Sand is both friend and foe to off-road drivers. Hard-packed surfaces at low tides mean easy running, while that soft chewed-up exit off the beach can halt your progress. Be prepared.
For all that, and even when digging the family wagon out of hot summer sands, Australian beaches forever offer magic drives. With the sun glaring off white sands and blue waters, windows open to the salt air, a drive alongside a lapping tide is a great way to inhale the outdoors.
Queensland has any number of great beaches, from Coolangatta to Cape York. Not all are open to vehicles but the family doesn’t have to venture too far from the state's south-east corner to spend a weekend on the sand, maybe camping out, maybe headed for a holiday house or cabin.
Today we’re headed for Teewah Beach, just north of Noosa on the Sunshine Coast yet a million miles away from the Hastings Street glitz. Part of the Great Sandy National Park, this beach runs past the Coloured Sand cliffs towards Double Island Point and is only for high clearance vehicles with a dual-range transfer case; off-road camper trailers are recommended if looking to stay over alongside the South Pacific here.
Our Toyota Fortuner’s been loaded up in Brisbane, making sure there’s a tyre-pressure gauge, snatch strap, MaxTrax recovery boards and a little shovel aboard. The Teewah sands are, by and large, an easy-medium outing for a four-wheel drive but who knows? Conditions are subject to the whims of the weather. Anyway, gear could be needed to extract a stranger. (And make sure there’s a spare towel for kneeling, or sitting, on hot sand or throwing over a snatch strap if working on vehicle recovery.)
Also needed for this part of the world is a vehicle permit. If sorted out online, these start from $12.55 per vehicle per day through Queensland government websites; camping permits for Teewah cost extra. Remember: check tide times before planning your weekend. Carry a little cash for the ferryman and check fuel tank levels before you head off because sand work can easily double fuel consumption.