Four-wheel-driving in the bush
People in four-wheel-drive vehicles can reach some of Queensland's most remote and beautiful natural places. However, with special privileges come special responsibilities—please look after the beach and the bush when you visit, and leave it unspoilt for others to enjoy.
- Where you can go four-wheel-driving
- Permits and fees
- Essentials to bring
- Staying safe
- Minimise your impact
- Useful links
Where you can go four-wheel-driving
Popular destinations in Queensland for four-wheel-driving include Moreton and Fraser islands, Mount Mee and Kenilworth forest reserves, Byfield National Park, the Simpson Desert and Cape York Peninsula.
Beach four-wheel-driving is allowed on some offshore sand islands and adjacent to a few mainland national parks such as Cooloola section of Great Sandy National Park. Read more about driving at the coast.
Permits and fees
Access to some roads in parks and forests is restricted. Restricted access roads are indicated by signs and road users must comply with any requirements specified on the signs. A special permit is not generally required except for commercial activities, organised group activities and competitive events.
In some recreation areas, including Bribie, Fraser and Moreton islands, a vehicle service permit is required.
If you are driving as part of an organised group, a group activity permit may be required.
As a general rule, park visitors' vehicles are required to be fully road registered. There are limited exceptions for conditionally registered vehicles and written authorisation is required in each case.
Essentials to bring
- Maps and guidebooks.
- An adequate vehicle recovery kit for the type of terrain you are likely to encounter.
- Tyre pressure gauge and a pump to reinflate tyres.
- First-aid kit.
- Adequate drinking water.
- Sufficient fuel (and be aware of where you can refuel).
Many accidents involving four-wheel-drive vehicles have occurred in national parks and on beaches. Accidents can be avoided by following road rules and driving carefully. Normal road rules apply to driving along beaches and on roads in national parks, regional parks and forests. Drivers need to be prepared for difficulties that could be encountered in remote areas and in rough terrain. If you are planning to drive on sand and you have limited experience, download a copy of the Driving on sand safety guide. It includes tips for planning your trip and recommendations for obtaining further information.
Follow these tips for driving safely.
Before you leave
- Make sure your vehicle is in good condition before you travel.
- Travel lightly. Load your vehicle evenly with heavy items stored low. Distribute your load evenly for extra stability. Vehicles with too much stored on roof racks can overturn or become stuck.
- Always seek local advice about road conditions. Contact RACQ, local police or the park ranger.
- Let the local police or a responsible person know of your plans.
- If possible, travel with another vehicle if you are going to remote places.
Watch out for wildlife, pedestrians and other road users
- Drive slowly to allow time to react to sudden or unexpected problems.
- Keep an eye out for wildlife on or near the road, especially in the early morning and late afternoon.
- Expect to share some roads with pedestrians and other vehicles, including small tour buses.
- Watch out for, and give way to, walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
- Be very careful when approaching walkers and sunbakers on beaches. The noise of the surf makes it almost impossible to hear your vehicle.
Take extra care during and after wet weather
- Watch out for washouts, scoured road shoulders and loose surfaces.
- Be especially careful in wet weather. Some roads become impassable, even to four-wheel-drive vehicles!
- Avoid driving on roads (especially unsealed roads) during and after heavy rain. Driving on wet roads causes damage to the road surface.
- Make sure all passengers wear seatbelts at all times and stay inside the vehicle.
- Keep left, especially at sharp bends and crests.
- Pull to the side to let other traffic pass but do not damage vegetation or create new tracks. Use passing bays if provided.
Minimise your impact
Tips for low impact driving.
- Stay on existing roads and tracks.
- Give way to animals. Parks and forests are for their protection.
- If you get stuck, try not to use trees for winching. If you have no choice, use tree protectors.
- Wash your vehicle thoroughly before and after trips to prevent the spread of weeds.
- Leave gates as you find them.
- If an obstruction blocks your path, don't drive into the roadside drain to pass it. Remove the obstruction, if possible and safe to do so, or return from the direction you came. Ensure that obstructions do not block roadside drains.
- Four Wheel Drive Queensland
PO Box 174
Brisbane Markets QLD 4106
Ph (07) 3277 6071
Fax (07) 3277 0069
Email Four Wheel Drive Queensland
- Driving on sand safety guide
- Operational policy: Conditional registration of vehicles on QPWS managed areas
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