Whilst staying at Pardalote (one of the Licola Free Camps), we decided to head out for a few hours to check out the 4WD tracks in the area. We had limited time due to deciding to slow cook a big pork belly on the fire as pulled pork, but decided to check out Mt Margaret 4WD track.
We did head out towards Moroka, but it became clear very quickly that we weren’t going to get far, so we turned around and headed back, keen to do the Dargo area, along with the Crooked River Track and Billy Goats Bluff when we had a more suitable timeframe.
Where is Mt Margaret 4WD Track?
This 4WD track starts almost directly opposite Pardalote Campground, and is roughly 15km from Licola. Alternatively, you could do it the other way, where it finishes or starts not far from Glenmaggie Dam.
How difficult is it?
Newtracs rates this 4WD track as difficult, and you don’t get too far into it before you know this rating is pretty accurate. It’s steep in both directions, has a number of rock steps and lots of loose rock that will make your vehicle scrabble for traction.
Now, I need to make it clear that we didn’t do the entire track, and only did a small portion at the beginning, and it might get harder or easier than the first section, but it was a whole lot of fun, and I left wanting to come back and finish it off.
What sort of 4WD do you need?
There is zero doubt in my mind that you need a proper 4WD, with decent clearance and low range to do this track. An AWD is not going to cut the mustard, and you need some quality tyres as the rocks are sharp, and unforgiving.
I would say you need a reasonable amount of clearance (not a stock 4WD), along with some underbody protection, recovery gear and a driver who is familiar with picking lines, and driving in hilly conditions.
I did engage the rear locker a couple of times, which was more out of mechanical sympathy for the front end than anything else, with the front wheels frequently scrabbling for traction. The Dmax CV’s are not known to be super strong, and the last thing I want is a broken CV in the middle of the high country, so the rear locker takes some of that stress off by providing 100% traction to the rear. If you’re wondering whether to get a Front or Rear Locker, we’ve got a post that covers this in detail.
You’d want to run lower pressures for this track, with the rocks being incredibly sharp and all over the place. Our go to pressure is generally 30% reduction from road pressures, and we’d normally run them at around 27 and 30 PSI on the Isuzu Dmax.
How long do you need?
According to Newtracs, this 4WD track is 21km long, and you sit at an average of 14km/h, taking around 90 minutes to do the track. Obviously, you might need longer than this, so plan with spare time available!
I’d recommend a PLB or satellite phone for doing this, along with a second vehicle if you can. It gives you peace of mind that if something does go wrong, you’ll be OK. Make sure you know what the weather is doing, as the last thing you want to do is get caught in a storm, or fog at the top of Mt Margaret!
The views are astounding
We didn’t make it to the top of Mt Margaret, but even the views that we saw heading upwards were nothing short of magnificent. Asides from the noise of vehicles going along the road, it was completely silent, with mountain views that made me really stop, and soak it all in.
If it weren’t for the kids, we’d probably have pulled chairs out and just kicked back and soaked it up. Another moment where the Victorian High Country has totally blown my mind, and if you can get here, you absolutely should. If you are chasing more 4WD Tracks in Victoria, we’ve got that covered too.
As I mentioned above, we didn’t have time to do the entire track, and I’d like to go with another vehicle for some peace of mind, but it’s a truly unbelievable track, and if you have a vehicle and driver that is suited, its totally worth the drive.