Tourists to popular Aussie holiday spot warned: 'Big mistake’

Visitors heading to a popular Queensland holiday spot are being warned to avoid reckless behaviour as help could take a while to arrive.

Holiday-makers heading to some of the state’s most famous 4WD beaches, like Rainbow Beach, Cooloola Beach, Double Island Point and K’gari (Fraser Island) could find themselves isolated from the closest emergency help, with authorities advising it could take more than an hour to arrive.

The warning comes as the number of people on the Cooloola Coast is expected to quadruple over Christmas, according to the ABC. Combined with a surge in visitors, phone reception is also unreliable along parts of the coast.

A 4WD travels through sea water on Fraser Island as holiday-makers walk on the sand
Police have warned holiday-makers of reckless behaviour on the Cooloola Coast, saying help could be an hour away. Source: Maryborough Senior Constable Melanie Ryan

Tin Can Bay police officer in charge Sergeant Mick Bazzo told the ABC problematic behaviour usually involved drivers being under the influence.

"The majority of our accidents on the beach have a factor of alcohol or drugs involved," Sergeant Bazzo said. "The majority of the hooning behaviour either happens late at night, particularly on the low tide, but if the tides aren't working well for us [it] can be up to 45 and 50 minutes [for help to arrive].

"On top of that, there's the distance that people have to travel to get some mobile phone reception to contact emergency service to raise the alarm.”

A 4WD drives in water covering the bonnet as it carries inflatable beach toys in the tray.
Drivers in need of a tow truck could face tow truck fees of more than $2000. Source: Maryborough Senior Constable Melanie Ryan

Sgt Bazzo said there will be an increase in breath tests and drug tests in the area.

Visitors to the beach who get bogged or caught in the tide can expect to pay tow truck fees upwards of $2000.

"The big mistake people make is not reading the tides because the tides are always varying and if you get caught on a big incoming tide, your vehicle will get destroyed," tow truck driver Jamie Young told the ABC.

Police stop vehicles for breath tests on Fraser Island.
Police will be conducting more breath testing and drug testing. Source: Maryborough Senior Constable Melanie Ryan

Locals vent over tourists staying in Airbnbs

Noisy tourists renting out beachfront Airbnbs in Rainbow Beach had locals fuming in September, with one resident taking to Facebook to vent.

"Airbnbs and holiday rentals in residential neighbourhoods are the worst," she said.

"How dare you invite people into our neighbourhoods where our lives and our children are. You put so much disruption into these areas, take the money, and the people who live beside these places are the ones who pay!"

Tony Stewart, the former Rainbow Beach Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Secretary of Commerce, said the problem is that while there is a neighbourhood police beat, the rural town is lacking an actual police station.

When the Rainbow Beach Neighbourhood Police Beat isn't manned, calls are diverted to a police station some 30km away — so residents don't bother calling for help when there's a noise problem.

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