As the chill of winter strikes, a number of 4WD tracks in some of Victoria’s national parks – mainly the High Country, but not exclusively that region – have been closed for both safety and track preservation. This also applies to some of Victoria’s state forests and conservation reserves. Each of these has different close/open dates, so the best bet to check access to these areas is to visit www.fwdvictoria.org.au and then plan that trip for open season.
This epic off-road event, held at Bindaree Station, Victoria (address: 2864a Old Sale Road, Willowgrove), will be jam-packed with tracks aimed at really testing competitors. Everything from rally-style stages, big climbs and some cracker winch stages will feature over the two days of the event. Held on Saturday, July 27, and Sunday, July 28, the Drivetech 4x4 Challenge includes food vendors on-site and parking nearby (4x4 is recommended for the main parking area). See www.4x4racing.com.au/events/drivetech-4x4challenge-2018 for start times and more info.
For a chance to witness skilful horsemanship, head to the Milparinka Gymkhana on Saturday, July 14. The event will take place at the Milparinka Sports Grounds and is a great family event with something to interest everyone – plus, it’s on during the school holidays. Riders travel from near and far, from local stations and interstate, to compete in events such as the men’s and women’s barrel races and horse sprint events, and there’s also live entertainment on the night. Check out www.facebook.com/MilparinkaGymkhana for more information and to see the event list.
The Blue Mountains is the place to go for those looking for that typical cold and (potentially) snow-filled Yuletide celebration over July and August. This World Heritage-listed region is only an hour or so from Sydney and offers some great off-road driving in the nearby state forests, plenty of bushwalking and great campsites. Plus, time it right and you could well nab that elusive ‘white christmas’ experience, surrounded by some of Australia’s rugged, mountainous terrain. See www.visitnsw.com/destinations/bluemountains/yulefest for more info on staying in the region during the winter, as well as the events held.
One of Australia’s must-visit events, the 2018 edition of the Lightning Ridge Opal Festival will run from Wednesday, July 25, through to Saturday, July 28. The event promises a mix of something for everyone, including an opal and gem expo (there will be more than 150 stalls present), the IOJDAA Trade Show (entry via gold coin donation), and a gala dinner to celebrate the Opal Queen Ball. It’s also worth exploring the surrounds of this iconic outback NSW town. Head to www.lightningridgeopalfestival.com.au for more info.
Wirrealpa Station is a 1500km² sheep and cattle property located in the eastern Flinders Ranges, roughly between Wilpena Pound, Arkaroola and Blinman, on the Blinman-Arkaroola Road. The station provides three different types of accommodation for visitors, as well as a number of guest-access-only 4x4 tracks on which to explore the property and the amazing Flinders landscape. For those with a birdwatching bent, Wirrealpa contains a number of native bird species, too. Please visit www.stationstayssa.com.au/station/wirrealpa-station/ for more information.
Mark down September 28 and 29 as the weekend to celebrate the 20th year of the mighty Deniliquin Ute Muster. This year’s event provides the chance to check out some cool utes and also watch some of the more unique event inclusions. From lawn mower racing, live wildlife education shows (three times each day) and the Shimano Fishing Tank Show, through to some brilliant sand sculpture artwork, jumping castles, bull riding, the Brophy Bros Circus, wood-chopping comp and a whip cracking contest, the Deni Ute Muster has something for everyone. See www.deniutemuster.com.au for more info on the event.
For travellers in the Kimberley, the Derby Outback Rodeo, August 10-12, is well worth checking out. The rodeo is touted as the biggest and best in the northwest, where local station workers and interstate competitors tackle rodeo and gymkhana events (read: campdraft, breakaway roping, barrel races, and poddy rides for the young’uns). See www.australiasnorthwest.com/event/2018-derbyoutback-rodeo-andcampdraft for more information.