A PLANNED day trip to Straddie has catapulted three hapless Japanese tourists into the world media spotlight after their hire car's navigation system sent them into Moreton Bay.
The trio came unstuck last Thursday morning when they were forced to abandon their hire car after the low tide and a GPS lured them into the bay at Oyster Point at Cleveland.
A firm gravel surface quickly gave way to the mangrove mud and the Hyundai Getz was soon up to its axles, but not before the tourists managed to travel about 500metres.
Their unplanned adventure to Straddie ended at 11am and the incoming tide quickly forced them to seek help and abandon the vehicle.
By 3pm the car was stranded in 2m of water and the subject of much amusement from onlookers on the shore and passing boat and ferry traffic.
Yuzu Noda, 21, said she trusted the instructions of the GPS unit.
"It told us we could drive down there," she said. "It kept saying it would navigate us to a road. We got stuck . . . there's lots of mud."
Yuzu 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 an RACQ tow truck driver who was called to the stranded car.
After assessing the situation, the RACQ tow truck driver made no attempt to recover the vehicle as the tow winch was no where near long enough to reach the car.
But later that night Redland tow truck driver Brett Fletcher and a colleague drove their four-wheel drives to the abandoned car.
"It was pretty wet, it was amazing to see how they got in there so far," Mr Fletcher said.
"I don't know what they were thinking. Wouldn't you think to stop?"
Brett said the recovery had been "fairly easy" and the car had been towed to Ace Car Rentals at Nudgee, on Brisbane's north.
"We just drove straight down there when the tide was down. It was pretty easy in a four-wheel drive," he said.
The three Japanese students flew took flew back to Tokyo on Saturday with an amusing story to tell but plan to return one day.
"We want to come back to Australia again. Everyone is very nice," Yuzu said.
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.
The car was covered by insurance, but will cost the tourists about $1500 in excess charges.