OhAustralia is blessed with some of the best 4×4 driving destinations on the planet. Famous destinations such as Cape York Peninsula, Kakadu National Park, The Kimberley, Simpson Desert, Flinders Ranges and the Victorian High Country make up the bucket list of many 4×4 adventurers.
One of the most accessible (depending on where you’re coming from) bucket list destinations has to be Queensland’s Fraser Island. Just off the south east Qld coast just 3.5 hours north of Brisbane, Fraser Island, or Kagaree is a must for any four wheeler, especially if you enjoy fishing and beach driving. do
Fraser is the largest sand island in the world and as a World Heritage Site, we are lucky to still be able to drive along its hundreds of kilometers of beach and inland tracks.
The main track, if you will, runs along the east coast of the island and is incorrectly called 75 Mile Beach. There are then many trails that cross the island to reach the protected western shore and the many freshwater lakes that dot the island.
It’s a four-wheel drive island and one of the best things about driving on it is that you don’t need a modified or heavy-access vehicle to access its tracks and destinations. In fact, you can drive most of Fraser Island in a bone stock 4×4 vehicle and that’s just what we’re doing on this short adventure.
We are visiting Fraser Island with Mazda and the flying visit gives us a full day to explore just a few of the island’s delights. We’re driving the Mazda BT-50 ute, which is the brand’s only proper 4×4 model and is more than capable of exploring sandy tracks. Most of the cars are showroom stock, while a few are equipped with factory accessories and packages to enhance their capabilities.
Our Steed was a BT-50 equipped with the Thunder Pack, which includes a steel front bumper with Light Force light bars, all-terrain tires and a sports bar in the cargo tray.
When we say the BT-50 is a proper 4×4 vehicle, we’re referring to the fact that it has good ground clearance and a dual-range transfer case. It’s not a soft rudder like many SUVs in Mazda showrooms and the BT-50 should have no trouble on the island.
While we’d say you don’t need an all-terrain 4×4 to drive on Fraser Island, there are a few things you should have with you to make sure your drive experience is as good as it gets. As much as possible.
To drive on sand you need to lower the tire pressure. Doing this increases the tire’s contact patch with the ground and helps the car to ‘float’ on soft sand more easily than you would normally drive on a road with higher pressures. About 16 to 18psi is usually the magic number for driving through sand, but if you’re hauling a lot you may need to drop down or maintain a higher pressure for really soft sand.
To make this task as easy as possible, you’ll need a tire deflator, a quality tire pressure gauge and a 12-volt air compressor to re-inflate your tires as needed or at the end of your trip.
For our trip to Fraser Island, the recent and ongoing rain had made the sand relatively firm so the tires only dropped to 24psi.
No matter what you’re driving or how experienced you are, you’ll inevitably get stuck when driving on soft sand and you’ll want to get yourself out safely.
A long-handled shovel is the first piece of equipment you’ll want to have on board to dig out any sand from around stuck tires or around the chassis. Then a set of traction boards like MaxTrax or Treds will help you. At least two, but ideally four, of these that you put under the wheels and drive on, so that your tires can lift you up and out of the holes dug in the sand.
A snitch strap or kinetic recovery rope is also a handy piece of equipment to help get you out of a sand swamp. To use this piece of equipment safely, your vehicle will need to be fitted with specific recovery attachment points that are rated to accept the snatch recovery load, and the strap between the stranded vehicle and the towing vehicle. Shackles rated D or soft will be required to attach to the vehicle. you out
Finally, it’s worth paying attention to how to properly and safely use the recovery equipment and your vehicle before you set off on your Fraser Island adventure.
The current generation Mazda BT-50 was launched in 2020, so it is still a relatively new model and has all the latest safety and convenience equipment. It’s no secret that the BT-50 shares much of its engineering and drivetrain with the Isuzu D-MAX, and that’s a good thing because the Isuzu is a well-proven and reliable ute.
