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Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:41 pm
Three Japanese tourists came unstuck

Taking the most direct route to Straddie
Jeff Freak and Shannon Holloway


The Big Red Cat sails past the tourists' car. The low tide and a GPS navigation system lured them into the bay at Oyster Point at Cleveland. Photo: Chris McCormack, The Redland Times

Three Japanese tourists came unstuck on their planned Australian holiday on Thursday when they abandoned their hire car in Moreton Bay after they tried to "drive" to North Stradbroke Island.

The low tide and a GPS navigation system lured them into the bay at Oyster Point at Cleveland.

A firm gravel surface quickly gave way to the renowned bay mangrove mud and the Hyundai Getz was soon up to its axles, but not before they managed to travel about 500 metres.

The tourists retrieve belongings from their stranded hire car. Photo: Chris McCormack, The Redland Times
Their planned adventure to Straddie ended at 11am and the incoming tide soon forced them to seek help and abandon the vehicle.

By 3pm the car was stranded in two metres of water and the subject of much amusement from onlookers on the shore and passing boat and ferry traffic.

The Tokyo students had wanted to take a day trip to Straddie and believed their GPS unit would be able to guide them there. The GPS forgot to mention the 15 kilometres of water and mud between the mainland and the island.

Red-faced tourists abandon their car in Moreton Bay. Photo: Chris McCormack, The Redland Times
Yuzu Noda, 21, said she was listening to the GPS and "it told us we could drive down there".

"It kept saying it would navigate us to a road. We got stuck . . . there's lots of mud."

Yuzu and and her travel friends Tomonari Saeki, 22, and Keita Osada, 21, were all looking forward to a day trip to the island, but headed back to the Gold Coast courtesy of a lift from the RACQ tow truck driver who was called to the stranded car.

After assessing the situation, no attempt was made to recover the vehicle.

A four wheel drive owner who saw the incident contemplated winching out the car, but abandoned any attempt due to the speed of the oncoming tide.

The three students will fly home to Tokyo on Saturday.

"We want to come back to Australia again. Everyone is very nice, even today," Ms Yuzu said.

Mr Tomonari said even though their holiday had ended on an unusual note they were happy no one was injured.

"It has rained every day on our six day holiday. Hopefully next time we come back it will be sunny," he said.

He also joked that the car became stuck because it was built in Korea. "Maybe if it was Japanese it would be okay," he said.

The car was covered by insurance, but will cost the tourists about $1500 in excess charges.

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