Once we got off the barge all the backpacker 4X4s went speeding off down the dirt tracks and we were meet by our tour guide for the day, Jon
. We were really lucky to end up with him because he was a really great and knowledgable guide and made sure we got plenty of time to see everything. Our vehicle for the day was a converted 4X4 bus which was brilliant and we got the best seats in the house, right at the front where we could see everything! Once everyone was settled we had our safety briefing; the island has no tarmaced roads so we were driving on sand pathways, full of holes, land-slides and fallen trees, so we were told to watch we didn't bang our heads on the windows when driving along. We also learnt all about the lovely creepy crawlies on the island as well as the notorious dingo. There are about 200 wild Australian dingos on Fraser Island; they are a descendent of the Asian wolf, are very aggresive and they will attack you if you bother them or have any food on you. We were told what to do if a dingo approached us (keep calm, step back slowly, keep your arms down) however if all else fails, and they do attack, you the advice is to "defend yourself aggresively, if possible hit it with a stick or a backpack"! Once our talk was over we started our journey into Fraser Island.
The first thing we noticed was how bumpy the paths were; the suspension on the bus was brilliant though and, unlike some of the people in the jeeps, we weren't getting thrown around everywhere. The tracks took us right through the middle of the rainforest and we felt like real Ozzy explorers. Our first stop for the day was called Lake MacKensie; a fresh water lake in the middle of the island, the minerals in the water and sand are supposed to be brilliant for your skin and hair. We were so happy when we got there because it looked just like it does in all the postcards... so beautiful and tropical. The water was crystal clear and a pale greeny blue colour and the sand was pristine white, it was also really soft and didn't irritate the life out of your skin like it does at home
. Tom went for a swim in the lake while I was chatting to the girl from South Korea and then we went for a walk along the lake's edge before we had to leave for our next stop. Back on the bus we headed back along the sand tracks and went to a place called Central Station in the middle of the island; Central Station used to be home to a small settlement of people and is now used as a camping ground for tourists. Once we were parked up our guide took us for a walk through the rainforest and taught us all about the different plants and animals that live in the jungle on Fraser Island. It was really strange to think that all the rainforest around us was growing out of sand; there isn't a single bit of soil or rock on the island, the whole thing is made of sand. There were streams and rivers in the middle of the forest but rather than there being any mud at the bottom of the water, all you would see was lovely soft white sand! In the rainforest we got to hear an Australian Kukaburra bird singing, it has a really distinctive song that actually sounds more like a monkey than a bird; everyone in the group was half-expecting to see a monkey come swinging through the trees. It was great to have Jon there during the walk because we got to learn so much about the Ozzy bush; we have been on loads of walks ourselves and not known what we were looking at, so it was great to have someone there explaining what everything was. After our walk we headed to the islands holiday resort for a really nice buffet lunch. During lunch the heavens opened and it absolutely poured with rain for about an hour, it was okay though because that was the only time it rained all day and it was still lovely and warm outside during the rest of the day
After lunch we got back on the bus and our guide took us for a drive along the island's 90 mile long beach; it was so beautiful as it just stretched out endlessly in front of you for as far as you could see. During our beach drive we meet up with two pilots who offered us all the chance to take part in a scenic flight over the island; a couple of people from our bus went along with them and later they told us that they had seen dingos and a tiger shark from the plane. Once the people had got on the plane we drove on to our next stop and they met us there when they had finished their flight. We journeyed up the beach to a place called The Pinnacles, which are a set of multicoloured sand cliffs. They were fantastic and again it was very strange to think that there was no rock or stone in them, they were just made of compacted sand... just like eveything else on the island!
From here we went back down the beach to see a ship wreck that had been washed upon the beach; the boat was called the Maheno and it used to be a luxery cruise ship until it was converted for use as a hospital ship during the First World War. Since it washed on the island in 1935 it was used by the military for target practice during the Second World War but it is now a protected landmark and people aren't allowed to go inside or climb on it... although we did some a couple of numptys inside it while we were there. After we had all got a couple of photos we got back on the bus and went a little further down the beach to a place called Eli Creek. The water in Eli Creek is fresh drinking water which has been filtered through the island's sand and then heads out into the sea; apparantly they can't bottle the water because the local prawns like to mate in the fresh water where it flows out into the sea and they don't want to disturb the prawns mating habits (fun fact of the day, fact fans)
. The water in Eli Creek is only about knee high and there is a boardwalk that follows the creek inland for about a 5 minute walk. We followed the boardwalk to the end and found a set of steps there leading down into the water. Us and a couple of other people decided to see how far back to the beach we could walk in the creek before it became too deep. Well we didn't get too far before Tom realise he had a load of batteries and the camera in his shorts pocket and so he headed back to the boardwalk and I carried on walk down the creek. At the deepest the water reached over my knees and I had to climb over a fallen tree in the water but I managed to make it all the way down the creek and back to the beach! The water was lovely and I saw a couple of silver fish on my travels (jungle perch apparantly, I had been more concerned about leeches though to be honest)! Our stop at Eli Creek was the last one of the day and from here we headed back to the resort to have a look around the souvenir shop and then we had a half hour drive back through the rainforest to the dock. We heard some great stories on the drive back about Aboriginal saliva muffins (yummy), Fraser Island horses and how the island got its name (it's a long story). Back at the dock we said goodbye to our guide and got on the barge for our return journey to the mainland... we'd had a fantastic day on Fraser Island, it was one of our best in Australia so far! Later that night at the hostel we settled down to tell Aurore and Katrine all about our adventures and to fall asleep as a pair of very sleepy explorers.
Today was our Fraser Island day trip; we got picked up at 7:20am and got chatting to some of the other people on the bus on our ride down to the dock. I had been slightly worried that we would be the only backpackers on our trip because most backpackers go on the 4X4 camping trips, however there were plenty of backpackers, as well as families, couples and singles, on our tour and it turned out to be a really nice mix of people; I got chatting to a lovely girl from South Korea and we ended up taking photos for each other during most of the day. Once the bus dropped us off at the dock we boarded the barge across to Fraser Island; the journey took about 40 minutes and the barge was packed to the rafters with people and 4X4 jeeps. As we approached the island we were really surprised with the way it looked; I don't know what we had been expecting, something like a huge sand-dune perhaps, but it turned out to look like any normal forest-covered island.