WA has some truly unbelievable 4WD Tracks. Some people do them for the challenge, and others do them for the destination. If you are lucky enough to visit El Questro, then you absolutely must add Saddleback Ridge to your list.
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Where is it?
Located around 90km away from Kununurra lies one of Australia’s most impressive properties, known as El Questro. After you’ve driven through the mini town, Saddle Back Ridge is on your right hand side, just after you go around the double bend at the start/end of the airstrip. This 4WD track is an absolute cracker, and is best done just before sunset, to enjoy a spectacular view as the sun goes down.
How long does it take?
The sign says Saddleback Ridge is a 40 minute return trip. Realistically, you can get up there in about 10 – 15 minutes, and down possibly a bit slower. If you leave at around 4PM, you will get there just in time to see the sun drop down and disappear for the day.
Is it hard?
Asides from being steep, there is nothing complicated about this track for most of the year. After a busy period though (like the school holidays) this does get chopped out, and there can be some steps and holes to avoid or navigate, which in a low clearance vehicle (or if you are new to 4WDing) can be a challenge.
Ensure your tyres are down (25-30 PSI is fine), put it in low range and lock the hubs, and you will have no dramas. 2nd or 3rd low are fine for most parts. If you must, go down to first low for the really steep sections, but the track only has a couple of loose rocks and bumps; you would struggle to loose traction.
On the descent
If you haven’t done much 4WDing, descents (especially steep ones) should be done by minimizing the use age of your brakes. This is done by using the gears of your vehicle. If you put it in 2nd low, it should idle all the way down to the bottom at a fairly constant speed, giving you perfect control of the vehicle without even touching the brakes.
If you use the brakes a lot, they will get hot very quickly, and will ultimately fade away, leaving you in a potentially deadly situation. Use the engine, concentrate on steering around the corners nicely and you will be just fine (and have a great time too!)
When is the best time to go?
I mentioned earlier this is the go to sunset lookout. As the sun goes down, you get amazing red colours from the rocks, and if there is some cloud around, you get a cracker set of colours coming through.
An extra little tip
If you are patient, wait about 20 minutes after the sun disappears, and the rock wallabies come out to play. Although they are very difficult to see during the day, the moment it gets even remotely dark, they all come out. They are brilliant little creatures, and we had a fantastic time watching them hop around (and beat their paws at us).
Is it worth going?
Despite El Questro making it sound like the ultimate 4WD challenge, this is actually a fairly mild (moving to a little challenging after school holidays), but highly enjoyable 4WD track. The views are unsurpassed, and have to be seen to be believed. We loved our visit to Saddleback ridge so much we went back the next night!