor. The smoke rising from above the headland was from the fires of the Dunghutti aboriginal people who have been living in this coastal area for thousands of years.
Smokey Cape Lighthouse and Captain Cooks lookout is just a few kilometers from the campground and offers spectacular coastal views towards Hat Head and South West Rocks. The white-washed lighthouse and buildings make a fantastic backdrop to this incredible view. The lighthouse was constructed in 1891 and is the highest above sea level in NSW – you can find out more on one of the tours held regularly (check website for times and details).It is just a short walk from the carpark up to the lighthouse, with this area a popular viewing spot for whales in the winter months.
From the lighthouse backtrack down to the campground and onto the beach for our first beach run between South West Rocks and Hat Head. Drop some pressure out of your tyres and head down onto the beach.
The beach exit is relatively easy and then you pop done onto the beach with the Smokey Cape Lighthouse on your left and the Hat Head headland off in the distance. It is a spectacular sight with the waves crashing in to the wide firm beach. The 14km run down the South Smokey Beach is great fun, with plenty of fishing opportunities in the numerous gutters along the beach. The beach exit at Hat Head is straightforward with wooden planks re-enforcing the track off the beach.
Hat Head has a general store, bowling and surf lifesaving clubs, and a huge caravan park. The park is a great option if looking for some facilities and there is plenty to do in the area with walking tracks, swimming or paddling a canoe in the creek or ocean, or just relaxing under the shade.
From the Hat Head township head back to the main road and across the creek, take Gap Road that follows Korogoro Creek then turn right into Hungry Road. The road continues past the Hungry gate camping area at Kemps Corner and down to the beach.
This next beach run is 11km down Killick Beach from Hat Head to Crescent Head. This beach run is a little trickier that the previous one with patches of soft sand to negotiate, but shouldn’t pose too many issues. If you have a camper trailer it may be better to leave it at one of the campgrounds – no such problem with a lightweight slideon like the Trayon. The scenery is again spectacular with Crescent Head headland is the distance, waves pounding in, and large sand dunes on the left. Plenty of fishing opportunities again – just a fabulous place and great fun. The exit can be hard to spot – we went past it and had to backtrack when we hit the river. The sand at the exit is soft and may require a bit of momentum to get through. Once off the beach you will be at Richardson’s Crossing Picnic area and then it’s only a few km’s to Crescent Head Township.
Crescent Head is a larger town and has a large caravan park right on the coast and alongside the river. From here you can continue down south via the Point Plomer track which passes plenty of camping areas including a great campground at Point Plomer located right on the beach. From Crescent head it’s only 20km back to Kempsey and onto the Pacific Highway.
As this trip travels through several coastal towns, there is ample opportunity to pick up supplies so you should only need to be self-sufficient for a few days at a time. There is reasonable phone coverage at all the locations so a satellite phone is not necessary. The NSW North coast is a popular fishing destination so bring some fishing gear if you would like to try your luck at catching a meal or two. Carry some recovery equipment such as Maxtrax’s (or equivalent) as there are some areas of soft sand that you could be caught up in. Definitely bring your camera as the scenery is spectacular!
The NSW North coast is a year round destination but is more pleasant in the warmer months such as summer and spring/autumn. Perhaps avoid the summer holidays as the area can get very busy at this time.
The NSW North Coast has some of the best coastal camping in Australia and with a Trayon you can take advantage of these places. Pebbly Beach is one of the premier camping areas in Australia which should definitely be on all 4WDrivers bucket list. It is a great place to base yourself while tackling some of the infamous 4WD tracks in the Coffs Harbour region, or you can just relax in the surrounds for a few days. The Hat Head National Park is also a great place to spend a few days with some fantastic camping areas, 4WDriving and fishing down the beach, and experiencing the spectacular coastal scenery. Load up your Trayon and pencil in a few days or more for the North Coast of NSW – you will not be disappointed.
Written by Geoff Martin
Queensland has some fantastic coastal locations and along with the generally great weather, this makes for the ideal camping experience. There are plenty of great places to choose from – on this trip we will head to the Burrum Coast which is south of Bundaberg.
The Burrum Coast National Park is spread over four sections – Kinkuna, Woodgate, Burrum River and Buxton sections. The main camping areas are at Kinkuna Beach and Burrum Point. The park covers an area over 26,000 hectares consisting of coastal plains and wetlands. A wide diversity of plant and animal communities occur here including mangrove-lined riverbanks, wallum heath with spectacular wildflowers and tea tree dominated wetlands where huge cabbage palms reach through the canopy. In the Woodgate section there are extensive eucalypt forests as well.
Check out Burrum Coast National Park website for more details.
The Bundaberg region is around 350km north of Brisbane and is an easy drive along the Bruce Highway.
