The Simpson Desert is on every off-road tourer’ bucket list, and March 16 signals open season; it’ the first day the Simpson Desert Regional Reserve and Simpson Desert Conservation Park are open to visitors. By mid-March, temperatures are dropping, making the crossing far more comfortable and safer. To book the required Desert Pass and to check conditions, email: DesertParks@sa.gov.au or phone (08) 8648 5328.
We’ re getting in early to give you the goss on one of Australia’ best 4x4 events. This awesome off-road navigation ‘race’ is being held in the north-west desert region of Victoria over the Easter long weekend (April 19-21). It’ not only a brilliant driving event with no vehicle classes, it is also family friendly; navigating in your own vehicle while searching for clues that lead to instructions (and some cool challenges) means you’ ll have a laugh as well. As well as the Navrun, there is camping and a number of activities for the little’ uns. Just remember to bring food and water. See www.navrun.com.au for more information.
Celebrating 10 years of success, this group of pastoral tourism businesses in the SA outback and the Flinders and Gawler Ranges has grown to 28 stations and properties that accommodate visitors. Stations such as Horseshoe Rim include 4x4 tracks for those keen to do some exploration of their own. Mt Ive Station is the only station in the Gawler Ranges offering visitor facilities, and it has Lake Gairdner on its northern boundary ... not bad! Another station is Willow Springs, home to Skytrek, a full-day 4x4 tour of the property. Located just north of Wilpena Pound means you can also explore this iconic destination. See www. stationstayssa.com.au
Parks Victoria’ Wilderness Retreats are tented cabin-style accommodation that offer the best of both worlds: a cracking bush location and that slightly more ‘luxurious’ feel with showers, bedrooms and more. These retreats are located at three of Victoria’ most popular camping locations: Wilsons Promontory, Buchan Caves and Cape Conran. Each cabin has timber floors (set above the ground), timber deck, chairs, tables, fridge, queen-sized bed and shower/bathroom. There’ also an equipped communal kitchen with gas cooktop, fridge, cutlery/crockery/ cooking and another outdoor barbecue area as well. See www.wildernessretreats.com. au for more info.
It’ for another six but we reckon to get prepped The chance to see one of Australia’ best rock bands – Midnight Oil – perform under the of the massive is Big Red, Birdsville, is a experience not missed. Running 16-19, the 2019 Big Bash will be, ahem, than ever. acts include Living End and Chambers, plus more activites. more see www. bigredbash.com.au
North Stradbroke Island is located just off the coast of south-east Queensland and easily reached via ferry, making it a great summer camping destination. The camping options on the island are many and varied (and suited to all budgets) and the beach driving (on Main and Flinders beaches; permit required) is sublime. For anglers, there’ plenty on offer both from the beach or offshore if you’ ve brought your boat, while surfers can have a crack at the various breaks offshore. You can dive with manta rays and enjoy cultural talks with the local Quandamooka people. See www.stradbrokeisland.com for more information.
The wet season starts down toward the early April and, as eases, the big returning to their ‘normal’ shape as the floodwaters recede into the ocean. For anglers, this part is known as the ‘runoff’ and is the best time for catching barramundi, with plenty of fishing hotspots found at confluence of smaller waters, such as creeks. For more on catching barra, see: www.travelnt.com/ things-to-do/outdoor-activities/ fishing/fishing-charters