Imagine a place where you can take your beloved 4WD and put it to the test on a variety of landscapes, from rocks and steep inclines to muddy pits and soft sand. A 4×4 utopia where you can have a beer with your mates after a long, dusty day touring the Riverland scrub. An off-road dreamland that offers great bush camping next to the Murray River.
Well… you don’t need to dream about this place because it’s waiting for you at Loveday 4×4 Adventure Park! This unique feature of the Riverland is run and owned by Tony Whateley and consists of 8000 acres of privately owned land that has been manipulated into a 4×4 playground for off-road enthusiasts. Pitch a tent next to the Murray River, and fill your day with 4WDing pleasure on their practice playground and touring track.
It all started in 2006 with an idea to take backpackers around the property and entertain them with bullshit stories about drop bears, hoop snakes and other imaginary Australian creatures. The idea evolved and eventually steered Tony to look into the 4WDing scene. With the philosophy of, “If you build it, they will come”, he created an amazing 4WD track, held a competition, and the rest is history.
The park has also been visited by 4WDTV Simon Christie, who gave it a big thumbs up of approval!
This is where the practice happens. It has a variety of terrains from rocks, bumps, hills, dips, tyre mounds, sand and mud puddles. We were a little apprehensive at first but after a few confidence boosts, the Troopy was roaring over the obstacles.
Tour Track & Sandhills
At the top end of the property is the tour track, a series of 4WD tracks of varying terrain and difficulty that snake through the dry scrub. It is designed to give the impression of isolation, with the option of winching yourself out if required.
- The Boob Shaker track has sections of little bumps that certainly get the titties wiggling. The name comes from Tony’s nanna, who jovially cried, “Oh it’s making my boobies shake… haha!”
- The Rollercoaster has an apt name – there are ups and downs and heart-stopping tilts. The terrain changes from smooth and sloping to rigid and bumpy. This track was heaps of fun.
- 150 Bumps is self explanatory – a never-ending road of crests and dips dug so close to one another that the Troopy’s bum would scrap at nearly every one. It’s also known as the spew track for anyone who gets a little seasick.
- The Divorce Track got its name from countless wives screaming, “if you go through it, I’ll divorce you!” Dave and I breezed through the track and passed the obstacles that were outside of the Troopy’s limits, thinking that the only reason why anyone would divorce over this track is because the passenger would realise that they married the driver, who is a fuckhead that does stupid shit.
Near the riverside camping are the Sandhills, an area of soft sand dunes. Driving over this landscape is a great learning experience and allows you to feel how the car’s course is influenced by the soft sand. We also did some target practice shooting arrows at bullseyes drawn in the sand.
Built for competitions only, such as the Riverland 4×4 Challenge, this track sits out the front of the Loveday Tavern and includes several jumps and hairpin corners, as well as an area for stunts.
The person who holds the record for the fastest lap is Tony’s teenage son, Toby. He completed the track in 107 second. To be perfectly honest – the kid is a whiz! He can fix any bunged up 4WD you give him, he taught himself to drive a car on two wheels in an hour, and he can catch rabbits with his bare hands, trick ski, wake board and do car stunts. We were lucky enough to be taken for a quick lap around the track and got airbourne a few times. What a thrill!
There are several sites on the property where you can camp right next to the Murray River. Fishing is good if you want to catch carp, or you can chuck the net in and nab some yabbies. The skies were filled with pelicans, whistling kites and wedge tail eagles.
We camped at Old Shady Campground but often visited the site next door, The Hills, to find and chase bunnies.
If you are only going to visit for the day, 4×4 self drive day trips are $40 per vehicle. Camping by the river and use of the 4×4 track is $60 for the first night, then $10 for each additional night. Dogs are allowed, as well as camp fires, provided it’s not a Total Fire Ban Day.
To make a booking, call Tony on 0418839787. When you get to Barmera, get your map to Loveday 4×4 Adventure Park from the United Petrol Station on the Sturt Highway.