Fraser will amaze ya
Trip Start Nov 27, 2010
99Trip End Dec 12, 2011
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Where I stayed
All of the groups would be driving in groups of 8 in huge 4x4s. Thankfully our food, drink and camping gear was being taken in a trailer in the lead vehicle. As apparently backpackers unused to driving on sand had been involved in numerous accidents, within the last few years 'tag along’ tours had become the standard, with a lead vehicle being driven by an experienced guide and being followed by the other cars. We packed up our cars, and the trailer, and had a quick chat about general safety and driving and then we jumped in our respective cars and made our way to the ferry
A quick 15km drive to the ferry and we pretty much drove straight on. The trip across the water to Fraser Island was less than 20 minutes and almost as soon as the ferry beaches cars were driving off into the sand. There are no sealed roads on Fraser Island and, as being the world’s largest sand island would suggest, sand as far as the eye could see. The drive started off through thick, powdery sand along the beach before we came to dirt track that was up a steep incline. All pretty fun to drive through though!
We stopped after maybe an hour of travelling to grab a spot of lunch, so that was the first time we all got to get out of the car and onto the sand and work together to make some sandwiches. We were heading to Lake McKenzie for the afternoon, which was supposed to be the prettiest lake on the trip. And pretty it was! One hundred foot above sea level with crystal clear water and sand of nearly pure silica (a la Whitehaven Beach), Lake McKenzie is a jaw-dropping sight especially on the cloudless, blazing day we had. The sand is so clean and white and the water clear that the lake literally looks like a swimming pool. With the sun warming up the water as well it was cold enough to be refreshing but warm enough to float around for a while without getting too cold
We had about 3 hours at the lake to relax and unwind. We didn’t achieve anything except some sunbathing, the occasional dip and a few pictures – it was luxury! That would be all the sites we were seeing that afternoon and we departed for our campsite (which we still had to make).
Our campsite was 50m or so from the beach in a small clearing. The tents were easy enough to put together and we managed to get a bit of luck by securing a tent to ourselves. The shelter for the cooking area went up and Nic and a few of the girl went about making our dinner of steak and potatoes. I got the job of frying the steak and the whole meal was amazing. It’s funny how heightened your tastebuds can become when your diet consists of largely bland meals, muesli and peanut butter sandwiches tend to get a little boring after a while!
After dinner while most of the group settled down to attacking their goon and beer with gusto, some of us went the beach to check out the stars. Much like at Uluru, with no light pollution and a clear sky the Milky Way and countless other stars were visible. We could now easily find the Southern Cross but between all of us that’s the best we could do in regards to the constellations
We were woken up in the morning by some of the loudest snoring anyone has ever heard. Like some sort of nasal chain saw attempting to cut down the forest of tents, we were just amazed at how no one in his tent seemed to hear it. Thankfully we were on our way out to check out the sunrise at 5.30am. A great place to see a sunrise anyway, it was made all the much better by the fact that the as the beach faced Eastwards the sun would be rising over the horizon of the sea. As we were due another spectacular day, there were few if any clouds in the sky so we got to appreciate the bold and bright colours without any interference.
Back to the camp for breakfast and we all just got cracking on our scrambled omelette-style eggs before jumping back into the cars and heading off for a full day fun. A long drive was the order of the day as we made our way northwards up the beach. A good couple of hours later we were still making our way through the sand when we switched drivers and I jumped behind the wheel. As soon as I got behind the wheel we were off the compacted, damp sand near the waters edge and onto the dry, powdery stuff. I imagine its similar driving through snow but it seemed we needed a gear between 2nd and 3rd as we were going too fast for 2nd but not fast enough for 3rd to be useful once I’d changed gear
We chugged slowly up a sandy hillside to get to a car park for the Champagne Pools, a rock formation near the waters edge that filled into a natural pool and was constantly refilled by the onrushing waves. We had a couple of hours there again just sunning ourselves and taking the occasional dip before we made our way back down onto the beach to have lunch.
After we’d eaten we climbed our way up a steep hill to Indian Head to check out some spectacular views. As we made our way up the ascent, to our right there was a great view of the beach we had just driven up. When we made our way up to the edge of the cliff face we could look down into the sea and we were all amazed at the colour of the water. We could see a school of huge fish, a playful little turtle and pod of dolphins making their way north along the coastline.
After climbing down it was another long drive back down the coastline to the wreck of the Maheno, a ship that was beached just after being caught in a cyclone in 1935
Just down the beach was a chance for a final swim for the day in Eli Creek. As there were no showers available to us for the 3 days, swimming in fresh water was the next best thing. We walked along a wooden walkway to a small bridge before getting into the creek for the walk down stream and back towards the beach. After getting back to the beach and cars, a dingo appeared from the bush looking for some action/food. It’s funny after all the signs we’d seen around the island saying in no uncertain terms to keep well away, as soon as one appeared everyone swarmed for a photo.
Back to camp before dark to make dinner, which was a stir fry. If we wanted to get close to wildlife, we certainly got an unexpected chance over dinner. We had a member of the larger group who was flamboyant to say the least. Apparently he had been in the Queen musical ‘We Will Rock You’ on Broadway, and boy did everyone know if. We would be standing around sorting out the cooking and you would hear a (admittedly impressive but definitely effeminate) falsetto ring out with "Pressure, pushin’ down on me!" If he wasn’t doing that he was busting out ballet moves in full view of everyone
‘Dancing Queen’ was cutting up some vegetables when he shrilled “Something just moved over my foot!” At first everyone thought he was joking but when someone moved the flash light down to the floor everyone saw a snake slithering through the campsite! Obviously we all knew that snakes, spiders and all manner of creepy crawlies were in the vicinity but it’s easy to forget until you’re reminded.
We would have just let it be but after making it to the long grass the snake made a turn and started on its way back into the campsite. Thankfully our guide was on hand and rather than take any chances put a spade to good use and decapitated the snake. After all was said and done the guide said that the ‘Dancing Queen’ was extremely lucky as what had slithered over his foot was the deadliest snake on Fraser Island and tenth deadliest in the whole world – the awesomely named Death Adder! If he had been bitten he would have to have been evacuated by helicopter to the mainland. Everyone went straight to their tents to make sure then had been zipped shut
The next day was our third and last on Fraser. The weather while still glorious wasn’t quite at the heights of the previous two day. We made our way to Lake Wabby which was a 45 minute walk up and over a tough sand track. Upon reaching the lake we were greeted by huge rolling sand dunes and a nice cool lake that, while not having the crystal clear water of Lake McKenzie, was still pretty to look at.
After a final few hours of sunbathing it was time to start to make a move back down the coastline to the ferry to get back to the mainland. We didn’t anticipate such a hard time getting off the island though. With a heavily laden trailer, another truck had run some tracks into the deep sand to help the lead vehicle get enough traction to get up the hill. After the main vehicle finally made its way up the hill it was the turn of the remaining cars, all being driven by us backpackers. Thankfully, driving our car was Pete the Swede how had lots of experience driving in the snow so we got up the first time. The same couldn’t be said for some of the other vehicles who took as many as 3 tryies to get up the hill.
When we finally made it to the ferry port, we were joined by a pod of dolphins frolicking just 10m or so from the edge of the water. We boarded the ferry and made our way back to the mainland and back to the workshop to unload and clean up all of our gear. Fraser Island was definitely one of the best trips we have taken during our travels so far. The weather helped but we had such a good group of people I think we would have had a good time wherever we went.