The CREB Track in Far North Queensland is one of Australia’s iconic hard 4WD tracks. Known around the world for its challenges, the CREB is not to be taken lightly when the going gets tough.
The track at a glance
Originally cut in as a service access trail for the old Cairns Regional Electricity Board (CREB), the CREB Track is one of the country’s most challenging four-wheel-drive adventures. Passing through World Heritage-listed rainforest, it weaves its way north from the Daintree village to the Aboriginal community of Wujal Wujal up near Cooktown. But take note: this is a rough track, suitable for experienced 4WD drivers only. A speed of between 15 and 20kmh is advised due to the terrain, narrow tracks and obstacles along the way. You will also need to check that the road is open as more often that not it shuts during periods of rain due to the dangerous conditions.
Now I’ve driven a stack of 4WD tracks around the country but completing the CREB was pretty special. Covering nearly 74km, you encounter steep ups and downs, narrow sections with blind corners and rises, and multiple creek crossings (which are great for a swim). Then throw in stunning views and it’s a recipe for one of the best 4WD adventures around. Coffs Harbour has a similar albeit much shorter 5km track named Morbid Trail, so by comparison the 70km CREB it was like a never-ending adventure.
Starting off at the track’s southern end, it’s a great drive to the start of the CREB from Daintree Village, passing through valleys with the mountains towering behind seeming like they are watching your every move. Before leaving the village, have a wander around the handful of shops, find the big Barramundi and take a stroll down to the river where you may see a resident croc. This is also where the croc cruises start. We did it last year and they guarantee to find crocs, we saw five on the tour.
The CREB is sign-posted at the start, and you’re straight into it, dropping your tyres and crossing the upper reaches of the Daintree River before heading across lush green paddocks and into the abyss of rainforest. Massive rainforest trees overshadow the cows in the paddocks as you follow the Daintree River inland.
There’s no right or wrong way to tackle the CREB so its extremely important to be wary about something coming the other way especially when the track gets pretty narrow in most places. The signs say ‘trailers not recommended’ and with all my experience I’d be a little hesitant, especially with on-coming traffic and the uncertainty with the conditions along the way.
It’s important to research weather before hitting the CREB because the track does get shut down, the gates get locked and there’s huge fines for driving on it when it’s shut. While the CREB Track generally remains dry during the open season, rain here can be sudden and unpredictable, so prepare for the worst and bring all the necessary recovery and communication equipment. The slightest rainfall (even if days old) can render the track treacherous or nearly impassable as grip levels plummet and the clay turns to mud. Make sure both vehicle and driver are prepared, with high-quality A/T or mud tyres and supporting recovery equipment should the going get sticky, after all this is tropical Australia.
You’ll also want to put your UHF on scan to listen for any other traffic, I was surprised that there’s no dedicated channel for the CREB like other tracks around the country. We did encounter a few other 4WDs and bikes, and luckily when we came head-to-head there were spots to pull over.
Climbing through rainforest
The first part of the track follows the base of mountains then seems to head uphill forever. Over every rise you get glimpses of the track up the next hill in the distance. The rainforest hugs the track yet at certain spots the views are nothing short of spectacular. Phone reception is patchy along the track and better on the higher sections, but definitely can’t be relied on if you get into trouble.
Tracking through the rainforest was pretty special. Tree ferns line the track in the cooler shady sections and dwarf Tibouchinas with their stark purple flowers give colour against the healthy green forest. Sunshine-seeking vines climb the variety of unique tall timbered rainforest trees (some vines with razor sharp spikes will have you swearing for days if you get stabbed). And stunning old growth figs that have been here for hundreds of years reach for the skies.
When I hit the track I dropped my tyres down to 20 ( 285/75/16 ) but of course it’s a personal choice depending on tyre type, driving ability, 4WD etc. The track was tacky in parts but definitely nowhere as hard as I thought or was expecting. It did rain a week prior, yet on the higher parts the track was dry.
Stopping at the creeks was a great way to stretch the legs and even have a dip (don’t worry there’s no crocs up here). Telecom Hill is the highest part of the CREB with stunning views. There were quite a few side tracks that were extremely challenging and looked liked they may have once been part of the original track, but after years of erosion and big tyres, there are bypass tracks around these sections.
Heading to the north of the track, it slowly changes from thick rainforest to a dry eucalypt forest environment, also known as sclerophyll forests where gums are scattered throughout an understory of dry grass and small plants. When we did the track, this northern part was very dusty and hadn’t had rain for quite some time.
Roaring Meg Falls
Heading downhill out of the official CREB, there’s a great diversion into the Roaring Meg Falls area. This is owned by the local Buru People with several small communities along the way, so respect the signs and slow down when passing. Sign posted off the main road, it’s a dry, dusty and slow trip into the falls.
The isolated location of Roaring Meg Falls makes it a perfect spot for camping with its spectacular views of the Far North Queensland tropics. While camping is allowed in the area, you will still need permission to visit or camp at Roaring Meg Falls. The land is of cultural significance to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji (Buru) people, so out of respect for the traditional owners of Buru, visitors are asked to contact a representative at Burungu Aboriginal Corporation before accessing the falls. At the carpark there are several walking tracks to parts of the river to cool off. We were hoping to see the falls but they are an hour walk from the car park according to the signs.
Leaving here its a pretty easy drive back out towards Wujal Wujal, where in sections the road is being sealed for the locals, plus on the last huge down hill section into town the road has been concreted with cuts to provide traction heading up. Wujal is predominantly an Aboriginal community and has a small supermarket. If you’ve got time, head south for five minutes to check out the stunning Bloomfield Falls. You’ll see how hundreds of years of water pumping over the cliff has cut its way through the valley. When we visited there was a croc warning from the locals.
So after spending a day on the CREB. What do I think?
Well, I cant wait to do it again. Next time maybe go from north to south experiencing a different side to one of the most iconic tracks in Australia, and certainly one of the top three tracks in Cape York.
Online there’s a couple of good websites where you can stay on top of track conditions and closures. I must be honest, online I saw a lot of 4WDs that had got into trouble up the hills and off the track because of the thick red mud that looked like claggy glue, and near impossible to get out. And we did see several wrecks and body parts (off other 4WDs ) along the way.
At the end of the track at Wujal Wujal, you can keep heading north to the stunning area of Cooktown or head south along the Bloomfield Track passing by Cape Tribulation and catch the ferry across the lower region and croc infested Daintree River. But that story is for next time.