It is even closer from the Trayon factory on the Sunshine Coast and the perfect place to perhaps try a Trayon Camper for the first time. Trayon can supply you with a hire Camper and even a vehicle to carry it as well (see Trayon slide on camper hire for more details) So you could pick up a complete camping setup, get used to the vehicle with a drive north up the highway before a short 4WD stint to a pristine coastal campsite right on the beach.
Bundaberg is great place to stock up with supplies, and perhaps even take a tour of the Bundaberg Rum factory. The Bundy factory runs regular tours and has a range of merchandise for sale including plenty of the famous rum. I believe it would be a sin not to visit the rum factory when in the area!
From the main centre of Bundaberg head 14km south out of town on the Bundaberg-Goodwood-Childers road, turn into Coonarr Road just before the railway overpass and follow for 8km. Turn right into Palm Beach Road for 1km to the Park boundary and then follow the signs to the Kinkuna camping areas. Note that Kinkuna is accessible by 4WD vehicles only, and some sand-driving experience would be an advantage. If unsure about the sand driving and lack of facilities you can always skip the Kinkuna section and head straight for Woodgate Beach – see the later section/s of this article.
Kinkuna Camping Area
The Kinkuna Camping area consists of 40 campsites which sit on top of the sand dunes shaded by magnificent Casuarina trees, scattered along 10km of pristine beach ensuring plenty of space. Each campsite is accessible via individual tracks leading off the main track. Note that the sand tracks into each campsites varies from soft to very soft to very, very soft so make sure you drop your tyre pressures down accordingly.
There are established ‘beach access’ ramps onto the beach to minimize damage to the fragile dune areas, and the beach is easy going as long as you are travelling at the right time – it is best to travel a few hours either side of low tide.
Now there are no facilities here so you need to be totally self-sufficient so bring in your own food and water, and take out all of your rubbish. There are no toilets either so make sure you have this covered as well.
Booking for the Kinkuna Campsites is via the online booking system.
A big advantage of the Kinkuna Campsites is that you are allowed to have a fire as long as you bring your own wood in. Many areas in Queensland do not allow campfires.
Once you have chosen your own piece of paradise and set up camp, perhaps throw in a line to catch a meal or head for a stroll along the pristine beach. Maybe just relax at camp with a cold beverage by the fire – it doesn’t get much better! With a Trayon Camper you could utilise the external shower for a wash, and later in the evening look out across the ocean from your vantage point up in the camper on the comfortable bed with the sea breeze flowing through.
Heading south from the Kinkuna Camping Area the tracks are wider and meander through tea-coloured swamp areas. In springtime this area bursts into life where it seems every bush and tree is covered in a white, pink or yellow blossom. If recent rains have fallen this track and the Kinkuna Camping area can be closed so check the website or ring the rangers to check beforehand. The main track winds for around 14km before terminating on the main Woodgate Road. Turn left and head into Woodgate Beach.
Woodgate Beach is a lovely seaside town surrounded by the national park and fronting onto a 16km stretch of white sandy beach. The town has a range of facilities including a hotel, general store, Caravan Park, bowls club, and great sheltered picnic ground with gas BBQ’s. The general store can help you with any questions about the area including campground bookings, and also has great coffee and takeaway food.
A great way to explore the bushland around Woodgate Beach is to follow the Banksia Track walking track. This track wanders through tea tree swamp, open forest and huge palms before opening out to a wide heath plain. This track is especially worthwhile between August and October when the wildflowers are blooming.
The main camping area in the Woodgate section of the Burrum Coast National Park is the Burrum Point campground. To get there are two options – a run up the beach or a soft sandy track through the bushland. Both options require a 4WD. A good suggestion is to head in one way and out the other to experience both, so on this trip we’ll head in via the track and out via the beach. Make sure you book your campsite (via the online system or through the Woodgate Store) before heading to Burrum Point!
From Woodgate Beach Township take Acacia Street for 3.5km. At the side street turn-off to Twelfth Avenue, follow Walkers Point Road for another 1km to the park entrance. Once into the park it’s only another 4km to the turnoff to the camping area, however if you have some time continue along the main road to Walkers Point and beyond.
Walkers point is a small community at the end of the bitumen. There is a sheltered boat ramp and picnic facilities. A 4WD track (Heidkes Road) continues to the west from Walkers Point to another picnic area at Hoppy Larks Creek which has a walking track to a viewing platform with a picnic table and fishing platform on the banks of the Gregory River. From the picnic area it’s just 4km further west to the main Woodgate Road.
The main track to the Burrum Point campground is a 5km long sandy track. There are rubbish bins at the track entrance to dispose of your rubbish on the way in or out (no rubbish bins at the campground). The scenic track meanders through the lovely eucalypt and banksia forest areas with plenty of soft sections that require care to negotiate, but nothing that is too difficult. Just before the campground entrance you will see a track to the right that leads down to the beach – this is the other route to Burrum Point which we’ll take on the way out.
