Victoria is well known for being a great place to test your 4WD out, and one of the more well known locations is Cobaw State Forest. We headed there after two awesome nights at Amblers Crossing Campground in Lerderderg State Park in search of some more bush camping and 4WD tracks.
Where is Cobaw State Forest?
Having hopped across on the outskirts of Melbourne, I didn’t realise this place is just over an hours drive from the city, which is pretty amazing. It’s in a North West direction, and is fairly close to some other pretty stunning parts of the world.
What are the 4WD tracks like?
In my mind, the Cobaw 4WD tracks are basically gravel roads, or difficult to extreme 4WD tracks. There’s not much in between, and given its such a small place, its easy to find something to keep you occupied for a while (or all weekend, if that’s your thing!).
You need suitable mapping
If you head 4WDing into Cobaw State Forest without a basic set of maps, compass and capable 4WD, you’re asking for trouble. There’s a lot of tracks everywhere, and having a mapping app that shows you where you are, and updates as you move along is basically an essential tool.
We run Exploroz Traveller, which does a mighty fine job, and has saved our bacon on many occasions.
Where are the 4WD tracks?
There are 4WD tracks almost everywhere you look in the Cobaw State Forest. Look for the ones with road names, as these are formal tracks, but there’s so many in a short area it would be very easy to get lost without adequate mapping.
A lot of the tracks start from Devanney Road, or Ridge Road, and you can jump from track to track, picking out the ones that you want to do, and avoid. We did a couple, and left a couple that were pushing the friendship.
Soil Pit Track
From Devanney Road, this is one of the first 4WD tracks that you’ll see, and you know its challenging right from the get go. We turned in, engaged low range and I picked a line through the first section with a nice size hole to avoid, and quickly stopped to check out what came next.
The next part has two line choices, with some of the track being shared, and even the easier line looked like it was pretty serious. I’m all for giving something a crack, but this track pushes the friendship of our Dmax, without a really good spotter, and another vehicle for recovery should things go wrong.
The left side is extreme, with lots of marks on the rocks where people have clearly dragged their 4WD over, and a rock step about a metre high. There was zero chance we’d make it up that, and a slim chance we’d go up the right side, so I turned around, and we continued on Devanney road.
You’d probably do the right hand side with good tyres, plenty of clearance and possibly rock sliders, with the left side absolutely needing big tyres, clearance, lockers, bar work and some right boot.
M and M Track
On our way back towards camp, we took the M and M track, which goes right past someone’s house, so be respectful. This is mildly challenging, with a big rut down one side, and a fence on the other.
You’ll eventually get to a badly rutted hill, that crests rather suddenly, before going up further.
I had a crack at staying in the ruts, and made it until it got really steep, before all 4 wheel started spinning.
Figuring I’d probably bottom out even if I did make it, I reversed down, got just on the edge of the ruts and gave it a bootful, making it up fairly easily. If this was wet though, you’d be having all sorts of fun and games to get up. As it was (early March), it was slippery enough, let alone going after lots of rain!
The rest of the track wasn’t too bad, where you could stay out of the ruts and straddle the big holes, before you pull onto Croziers Track
This track goes left and right from the M and M track, and heading to the right we had very little issues, before arriving back onto Ridge Road.
We didn’t go past this, but no doubt it would be a substantial challenge.
We drove past Pole Track, and whilst I don’t recall too much about it, I’m sure it would have enough to keep you on your toes
I laughed when we drove past Stumpy Track. It’s aptly named, with a number of tree’s over the track. I could see a couple would be doable for us, but there was a bigger one not far down that we’d get hung up on, or dent the sills in with no rock sliders, so we gave it a miss.
Registered vehicles only
The sign at the entrance states registered vehicles only, as its all public roads. I bet this isn’t always obeyed, but if you get caught you’ll cop it.
You’ll want to have your tyres down doing any of these 4WD tracks. We were running around 27 PSI on the front, and 33 on the rear of our Isuzu Dmax, and somewhere around 30 – 40% reduction on your normal bitumen pressures is probably a good starting point.
You want the extra tyre length for more traction, and to reduce the chance of punctures, but don’t have them so low that you pinch the sidewall on a rock.
Camping in Cobaw State Forest
There’s a number of places where you can camp in the Cobaw State Forest. We stayed in the main campground on Devanney Road, and enjoyed a pretty magic backdrop.
Great 4WD tracks near Melbourne
The Cobaw 4WD tracks are up there with the most challenging ones I’ve seen around Melbourne, with only a few near Winchelsea of similar calibre. If you have a capable 4WD, a sense of adventure and some mates to go with, the Cobaw State Forest is certainly worth a visit.