On a recent visit to Arkaroola, we were blown away by how good the 4WD tracks were. Not only are they easily accessible, but they have views that top many other places we’ve been to in Australia, and have plenty of challenging sections to keep you entertained.
In this post, we’ll cover all of the 4WD tracks in Arkaroola, along with a description of how to get to each, what we thought of it and what you’ll see. If you are looking for more 4WD tracks in South Australia, we have you covered!
Your tyres will take a beating at Arkaroola Station. Even the bush camping and Caravan park has a number of rocks that are exposed, and you’d be mad to run full tyre pressures. We tend to run about 30% less air than our normal bitumen tyre pressures, and this worked well for traction, limited increase of sidewall punctures and allows you to travel at speed on the driveway as needed. In fact, once we left Mern Merna Station at the bottom of the Flinders Ranges, I left our tyres at this pressure.
We ran 27 on the front of the Dmax, 30 on the rear, and 40 PSI on the hybrid camper. Please know these are cold pressures, and when warm would have been around 35, 40 and 48 PSI, which seemed to work quite well.
You can choose not to let air out, but your vehicle will get shaken around more (and thus more wear and tear), you might get a tread puncture and your ride will certainly be less comfortable.
The first 4WD track that we did was into Welcome Pound, which starts on the Eastern side of the driveway into Arkaroola, about 5km from the station. It starts off as a ‘2WD’ track, which is probably one of the roughest 2WD tracks you’d ever do, and then moves into a 4WD track. If you want a fun little side track, you can take the left over Jasper Pass, which has some offset holes near the top that are a heap of fun, and then a nice descent down.
Hold your breath as you pull over the hill to the Welcome Pound, as the views are nothing short of staggering. First gear in low range, or second, and slowly make your way to the bottom of the pound, and then back up!
The track continues on to Stubbs Waterhole, which we cover below. You don’t need overly high clearance, or huge experience 4WDing to do this.
From the welcome pound, you can continue along a spectacular track to Stubbs, not too far away. This track is easy enough, with a few rocks and little drops, but takes you to the car park of Stubbs Waterhole. There’s a water hole in front of the car park, and one down the gorge, which is worth a short (but rocky) walk. Again, this is a fairly easy 4WD track with no real experience or modifications needed.
Mt Jacob backtrack 4WD track
Not far from Stubbs Waterhole is the Jacob 4WD track, which is one of the longer ones on the property. We ran out of time to do this track, but it does require high clearance, and some skill. It’s also one of the longer 4WD tracks on the property by length.
Not far from the entry to Stubbs Waterhole, you can turn to the West, and take the Station Backtrack. This was the second track we took on our stay at Arkaroola, and I was quite surprised at how much more challenging it was than the welcome pound and Stubbs Waterhole.
It starts off with a decent size hill climb, with lots of offset holes. I scrabbled up in low range, first gear just using traction control, but probably should have had the locker engaged. I watched a Hilux come up after me, who lifted a few wheels and certainly showed that its not a 4WD track for low clearance vehicles, or for someone who’s new to 4WDing.
You’ll get to a Y section soon, which takes you to the top of a lookout. This hill climb is steep, long and has limited turning up the top, so make sure there’s no one else up there. We scrabbled our way up in the rain and the views were incredible.
The rest of the track back to right near the Caravan Park is fairly straightforward, with some good positioning of your wheels. There’s a few steps, but with a high clearance 4WD and a bit of thought you shouldn’t have too many issues. It’s a fantastic introduction to Arkaroola!
You need experience 4WDing, high clearance and the ability to pick a good line to do this track.
Echo Camp Track
There’s a lot of paid 4WD tracks in the Flinders Ranges, and we were keen to explore a number of them, and see how they all stacked up. The Echo Camp Track is $45, and requires a key, and a $50 key deposit (which you get back). The staff will tell you its an extreme rated 4WD track, requires high clearance and that you should do some of the other 4WD tracks before deciding if its for you.
We did exactly that, and decided to give it a crack on our own, and paid our money, got the map and step by step instructions and headed out.