The Burrum Point Camping area has 13 sites with facilities which includes flush toilets, cold water showers (and a rope pulley for your own warm water), sinks and mirrors. There are taps throughout the camping area, and there is an outside shower for a rinse when coming back from the beach. The campsites are all shady and sheltered, and the beach is only a short stroll away. Sites 3 to 5, or 7 & 8 are best for groups, with all the other sites fine for couples or small families. We stayed on site 9 which was great for us. With our Trayon Camper with 100litre fridge for food and beverages, and comfortable bed as well as all the other Trayon features we were set for several days at Burrum Point.
Wildlife in the campground include grey kangaroos and inquisitive bush turkeys that will sort through and spread any foodstuff or rubbish if allowed. Make sure you keep all food well out of sight.
The Burrum Point Campground is great for families with plenty of room for the kids to roam around and a safe swimming beach. The river and beach is a great spot to fish, and it is right close to the camp. If you have a canoe or boat it can be easily launched from the beach and you can explore the Bay or the rivers. Keep an eye out for sea turtles, dugongs and other marine life. In the Burrum or Gregory Rivers watch for shorebirds and migratory waders that are found there. The rivers are also a great place to perhaps land a Mangrove Jack for dinner. With the great facilities it is fantastic place to spend a few days, just make sure you have plenty of insect repellant as the mossies and sandflies can be bad at times.
There are a range of walking tracks many which leave right from the campground. The Russell’s Rest track is a short stroll through the dunes past cypress pines and a large fig tree before coming to an open picnic area with views across the water. This area is named after the local ranger Russell Standen who spent most weekends relaxing and fishing with his family from this spot. Another longer walking track is the Melaleuca track which passes through open forest, heath plains and around saltpans, swamps and mangroves. The Melaleuca track is best tackled in the morning where you are sure to see plenty of the amazing birdlife that the area is renown for.
After a few pleasant days at Burrum Point it’s time to check out the beach run back to Woodgate Beach. The beach is accessible provided it’s not high tide and the sand is generally quite firm. It’s a fun drive with the waves crashing onto the beach and great coastal scenery – just love a beach run! From the campground head up to the point and then along the beach for around 8km to the Woodgate Beach exit which joins into Twelfth Avenue.
While heading along the beach keep watch as you never know what you may see. We spotted a few sea eagles that are impressive in their own right, and actually saw one with a snake in its talons! In winter you’re likely to see humpback whales breaching and playing on their way along the coast.
What to Take
There is plenty of opportunities to collect supplies both a Bundaberg before you start this trip and at middle & end at Woodgate Beach. This is a great place to wet a line so bring along your fishing gear if you enjoy a fish. The area has good mobile phone coverage so your communications needs are covered. There are areas of soft sand to negotiate particularly in the Kinkuna beach area so carry some recovery gear such as a set of Maxtrax’s (or equivalent), particularly if you are travelling solo. Definitely bring your camera as the scenery is spectacular!
Best Time to Visit
The Burrum coast is a year round destination but is more pleasant in the warmer months such as summer and spring/autumn. Perhaps avoid the summer holidays as the area can get very busy at this time, and make sure you book your campsite or camping permit well ahead of time if you can.
The Burrum Coast has some fantastic camping, great scenery, diverse range of wildlife, and awesome walking tracks. It is a region worthy of a few days or more to explore and camp, and with a Trayon Camper you can certainly make the most of this great region. Plan a visit to the Burrum Coast and you will certainly not be disappointed!
HEMA SA Map
Avenza PDF Maps are free and cover the Lincoln NP and Coffin Bay NP. Download the app on
your smartphone or tablet, then download the maps you need. Details on the website.
South Australia is renowned for its iconic outback regions such as the Flinders Ranges and
Simpson Desert. But there is more to SA as it has some spectacular coastal areas such as the
Eyre Peninsula which has some of the best camping and coastal
scenery anywhere in Australia.
Port Augusta, the gateway to the west and Eyre Peninsula is also the
last major centre before heading west. Top up your fuel tanks, grab any food and beverage
supplies needed and then head west.
A great option for an overnight stay is the Fitzgerald Bay area just north of Whyalla. Here the
camps are free, fires are allowed, and you will most likely get a campsite all to yourself. More
details on this area can be found on the various free camping South Australia websites.
Heading down the east coast there are a number of caravan and camping spots such as Arno Bay
Bay and Port Neill
that are worth spending a night. Next is Port Lincoln – the major centre of the region.
Port Lincoln is a good place to stock up with all the major supermarkets represented, plenty of
fuel outlets, and even 4WD accessories available if something has been forgotten. The Port
Lincoln Tourist Information Centre has all the relevant brochures
and information about the nearby national parks, and can book the relevant campsites in the
park so this should be your first port of call.
A good tip when planning a trip to this area is to pre-book your stay in Memory Cove and add on
a few days at the beginning or end within the Lincoln National. This way you only have to pay for
one park entry and thus maximize your time (and save some money). The access key for
Memory Cove is collected from the Port Lincoln Tourist Info Centre.
