Billy Goats Bluff 4WD Track; a ripper, iconic High Country track

There’s quite literally hundreds of 4WD tracks in the Victorian High Country, and it would take you months to do them all. There are two that are probably best known, and in this post we’re checking one of them out; Billy Goats Bluff 4WD track.

Billy Goats Bluff 4WD Track
We recently did Billy Goats Bluff 4WD track, and its a ripper
Billy Goats Bluff 4WD track is a heap of fun
The High Country 4WD tracks are on another planet

Where is Billy Goats Bluff 4WD Track?

This iconic 4WD track is roughly 20km West of Dargo, as the crow flies, or about 50km by vehicle. If you’re going by 4WD or motorbike, you can start at the bottom not too far off the Kingwill bridge, on Wonnangatta road.

The track takes you up to the Pinnacle Road, which is the final climb to a car park that you can walk from to see the insane views.

Billy Goats Bluff views
The track ends near the Pinnacle fire lookout

How long is the track?

The total track length, from bottom to top is only 8.5km, with the remaining track to the Pinnacles making it a total of about 10km.

Billy Goats Bluff Track up
The track is actually quite short, but its rough

How long does it actually take to drive?

A lot of map books and posts will tell you how far the track is, but not how long it takes to travel, and that’s really important when you’re planning (especially with young kids!). From the bottom of the track to the top of the Pinnacles car park, you’re looking at about an hour with one or two short stops, with the track in fairly average condition.

Billy Goats Bluff is pretty rough
You can’t go very quickly up the track

Give it another 15 – 30 minutes to stop and enjoy the top, and then it’s a bit less than an hour to get back down. Inevitably, you’ll drive down slightly faster with gravity aiding your cause.

The Pinnacles Lookout
You want to leave some time to walk to the Pinnacles, and to soak up the insane views
Views from the Pinnacle Lookout
The Pinnacles Lookout is a pretty impressive place to stand

That said, if you go on the weekend, or a busy day, you could spend a lot longer whilst you wait for other vehicles.

How hard is Billy Goats Bluff?

The 4WD map book that we had showed Billy Goats Bluff as difficult, but in the past its been considered a fairly mild 4WD track. When we went, the majority of people on Newtracs were rating it as very difficult.

Bumping our way up Billy Goats Bluff
We’d heard the track had deteriorated a lot, and were keen to see how hard it would be

Obviously, when you go the conditions will be different again, but its 100% not a track for new 4WD owners, with stock vehicles. There are some decent holes that are up to 70cm deep, a few softer sections with offset ruts and lots of rock steps and holes around 40cm deep.

We did it on our own, and there were a handful of places where I had to think about the best line to take, but for the most part found it fairly straight forward, but bumpy. I’d say the difficult to very difficult rating is accurate, depending on what sort of vehicle you are in.

Billy Goats Bluff 4WD track difficulty
If you’re an experienced driver, in a capable vehicle its straightforward, but rough

What do you need to do this 4WD track?

I mentioned above that Billy Goats Bluff is not a 4WD track for novices in a stock vehicle, and I stand by that comment. Things could go bad real quick here, and as such, I’m going to recommend the below:

Light truck, all terrain or mud terrain tyres

You only have to drive a few hundred metres up this track to know that its going to kill tyres that are not designed for the terrain. The rocks are sharp, everywhere and you will scrub the sidewalls in places.

If you are hoping to get up with stock standard road terrain tyres that are not light truck designation, I’d be preparing to change at least one, and that’s not even discussing the traction issues. We went up with brand new (literally 5 days old) Toyo Open Country AT3 tyres, and they performed very well, with only a handful of times where they slipped significantly before giving us the traction we needed. I cannot imagine doing it with a road terrain tyre in its current state.

Brand new Toyo Open Country AT3 tyres
We had brand new Toyo Open Country AT3 tyres fitted a few days prior

At least some clearance

If you have low hanging underbody toolboxes, or a bumper, you can expect to get some damage done. With the right choice of lines you’ll minimise any damage, but there were a few times where our tow hitch hit the bottom. Yes, we should have removed it, but it’s a pain to do with shims to keep it tight so I took the risk.

