GARRISON Keillor once said intelligence was like a four-wheel-drive. It allows you to go to more remote places.
In Gladstone they are intertwined.
With every second vehicle in town surpassing adult height and bearing 30 inch tyres, it is time to use your vehicle's capability to test your aptitude in the wild.
Forget planning for weeks and seeking three days off work.
The beauty of our region is finding the secret spots, the option to rock hop to your desire and the mere minutes it takes to feel like you're nowhere.
1. Kroombit Tops National Park
GPS coordinates: 24.461526 S 150.863571 E
How to get there: After leaving Calliope continue west towards Biloela until turning left onto Gladstone-Monto Road. Look out for the right turn after approximately 500 metres - the entrance to Kroombit Tops National Park.
Why it's great: The visually stunning, 45-minute trip west of Calliope is the unrivalled and undisputed gem of Gladstone. The plane wreckage of Beautiful Betsy is an absolute must. Constant changes in landscape, breathtaking views and a WWII Liberator Bomber lying idle in its 50 year old grave, the adventure offered in Kroombit Tops is like no other in Australia. Tracks are suitable for every type of four-wheel-drive and level of off road experience. Rock and moderately steep inclines.
Tips: Ensure petrol tanks are filled at Calliope, the last available stop. Check the department's website before embarking, Conditions are variable during wet weather and tracks may be closed to prevent damage.
Look out for: Leeches, usual rainforest suspects.
2. Lillies Beach
GPS Coordinates: 23.932132 S, 151.347828 E
How to get there: Access to Lillies Beach is gained via Handley Drive, from the Boyne Island Sewage Treatment Plant.
Why it's great: One of the most popular spots for beach four wheel driving, Lillies remains one of the only sand options available in the greater Gladstone region.
Tips: A four wheel drive permit is required (a $25 pass will grant vehicle access for 12 months) and is well worth the price, taking only 20 minutes from Gladstone central. Deflate your tyres, otherwise you are just asking for trouble.
Pack a recovery kit: Most drivers are more than happy to help a vehicle in trouble, as long as they don't have to use their own snatch strap. And take a shovel; even the most experienced beach goers get bogged.
Watch out for: The changing tides. Lillies Beach is impassable during high tide.
3. Bulburin National Park
GPS Coordinates: 24.6002778◦S, 151.5291667◦E
How to get there: Travelling south from Gladstone on the Bruce Highway; keep an eye out for your left turn at Blackman's Gap Road. Head right on the Gladstone-Monto Road before reaching Dalga Road, where you will turn right. Follow on to a left turn at Bulburin Forest Road, and be sure to stop at the lookout upon entry to the national park.
Why it's great: Lots of river crossings. Designated 20km 4WD loop. Granite Creek is an idyllic picnic spot to take a midday break, among the highest country of the Gladstone hinterland.
Tips: Take the whole day. A support vehicle is strongly recommended due to isolation. Get a national parks condition report, as wet weather impacts the park quite dramatically.
Be sure to fill your petrol tanks at Miriam Vale to avoid an unnecessary radio for help.
Experience is recommended when venturing off road, terrain is rugged and challenging for those with moderate experience.
Watch out for: The largest sub-tropical rainforest in central Queensland, Bulburin National Park is paradise for bird watchers. Keep an eye out for carpet snakes and a host of wildlife.
If you have the time, or are planning a weekend getaway; check out Dawes National Park for four wheel driving opportunities too. Dawes is relatively close in proximity and difficulty.
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