30 October, 2020

Five 4WD tracks in Tassie’s north to get your motor running

From mountains to beaches, take the road less travelled in your 4X4.

Drive straight off Spirit of Tasmania and onto these favourite 4WD tracks in Tasmania’s north. Whether you like taking it easy or going hard, soaring up sand dunes or tackling mountain switchbacks, be sure you and your rig are well prepared, drive safely, and respect our Aboriginal and natural heritage.

Jacobs Ladder

About 60 kilometres south-east of Launceston, Ben Lomond National Park is home to Tasmania’s main ski field and perhaps its most gnarly road: Jacobs Ladder. This steep, narrow track zig-zags up rocky Legges Tor, the state’s second-highest peak. It’s essential to ascend this series of hairpin bends slowly, and give way to descending vehicles, but caution is rewarded with awesome alpine vistas.

Rating: Easy, but medium if there’s snow or ice (bring snow chains June-September).

Camping: Free, but a Parks Pass is required for park entry. There are six unpowered sites and toilets in a leafy lowland area, and bush camping is also permitted.

Jacobs Ladder (Image: Simon Sturzaker and Tourism Tasmania)
Jacobs Ladder (Image: Simon Sturzaker and Tourism Tasmania)

Bridport to Bellingham Traverse

Drive up and – if you dare – down giant dunes, and along white-sand beaches on this 22-kilometre north-coast track. The Bridport to Bellingham Traverse is an exciting, scenic 4WD-only alternative route between these two towns. There’s some challenging terrain, but the track is well marked so easy to follow (take extra care to stay within markers that exclude two sensitive bird-breeding areas). See birds gliding on the wind, or stop and try your luck surf fishing.

Rating: Hard due to steep slopes, soft sand and a potentially difficult river crossing.

Camping: Unserviced beach sites with Bass Strait views on West Sandy Point.

Ocean Beach

Drive along Tasmania’s longest beach, stretching 30 kilometres from Macquarie Heads to Trial Harbour. Ocean Beach is near Strahan but feels like the edge of the world – this is the last stretch of land before South America. Wonder at massive Southern Ocean waves on one side, even higher dunes on the other, and watch out for lazing seals and sea lions. Pause to toboggan down Henty Dunes, or fish at the heads or Henty River.

Rating: Medium – beware of quicksand near Henty River.

Camping: Macquarie Heads Camping Ground has toilets and nicely priced unpowered sites by the beach.

Henty Dunes (Image: Ollie Khedun and Tourism Tasmania)
Ocean Beach (Image: Jason Charles and Tourism Tasmania)

Borradaile Plains Track

Unless rain creates sections of boggy ground and deep water, Borradaile Plains Track is an easy 18 kilometres through an elevated region about 60 kilometres south of Devonport. The view across the plains to the distant Great Western Tiers mountains is especially beautiful in winter when snow has fallen. Cruise through this picturesque landscape, or pause to fish for trout in the lakes.

Rating: Easy, but medium when wet.

Camping: Bush camping sites along the way, or at route’s end Mersey White Water Forest Reserve’s free camping area has basic facilities including toilets.

Sandy Cape Track

In the rugged north-west’s Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area, Sandy Cape Track offers equally wild coastal scenery and 4x4 conditions. On this tough but thrilling 24-kilometre route expect rocky ridges, river crossings, Tasmania’s highest dunes and potentially boggy mud and quicksand that can swallow vehicles. An Arthur-Pieman Recreational Driver Pass is required. They’re available online and from the Parks and Wildlife Service’s Pieman River office, where you should get advice about current conditions before setting out.

Rating: Hard, or even impassable due to rain or high ocean swells.

Camping: The route’s basic campsites with grand views are free with the Driver Pass. Inexpensive serviced sites are also available north of the starting point.


Information included in this blog is correct at the time of publishing. Please contact individual operators for further information.

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