Combined equipment includes Isuzu’s venerable 3.0-litre diesel engine that produces 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque in this latest application. It’s backed by a 6-speed automatic transmission and the aforementioned part-time dual-range 4×4 system with a rear differential. A 6-speed manual gearbox is also available in some models of the BT-50 range.
With the tire pressures reduced, the transfer case in 4×4 high range and the electronic traction and stability controls switched off, wet sandy tracks are no obstacle for the capable BT-50 Thunder.
The inner tracks on Fraser Island can be very cut off from vehicular traffic and can be quite difficult, but not on this occasion. Roots from large trees create some deep holes and ruts on the tracks and this stops some drivers, requiring a lane change or a bit more speed to cross it, but we need no vehicle. managed to escape. Receipt
Venturing from our base at Kingfisher Bay Resort, we drove up the island to the east coast and turned north, passing Alley Creek and heading towards Happy Valley before we turned left and followed the west shore of Worali Creek. Go back to
Heading back to the east coast, we turned south and stopped to look at the wreck of the SS Mahino slowly rusting on the sand. Alley Creek provided a water crossing that required some well-timed timing on the way back, but nothing to challenge the BT-50’s 700mm wading depth. Ely Creek was also a great place for a lunch stop, even if the weather wasn’t looking good.
Gloomy and wet conditions also prevented Lake McKenzie from looking spectacular but, like Alley Creek, it’s another must-see on Fraser Island. The ultra-white sand and freshwater usually provide the perfect spot for a few hours of swimming and enjoying the Queensland sun.
Our trip to Fraser Island was basically a day trip and as such, we only touched on a few must-see spots on the island. Past experience tells me that you want to plan your visit to K’gari so that you have at least three days to explore, and a week or more if you have the time.
The island has plenty of places to camp along the beach or in fenced campgrounds, or even stay in a resort or homestay if that’s your thing.
More time on the island will give you the opportunity to explore the many sandy tracks and take in places such as Sandy Cape at the northern tip of the island with its lighthouse, Champagne Pools which are wonderful rock pools for swimming inland. of freshwater lakes. And that’s before you even get into the famous beach fishing.
Fraser Island is a national park so you will need to pay access fees and vehicle permits to drive on it. Access to the island with your 4×4 is by car ferry from Inskip Point near Rainbow Beach on the mainland, or Riverheads near Hervey Bay.
Gear to go
As mentioned, Mazda offers a wide range of accessories to customize the BT-50 and better equip it to suit your needs, be it for touring or commercial use. Took
Some of these products come from well-known brands in the 4×4 business like Lightforce LED lights and light bars, but one thing we didn’t realize until now was that Mazda has also partnered with ARB 4×4 Accessories to Suspension packages can be offered for BT- 50.
The suspension package is based on ARB’s excellent remote reservoir, internal bypass, adjustable BP-51 shock absorbers with matching coil and leaf springs that suit your needs from 0 to 300 kg or 300 to 600 kg loads.
The products were jointly developed by ARB and Mazda Australia to provide the best calibration and performance and will make a great factory-approved addition to any BT-50 that is off road. The ARB BP-51 Suspension Kit for the BT-50 starts at $6720 when ordered through your Mazda dealer.
2022 Mazda BT-50 Thunder Specifications
|Model||Mazda BT-50 Thunder|
|engine||3.0L Turbo Diesel|
|power||140kW @ 3600rpm|
|Torque||450Nm @ 1600-2600rpm|
|4×4 system||Part time 4×4|
|Front suspension.||Double wishbone|
|Heavy obstacle||2213 kg|
|Tensile capacity||3500 kg|
|Fuel tanks||76 liters|
|ADR fuel claim||8.0L/100km|
|Wading depth||800 mm|
|Angle of view||25.8|
|Angle of departure||24.2|
|Ramp over angle||23.8|
|Ground clearance||240 mm|