Put some fuel in the 4WD, grab the grocery shopping, and then head to the first National Park in
the area which is just out of town – Lincoln National Park.
The entrance to Lincoln National Park is 11km south of Port Lincoln, so it’s not long until you’re
away from civilization. Lincoln National Park has more than 10 designated camping areas, most
with toilets and fire rings. If travelling outside the fire danger period make sure you bring some
wood and choose one of the campsites that allow fires such as September Beach.
Some campgrounds (such as Memory Cove) have a year round ban on fires, so make sure the gas
cooker is also right to go. With our gas cooker in the Trayon able to be used inside and outside
we had all bases covered for our trip to Lincoln National Park.
To gain your bearings and take in the scenery, a short hike up Stamford Hill to the Flinders
Monument is worthwhile. There are spectacular views across Boston Bay, Port Lincoln and
Lincoln National Park. The monument commemorates Matthew Flinders voyage of discovery to
this area in 1802. Flinders himself climbed Stamford Hill and named the area Port Lincoln after
his native province in England. There are other walks heading off from here – there are more
than 20 designated walks in the Lincoln National Park which are detailed in a brochure available
from the Port Lincoln Visitors Centre (or online).
Cape Donington is the most southern section of Lincoln National Park, and there are great
coastline views here. There is a lighthouse at the point, with the sheltered campsites at
September Beach campground just around the corner. This campground with its fantastic beach
and sheltered campsites with fire pits makes it one of the better camping areas in the Lincoln
NP. Make sure you choose one of the sites bordering the beach – we parked our Trayon at
campsite 8 which was great.
This area has an early rural history that includes woodcutting, grazing and guano (seabird
manure) mining, and records its first grain crop in 1875. There are reminders of this period in the
form of abandoned farm machinery, cleared land and a cottage. If a break from camping is on
the agenda, then this cottage is available for rent.
Within the Lincoln National Park is the Memory Cove Wilderness Area. Unlike wilderness
protection areas in the eastern states, Memory Cove is open to four wheel drivers and visitors
are actively encouraged. It takes a little bit of planning and organising to gain access to this area
but this pay up in spades as IMO this is a major highlight of the trip to this area.
Caravan’s and camper trailers are not permitted into Memory Cove so this area is just perfect for
slide on campers such as the Trayon. With all the features that the Trayon has such as onboard
water, auxiliary battery, hot water, 100 litre fridge and plenty of storage for food etc it makes the
trip to Memory Cove that much more enjoyable.
The access gate to Memory Cove Wilderness area
is about 20km from the Park entrance, and its 4WD access only from here. Time to unlock the
gate, drive in and engage 4WD! Generally the track is pretty good to start with so 4WD is not
immediately necessary, but if you have manual hubs then lock them in ready. From the gate the
Memory Cove camping area is 19km, with plenty to see on the way in. Going straight to Memory
Cove will take about 1 hour, longer if you stop for photos or take a few of the side tracks on the
way in. It took us nearly three hours to drive in!
The drive into Memory Cove covers a range of different vegetation. It starts with a fairly dense
mix of eucalypt and sheoak woodland consisting of coastal white mallee, tea-tree, and sheoak. It
quickly changes to rugged granite and limestone headlands, then more tea-tree and mallee
Early into the drive there is a cliff top section that offers great views out to the nearby islands.
The track then heads inland to an open plain commonly stocked with emu’s and kangaroos. This
area was grazed and cropped from 1840 until 1957, with stock watered from springs and soaks
from the granite outcrops along the cliff tops. The flat was ploughed by teams of bullocks and
harvests of barley were bagged and shipped out from Memory Cove. The last barley was
shipped out in 1912 prior to a devastating bushfire.
Further into the drive another side track leads off to a great cliff top view. The open ocean swells
crashes on the rocks below, sending salt spray into the air. There is a walking track that follows
an old vehicle track around the point that provides great views and is worth checking out. If you
have plenty of time you can explore this track further as it leads right around the cliff line to West
Just prior to heading down into Memory Cove, there is a scenic lookout that provides
spectacular views to Cape Catastrophe, Thistle Island and the bay below. The lookout is known
locally as ‘Ivy’s Leap’ after a local tour operators’ vehicle plunged off the cliff here when the
handbrake failed. Fortunately no one was in the car at the time.
In winter month’s whales can often be seen from the various cliff top lookouts so keep an eye
out if traveling to Memory Cove during this time.
Memory Cove is a shady and sheltered campground just back from the beach. Our campsite
had its own track leading the few metres to the brilliant white sands of Memory Cove. Vivid
crystal clear blue waters make up the spectacular scene – what a fantastic place!
You can fish right off the beach here and we managed to catch a nice feed of Salmon one
The campground has well-maintained male and female pit toilets that were clean and smell free.