Underbody protection

You’d get up here without underbody protection, but I reckon its not worth the risk. With the steps, holes and likelihood of copping a rock against something expensive on your 4WD, its worth considering. If you have a taller, solid axle vehicle with things tucked away you might get away with it, but our Dmax with 54mm bigger tyres, and a 30mm lift still hit the bash plates a number of times, and most of the times occurred when we were coming back down, with a little bit more speed, and weight on the front.

Dmax underbody protection
You take a real risk doing tracks like this without underbody protection or a heap of clearance

UHF

If you go on a quieter week day, you can get away without a UHF, but in my mind they are crucial to hear others coming along, so you can get out of the way. They’re also a safety, device, and very useful for chatting to others if you need a hand or something goes wrong.

Ability to pick lines and use engine braking properly

If you have a big, lifted 4WD with lots of flex, you’ll get away without choosing lines too much on this track. However, for most people, you need to be smart and straddle the big holes, and avoid falling into anything that’s going to put you on a nasty side angle. This does not come naturally, and is learnt over years of driving different tracks.

If you can’t do it, you need to be with someone who can help you out.

You also 100% need to know how to use your gears and engine brake. If you rely on your vehicles brakes you’re going to wear them out fast, potentially cook them and have no brakes and your ability to maintain a decent speed on the descents is hugely impaired.

Billy Goats Bluff from the helipad
If you come down without engine braking, you’ll cook your brakes

On the way down, we used first gear low range for the majority of the steep sections, and only touched the brakes when we needed to slowly drop into holes, or avoid a nasty bump at speed. This gives you maximum traction and control, and is the only way to tackle a steep descent safely.

An emergency plan

In the grand scheme of things, you are relatively close to Dargo, there’s normally quite a few 4WD’s around, and help isn’t days away. That said, this is one heck of a climb, and there’s good potential for things to break, someone to get hurt or any manner of things to go wrong.

Your emergency plan might be different to the next person, but at least think about it and have something in mind. I’d be carrying a first aid kit, UHF, phone with Telstra reception or a satellite phone, or a PLB. Take some extra water with you in case things go pear shaped, and a good attitude, and you’ll be off to a great start.

Satellite phone for communications
If it all goes wrong, what’s your emergency plan?

Consider a locker

In the current state, I felt much more comfortable with a rear locker on our Isuzu Dmax. Yes, you can do it without one, but there’s a lot more scrabbling going on, and that increases your chances of breaking something considerably.

I’d rather get up a nasty section the first time, with the right amount of momentum and as good traction as I can get, than bounce my way up without a locker, or worse, have to back down and try again.

I had our rear locker on for the most amount of time that its been used, with a number of steps, scrabbly sections and offset holes putting it to good use. When I did leave it off, the car would slip and scrabble so much more. I’d estimate we had the rear locker on going up for about 15% of the track, which is quite a bit

Dmax in a hole
Any offset holes make a locker absolute gold

Tyre pressures

If you leave your tyres at full pressure, you’re going to have a shocking time, put huge stress on your 4WD and risk getting a puncture. I’m going to suggest somewhere between 30 and 50% reduction from your normal road pressures.

That’s between 20 and 28PSI if you run 40 PSI in your tyres normally, on a bitumen road.

Is it worth the drive?

We camped just south of Talbotville on the Crooked River Track, and drove to the bottom, did the track and drove back down again. We were considering doing the southern part including the Castle Hill Track, Junction Spur Track, Scrubby Creek Track and Rock of Gilbatrar Track, but our kids were over the bumps, and it would have made it a huge day. As it was, we were gone for about 5 hours, and if we’d gone the other way it would have been another 3 or 4, quite comfortably.

Driving the Crooked River Track
We absolutely loved the Crooked River Track too

The drive up Billy Goats is stunning, and technical enough for you to get the heart going, but not insane that you’re going to come back with dents in every panel (unless you get something wrong), and we thoroughly enjoyed the views at the Pinnacles, and a stop near the end of the Billy Goats track.

I’d certainly recommend you tick off this iconic track if you have the gear, understanding and time to do it. It’s a magic part of the world!

Driving up Billy Goats Bluff
This is a magic track, and I’m glad we did it
Great views from Billy Goats Bluff
The views near the end are astounding

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