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4x4 beach driving in South Australia
4x4 Beach Driving in South Australia
Robe and the Limestone coast
While the 4x4 destination of choice for many hardcore four-wheel drivers may be mud, for me sand is much more fun. Sure you can get into just as much strife, become just as badly bogged, but recovery and cleanup is so much easier.
Depending where you live, there are plenty of sandy destinations available, from Queensland's Fraser Island - a bit tame for genuine sand drivers - to Stockton Beach and Myall Lakes in NSW. Victoria has no legally 4x4 accessible beaches, with the exception being the Portland Dune Buggy Club lease area, where access is available through the club. A better option for Victorian's and certainly a favourite for those in SA are the beaches found in the south-east of that State.
Locate roughly halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide there is some fantastic four-wheel driving, and some of the toughest beach drives you could desire!
There are a host of accommodation options available from camping behind the dunes on some beaches, to caravan parks and motels. I've been visiting the Limestone Coast as it is promoted for over 20 years and its magic continues to attract me. The area broadly stretches from Millicent in the south, north to Robe, Kinston and northward to the Coorong.
I've been fortunate enough to drive the area in virtually every make of four-wheel drive and believe me I've been just as bogged in a $150K Range Rover Sport Supercharged as I have in a $40K Holden Jackaroo. With the right techniques and tyre pressures there is no reason you can't get through in any 4x4. You don't need massive fat tyres or diff locks (they tend to dig in and bog your vehicle), with perhaps a mild lift kit the only accessory that can make travel easier when tracks are deep and the belly of your 4x4 drags on the centre. Gear you really do need includes, a tyre gauge, shovel, air compressor, rated bow shackles, snatch strap and a sand pole and flag when in the dunes so other vehicles can see you coming. Other useful gear includes a jack and jacking plate, maps, UHF radio, drinking water and a can of WD40 if electric's get wet. The best insurance is to travel with at least one, preferably two other 4x4s, as some of the beaches in the Little Dip National Park and the trip down the beach to Carpenters Rocks can be treacherous. When approaching a section of beach that looks soft, only send one vehicle in at a time, or you may all end up bogged in a row, which is a real pain to recover.
Where you can 4x4
Southend to Carpenter Rocks: This trek follows the beach the full length of Canunda National Park. It can be a tough trip, with some steep beaches, some very soft sections and alsorts of challenges possible depending on how the tide has been running. Occasionally there is a 'chicken track' behind the dunes, which escapes some of the harder sections of beach.
Beachport to Robe: This is a great drive, and affords some good driving and first rate scenery. The trek is marked and 4x4s should stay on the marked route. The Millicent Buggy Club is an area of large smooth white dunes, where drivers can try out their skills and compare vehicles on the larger dunes. Further north the beach track finishes at Nora Coreina, and you need to travel slowly along the road (remember you tyre pressures are lowered), before returning to the beach at Little Dip National Park. The run from Little Dip to Robe offers breathtaking scenery and some interesting driving, especially the last section of beach before Robe.
Coorong National Park: The beach from Kingston through to 28 Mile Crossing is a great drive in summer months. The beach is accessed at 42 Mile Crossing and heads north to Tea Tree Crossing and north to Lake Alexandrina. This can be a dicey drive and you need to exercise extreme care.
The area can be visited any time of the year, but can be bitterly cold around June and stinking hot in summer! Some beaches may also be closed or impassable due to conditions. It's best to check with local National Parks Service offices on local conditions before proceeding.
Notwithstanding, this is a great area to visit, with plenty of interesting beach driving challenges!