We checked out Arkaroola Waterhole prior to opening the gate, and from the moment you are inside, you know you’re going to be in for some fun. It starts off with a hill climb with offset holes that turns and is on a bit of an angle, and eventually you’ll arrive at the top. From here, there’s some seriously steep descents, with a number of places where you need to pick your line carefully, and the views are nothing short of unbelievable.
Stop in at Echo Camp Waterhole, and then continue your way along the track. You’ll cross a number of river and creek beds, see some stunning views and having a passenger who can read the information and steps out becomes quite handy.
The hardest part of the track is heading down to Barraranna gorge, which we were told some people just walk to, as they can get down, but not back up. Admittedly, when we arrived at a couple of the obstacles I wondered how we’d climb back up, but with a bit of careful thought, we navigated down with no issues, and thoroughly enjoyed our walk to the gorge (which is very short and easy).
After lunch, we headed up again, with Sarah hopping out to take a few photos, but I’d already picked lines prior to coming down, and stuck to them with little issue. If you picked the wrong line though, you could be in trouble really quickly.
Once back on the main track, we continued along enjoying a number of steep descents, and a couple of hill climbs that had me reaching for the rear locker button.
Towards the end of the track the landscape changes completely, and goes to the more arid style of the Flinders Ranges. There’s one particular descent near the end of the track that you need to be quite careful of, as regardless of what line you take it slips you across, and you could do panel damage fairly easily here.
At the end of the track, heave the gate open and head out, and congratulate yourself for making it without doing any damage (hopefully). We thoroughly enjoyed this track, and really rated it. You absolutely need a decent amount of experience to do this track, with a high clearance 4WD that has decent tyres with good grip.
From here, you can either head back along Claudes Pass, or you can turn left and head out to the hot springs. The drive out is nice, but the hot springs are a small bubbling pool that isn’t visually overly exciting, and we decided to skip the 22km return drive.
In total, it will easily take you 4 – 5 hours to do this track, so start early, enjoy it and you’ll have an awesome day. Initially I had considered doing the Mt Jacob 4WD track after, but we were worn out and had enough by the end of this track, and signed back in, got our deposit and headed to camp to chill.
On the way back from the Echo Camp Backtrack 4WD track, I decided to call into Arkaroola Springs. This track is one of the roughest 4WD tracks on the property especially to the end, and we could still see tracks going on and on, despite driving over 30cm boulders that were all over the place. Eventually I got out and walked the rest, but couldn’t find a suitable access point to get to the water, so went back to the car and headed off.
We were all pretty knackered after a day in the car, and I’m sure its amazing here if you know where to go!
If you choose not to do the Echo Camp 4WD track, at least head out to the Arkaroola Waterhole. Its a short, easy drive and the views are spectacular, with the walk being easy enough along the floor of the gorge, and the chance of seeing yellow footed rock wallabies in the wild. We really enjoyed this, despite there not being too much water laying around.
Nooldoonooldoona Waterhole, Bollabollana Spring and the Smelter
On our second day, we headed to the North West of the property, stopping in at a number of different attractions. None of these 4WD tracks were overly difficult, with exception of a couple of bits going into Nooldoonooldoona waterhole at the end, but the views are spectacular and its well and truly worth a look.
Nooldoonooldoona Waterhole was a fun walk, with views of the waterhole from above that was quite magnificenct, and we continued to walk down the gorge even further. We even saw a stunning lizard here that really was incredible.
Bollabollana Spring is worth a drive to the bottom section, and you can get out and walk along the gorge to see the spring in the distance. The kids really enjoyed this walk, and the views were quite incredible.
Lastly, you can visit an old Copper smelter that has some interesting history (get the information sheet before you head out), and see a blast from the past.
Arkaroola has incredible 4WD Tracks
I’ve never been to anywhere in Australia that has had as many amazing 4WD tracks as Arkaroola does. The scenery, difficulty level and walks make it one of the most fun places we’ve ever visited, and if you have a 4WD, a sense of adventure and a bit of time up your sleeve, we cannot recommend Arkaroola any higher. The Arkaroola 4WD tracks are some of the best you’ll find in Australia!