Driver's $700 mistake on Aussie beach: 'Stupidity is not a crime'

As wild weather hammers Queensland, filling lagoons that flow onto the sand, drivers are being caught-out in increasing numbers.

The owner of a towing service at a popular Aussie tourist spot has rescued "hundreds" of cars from being bogged on the beach recently and says after months of wild weather along the east coast he's still being called to more jobs than ever.

Rick Williams, based on Bribie Island, says he's been called to a skyrocketing number of beach rescues as storms batter Queensland, filling up lagoons that spill out and cause hazardous conditions for those venturing onto the sand in their vehicle.

Images of Williams' business regularly feature on social media, showing how often 4WDs become stuck on the sand island on the northern part of Moreton Bay. On Thursday a man's Toyota Land Cruiser was snapped half submerged in the water after only having been on the beach "for five minutes".

A Toyota Land Cruiser submerged in metre-deep water on Bribie Island on Thursday.
A Toyota Land Cruiser was rescued from metre-deep water on Bribie Island last Thursday. Source: Facebook

Wild weather sees more cars bogged on Bribie Island

More and more tourists have been falling victim this past summer.

"There are more [rescues] happening right now, because we've had such a massive amount of weather," Williams told Yahoo News Australia. "And when it rains on Bribie Island, the water falls in the inland lagoons — those big lagoons, the water that's in there has to find its way out to the ocean.

"So when there's so much water there, it then breaks out across the sand, pouring into the ocean, and people then try to cross it and come into grief."

Rescues could cost up to $700

Depending where on the island the stranding takes place, Williams said towing jobs can cost drivers anywhere from between a couple of hundred dollars up to $700. Often motorists will be dozens of kilometres away, driving up the expense of the rescue effort.

"They might be right at the top of the beach, and they've got to be towed back 22 or 23 kilometres and the vehicle that we're towing them back with is a $170,000 vehicle," Williams said.

A Toyota Land Cruiser that was rescued from metre-deep water on Bribie Island on Thursday.
The vehicle had to be towed some 40km to a mechanic. Source: Facebook

"They're coming off, and then if they've got to be towed they're towed with another $70,000 vehicle. We've probably got a quarter of a million dollars tied up in equipment that we're doing the recovery with," he added.

Both tourists and locals bogged

Williams said although he's "helped a lot of locals over the years" he's also rescued tourists "from really almost every country around the world".

"A lot of those people are still friends of ours and still send us emails and tell us what they're doing, so you make friends as you go, too," Williams said. During one incident on Monday last week, a driver attempted to "go through a lagoon" that was over a metre in depth. "That vehicle is going to be a total loss now," he lamented.

A ute submerged in seawater on Bribie Island.
Rick Williams said that beach rescues have increased lately as severe weather batters Queensland. Source: Facebook / AAA 4WD Beach & Offroad Recovery

"But we were able to get him out of the national park and then we were able to put him on a tow truck and take him 47 kilometres to his mechanic. We also get calls from people that are up to 80km away."

Aussies criticise Toyota driver

When it comes to the Land Cruiser rescue on Thursday, Williams' company was able to get the driver and the vehicle back to the mechanic, which was 42km away.

A utility being rescued from lagoon water on Bribie Island.
To be towed back to safety, it can cost anywhere between $200 to $700. Source: Facebook / AAA 4WD Beach & Offroad Recovery

People online criticised the motorist for what they said was the driver's "stupid" decision.

"Doesn’t anyone do a walk through anymore?" one woman wrote. "Serious question. Do a lot of four-wheel-drivers not walk water before driving?" a man echoed.

"Quite simple, don't drive your car in salt water regardless of the depth, this guy got caught-out because it was deep," another said. "Stupidity is not a crime," somebody else joked.

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