How to plan a 4x4 trip to the snow in Australia

Bright green Suzuki Jimny with snorkel navigating snowy terrain.

How to Plan a 4×4 Trip To The Snow In Australia

As four-wheel drivers, we tend to find ourselves gravitating toward an opportunity to experience every different type of terrain; mud, rock, sand… snow.

Snow, however, is limited in geography and even further limited by open roads and tracks which are all most commonly found in the Victorian High Country.

Learn how to plan a 4x4 trip to the snow in Australia, including when to go, where to go and what to take. 

The best time to go on a 4x4 trip to the snow in Australia

Timing is everything. Snow season in the Victorian High Country is between June and anywhere up until October.

It’s common to get snow early in June, while the most consistent snowfall tends to happen from mid-August to mid-September.

If you’re travelling interstate, and need to plan ahead and organise time off, mid to late August would be a good time to plan for.

However, if you’re within 4-6 hours of the Victorian High Country, and are willing to drop everything and go, all you need to do is keep your eye on the weather forecast. When you hear ‘snow falling to 800m’ (or lower) start packing!

The best places to find snow on 4x4 trip in Australia

For a good smattering of snowfall you head to locations with tracks above 1000 – 1100 metres above sea level.

To find these locations, you can use printed or online maps that have map contour lines with altitude markers so you can identify the snow line.

Popular areas to explore include (subject to access):

- Mount Matlock
- Mount Useful
- Mount Toorongo
- Mount Selma
- Mount Howitt
- No 3. Mount

The best maps to use to find snow on 4x4 trip in Australia

Two great tools to locate off-road 4×4 tracks based on altitude levels are Hema Maps and Newtracs.

Both are accessible for free, and their maps showcase the altitude and have references to where the snowline is (1000m).

Newtracs offers a great feature, which showcases closed roads. It is important to understand that many 4x4 tracks and roads in the Victorian High Country are closed from after Queens Birthday (Second weekend of June) and up until Melbourne Cup Weekend (First Tuesday of November).

How to set up your 4x4 for a snow trip in Australia

With snow, expect the unexpected. You can go out there with little to no snow at 1000m and come home with 20cm of snow at 800m. Conditions change quickly, so you'll want a capable rig.

Also, snow attracts tourists, lots of them, and the combination of 4x4 visitors and a bit of sunshine, the snow in areas can melt quickly and the 4×4 snow tracks can fast become rutted and challenging.

We recommend having your 4x4 set up with the following gear."

All-Terrain Tyres

In snow, you’ll want to let your tyre pressures down even more than usual.

A quality all-terrain tyre has stronger side walls and deeper tread which important for traction and damage from sticks and branches that are hidden under snow. "

A Suspension Lift Kit

"This will help get the body of your 4x4 clear of the snow.

If the snow is deep or the ruts become deep a suspension lift kit (and slightly taller tyres) will stop you from getting stuck. 

Rated Recovery Points

"She’ll be right, I won’t get stuck’ are seven of the most naive words ever spoken by experienced and beginner 4x4 drivers alike.

Rated recovery points will ensure you're set up for a quick and safe recovery when you inevitably get stuck. "

A Winch

"It might sound overkill, but we do recommend that someone in the convoy has a winch.

It's easy to slide a bit off track while avoiding an obstacle or simply misreading the road. And, in icy conditions, a snatch strap isn’t always practical, or safe.

A UFH Radio

Whether it be a hard-mounted unit or a hand-held device, Radio communication, on freezing, icy roads is invaluable.

You'll be able to keep your convoy aware of any hazards, and in the event you might need help, call out to other vehicles in the area.

Gear to pack in your 4x4 for a snow trip in Australia

In addition to 4x4 accessories attached to your vehicle, there are some other key components we recommend you don't leave home without.

Recovery Gear

In addition to a winch, 4x4 recovery boards will provide firm base when you're stuck in the slop after you've lost momentum.

At minimum, you’ll want a starter recovery kit if you need to get a friend out of trouble or a pro recovery kit or our sand, mud & snow recovery kit for self recovery.

A Shovel

A shovel is one of the most important recovery tools for clearing snow, dirt, mud, and debris away from your tyres.