There was also a small rainwater tank but don’t rely on this – bring in sufficient water for your
The park contains a variety of wildlife. We saw several Western Grey Kangaroos on the way in,
along with Emus and a blue-tongue lizard that had taken up residence in the middle of the track
and needed a little prompting to move on. While camped at Memory Cove we saw several large
seabirds, pelicans and a lone seal that appeared to be lost.
There is a marked walking track at the right hand end of the beach that leads to the ocean
coastline. This is a great place to watch the passing boats, look out to the nearby islands, and
throw in a line for a feed of fish. About half way along this track, mobile phone service is
possible. At the end of the track there is another great place to throw in a line and perhaps catch
a feed of fish for dinner. While we were there some cheeky seals chased away all the fish so no
fish for us!
Memory Cove is a great place to relax and unwind. We spent three fantastic days here and
really enjoyed this time. Such a spectacular location with limited camping spots & access it is a
definite must-do when in the area.
A major highlight of a trip to Lincoln National Park is the scenery and 4WDing along the Sleaford
Bay coastline. Massive wind-sculpted sand dunes, pounding surf and spectacular limestone
cliffs await the visitor to this area.
The Sleaford-Wanna 4WD track is only about 14km long, but there is a lot to take in and plenty
of side tracks to explore. The track can be traversed in a few hours, or a whole day could be
easily spent having fun in the dunes and on the beach. There are several good fishing areas
along the beach, including Miller Hole and Salmon Hole.
There are markers and signs along the track to guide the way, but still plenty of track options at
times. Like other 4WD tracks, there are hard routes and easier routes to choose.
The track contains a range of conditions, from soft dunes, tight sections through vegetation, to
slow rocky treks over limestone sections. The ever changing conditions and scenery adds to the
appeal for the area – never sure what is coming up next. There is almost too much to take in –
cresting a dune or rounding a corner brings another great scene.
There are several beach access points, so if the tide is right a run along the beach could be in
order. The access points do vary in difficulty so check before venturing onto the beach.
Quite a lot the Sleaford-Wanna Dunes track consists of narrow sections and vehicles may be
coming the other way so caution is needed. Also a sand flag is a good idea to advertise your
presence – much easier to spot and be spotted in the narrow parts and when cresting dunes.
Another excellent 4WD track heads from Wanna out to Cape Tournefort. This track is generally
sandy as it meanders through coastal tea-tree and comes out at the cape. From the end of the
track there are great views of the nearby Curta Rocks, rugged cliffs and pounding surf onto the
After a pleasant few days exploring Lincoln National Park it’s time to move on and explore
another fabulous nearby region – Coffin Bay and Coffin Bay National Park.
Coffin Bay is a small and picturesque town on the shores of Kellidie Bay.
Coffin Bay is famous for its oysters which are sold all over Australia and overseas, and you can
pick up some directly from the oyster farmers straight of the boat. Doesn’t get any fresher that
that! The Coffin Bay general store is a good place to pick up any last minute supplies needed,
including fuel if required.
Now the bay and area got its name from Matthew Flinders who explored this area in 1802 and
named Coffin Bay after his British Navy friend Sir Isaac Coffin. The name has nothing to do with
fatal shipwrecks, wooden boxes or a funny shaped rock that looks like a coffin!
The Coffin Bay Township is great but there is a bigger and better attraction right on its doorstep
– Coffin Bay National Park.
The entrance to the national park is right on the Coffin Bay township boundary. The first 15km is
sealed up to Yangie Bay, which is a popular sheltered camping spot which offers some good
shade. There are several walks emanating from the picnic area that are worth a go if feeling
From Yangie Bay the rest (and majority) of the national park is 4WD only. The tight sandy tracks
are tailor-made for a slide on camper and the Trayon is the perfect camper for the job. With all
the features that the Trayon has, the camping experience in places like Coffin Bay is just about
The first part of the track is sandy but pretty straight-forward with the right tyre pressures. It
rounds Yangie Bay then head north adjacent to Port Douglas Bay. There are a couple of salt
lakes passed and a few areas of the track that can be flooded by high tides, so there are bypass
tracks if the tide is very high. The track then heads inland through coastal bushland, past Lake
Damascus (salt) and back out to the coast at Black Springs.
There are some great sheltered campsites and toilets at the Black Springs campground, a great
beach below and the nearby Black Springs Well. Also near Black Springs campground is the
black rocks walking track which is a 6km hike to the western side of the peninsula.
From Black Springs head across the headland to seven mile beach dropping down onto the
beach for great run along the sand. It’s a great drive with lovely beach views, large picturesque
dunes, and many seabirds along the foreshore. The beach run is possible near high tide, but it’s
much better to time your trip closer to low tide.
Head along the beach to the signposted beach exit and back onto the headland. The scene is
now open rocky grasslands almost devoid of vegetation. This area is frequented by emus so
keep an eye out for them. Continuing on there are more patches of sheoaks and coastal tea-
tree, and closer to the coast there are paperbark trees. Across the headland there are lots of
track options but I would recommend heading first to the most northerly section of the park –
Point Sir Isaac.
