Fraser Island

Trip Start Feb 25, 2013
1
13
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Trip End May 20, 2013


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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The largest sand island in the world! It's been recommended to us by everyone and for good reason. We got here Monday at eleven. We caught the ferry at River Heads which is pretty much a suburb of Hervey Bay. Crossing was about 30 minutes. To book a crossing you have to buy a vehicle permit, a camping permit and the ferry fee. All told it cost us $230 dollars to come over for two nights. We booked the 5pm return ferry so we get the better part of three days over here. That's the bad. On to the good... Everything else. Day one was a bit of a feel it out day. When you aren't part of a tour you're pretty much one your own. They beach the ferry at the boat launch and you drive off and up the ramp... Your last instructions being "if you haven't shifted your vehicle into four wheel drive you should do so now, and don't stop until we'll off the ferry". So off we drove. You're instantly onto a single sand "track" . It leads directly across the island to a town called Eurong where we filled filled the truck at the bargain price of $2.08/L. Lesson: come prepared. After that it's out on to 75 Mile Beach. A first for me. I'm pretty sure driving on any beach in Canada will land you in the stockade. As cool as the driving is the beach is also amazing. Beautiful sand and water, too bad for the sharks. Using our map from the service station and our Lonely Planet book we decided too head for lake Wabby. Lonely Planet suggested using the upper lookout access as it is only a one kilometre hike in from there instead of two and a half. So up we drove on Cornwells Break road, mostly floored to climb in the soft sand, to the lookout. Lake Wabby is formed by a sand blow witch is slowly burying it. So to one side is rain forests and the other sand dunes. In it are catfish. I counted as many as six at a time that came up to us to have a look. It's temping, but you probably shouldn't try to catch them with your hands. The water is warm, though dark and swimming was essential to escape the heat of the day. The walk back to the lookout was a little slower. We decided to go with shoes for this one and it was a good choice. The hike is a little intense for flip flops. Next on our schedule was camping, namely finding a spot. We decided to try the free beach camping even though they advise against it because of the dingoes. We have bears in Canada, what could a dingo do? So we set up camp, even our annex as the bugs were large, if not plentiful. It worked out brilliantly for us, we cooked and relaxed with out a single fly(about a half inch long). Then we cleaned up, went up to bed and tried to sleep over the sound of the wind trying to pull our tent off the truck. Until some especially loud thumps to the side of the annex... I stirred from a half slumber and bolted to the ladder. I couldn't see anything but I knew something was up. I got to the front door and ripped open the zipper and looked out to see in the moonlight that a dingo had my garbage! I ran out and he started leaving, with garbage in tow, so I yelled and chased him until he dropped it and took off. I picked it up an return triumphant to put it the truck and block the dingo nose shaped hole in the side of our annex. After all that excitement the wind died down a bit and I slept the rest of the night, Taryn I don't think was ever able to sleep soundly. The next morning we broke camp and hit the beach by ten thirty, driving around our friendly dingo to get out of the site. Guess he knows to be there in the morning for breakfast too. We drove north from our site at Cornwells camping zone and stopped next at the wreck of the Maheno. It's an old Trans-Tasman liner that was being scrapped and got washed ashore after losing her tow in 1935. Then it was on to the Champagne Pools. Most of the voyage was on the beach but there were a few portages around rocks that stuck out into the surf and around Indian Head, one of the few rock formations on the Island. The pools were at the next formation called middle rocks. The road up is a little less tended and required a fair amount of throttle and a bit of bump up onto the ramps that they use in the steeper sections. Old Pajero Pete had no issues but we did see some tag-a-long tour Land Cruisers struggle. The pools are hollows in rocks that are fed by waves a high tide. There is a surprising amount of life in them, especially considering the number of people who are brought there on a regular basis. I'll write another time about garbage because this post is getting long already, and I have a lot to say. Most of the pools are waist deep, the two large ones, but there is a section that's likely a meter and a half. It's a cool spot but be there with as few people as possible. When the tour groups arrive it ruins the peace of the place, most places actually. Next it was on to find a campsite again. We decided we should probably try an inland site this time since Taryn could barely sleep because of the wind, and me as well. We're in our tent atop Pajero Pete as I write this at Dundubara camping area. It's almost too calm here, it's quite warm in our tent and a small breeze would be nice, but it is nice to be out of the gale. Tomorrow our plan is to head back up Cornwells Break road and take it around to lake Mckenzie. We were going to take another route but there was a nice warning sign at the entrance that suggested we not bother. It's quick but I think we've seen the highlights of Fraser Island and we'll make our boat tomorrow at five. Some suggested we take more time but having now been here I think we spent the perfect amount of time. There's definitely a ton more to see but there's a lot of this island that I gather you should not be venturing to alone with a beat up old truck you bought a month ago. We really enjoyed everything we did here and look forward to lake Mckenzie but I think we've planned it just right. If you are coming here, and especially if you're coming with only one truck, don't worry. I was worried at first but there are people everywhere over here. You're not likely to find yourself beyond help. Also buy the map in the store at Eurong, or an equivalent. It tells you where to go and when it's not a good idea. We followed this advice and had no troubles. Also remember that the throttle is your friend. The sand can be very soft but lots of throttle will get you through. And don't lose your tide table, you need it. As far as air pressure, I dropped ours to 25 psi in the front and thirty int the rear. It worked for us.
Fraser Island is definitely worth the time and money. I suggest you either bring your own 4WD or hire one though. It was intimidating to go alone but having now done it I wouldn't hesitate to do it that way again. Do have strap with you, it's bad form not to supply your own recovery gear. The trucks that are part of the tours are filled with people. Even the lead cars witch are Toyota troop carriers have the backs full, that's 8 people I think. It doesn't look like much fun to me. The tour buses must be even worse. They're full sized 4WD buses with 30 or 40 people in them driving the same tracks as us. We were getting tossed around quite a bit, I can only imagine what it's like for them. Stay out of their way too, they don't move and they're hauling ass most of the time.
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