Great spots to test the 4WD lover

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Tom Zaun­mayr

Mill­stream-Chich­ester Na­tional Park

North­ern Bur­rup Penin­sula

To live in the Pil­bara you have to love the out­doors and there are few bet­ter ways to ex­pe­ri­ence it than to round up the fam­ily or a few mates, pack the four­bies, and head off-road for a few days.

One of the joys of four-wheel-driv­ing in the Pil­bara is the va­ri­ety of land­scapes to tackle. From sandy beaches and salt flats on the coast to the rocky, rugged and dusty in­te­rior, there is plenty out there to test your ma­chine.

When four-wheel-driv­ing it is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber to bring re­cov­ery gear, plenty of food and wa­ter, let peo­ple know where you are go­ing and for how long, and al­ways stick to ex­ist­ing tracks so as not to dam­age the whole rea­son we go out­back in the first place. Ngur­rangga Tours owner Clin­ton Walker said while not as well known as Kar­i­jini, the gorges in Mill­stream-Chich­ester Na­tional Park were just as stun­ning.

One of the best spots, Ge­orge’s Gorge, also has a good four­wheel-drive track ac­cord­ing to Mr Walker.

“It is in a part of the park which isn’t well known out­side of lo­cal cir­cles,” he said.

“The track has a lot of dips to drive through and once you get close to the gorge there is a lot of the rough-as-guts stuff, if you like that sort of thing.

“The drive in along the Chich­ester Range is pretty spec­tac­u­lar.” Once there, Ge­orge’s Gorge has sev­eral swim­ming holes and walk­ing trails above and in­side the gorge.

“You can camp there, so an overnighter or week­end trip would be the best way to get the most out of your trip,” Mr Walker said.

“The best thing is you don’t usu­ally have to worry about any­one else be­ing there.”

Mr Walker warned the track can be­come boggy af­ter rain.

Mu­ru­juga Na­tional Park and the jump-up on the Bur­rup Penin­sula need no in­tro­duc­tion.

The Pil­bara’s love-hate rela-

tion­ship with the 50m rocky hill climb is ev­i­dent when see­ing all the dented side steps while driv­ing around Kar­ratha.

Some say it is eas­ier than ev­ery­one makes out, but there is no doubt it is a rite of pas­sage for four-wheel-drives in the area.

Mr Walker said the re­ward for tam­ing the jump-up was well worth the ef­fort.

“You have a lot of rocky out­crops up that way, so you get to do a lot of slow crawl­ing and re­ally test your ma­chine,” he said.

“Once you’re over the jump-up there are some beau­ti­ful beaches, good camp­ing spots and some great fish­ing too.

“You can get man­grove jack, bream, bar­ra­mundi, salmon, trevally, sweet­lip, blue­bone, crabs, oys­ters and cock­leshells out that way.”

Mr Walker said the “beau­ti­ful” blue wa­ter and red-yel­low back­drop meant a cam­era was a musthave ac­ces­sory for trips up the Bur­rup. While they are far from the tough­est of tracks, the Shot­hole Canyon and Charles Knife drives in Cape Range Na­tional Park are cer­tainly scenic, ac­cord­ing to Nin­ga­loo Sa­fari Tours op­er­a­tions man­agers Dave Mon­gan.

“It is pretty light four-wheel-driv­ing but the ge­ol­ogy of the area is amaz­ing. It is ba­si­cally a dry ocean bed which they say is still mov­ing to­day,” he said.

“We do 10-hour, 270km round trips out there and you get to see every­thing in­clud­ing Yardie Creek.

“For those that want to ex­plore fur­ther there are plenty of beau­ti­ful camp­ing ar­eas.

"Whether you want to go camp­ing, fish­ing, four-wheel-driv­ing, hik­ing or snorkelling there’s plenty to do.”

The Yardie Creek to Co­ral Bay beach drive is a favourite of lo­cal four-wheel-driv­ers but Mr Mon­gan said it was un­ad­vis­able to take the trip at the mo­ment as the creek mouth is still open from cy­clone Ol­wyn ear­lier this year.

At a ca­sual 350km hop, skip and jump from Hed­land, Carawine Gorge is an eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble spot for four-wheel-driv­ers.

The track is un­sealed but mostly smooth, giv­ing driv­ers more time to con­cen­trate on the scenery. Hed­land Of­froad owner Dal­las Lit­tle said de­spite a few washouts, the rocky shale track was do-able for four­bies of all makes and mod­els.

“This drive is more about watch­ing the scenery and re­lax­ing when you get out there,” he said.

“It is per­fect in the win­ter months, but even in the sum­mer it is nice to get out there and go for a swim in the cool wa­ters.”

Mr Lit­tle sug­gested bring­ing plenty of fuel, ide­ally in a lon­grange tank, wa­ter and a few beers to watch the world go by.

Gorges are def­i­nitely a theme among Pil­bara ex­plor­ers and Gre­gory’s is per­haps the most ex­cit­ing trek for four-wheel-drive own­ers.

Mr Lit­tle said the Gre­gory’s Gorge track of­fered plenty of dif­fer­ent chal­lenges for driv­ers, par­tic­u­larly af­ter rains when the track can get boggy and river cross­ings fill up.

As such, it is ad­vis­able to travel in con­voy and have some ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore tak­ing on the track.

“It is quite nice driv­ing out in the mid­dle of nowhere then sud­denly drop­ping off into this huge open gorge,” he said.

“There can be five or six other groups camp­ing there and you will never even know they’re around.

“With the river cross­ings you need to check the wa­ter speed and depth and just idle through slowly, don’t go full throt­tle.”

Mr Lit­tle said the allure of gorges was usu­ally the com­bi­na­tion of cool, still wa­ters and a lack of wind.

Charles Knife and Shot­hole Canyon

Carawine Gorge

Gre­gory’s Gorge

Pic­ture: Tom Zaun­mayr

A con­voy pre­pares to head deep into the north­ern reaches of the Bur­rup.

Pic­ture: Jes­sica Buckley

Gre­gory’s Gorge can be a chal­lenge for four-wheel-drives.

Pic­ture: Stephen Scour­field

Charles Knife Canyon in Cape Range.

Ngur­rangga Tours owner Clin­ton Walker drives through a wa­ter cross­ing at Gre­gory’s Gorge.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.