Well, we live and learn, again… When we hired a Toyota Landcruiser last year and drove around Fraser Island, we found it rough, but never got stuck. So, having done a bit of Googling about using the trusty old Land Rover Freelander TD4, I came to the conclusion that “she’ll be right mate!”. I was wrong… It wasn’t!
We boarded the barge at River Heads, and the boys declared that this was “the most exciting, newest thing we’d never done before so far” on our adventure. So far so good.
We landed at Wanggoolba Creek and, having “aired down” our tyres to 16PSI, we set off full of confidence. We were second vehicle off the barge and I did, for a moment, consider pulling over and letting everyone through. Fortunately I didn’t, because about 10 minutes later we were thoroughly bogged down in soft sand. Fortunately two vehicles came to our assistance and with a 12 year old snatch strap that I’d never used before and their two shackles we were soon pulled out. I bribed them with a promise of beer at the other end and they committed to babysitting us to Eurong, another 17 kilometres. Just as well, as we needed another two rescue and recoveries. Problem was not traction, but clearance. The Freelander is just too low and would get stuck on the high ridge of sand between the tracks (aka middlemannetjie for you okes in the R of SA…).
Driving technique: first gear, and keep the speed up, revs around 3,000 RPM. Crank on about 90 degrees of left or right helm (I prefer right) to keep the middlemannetjie off to one side. A boisterous ride. The brakes took a pounding, because the wheels are spinning the whole time and the traction control is trying to control the wheelspin by applying the brakes. As most of the weight is on the front wheels, the rear (drum) brakes got very, very hot. Poor car. When we tried to move off after about 15 minutes at the Eurong Bottle-O/general store, it felt like the handbrake would not release. Fortunately it eased up after a bit of driving. Only other damage was a rubber exhaust hanger that had unhooked itself (at the rear silencer). This was easily re-hooked and she’s good as gold!
We’ve decided to stick to the beach (where we have no problems) and leave Fraser Island via Inskip Point so we don’t have to cross inland again.
Moral of the story? A Freelander is not suitable for Fraser Island! Get a real 4×4…