What you need to know about off-roading

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There are a huge amount of beautiful Tasmanian destinations that take a little extra effort to find.

But if you want an extraordinary experience, it may pay to hire a four-wheel drive vehicle and get to know these off-road regions.

Before you head off the beaten track and into the wilderness there are some things you will need to be prepared for.

Choosing your track

Remember to pay attention to the difficulty grading of each track. 'Easy' off-road tracks are usually accessible with a two-wheel drive vehicle if caution is taken. Some easy tracks include those around Bruny Island, Fortescue Bay, the Tasman Peninsula and Wielangta Forest Drive.

A 'medium' graded track is suitable only for trail bikes and four-wheel drives and some experience of off-roading is recommended. Examples of medium tracks include Jefferys Track, Patons Road, Ocean Beach and Mt McCall Track.

Tracks graded 'hard' should only be traversed by experienced four-wheel drivers or trail bike users. They will include deep bogs, soft sand and steep slopes that will challenge you. Never travel here alone.

Some hard tracks are Wellington Park Fire Trails, Peron Dunes, Arthur River to Sandy Cape and Mt Huxley.

Remember how important it is to choose a track that is suitable to your skills, vehicle and experience.

Prepping for an off-road adventure

Before you leave for a road trip, make sure you have a valid driver's licence and a registered and safe vehicle. Get your hands on a current map or GPS system to help you keep your bearings. Tell someone trustworthy where you are going and when you expect to be back, so in case of emergency they can raise the alarm.

Make sure you check with authorities before you attempt any off-road track, as some may require permits or special conditions. Some areas may be closed due to bad conditions or fire danger, so find out before you go to avoid disappointment.

You'll also need to be aware of historical Aboriginal sites, especially in coastal and dune areas. There are many ancient campsites that are protected by law. You will need to be careful to preserve these areas.

If you would like to cross private land, you will also need permission from the owner and you will need to be respectful of their property.

Remember, only drive on and off beaches at correctly designated points – stay away from vegetated dunes! To avoid getting stuck or damaging bird eggs, drive over the damp firm sand below the high tide mark. These eggs are hard to see from the car, so take our word for it.

Obey any signage you see along your journey and stick to tracks that are already worn into the terrain. Make sure you drive to the conditions and don't take any risks. This is especially important when it comes to crossing streams and creeks. Always use existing exit and entry points.

Camping while on the road

If you decide to embark upon a multi-day journey, you will need to camp. Avoid creating a new campsite if at all possible, and instead camp at established spots.

Modern tents are best, as these mean you don't need to cut tent poles.

To preserve the quality of the water, always wash at least 50m away from creeks and only use a minimal amount of soap. Always take any rubbish you generate back to civilisation with you!

Off-roading can be an extremely exciting and adventurous way to take a break from the city, so make sure you're prepared and then all that's left to do is enjoy it.

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  • David Shepherd says:

    Patons Road is not passable for 4wd vehicles due to washed away bridges.

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