The Burnette 4WD track on Mern Merna Station

One of the major reasons for visiting the Flinders Ranges was to find some epic camping and 4WD tracks, and we nailed that one to the tee. I was a bit unsure of what to expect in the Flinders Ranges, with the outback always seeming to appeal less than some of the coastal attractions, but it didn’t take long to warm to the area at our first stay on Mern Merna Station.

Camped at Mern Merna Station
Our camp site at Mern Merna Station

Sarah recommended we camp here, and one of the reasons was for the 4WD track, known as the Burnette. I’ll openly admit to not expecting too much when we took off to do the track but was forced to eat my words from the moment we turned and started to climb the Flinders Ranges. This was the first of many 4WD tracks in South Australia, and was a great start.

Climbing the Flinders Ranges
The first hill climb to the top is unbelievable, and made me eat my words

Where is the Burnette 4WD track?

This 4WD track literally starts at the Homestead of Mern Merna Station. We were given maps and instructions to follow, and sent a text to the owner to let them know we’d be heading off, in case of an emergency, or if we didn’t return in a timely manner they’d come looking for us.

It heads south along the bottom of the ranges for some time, and then heads up the range, and then hops from one hill to the next all the way back to the homestead.

Burnette 4WD track map
A map of the Burnette 4WD Track
Burnette 4WD track instructions
Instructions for the 4WD track

How long does it take?

We were told 2.5 to 3 hours to do the track, and after doing the first half of the track in about 20 minutes, I was wondering if we’d been told a furphy. About 10 minutes later though, I realised why; you head right to the top of the range, and then spend the majority of your time up the top ticking along extremely slowly.

Burnette 4WD track
At the bottom of the ranges, I realised why it would take so long!
Burnette 4WD track climb
From there, you climb up, and up and up
Views over Mern Merna
From there, you just hop from hill to hill until you descend near Mern Merna Station

How hard is it?

I wasn’t expecting the track to be overly difficult. I thought it might meander around the station with a few holes and creek crossings (dry) to navigate carefully but was not expecting the track to be as fun as it was.

Big hill climb on the Burnette 4WD Track
The hill climb is a whole heap of fun

The hill climbs, descents and wheel placements make it a medium difficulty track. If you had a stock 4WD with average tyres you’d really struggle in some places, with the first hill climb being proper steep and a pretty decent length, with lots of rocks that want to relocate themselves.

Loose rocks and traction
There’s quite a few rocks that want to relocate themselves

I never felt worried about any of the challenges, but it was certainly enough to get the blood pumping, and I did engage the rear locker a couple of times on some of the scrabbly hill climbs.

On top of the ranges
Good wheel placement will see you through easily enough

We only scraped the bash plates once on the track, but there were a number of occasions where I’m sure it would have been close, and you need to pay careful attention to avoiding rocks on the edge of the track, and anything sharp.

If you are a novice 4WDer, I certainly would not recommend this track. You need to know about tyre pressures, wheel placements, gearing for going down the descents (some of which are very steep) and be prepared to change a tyre if you get a flat.

At the end, you can choose from the chicken departure, or the challenge departure. We took the harder line, which was very easy, except for being seriously steep and scrabbly. First gear low range and you just idle down with a touch of the brakes every now and again.

4WD Tracks in the Flinders
Unbelievably picturesque, and so much fun

Is it any good?

I was shocked at how good this track is. It’s pretty boring and mundane until you get to the first hill climb, and then its on. You’ll bounce your way gently to the top, where you then enjoy incredible views for the next 2 hours as you go up and down hill after hill after hill.

There are some pretty incredible scenes that you drive right past, and although the bouncing can get a bit tiring by the end, its so worth it. All of these amazing photos that I’d seen in the Flinders ranges are perfectly reflected here!

Views of the 4WD track
The views are nothing short of magnificent

We stopped a few times to get photos, have lunch and to do the walk to the rocks at #2, and had a fantastic time. It’s long enough to keep you entertained, but not too long that the kids get cranky in the back.

What does it cost to do?

To do this 4WD track, it will cost you $30 if you are camping at the station, and $40 if you are just visiting for the day. Compared to other 4WD tracks in the area, its pretty reasonable, and in my mind completely worth doing.

Price to do the Burnette 4WD track
$30 is fairly reasonable, and money well spent

What tyre pressures did we run?

I had our Dmax at 27 PSI on the front, and 30 on the rear. We normally run 43 and 49, so a decent reduction, but not too much that you start to worry about damaged sidewalls. Speaking of which, I noticed that all 4 tyres had some pretty substantial rub marks on the sidewalls from rocks that you clip, or that turn as you drive over them, so ensure you have good quality tyres.

Tyres down on the Dmax
Deflate your tyres a little to avoid tread punctures and absorb some of the shock
Scrub marks on the tyres
Your sidewalls will deflect a heap of rocks

Should you do the Burnette Track?

I recommend it. I loved it, and Sarah even commented that it was a lot of fun. She’s much less of a 4WDer than me, but the views really make this an incredible 4WD track. Compared to the other tracks in the area, its good value, fairly quick and absolutely worth doing.

That said, don’t do it if you don’t have good all terrain or mud terrain tyres and experience 4WDing.

On top of the ranges
We really enjoyed the track, and would highly recommend it if you are keen

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