Point Sir Isaac was named by Matthew Flinders in 1802 after his good friend Sir Isaac Coffin.
This a good spot to see whales migrating along the coast towards the head of the Great
Australian Bight to mate at the right time of the year. On the protected eastern side of the point
there are several small quiet beaches surrounded by mallee scrub. One such spot is ‘The Pool’
which is a designated campground with toilets, shady campsites, and a few fire pits.
From Point Sir Isaac it is worth heading to Mullalong Beach which is on the more exposed
western coastline. Here there is great coastal scenery consisting of wide beaches, deep blue
water, and rocky cliffs. The drive across the headland is also very scenic, with views of the track
winding its way across and the blue sea framing the picture.
From Mittalong Beach head out to the most westerly section of the park that you can drive to
which is Reef Point Lookout. This is quite a picturesque place, with limestone cliffs, blue waters
and extensive reefs joining the beaches.
From Reef Point Lookout continue back inland then southwards to Sensation Beach. Having a
name such as Sensation Beach you would expect something pretty special, but actually the
place is named after a tuna boat called ‘Sensation’ that drifted ashore here. The beach is very
exposed but still worth a visit, and there are some basic camping areas behind the dunes but
there are plenty of much better campgrounds on the sheltered eastern section of the park.
One of the best campsites in the national park is Morgan’s Landing. This is a great sheltered
camping area with several spots under shady paperbark trees just back off the beach and Coffin
Bay. There are toilets there, and the beach is great for an evening walk.
With Morgan’s Landing facing West it’s worth getting up early to watch the sunrise across Coffin
Bay – hopefully you will get to see a fantastic sunrise as we did. From the campsite take the
short cut along the beach between Morgans Landing and the exit from seven mile beach run.
Along this section of beach there are a few secluded camp areas that are not shown of the
maps or brochure of the area.
All the tracks were well signposted and marked so with the Coffin Bay National Park Brochure it
is pretty easy to navigate.
Heading to the Lincoln and Coffin Bay National Parks you need to carry enough food and water
for the duration of your intended stay. Mobile phone coverage is patchy but generally good
enough if you need to contact friends & family, so I would suggest alternative communication
devices such as a satellite phone would not be necessary. If you enjoy fishing then ensure you
bring plenty of tackle and some bait as this area is great for fishing. Bring your camera as well
as there is plenty of spectacular scenery to photograph.
The National Parks are open all year but the weather can get pretty rough in the winter. The
summer time is popular and the holiday time can see this area quite busy, so I would
recommend visiting during the autumn or spring. Remember to book in advance for places such
as Memory Cove as campsites are limited.
The Lincoln and Coffin Bay National Parks have plenty to offer the avid camper and 4WDriver.
There are also plenty more attractions on the Eyre Peninsula so you can easily spend a week or
more exploring the area. Even though the Eyre Peninsula is a long way away for most of us, it is
well worth the effort so load up the 4WD and head down – and you will not be disappointed.
The Victorian High Country covers a large part of South-Eastern Victoria, with much of the
area only accessible via a 4WD. It is truly one of the premier camping and 4WDing destinations in
Australia with a huge range of tracks and campsites on offer, the majority of which are completely
free of charge. There’s a range of great local towns to visit, shops and pubs to experience, and of course, the spectacular mountain scenery that the Victorian High Country is famous for.
Being such a large area you can spend weeks or even months exploring this region.
In this article, we focus on some of the southern areas of the Victorian High Country. Keep an eye on future articles to explore more of the region.
There will be some places that you may have heard of before, and maybe a few spots that are new. One aspect of the Victorian High Country is that it has many spectacular places only known to a relative few, and hopefully, this article will encourage you to explore some of these hidden gems (or perhaps find your own piece of Victorian High Country paradise!).
The Victorian High Country is truly Trayon territory, as many of the tracks are unsuitable for camper trailers, and having the freedom of a slide on camper is a distinct advantage. There is nothing better than rocking up to one of the region’s pristine campsites with all the comforts of home that you have in the Trayon.
Check out this Victorian High Country Map of our adventure.
We’ll start this adventure at Licola, which is a small town on the banks of the Macalister River.
Licola has an excellent general store for any of those last minute supplies or fuel for the trip. The photographs in the store feature some great pictures of previous traveler’s dilemmas, as well as photographs of the dramatic weather conditions such as floods and fires. The shady park nearby is an excellent place for a cuppa or lunch before tackling the tracks.
From Licola, head along the Wellington River Valley on the Tamboritha Road which passes several
picturesque camping areas on the riverbank – this is a great option for an overnight stop.
The Wellington River Camping area consists of 14 separate camping areas of varying sizes along a
10km stretch of the Wellington River. Outside of the really busy periods of the year such as Easter
and summer long weekends, you are usually assured of getting a suitable site to set up camp.
