The Mundaring Powerlines Track is a four wheel drive track found east of Perth. It is one of the few tracks that is well known about, close to Perth and that has not been closed off. Mundaring is a short drive (34km) east of Perth, and the track starts only a few kilometres from there. It is regularly used by tour operators who are training people to drive a car off-road. It was originally a service track for Western Power’s power poles, and still gets used by them today! There is a lot of gravel, sand, rocks, hills, descents and a heap of mud in winter. If you haven’t done much four wheel driving before, then Mundaring is a great place to start. The trick is to that you take it slow, and preferably go with someone who is a little more experienced. In many ways, it is like Dwellingup in terms of the tracks available. The whole track can be done in about 3 hours, but its a good idea to leave the bulk of a day to do it, because its likely to take longer if things don’t go to plan.
Driving on a beach like Lancelin is good fun, but there is something about doing tracks that go through the bush with hard surfaces, big rocks and mud that makes Mundaring so appealing. On a long weekend, it’s not uncommon to see a few hundred cars on the track in a single day. Everyone is friendly and usually willing to pull you out if you get stuck! The track can be extremely challenging in some places, so just choose what you are comfortable with. There are ‘chicken’ tracks which go around most of the difficult parts. Camping is permitted, but find out where before you go there!
How do I get to Mundaring?
To get to Mundaring, you just need to follow the Great Eastern Highway. We normally go along Roe Highway onto the Great Eastern Hwy, but it really depends on where you are coming from. There are quite a few hills to go up and down, but eventually you will end up at a set of lights with Hungry Jacks on the right and KFC on the left.
Where does the track start?
There are a large number of entrances onto the Mundaring Powerlines Track, but the normal starting point is just south east of Mundaring. When you see the fast foods, turn right onto Hodgson Street, Mundaring. Follow that, and turn right at the end, onto Mundaring Weir Road. On the left, just after Mcallum road, the track starts. You can follow that, and then turn left along the water pipes. Alternatively you can drive further out of Mundaring and drive the other way on the track, but it’s not as much fun!
Can you do the Powerlines track backwards?
Of course, and many people choose to do this. There are even gravel roads which run through the middle of the track, which is why so many people start the track in the middle. Flynn road is one those. Many people come across the Mundaring 4×4 track by accident, but there are a huge number of people who know it exists and use it regularly. Doing the track backwards is easier in my opinion, just because of the hill climbs and the way it has formed over the last few years.
How hard is the Mundaring 4×4 track?
About 3 years ago now was the first time I went on this track. It was challenging, but doable by most four wheel drives. I have been many times since, and every time I go it has changed in some way or another, and quite often dramatically. If it’s wet and muddy, even those in highly modified cars with years of experience find it difficult in some places. The tracks get chopped up badly, and the hill climbs become very difficult. Even the chicken tracks get washed out, rutted and difficult to drive along. The difficulty level really depends on the car you are driving, time of year and how much four wheel driving you have done before. I would suggest to novices with stock cars that winter is usually not a good time to learn. Some water crossings that you have no choice but to drive through can be over the bonnet.
In summer however, the track is much easier. Although it is dusty, it’s more solid to get grip on. I have seen brand new Suzuki’s with almost no clearance drive the whole track, but it comes down to how you do it. Normal cheap four wheel drive tyres (not chunky ones) seem to handle acceptably in summer, but a more aggressive tyre will make it so much easier. I have been very glad of the set of Maxxis Bighorn tyres on My Hilux!
Does Mundaring get muddy?
If you are looking for mud, wait until winter when it has poured for a week straight, and then go to the Mundaring 4×4 track. There is more mud than you would believe, especially at the end. The mud here tends to be very high clay content making it stick to your tyres like glue. Often excessive wheel spinning is needed to clear your tyres of the mud. In some parts, the mud can be well over the knees, which makes it difficult to see big rocks and other obstacles underneath. To top it off, the hill climbs are very slippery when wet. This means your car will often slide around, and usually it goes where you don’t want it to! If you have access to 4×4 Winches then you might find they get used when its slippery as recoveries using snatch straps are often too difficult.
The trick with mud is to keep up your momentum. Choose the right gear and stay in it, and if it gets boggy just lay into it or stop and get pulled out. Of course, if there are big rocks under the car that’s not a good idea! You would be surprised how driving a different line makes it so much easier. Often the most driven line is three times as hard to drive as any other next to it. If you go when it’s muddy, be prepared to get filthy and to have to use the snatch strap several times. Usually even in summer there will still be a bit of mud lying around in the water crossings or mud runs at the end. Maxtrax are well worth taking if its muddy; they make recoveries much more simple.
When is the best time to go on the Mundaring 4×4 track?
