4X4 Blog by Robert Pepper 14 January 2021
Here’s what’s wrong with the DCS Fraser Island “tide escape” video
On today’s episode of How Not to 4WD:
There’s a video doing the rounds of a group in a Toyota Fortuner owned by Deep Cycle Systems, trying to “escape” an incoming tide on Fraser Island. Or, was doing the rounds, as it’s now been taken down. But not before I had a look and took a copy.
The group makes a lot of mistakes, and the Internet is duly punishing them. But, I’ve not seen any commentary really explaining what they’ve done wrong, and why. So, here it is:
1. If you’re away from the water, and the tide is coming in, wait. Your “whole day” will not be written off, it doesn’t take the day for the tide to come in, and then go out far enough so you can safely drive. It takes a couple of hours.
2. NEVER EVER drive up on the dunes unless specifically allowed, and that is never over vegetated dunes. That is where animals such as birds, turtles etc live, mate and so on. Many of these are endangered species – Fraser Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but even if it wasn’t, don’t do it. By driving up on the dunes you endanger them further, and because there’s vegetation with no tide, your wheelmarks last a long time. Such driving is prohibited for a reason. When we talk of “offroading” that’s actually a misnomer – we mean driving on unformed roads, not literally bush-bashing. And, the sideangles could well mean a rollover…I was quite surprised that didn’t happen.
3. Splashing through salt water is one of the worst things you can do to a car. The salt water corrodes anything metal, dulls the paintwork, causes electrical problems and more. A quick splash of fresh water won’t fix it, you’ll need a thorough fresh bath. And if you do get stuck…good luck recovering a car as the tide comes in around it. That’s writeoff time.
4. Driving at speed (3rd high) through puddles/waves is a terrible idea; there’s all sorts of washouts, debris..you could break your car or lose control. Oh and you splash even more saltwater around.
5. Ref above point; if you don’t have your seatbelt on, and the vehicle comes to a sudden stop then you will regret your life choices very quickly and for a very long time thereafter.
6. Last time I drove a Fortuner on sand it went very well in high and low range. In low range stability control is disabled, in high range it needs manual disabling with a 3 second press.
7. As a commenter on my Facebook page noted, there’s the Fraser Island Condition Report. Use that. Or, at least know your tides. If this happened during a period of forecast bad weather…well, plan for that. And, if they went out with supplies only for a day trip…that’s not great forward planning. Always take more gear and supplies than you think you’ll need.
What can be done to educate people so this doesn’t happen again?
And, that crew has history:
“Funnily enough, this road’s actually closed …. for this particular reason, but I sort of drove around the closed sign (hah) and got myself a little bit fucked here…” [ and now that video has gone too ]