Five Rock Conservation Area on Queensland’s Capricorn Coast is only accessible via 4WD up and over the 1km sand dune, Big Sandy, making it a special place few people get to see.
You know a sand dune’s going to be a fun one when it has an official name, and ‘Big Sandy’ is no exception. The 1km long sand dune is truly epic, but what’s on the other side is magical.
Pristine beaches to wander, clear water to swim and snorkel in, epic wildlife watching, and the looming ‘Five Rocks’ to explore. The best part of Five Rocks Conservation Area is that your average joe with a 2WD can’t get there, so you’ll feel like you’ve found your own personal paradise.
Meet Big Sandy
The fun really starts before you even get to your destination. The last hurdle on the road to the campground is the infamous Big Sandy. A kilometre long sand dune with a bit of a reputation for getting people stuck in sand up to the axles!
We’d never driven up a sand dune in our lives (only a little bit of beach driving on nice hard sand) and we managed it on the first go in our good old Troopy. But it wasn’t by chance. There are a few important things that’ll make your adventure up Big Sandy much smoother.
How To 4WD Up Big Sandy
Firstly, tyre pressure is EVERYTHING. This is what everyone told us before we went and they were absolutely right! Once you reach the tyre pressure bay before the beginning of the dune, you’ll want to let your tyres straight down to 15psi. Normally for sand driving, people let them down to 18 or 20 psi, but for this sand dune don’t even bother.
You’ll need a tyre pressure gauge and a compressor to put your tyres back up once you’re out again because the nearest servo is a good 60km drive and you don’t want your tyres that low on the bitumen road!
Secondly, put your car in low range, probably in second gear and make sure you keep your revs high at about 2500 – 3000 the whole way up the dune. The track’s pretty bumpy and it’ll feel wild and fast but don’t let off the accelerator or your revs will drop and you’ll slow to a stop halfway up. Make sure you radio ahead on UHF channel 10 that you’re heading up Big Sandy so others know to watch for you.
And if your car does get stuck? First of all, don’t panic. Second of all don’t spin your wheels in the one spot because you’ll just dig yourself deeper. As soon as you feel the car stop, take your foot off the accelerator, pop the car into reverse and slowly back down the hill and into a safe spot on the track. On the next go you might need to let your tyres down a bit (no lower than 12psi) or try in a lower gear with higher revs.
In the very worst case scenario, you might need to dig out the sand around your wheels and use Maxtrax to get yourself out. Call out on the UHF radio again to let people know what you’re doing.
Once you get to the top, there’s a spot to pull over where you can pause to revel in the glory of conquering the dune and watch the other cars charge up it too.
The best place for epic views is Stockyard Point. The headland looks out over Five Rocks Beach, the Five Rocks to the north, and Nine Mile Beach to the south.
Park up at the top of the headland, follow the trail down the front of the headland and you’ll see huge green sea turtles swimming around the base of the rocks. Depending on the time of year you’re also likely to see big pods of dolphins and whales cruising past. It’s the perfect spot to perch up with some lunch, soak in the scenery, and celebrate the fact that you made it to paradise!
Five Rocks Beach
Named after the five towering rock pillars at the north end of the beach, this spot is a true tropical paradise. It’s protected from the wind, with crystal clear water and heaps of little spots to explore. Keep an eye out for a bright green net hammock and freshwater shower crafted out of bamboo pipe in the middle of a rocky stream as you head down the stairs to the beach.
If you go at low tide you can walk all the way out to the farthest of the five rocks. Just make sure you trek it back before the tide rises again because the difference in tides is massive. There’s a track that leads directly to the beach from a day use area and campsite.
The campsite is shady and protected, with heaps of space, fireplaces, and a lush freshwater shower to wash off the salt and sunscreen after a long day soaking up the beach life.
Nine Mile Beach
This gorgeous long sandy beach is just begging to be driven on. And it’ll be a piece of cake after making it up Big Sandy. You don’t need a permit to drive on the beach in Queensland, so as long as your tyres are low you’re good to go.
It’s important to note that there’s a big difference between high and low tide here, so keep an eye on the water and aim to hit the beach on an outgoing tide so you’ve got time to explore, relax, swim, and fish to your heart’s content without worrying about getting stuck.
Halfway down the beach there are a few campsites nestled in the dunes if you want to extend your stay on the beach. These sites can be booked online. Make sure you check the weather as the dune camps are exposed to the wind so try to pick a calm day!
- Sunscreen and sun protection
- 4WD recovery gear (Maxtrax and a shovel at the very least)
- Tyre pressure gauge and compressor
- A UHF radio for calling ahead when you’re driving up the sand tracks
- Tent and bedding
How To Get There
Five Rocks is located 60km north of Yeppoon on the Capricorn Coast in Central Queensland. The second half of the road there is dirt and the last couple kilometres are all sand so you’ll need to allow about two hours to get there.
Once you get past Big Sandy it can feel like a bit of a maze of sandy tracks leading every which way. But there’s a method to the madness! The first track leading off to the right will take you down along 9 Mile Beach to the sand dune camp spots. Straight ahead will lead you into Stockyard, a tiny fishing village, and to the campsite and headland lookouts.
It can be poorly signposted and there’s no reception, so download a Byfield Area Map before you leave Yeppoon and you’ll be able to navigate the old fashioned way if need be.
Could be done as a day trip but at least one night is recommended to soak it all in.