Four people from Sydney have figured out the hard way that looks can be deceiving, after they discovered too late that the vehicle they had borrowed to go four-wheel-driving on the beach at Redhead was only a two-wheel-drive.
The quartet camped on the sand for the night on Tuesday after the vehicle became bogged in front of the surf club - the ute was freed by lifeguards who found the stranded group when they turned up for work on Wednesday morning.
The embarrassing blunder has prompted a warning from lifeguards for four-wheel-drivers to remember how important it is to know the correct beach access points, be aware of a vehicle's capabilities and have the right gear for an emergency.
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The group, from Western Sydney, had borrowed the vehicle and used the path to get onto the beach.
Senior Lifeguard Lucas Samways told the Newcastle Herald that he and his team dug the vehicle out after they turned up for work and found the group on the beach.
"They were really unprepared, it wasn't their vehicle and they didn't realise it was a two-wheel-drive when they came on and they sank straight away," he said.
"There was no preparation, no anything really.
"They had a pretty miserable night, they hadn't slept. We had a bit of a stern word with them about what they can and can't do, but they were very sore and sorry so we didn't want to get into them too much."
Mr Samways said it was lucky that the beach was quiet on Wednesday morning, but incidents like this were distractions from the job the lifeguards were being paid to do.
"Especially around school holidays, it gets very busy, especially first-up in the mornings," he said.
"It was pretty overcast weather and there was a bit of rain about, but if it was a hot summer's day there would have been hundreds of people here already.
"For us to have to take our attention off the water and deal with that sort of thing - it's not our priority and it's definitely a pain."
Four-wheel-drivers are not allowed to access the beach near the surf club at Redhead but can go onto the sand from Third Creek, south - the access point is a truck gate near Jewells.
"People [need to] make sure they are in the right area, use the right access points, have the right gear - so if this happens they can get out themselves," Mr Samways said.
"And know their vehicle, because [this group] obviously didn't.
"It's a pain for us, as lifeguards, to have to deal with it when it's not in our job description. Our main priority is keeping the public safe in the water and on the sand and this hinders it a fair bit."
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