The Big Desert Wilderness is popular with 4WDgroups and Red Bluff Nature Conservation Reserve can be done as a day trip from Kaniva. However two to three days is recommended to see the whole park. The Border Track provides a variety of challenging sand dunes and driving experiences. The area is particularly worth visiting for anyone planning a bigger outback trip. Access is only available by four-wheel drive and best accessed by experienced drivers in groups. There are bush campsites within the Big Desert at Red Bluff Campground on the Border Track and in theNgarkat Conservation Park. Some sites have a toilet and fireplaces, but make sure you travel with another vehicle and carry in your own supplies including recovery equipment, first aid, plenty of water and wood.
From Kaniva, travel through Telopea Downs and turn left at Red Bluff Track (approx 45 km north of Western Highway). The best time to visit is April through to October. Summer is not recommended because of loose sandy tracks, high temperatures and risk of fire.
Watch the video below and be fully prepared. Plan your route and be aware of fruit fly inspectors at the border checkpoints, plus fuel locations and their opening hours. Map, compass, satellite phones, GPS and CBs are also recommended. Please respect the environment and stick to the tracks where possible. Also worth a drive is Red Bluff via Chinaman's Well through to Nhill. The Nhill-Murrayville track was resealed in 2019 and Big Billy Campsite facilities have been completely upgraded, providing a 2WD alternative route in dry weather.
The Border Track Caution: Un-maintained Track. Drivers require a high level of 4WD experience. Vehicles require a high ground clearance and must carry adequate fuel, food and water supplies. Deflate tyres to 105 kpa (15 psi). There are no vehicle rescue services in this area. Travel in groups with appropriate 4WD equipment. The roads are extremely sandy in places and the Border Track contains many sand dunes and clay pans. Most tracks are not signposted. Travel north to south down the one way track. Map, Compass, Satellite Phones, GPS and CBs are also recommended as there is no mobile coverage (except for the top of Red Bluff). Whilst dogs are allowed in state parks, do not let them wander, they must be on a lead at all times. This is due to the fact that surrounding properties run livestock.
The Border Track is a notorious drive, especially after rain, and a section of it is one way only. If you have a 2WD vehicle, or are towing a caravan, then the only options are Pertendi Hut and Comet Bore camping areas, both situated on the Pinnaroo to Bordertown Road. Pertendi Hut is well set up, with clearly defined sites, toilets and shelter. Comet Bore is less so, but there is still room for caravans. There is rainwater at both of these sites, however you can't rely on it. Pine Hut Soak, south of Pinaroo off of Rosy Pine Road, also has access for 2WD vehicles, toilets and well defined sites. The road leading into this area is unsealed and can be boggy after rain. The other areas all require a 4WD, although the Baan Hill Track that travels through Ngarkat and Mount Rescue Conservation Parks, is not particularly challenging but it is a great drive.
Camping Make sure you carry in your own supplies including firewood and water. These are not serviced campsites, so ensure you take all your rubbish home with you. There are bush campsites within the Big Desert at Red Bluff Reserve on the Border Track (no fees payable). The site has a toilet and fireplaces. Ensure all fires are fully extinguished before leaving your campsite. Be prepared for all weathers, including very cold temperatures at night. For more detailed maps, Victoria's Deserts by Meridian Maps is quite comprehensive.
Big Desert Wilderness The Big Desert is Victoria's first declared wilderness area and is considered to be the best single area in Victoria for reptiles, with over 50 species of lizards and snakes recorded. Nearly 100 species of birds have been recorded in the Big Desert including the rare Western Whipbird. Look out for Mitchell's Hopping Mouse, Sand Goannas, Dragons, Emus and Kangaroos.
Kaniva, first and last highway town in Victoria. Gateway to the Wimmera Mallee Silo Art Trail. Home of Sheep Art.
Visitor Information Centre, 41 Commercial St, Kaniva, Vic. Ph (03) 5314 9083 Open Weekdays 9am - 3pm, Saturdays & selected public holidays 9am - 2pm.