Summer iss here, Christmas is just around the corner and Queensland’s beautiful beaches beckon. At this time of year many beachgoers battle for towel space, but those of us with a 4WD can escape to some glorious beaches minus the crowds, parking hassles and that mad dash from the towel to water’s edge. Here are a few suggestions for your Christmas 4WD break.
The Great South East has the widest choice of 4WD accessible beaches. The Bay islands of Bribie, Moreton and North Stradbroke are all within an hour or so of Brisbane city and have stunning, pristine beaches, shady campsites, freshwater lakes and a relaxed ‘get away from it all’ atmosphere. Access is easy with a bridge to Bribie and fast barge services to Moreton and Straddie. Vehicle and camping permits are required for all three but they’re inexpensive and easy to obtain. Beach speed limits are low and there are also sections of beach where vehicles are prohibited, so the kids can play in safety.
North of the Noosa, Great Sandy National Park’s colourful Cooloola Coast and world-famous Fraser Island have endless beaches, rocky headlands, spectacular freshwater lakes and towering rainforests. 4WD access to both sections of the National Park is easy – a river ferry links Cooloola’s southern end to Tewantin and a bitumen road connects Rainbow Beach village (at Cooloola’s northern end) with the Bruce Highway at Gympie. Fraser is well serviced by barges from Inskip Point (north of Rainbow Beach), Mary River Heads and Hervey Bay. Vehicle permits are required for Fraser Island but not Cooloola, and camping permits are required for both. Beach speed limits are 80km/h so kids need to be closely supervised at all times.
Further north, the Kinkuna and Woodgate sections of Burrum Coast National Park provide a relaxed 4WD escape within easy reach of Maryborough and Bundaberg. Both are close to the facilities of Woodgate Village, with Kinkuna offering a simple beach camping experience (without facilities) while the Woodgate section has a basic amenities block and numbered campsites. The beaches are typically narrower and softer than those further south so ‘traffic’ is usually going slower. Kids still need to be supervised, although probably not as closely, and camping permits are required.
North of Bundaberg, near the town of 1770 and Agnes Water, Deepwater and Eurimbula National Parks offer similar attractions to Burrum Coast (basic facilities and deserted beaches) although vehicles are not permitted on the beaches due to nesting turtles (the females lay their eggs around Christmas while the hatchlings emerge in January/February). Access tracks meander through the palm forests behind the dunes to camping and picnic areas. Deepwater has surf while Eurimbula faces onto the sparkling waters of Bustard Bay. All of the facilities and services of 1770/Agnes Water are relatively close by and camping permits are required.
Bounded to the north by the Army’s Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area, fabulous Byfield National Park (north of Yeppoon) features massive parabolic sand dunes, deserted beaches, rocky headlands and a rugged, mountainous backdrop. 4WD access can be difficult in dry conditions – one huge dune near the park entrance halts anybody with fully inflated tyres and limited sand driving experience – and you’ll probably get scratches on your paintwork, but it’s worth the pain to experience Byfield’s magic. Visitors need to be self-sufficient as the nearest supplies are at Byfield village, several kilometres outside the park, and camping permits are required.
For more details on any of these locations, check out the relevant Dirty Weekends guide.
Merry Christmas and a Dirty New Year!
1. Arriving at The Wrecks on Moreton Island
2. Try getting this sort of shade from a beach umbrella! A busy day on Bribie Island.
3. Holidaymakers enjoying the Champagne Pools at Fraser Island.
4. High tide at Kinkuna.
5. Middle Rocks in Deepwater National Park.
6. The view over Five Rocks, one of the major attractions of Byfield National Park.Reads: 850