30 going on 13

Trip Start May 19, 2009
1
65
67
Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Wednesday, September 8, 2010

At our hostel in Rainbow Beach, Miriam and I suddenly felt a sense of impending doom. For the next three days, we were venturing out to Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the World, and the safety video we'd been subjected to reminded me of one of those firework safety films they played in assembly at Primary School that convinced me that if I ever brandished a sparkler again I’d spontaneously combust, or, in the best case scenario, find myself eternally disfigured.

It also harked back to my favourite books – the Choose Your Own Adventure series – except this time the options were 1. Total a four wheel drive and become impaled on the gearstick or 2. Be mauled to death by a dingo.  Oh, by the way, have a great time!  Thanks, Tourism Queensland.

I’d somewhat doubted the ability of Randy’s 80s 4WD mechanism to get us through a trip to Fraser, so, on this rare occasion, we’d opted to go on a tour. Ben and Jess were staying behind at Rainbow, which left the dream team of The Predator and New Yoik to contend with the wilds of the Sunshine Coast, and our poor tour guides to contend with us, God help them.

It didn’t take long for us to get things under control.  As the only person in the lead car with an ipod (which always amazes me as I’m the girl who still loves vinyl and who, 5 years ago, travelled around New Zealand with a walkman and bag full of cassette tapes), I suddenly found myself at the helm of in-car entertainment. 

There’s something to be said for travelling when you’ve grown up a bit...please note I refrain from using the word "matured".  At 30 and 31, Miriam and I found ourselves new BFFs in the shape of Graham and Brad, our middle aged guides, and somehow the monosyllabic German doctors and 20 year old Scottish party girls in the back of the car faded into the alternative soundtrack.

It worked out pretty well for us.  Arriving at camp, i.e. twenty tents pitched in the bush, Brad told us that we’d have to squeeze three people into each tent.  Miriam and I suddenly found the perfect excuse to disappear for half an hour to watch the sunset soak into the ocean on our doorstep.  But we needn’t have worried...according to Brad, we’d already become an exception to the rule.

Each day we motored along the beach, which doubles as the Highway.  We stopped for lunch and sunbaking at idyllic lakes, only accessible via tortuous four wheel drive dirt tracks.  We caught yabbies, oysters, crabs and pippies, frolicked around in the surf like kids, and, for fabulous, fleeting moments, felt the World, and all its worries, drift away.  (And, before you say it, yes you even have worries when you’re a vagabond.)

Ever up for a challenge, Miriam and I found a new obsession: worming.  Blame Brad.  Every day, at the crack of dawn, we’d hit the beach to find and crack open pippies to lure unsuspecting bait worms from the sand.  Well, Miriam did.  The jaws on the worms only served to remind me of another horrific memory from my childhood: the film 'Dune’ that my brothers forced me to watch and its horrendous spike-mouthed sand worms that swallowed everything in their wake. 

But then, there are few things that I’m afraid of.  Leeches and sand worms might top the list, but dingoes, I’m afraid, hold nothing but fascination for me.  One night, after Miriam and I had reached a new level of favouritism by being allowed to cook dinner in Brad’s fully equipped kitchenette-tent, I insisted on dragging Brad out at 1am to sit on a bench in the hope of being surrounded by a pack of dingoes.  As I’m sat writing this now, you can safely assume that I wasn’t mauled.  Not even close.  Do you sense my perverse disappointment?

On the ferry back, we were sad to leave.  If I were ever going to swallow my words about a tour...then I might do it about now.  Maybe.  But, as is the case with every experience in life, good or bad, it’s the people who make or break it.

Reaching our campsite, Jess was glad to have us back.  She’d been babysitting Rand, and had been up a few nights on the goon.  Hearing that she’d had an overnight visitor, Miriam and I were relieved that the Finnish Fox’s sexual appetite may finally have been sated (and I mentally penned in a few hours to clean the sheets the next day), but as it turned out her bedfellow was none other than a hitchhiker mouse who had somehow managed to evade the traps of Murray Bridge all those months before.

On our last morning, we reluctantly packed to leave.  Jess came to our room, her eyes puffy with sleep, and yawned “the mouse is awake.”  She might never admit it, but I reckon she kind of liked having the pet around.

But then sometimes, maybe only once in a blue moon, it’s good to feel like a kid again.
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