Wood sometimes can be scarce so it pays to bring your own or collect some on the way to ensure a good campfire for the evening. The Wellington River is also a good place to try your luck at catching a Trout – although probably having a plan B for when the fish aren’t hungry!
More details on the camping along the Wellington River and further in the Alpine National Park can be found on the Parks Victoria Website.
From the Wellington River, the road climbs up out of the valley to Bennison Lookout which is worth a stop to take in the fabulous views towards Lake Tali Karng, Mount Wellington and the Razorback.
Next is Tamboritha Saddle and some of the fabulous Victorian high plains.
Continuing along the high plains on Tamboritha Road, head pass the Lost Plain picnic area and you
eventually arrive at Arbuckle Junction. This is decision time – left is Howitt Road which heads
towards the Howitt High Plains and right is the Moroka Road which heads towards the Pinnacles
and the east. This trip we’ll explore east, so right it is along the Moroka Road.
The Moroka road offers great views at times to the north across the Avon Wilderness area with the
mountain ranges in the distance. About 12km from Arbuckle Junction is MacFarlane Saddle which
is the commencement point for the Lake Tali Karng walking track. This is a popular walk across the
high plains with a steep descent to the picturesque Lake Tali Karng, one of Victoria’s deepest
A further 13km onwards the road crosses Moroka River with the Old Moroka road on the right.
Another 2km is the Marathon Road turnoff on the right, which heads south to Briagolong.
The Moroka road now becomes the Pinnacles road and the next point of interest is Horseyard Flat,
approximately 2km from Marathon Road. Horseyard flat is a series of grassy flats beside the Upper
Moroka River and is a great spot to camp. There are pit toilets, a hut and several separate areas to setup camp. Horseyard flat is also the starting point for the walking track down to Moroka Gorge
From Horseyard Flat it is another 8km to the turnoff to Billy Goats Bluff track (which we’ll check out later) then another kilometre to the fabulous Pinnacles.
From the Pinnacles carpark it is a short walk up the access track to the radio transmitter and fire
spotters hut, then a steep track with sheer drops on both sides to the fire tower. The views are
absolutely breathtaking – the panoramic 360 degree views from the Pinnacles take in the seemingly
endless mountains and valleys to the North and the plains all the way to the sea to the South (on a
clear day). There’s information boards highlighting the surrounding areas and peaks, and your
camera is sure to get a workout, especially on a good day. This is one of my favorite views in all of
the Victorian High Country.
From the Pinnacles head back down to Billy Goats Bluff turnoff on the right. Now is a good time to
air down and prepare for some challenging 4WDriving.
Billy Goat Bluff is one of the most iconic Victorian High Country tracks and considered one of the best of the Victorian High Country 4WD tracks. The track is very steep (drops 1200m in less than 7km) and challenging, with rock steps and loose sections requiring prudent line selection and plenty of clearance. The track can be quite narrow in places and it can be challenging to pass oncoming vehicles so put your UHF radio to scan and keep a close watch for vehicles. This track is doable with a camper trailer but having a lightweight slide on like the Trayon makes the experience easier and safer without sacrificing any of the camping essentials we like to have in the bush nowadays.
There are some great photo opportunities all the way along the track, particularly at “the pinch” and
At the bottom of Billy Goat Bluff track is the Wonnangatta Road. Turning left will take you through to Eaglevale and onto the iconic Wonnanngatta Station, but on this trek we’re turning right towards
Dargo. Around 6km onwards is Kingswell Bridge and immediately over the bridge turn to the left
onto the Crooked River Track.
The Crooked River Track heads north through farmland and then into forested areas. There are a
few deep river crossings that are generally straightforward with a firm base, however take particular
caution especially if recent rains have fallen. The track eventually comes to a large open grassy
area called Talbotville, a very picturesque and terrific place to camp.
A mountain gold town which flourished during Victoria’s golden era, Talbotville was one of the
longest surviving towns in the region. Located on an open grassy flat on a bend in the Crooked River, the 1860s presented a scene of weatherboard stores and dwellings with the township
servicing the local miners and rural families. Businesses included a butcher, baker, chemist,
restaurant and a hotel, with a Post Office operating intermittently into the late 1940s. Today a sense
of this history can be found in the old ruins, mine workings and the old cemetery.
The Talbotville area has pit toilets, fire rings and plenty of space to camp. It can get very busy
during holidays so perhaps avoid peak times. There are plenty of 4WD and walking tracks
emanating from here so it is a good place to base yourself for a few days and explore the area
From Talbotville take the McMillan Road up to Grant which is approximately 11km. The Grant
Township once had a population of around 2000 with stores, hotels, a police station, churches,
banks, dwellings and even a local newspaper flanking two broad main streets. However little
remains today. There are some information boards and walking tracks around the township which
provide an insight into the town’s former glory. From Grant head 6km to the Dargo High Plains
Road then turn right toward Dargo which is a further 17km away.
