The Holland Track: An Iconic WA 4WD Track

The historic Holland Track is one of the most popular Western Australian 4WD tracks. Its proximity to Perth, pioneering history and ruggedness has seen the number of adventurers increase since the track was recut and reopened in 1993.

The John Holland Way is 600 kilometres from Broomehill to Coolgardie. North of Hyden, it runs parallel to the Holland Track through to Coolgardie. The Holland Track is 350 kilometres long between Hyden and Coolgardie. Livestock can appear on the road at any time so expect the unexpected at all times when driving.

Holland Track

About half of the southern part of John Holland Way can be traversed by two-wheel drive, but the other half to Coolgardie is accessible only by high clearance 4WD. There are side tracks available for bypassing some parts of the track, but expect to see some mud at most times of the year.

 

Holland Track Facts

Where is it: WA. Broomehill to Coolgardie

Length: 600 kilometres

Accessible by: High clearance 4WD only in parts, not suitable for towing a caravan

Difficulty: Medium, the track is one vehicle wide, holes and trenches can be deep and water or mud-filled after rain. Travelling with another vehicle and recovery equipment is recommended.

Facilities at Campsite: Most sites are bush camps with no facilities or drop toilet only.

Supplies: Take your food, water and fuel.

Pets: No pets allowed in the Conservation Park

Best time to Visit: Spring and autumn but not after rain

Things to Do: 4WD, Motorcycle, walks, explore the rocks, trees and wildflowers, visit the tribute, learn the history of the track.

Road Closures: Keep checking weather forecasts before your trip and contact the Wave Rock Visitor Centre before you leave for details of Holland Track current conditions.

 

History of the Holland Track

The gold rush in Coolgardie began with a gold find in September 1892. The news spread quickly, and many people arrived from the eastern states by steamboat arriving in Albany. They would travel to Northam on the new railway to buy prospecting supplies.

The experienced 37-year-old Bushman John Holland and his party cut a 500 km track through dense bush in 1893 within two months. Teams of horse and camels began using the track immediately to move hundreds of prospectors and their equipment from Broomehill to Coolgardie during the two-week trip.

Holland Track

Within three years, the railway was extended to Coolgardie, so prospectors no longer needed to use the track. During the 1920’s the southern half of the track helped expand the number of farms growing wheat. With poor rainfall, wheat farming wasn’t viable, and the northern part of the track became overgrown.  

It was another 70 years before a small group set out to recut the track. In 1992 a Broomehill farmer, researcher and their group used a tractor to cut the track from Wattle Rocks to Thursday Rock.

The centenary of the Holland track was celebrated in 1993 with a 4WD expedition. Since then the Holland Track has become one of the most popular and iconic tracks in WA.

 

Holland Track Campsites

There are good sized areas used as campsites every 50 km or so along the Holland Track. Many are set amongst granite outcrops and provide an ideal spot for some adventure and camping overnight. Be careful not to camp in a dry creek or river bed as flash flooding can occur.

Holland Track

Burra Rock – Located 60 kilometres from Coolgardie is a large granite outcrop and picnic area. A dam was built to collect water for the steam trains needed to transport timber to mines in Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Old rusted machinery left abandoned on a farm in the 1960s. 

Thursday Rock – While this isn’t part of the original track, this is a popular campsite towards the end of the new Holland track.

Victoria Rock – located between the end of the track and Coolgardie, long drop toilets are available at this campsite.

Emu Rock – located just before the Rabbit-Proof Fence.

Cat Camp – this high camp 200 metres off the track offers 360-degree views.

 

Holland Track Map

While there is good signposting along the track, it is best to travel with a map. Some of the best maps available for the Holland Track are the ones available from OziExplorer. The CD contains printable PDF maps and handy information.

 

Things to See on Holland Track

There is plenty to do and see along the way. Take a break from the driving and get out of your vehicle to explore these areas of interest.

Great Western Woodlands & Wildflowers

Over 16 million hectares in size, the Great Western Woodlands is thought to be the largest area of virgin bushland left in the world. About one-fifth of Australia’s flora is located in the Woodlands with 3,000 species of flowering plants.

Holland Track

There are more than 160 eucalypt species in the woodlands including the majestic salmon gums with their smooth salmon coloured trunks. Gimlets with their copper coloured trunks are a beautiful addition to the woodlands.  

The trees are home to many types of birds, frogs, reptiles and mammals. Visitors can enjoy the animals, trees and historic sites in the woodlands by staying at secluded bush camps.   

Spring-time draws many visitors to see the spectacular wildflowers. Not only is the Great Western Woodlands known for its eucalypts but also its flowering plants, many of which aren’t located anywhere else. Poverty bush, emu bush and native fuchsias have attractive colourful flowers around October and November. Some of the native orchids sprout new leaves in autumn and flower mainly in August and September.   

Rabbit-Proof Fence

The scourge of the wild rabbit began in the 1850s when a settler released just 24 rabbits on his property for his guests’ amusement to hunt. Australia’s mild weather allowed the rabbits to breed year round and within ten years two million rabbits were trapped or shot annually without any improvement to the problem.

The building of the first fence began in 1901 to protect Western Australia’s crops and pasture lands. The 1,837 kilometres of fence was completed in 1903.

The fence wasn’t successful in keeping the rabbits out. Within one year, rabbits were found west of the fence. The second fence was built in 1905 and joined the first fence.

Gnamma Holes

Part of the success of the Holland track was the availability of water. John Holland would ride well ahead of his team looking for rocky outcrops that would naturally hold water in the rock pools. He then cut the track so that travellers could use the water. Known as Gnamma holes, some of these rocky areas were covered to stop animals and debris from contaminating the water.

Centenary Tribute

Around the halfway mark, you will come across the track’s 100-year tribute. Built in 1993, the plaque set in stone also has a signing book, survival box and offerings left by track travellers.

 

Holland Track

Itinerary for Holland Track (4WD Only)

This is just one example of a trip. You can either plan ahead or decide on the day where to stop for the night.  

Day One (Perth – Broomehill – Newdegate)

Driving through farmland before arriving at Newdegate you can visit the Silver Wattle Hill and the Holland Soak.

If the history of the Holland Track interests you, spend an hour or two at the Broomehill museum.

Be sure to stop at Lake Grace to check out the shallow salt lake and views of the stunning countryside.

Most of today’s driving will be on bitumen roads.

Day Two (Newdegate – The Breakaways)

On a mix of bitumen and gravel roads, you will explore some amazing rock formations and the Rabbit-Proof Fence.

Day Three (Sandalwood Camp – Coolgardie)

Yesterday’s bitumen and gravel roads give way to a rough track that should only be tackled by 4WD. Today’s sights include granite outcrops and virgin bushland.    

 

So, ready to take a trip up the Holland Track? It’s a good idea to get a good map or guidebook before you leave; we recommend these ones:

Explore the Holland Track and Cave Hill Woodlines

Holland Track CD

Western Australia Roads & Tracks 2018

Hema Western Australia Road & 4WD Track Atlas