A clear path, can make a recovery 10 times easier. Do yourself a favour, pack a shovel.

Tyre Deflator

Letting your tyres down when going off-road is a no brainer, and on snow, it is really important.

Don't guess, you want your tyres at the right pressure, and a good tyre deflator will get them sorted quickly and accurately.

A good starting point for driving on snow in most utes and wagons is 20 psi. You can continue to drop lower depending on conditions. 

12v Portable Air Compressor

At the end of the day, it is also just as critical, to pump your tyres back up.

Ensure you have a reliable 12v portable air compressor, to get your tyres back to highway pressures for a safe drive home.

Snow Chains

In all Victorian alpine snow resorts (and the roads leading to), carrying snow chains is mandatory, and when instructed must be fitted to your vehicle.

Even outside of these specific areas, it can be a great idea to have appropriately sized 4x4 snow chains to improve your traction if the tread on your tyres fill with snow and mud.


Snow comes with a weather pattern synonymous with storms and high winds. It is also heavy, accumulating on trees and pushing them over.

It is highly recommended to carry a chainsaw in your convoy, with a fresh chain, fuel and the tools to service it.

This is also another reason having a winch on your vehicle is very valuable.

Note: Chainsaws are prohibited for use in most National Parks.

Ample Food and Water and Fresh Warm Clothes

This really goes for any 4x4 trip. Always pack ample food and water.

Have enough water for 2-3days, always keep some additional food in your car. You want around 2-3 liters of drinking water per person, per day.

You'll also want to take additional clean, dry clothes (and a towel) in case something does go wrong.

Kids and a Taboggan (Kids Optional)

4x4 trips are great for the family, skip the cues at the ski fields, pick up a toboggan from your local hardware store, and find your own slopes.

Just remember that these fields aren’t maintained, so be sure to thoroughly check for dangerous rocks, sticks, cliff edges, etc.

A Few Friends

4×4 driving in snow is great fun. Share the experience, but also, share the challenge with your mates.

Snow driving is remote and unpredictable. Having someone with you to help when needed will make your trip much more enjoyable.

Top 5 tips for driving in the snow in Australia

These simple tips will help you get out there and enjoy the winter wonderland that is 4x4 snow driving.

Tell people where you're going

When going off-road, always, tell someone where you're going, and when you expect to be home.

If you don’t come home, at least someone knows where you were heading and the area you're expected to be in.

Use high-range 4x4 where possible

The snow is an experience all in itself, you don’t need to be doing gnarly 4x4 snow tracks to enjoy it.

Main roads and fire trails provide great access to snow. Where possible, keep your vehicle in high-range 4x4, the acceleration with be smoother than low-range on slippery roads and provide you with better traction.

Note: If there is snow and ice on a bitumen road, it is okay to be in high-range 4x4.

Drop your tyre pressures - more

Snow is slippery, when setting your tyre pressures, you can treat it like sand and go that little bit lower.

With good all-terrain tyres in a fairly standard size, you could start at 20 psi and comfortably run your pressures as low as 14-16 psi.

But remember, lower tyre pressures equals lower speed. If you hit something hard and fast with low tyre pressures, you're far more likely to pop a tyre off the bead, and changing a tyre is not fun in the snow.

Keep to the tracks

When snow falls, the ground looks like a magic lush playground, or the sand hills at Portland Sand Dunes; reality check, it’s not.

Away from the tracks, under those perfectly flowing mounds of snow are rocks, ruts and tree stumps. Not to mention, perfectly good vegetation.

Keep to the tracks, protect the land and your car.

If you've got a diff-lock, use it

Pretty much every dual cab ute, and most wagons these days come with a rear diff-lock.

On slippery, low traction surfaces, like snow, it can be easy to lose all the drive at the back of your car.

With your diff-lock engaged, you’ve got a greater chance of maintaining forward momentum with the guarantee that both your rear wheels are putting in equal effort to keep you moving.

LandCruiser owners*: When you’re off-road on anything other than a smooth dirt road, turn on your centre diff-lock. It will make a world of difference to handling and traction.

*And others with centre diff-locks.

That's all folks, go and plan your next snow trip!