Dargo is arguably the hub of the Victorian High Country. There is plenty to see here including grabbing some last minute supplies, souvenirs or fuel from the general store. A fantastic option when passing through is to enjoy a meal at the legendary Dargo Pub. The Dargo Pub has
a great ambience and is a terrific place to enjoy a cool beverage and grab a meal, while taking in
the various photographs and information on offer inside. Camping is available out the back of the
pub or over at the Dargo River Inn if wishing to make a night of it!
From Dargo take the road north on the Dargo High Plains Road through picturesque farmland and
past charming homesteads, until climbing out of the valley into a forested area. About 6km from
Dargo take the Upper Dargo Road which heads off on the right. Further along this road there are
some great camping areas on the Dargo River with places such as Italian Flat, Dusty Flat and Black
Flat just to name a few. These areas have pit toilets and large flat grassy areas to setup camp.
From the Dargo River campsites backtrack to the Dargo High Plains Road and commence the
steep climb up onto the high plains. Around 11km further on is Grant Junction and the turn-off to
Grant and Talbotville. From Grant Junction continue northwards through the forested area on the
Dargo High Plains Road. Past the Treasures-Mt Even Hut which is just visible from the main road
with the Downey Road heading off to the right. Keep following the Dargo High Plains Road to the
Just past the Treasure’s boundary on Lankey Plain is the well-signed track on the right to King Spur
and Mayford – our ultimate destination for the night. Turn right off the Dargo High Plains Road and start your journey along King Spur Track. It will generally take about 1 hour to reach the camping areas in the valley from the turnoff on the Dargo High Plains Road.
The King Spur Track starts by meandering amongst the Snow Gums before opening out to
spectacular views across to Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain. There are several good camping areas
on the cliff-edge but at an elevation of 1500m a cold night is guaranteed and a roaring fire essential
if choosing to camp here.
After a few kilometers there is a turnoff to the right to Long Spur Track – continue following King
Spur Track. Next up are a series of rocky sections that are quite slow but generally fairly easy
going. A little further and we commence the steep descent into the valley. Now it’s time to select low
range to save the brakes and tackle the several switch-backs which are a common feature of steep
tracks in the victorian high country. The steep descent should pose few problems except in wet conditions when some of the clay based sections will become quite slippery.
At the end of the descent the reward is our first camping option beside the picturesque Dargo River.
There is also a track to the right to another campsite, but it pays to cross the Dargo River and
continue up the valley as there is plenty more to come.
Generally this first river crossing is fairly easy but there are several large rocks to avoid. If unsure it
pays to walk the crossing first.
The track climbs steeply out of the river and then drops down to another crossing, with another two
river crossings before the valley opens up into a picturesque grassy plain – with the bubbling Dargo
River, surrounding mountains, and wide open plain this makes a spectacular sight! Be cautious
travelling at the beginning of the plain as there are several bog holes that can trap the unwary.
There are bypass tracks around the worst areas so generally these shouldn’t cause any problems.
Once on the grassy plain you have reached the locality of Mayford, one of the best places to camp
in the Victorian High Country. With ample flat grassy campsites adjacent the Dargo River, plenty of
shade from the majestic gum trees, and the vista of the surrounding mountains you would be hard
pressed to find a better location for a few days.
After a pleasant night or even a few days at Mayford, it is time to backtrack down the valley and
back up to the Dargo High Plains. However once back on the high plains road there is a location
that should not be missed – the famous Blue Rag Range and trig point.
From the King Spur Track turn right onto the Dargo High Plains Road and drive 6km to the Blue
Rag Track which commences on the left beside a small dam. Note that it is not advisable to tow a
camper trailer up this track so leave your trailer at the Dargo High Plains Road – no issues with a
lightweight slide on camper like the Trayon with the advantage of having all the equipment right with you when we get the top. The track climbs steeply from the road and then you are presented with the magical view of the track snaking its way along the mountain spur line into the distance with trig point just visible in the distance. This is one reason why this track is known as one of the most spectacular tracks in the victorian high country – the views and vistas are truly outstanding. Continue along the track to the trig point – at 1716m this point offers spectacular 360degree views across the mountains and valleys. Take some time to absorb this view and appreciate what many believe is the best view in the whole Victorian High Country!
Returning from the trig point you can backtrack to the Dargo High Plains Road, or take the Basalt
Knob Track particularly if you are heading back towards Talbotville and are looking for a challenge!
The Victorian High Country (VHC) has some of the best 4WDriving and camping anywhere in
Australia, and this trip is into one of the best in the region. With pristine camping, spectacular views, and great 4WDriving you just have to get out and explore this area for yourself. With a slide on camper such as the Trayon which is the perfect companion for a victorian high country trip this will be a trip to remember. Book your holidays, sit down with a Victorian High Country Map to plan your route, pack up the 4WD and come to the Victorian High Country for a trip of a lifetime!
By Geoff Martin