4WD beach scene sparks warning over 'reckless' mistake: 'Not worth it'

The warning comes after an 18-year-boy was killed in a crash on the popular Bribie Island. Now, his mum has a message for other drivers.

Several 4WD vehicles parked on sand near Mermaid Lake on Bribie Island Queensland.
A group of drivers in 4WDs were called out for acting 'dangerously' while visiting Mermaid Lagoon on Queensland's Bribie Island. Source Facebook.

A reckless act witnessed by beachgoers visiting a popular 4WD beach has prompted a warning about "dangerous" and "stupid" behaviour by drivers simply abandoning the common sense that comes with being on the road, with those visiting being encouraged to "do the right thing" before it's "too late".

In the past, Aussies and authorities have condemned inappropriate driving and "hoon" behaviour at vehicle-access beaches across Australia, including speeding, doing burnouts and driving erratically in front of beachgoers, which has prompted a major crackdowns from some coastal councils.

But recent footage at Mermaid Lagoon on Queensland's Bribie Island has triggered concerns from locals that drivers might be one day "banned" from accessing the sand altogether.

A photo shared on social media shows at least five 4WD vehicles parked on the sand at Mermaid Lagoon on Bribie. On one vehicle, a group of people appear to be sitting on the windscreen and bonnet, with one standing through the open sunroof.

While stationary at the time the photo was taken, the poster claimed the vehicles had been moving not long before, with people still "sitting on windows" while one "hung out of the sunroof". The beachgoers were allegedly reported to police by concerned witnesses. However, the stunt received a mixed response on social media.

A photo of Bribie Island Queensland showings 4WDs on the beach.
Bribie Island is a popular camping spot among locals and tourists, due to its vehicle access. Source: AAP

Some insisted there was "nothing wrong" with what the beachgoers were doing, suggesting they were "just having fun".

"Such a soft country Australia [has] turned into," one said, responding to the criticism. While others said, "So what, we grew up doing this".

But "it's all 'harmless fun' until the car rolls, kids' get killed or [suffer] life-changing injuries and families get destroyed," one person hit back. Others expressed fear the "stupid" behaviour of a few will likely "shut the beach down to visitors".

"Then they shut the beach driving down and then everyone complains and wonders why," one person commented. "People like this ruin it for everyone," another agreed.

The warning comes following the death of 18-year-old Harry Payne, who in 2021 was killed in a crash on Woorim Beach, Bribie Island, a popular Queensland spot. His mother Kylie Payne told Yahoo News Australia he "just went up there for an afternoon" for a joyride with mates, but he never came home.

"He was a passenger, he wasn’t even driving. It was one of his friends that was driving erratically and dangerously," she said. "They were doing up to 100 kilometres an hour in a 30km/h zone."

The teen was killed instantly when he was ejected from the car.

While visiting the popular beaches to "rip up some sand" is a "rite of passage" for locals, with young drivers particularly drawn to the beach activity, Kylie said drivers must still understand the rules and that they're designed with safety in mind. The same road rules apply while driving on beaches including adhering to speed limits and wearing a seatbelt at all times.

Kylie and Kent Payne, parents of victim Harrison Payne, are seen with supporters outside the Brisbane District Court on Monday. Source: AAP
Harry Payne was killed in an incident on Bribie Island in 2021. His parents, Kylie and Kent Payne (pictured with family) have been fighting for more road safety awareness since. Source: AAP

Kylie and her family launched the Harry Payne Initiative following her son's death, which aims to "inspire Aussise to save lives on and off the road". She said the last thing she wants is for the Queensland beaches to become off-limits for vehicles.

"I don't think that's the answer," she said. "There's so many people out there who do the right thing, but it's just a small minority that don't.

"I think there needs just to be more training and awareness, not just for young drivers... you get 40 and 50-year-olds doing the same stuff… hanging out windows and backs of utes. It's not just the young ones."

Speaking of the incident that claimed her son's life, Kylie said, "it was a reckless crash" that "shouldn't have happened".

"People who do this type of stuff need to stop it. It's okay to have these great 4WDs that are lifted and got the nice wheels and everything on them, but use them sensibly.

"Don't use them recklessly, it’s just not worth it".

  • Slow down around parked vehicles: children can run out unexpectedly.

  • Be aware of hazards, exposed rocks, weed banks and large holes left behind by sandcastle builders; they can trick even the most experienced drivers.

  • It is illegal to travel outside the vehicle. This includes hanging out of windows or riding in tray backs.

  • Everyone in the vehicle must wear a seatbelt when the car is moving.

  • Never drive too fast, tired or hungover.

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