This really depends on personal opinion. The track is fun in both summer and winter, and although easier in summer, there are still some tricky parts to attempt if you want. I find that in summer it is too dusty, and I prefer the mud anyway; I go more in winter. For beginners, summer is a great time to learn. Of course, going in winter usually means you have a few hours cleaning to do when you get home, as the mud sticks to your car like you wouldn’t believe. I suppose a good compromise is to go in spring, when it is still a bit wet, but the mud doesn’t get washed off much then!
Can I ride my motorbike there?
From what I understand, there are parts that you are allowed to ride motorbikes on, but much of it is closed to motorbike riders. Although you regularly see them riding the whole track, it’s not worth the risk of a fine. To top it off, some of the locals have started taking extreme measures against the bike riders. The main reason local’s don’t like the motorbike riders is because of the noise that they make. Just find out from CALM the exact spots you can ride, and you shouldn’t have any problems.
What should I take with me?
Again, this depends on the car that you have, your experience and what you are going to try. Regardless of this, everyone should take plenty of water, a snatch strap and relevant recovery points, some tools to fix anything that breaks, at least one spare tyre, first aid kit and a phone. You can get some phone reception at different points, but it depends on what phone company you are with.
Other things that come in handy are a winch, high lift jack, drag chains, silicon spray, snorkel, more aggressive tyres, a tyre gauge and compressor, shovel and a set of Max Tracks. If you go when it is wet and are a little adventurous, I can almost guarantee that you will get stuck in at least one spot. It’s all part of the fun, but it can be a real pain if you can’t get out.
What pressure should I run my tyres at?
I normally run my tyre pressure in between 15 and 20 pounds for this track, but then my car is very light and it is run at 30 PSI on the road! You need to let your tyres down at least a bit, and usually 20 – 25 PSI will do fine. If you don’t let your tyres down then you risk damaging them on rocks or puncturing them. It’s much easier on the car if you have deflated tyres. I would suggest a getting Tire Deflators too; they are well worth the money. The drive back from the end of this track to a service station is about 12 kilometres; you need to take a Car Air Compressor with you.
Another little part of the Mundaring 4×4 track is the water crossings. There are a few that you can’t drive around, and lots more that you can choose to go through if you wish. During summer there is normally none that you have to do, but every time I have been there water still sits in some of the holes. A snorkel is a good modification that you can’t go wrong with. It usually improves fuel economy and helps with water crossings. Petrol cars tend to struggle more through water, so make sure you are prepared.
With diesel or petrol, it’s a good idea to get some silicon spray and spray your electrics under the bonnet. Water can easily cause problems for these, and the last thing you want is to be sitting in your car with water draining in! I have seen numerous cars drowned at Mundaring in the water crossings, and usually simply because they didn’t check the depth before entering.
Some of the crossings can be over the roof height of a normal car in winter, so make sure you check the depth first. Even if the water is freezing, it’s worth the effort. I have seen new cars drowned in water, and it’s not pretty. Anything over your headlights in a car that doesn’t have a snorkel should be avoided.
What sort of modifications do I need to do this track?
You can do this track without any 4×4 Accessories but for most cars, a 2 inch lift with some slightly bigger all terrain tyres or mud terrain tyres will do the trick. I highly recommend the Maxxis Bighorn tyres; they are cheap and great on and off-road. Tyres are probably the most helpful modification that you can do to your car, especially for in the wet. Having properly rated recovery points is helpful as well, for when you get stuck or when you have to pull out a friend. Rock Sliders and a good Bull Bar can come in handy (like ARB Bumpers) but as a minimum a recovery point on the front and rear of the vehicle is vital.
I often see many people tackling this track with their trailer hitches in. As they hang so far back and down, they often get caught on rocks and damaged. It’s not hard to pull them out, but well worth it!
Doing what you are comfortable with and no more is a good rule to go with. There are parts that are dangerous if you aren’t very confident, and you can easily tip a brand new car if you aren’t careful.
Take your time when considering recoveries. Unless your car is sinking in water over the bonnet, you have time to consider your options. Too many people rush into recoveries, and end up doing damage to their cars or people watching on. Take the time and think about the safest and easiest way to recover the car.
Check the depth of the water crossings before you go through them; so many people don’t do this and you really pay for it when your stereo, seats and upholstery is covered in smelly water.
Go with another vehicle; they can help tow you out if you get stuck and provide assistance if you need it.
The Mundaring Powerlines Track is a favourite for My Hilux. I regularly spend a day out there, and would be pleased to see some more people enjoying it as well. If you have anything to add, please leave a comment. Below is a video of my car driving up a wet hill climb. A mate falls off the edge, which is hilarious.