When a sign says 4WD access only, I’m always very keen to see what it has to offer, and this is exactly what you’ll see when you drive to the Aire Crossing Campground in the Great Otways National Park. Having only done a couple of 4WD Tracks in Victoria so far I was extra keen to see what it would be like, so we headed off after a visit to Triplet Falls.
Where is Halls Ridge Road?
This starts at Aire Crossing Campground, which is about 14km drive South East of Lavers Hill. It starts immediately after the car park at the campground, heading across a bridge that is closed depending on the weather.
Do you need a 4WD?
Yep, absolutely. Even in the middle of summer, you’d get stuck within 500 metres of the start of the track, and it gets much worse from there. Obey the signs; they are there to help you!
What’s the track like?
This track starts off meandering its way through the stunning hills with amazing trees on either side. It’s not long before you get into some long ruts that take you up hill, and whilst it was dry when we did it there was still mud around in some sections on the side of the track.
It didn’t take long though, for us to come down a big hill and see a giant mess, with mud runs spread about 20 metres wide. Clearly people had been trying multiple lines for a long time, and the primary line had a reasonable size bog hole in the centre of it.
Bearing in mind that when we visited it was nearing the end of February, I can’t see this track getting much better. Despite Sarah firmly saying nope, we’re not going through here alone, I got out to have a look. I could see that we’d make it through on the right without too much issue, but she wasn’t keen, so we turned around and headed back.
However, almost immediately we bumped into two other vehicles, and that changed things. They both drove through without much of an issue (and the D40 Navara went through the main mud run without much trouble), so I decided to tag along for a while with them. We got through the first section easily enough, and followed them along the track, heading through smaller muddy sections, with almost everything in a clay consistency.
I hate driving through sloppy mud, as it goes everywhere and does a fair bit of damage long term, but the thick clay stuff isn’t so bad. We continued along this track for some time, doing the odd hole, or rutted section, before I decided to turn around and head back for lunch with the family.
Sarah wasn’t overly happy that I’d gone through the muddy section, and that we had to now go back through it on our own, but we had no issues and I was fairly confident it would be OK (and we had Maxtrax or the winch if really needed).
About an hour later, whilst we were relaxing at Aire Crossing, the vehicles came back and I had a chat to them. They said it just got worse and worse, and one got stuck in the middle of a big, sloppy mud run, whilst the other ripped one of their bash plates off so they turned around to come back.
They showed me some video footage, which reminded me of Mundaring Powerlines in WA, and I think we probably made a good call to turn around and head back.
I value my vehicle, and we often make decisions not to do things, or go places that are likely to damage it. This is for two main reasons; it costs a lot of money, and time to get things fixed, and our Dmax is our home on wheels. If it stops, our hybrid stays where it is, until we get it fixed, and that’s not much fun at all.
What sort of 4WD do you need?
Going on from the above, taking a bog stock, new 4WD on this track is not going to end well. I’m going to suggest a minimum of some larger tyres with decent tread (all terrain or muddies), and a bit of extra clearance. You need some experience, and if you are going on your own (which is less desirable), know how to (and have the gear) to self recover if needed.
I’d say this track is more suited at the tough tourers, or more extreme 4WD’s that are built for mud runs and rock climbing.
Is the track always open?
I guarantee that this track would get shut. If not for when the water levels on the river rise, it would be shut to prevent massive track degradation when its really wet. There’s a gate at the crossing, which would be used, and if its shut, steer clear.
Where does it go?
I spent a while following the Halls Ridge Road on Exploroz, only to see it disappear into a maze of other tracks further East. It appears to but onto Clearwater road, and Binns road, but I have no idea if it actually goes through or not, which was another reason for us to be a bit cautious!
Is it worth while doing?
If you want a challenging 4WD track, and you have the gear and a vehicle suitable for doing it, this track is absolutely worth a crack. The scenery is fantastic, its got plenty of technical and non technical bits and as long as you don’t mind a long clean up after, its fantastic.
The Great Otways National Park has surprised us on so many levels, and the Halls Ridge Road is another fantastic destination and track.