We're Never Coming Back

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Day 171 - Fraser Island

australia Who in their right mind lets 8 kids borrow your jeep and drive across sand dunes UNGUIDED for 3 days? the idiots...

Fraser Island is an enigma. Its basically a massive island (probably about the size of the Isle of Wight or something), composed almost entirely of sand, with about 1 mile of paved roads and the rest just dirt tracks across the island. its home to some beautiful lakes, beautiful beaches stretching for 50 miles at a time, wild dingo populations, MASSIVE SPIDERS and a shed load of campsites. the deal is that people hire jeeps and drive their way around the island, camping at campsites or staying in the only hotel on the island. Most people go unguided, so you have free reign to do whatever you want.

So there we are, 5am briefing, watching videos about driving 4-wheel-drive vehicles, beach driving safety, advice on feral dingoes (which were responsible for butchering a 4-year-old kid a few years back) and where to set up camp without attracting the animals. An hour later, we're packing our van with camping supplies - tents, gas cookers, water bottles, groundsheets, sleeping bags and tent-poles. Then we're in the supermarket, buying food provisions for 3 days. and an hour later, we're on the ferry heading for the island.

The paths on the island are mental. They're not roads. They're like driving over a motorcyle dirt-track. its takes AGES to get anywhere, and the paths are full of so many lumps and bumps that you get thrown around the van until your body aches. but aftr an hour of driving, we made it our first stop on our recommended itinery - Lake Mackenzie. And man, what a lake.

Right, this lake is completely clear water. Like, strikingly clear. You can see for miles through it and its SO beautiful. We jumped stright in and spent the next 2 hours sunning ourselves and diving around. the lake is like a bog bowl, and you can see the sand drop off into the deep. its amazing. and to top it all, there's a shed load of fit, young people all hanging around, jumping around the waters edge, playing football and splashing each other. Its like being on an 18-30s holiday, without the dickheads and the high-rise flats.

Anyway, we're in a group of 8 people. They're all pretty cool. 3 germans (who talk german all the time), a scottish couple (that bicker a lot, but its almost endearing), an essex boy and Sam and I. There's 2 other jeeps of guys, all a bit younger than us, although they seem to want to do their own thing which is fine. Anyway, we end up at this campsite by a lake, set up the tents, cook up a massive BBQ and hit the sack at about 10pm after a number of burbon and cokes.

In the morning we had a shed load to get through on our only full day on the island. We started by driving to the beach, where we spotted a wild dingo plodding along. It was cute. although looks like it needs a good feed.

next stop was Eli Creek, which i loved. its a cute little river which you can jump into (its freezing) and float down towards the sea. After spending 20 minutes trying to get in because its so cold, eventually we all drifted down the 10 minute creek, passing eels and fish, and getting papped by the more reluctant group members at the bottom. Its nothing really special, but it was fun. By this point too, I was warming hugely to the germans - Thomas, in particular (below), managed to make me laugh ALL DAY LONG. he's a legend.

After floating along the creek for a while, we headed further north along the beach. Driving on the beach is pretty cool - much cooler than when we did it on the 90-mile-beach in New Zealand, probably because we're in a jeep and not a bus. But yeah, I loved it. I got to take the wheel for a while myself, although the jeep is massive and slides around on the sand like mad. Thought we were gonna tip over at one point, which was a bit scary for the passengers. Anyway, before long we hit the wreck of the Moheno. Which whilst being covered in tourists, still maintained its eerie charm.

Further up the coast is another favourite spot of mine. This time a massive headland where from the top you can see stingrays, turtles and dolphins. We missed the dolphins by about 2 minutes, but it was pretty special. I had to be dragged away by the others, cos we had to get on, but i could have stayed there all day.



And next came the Champagne Pools. The sea here is way too dodgy to swim in. sharks prowl the beaches, rip currents drag shed loads of tourists out to their deaths (remember, we're miles away from any paved roads, and any emergency assistance out here). But these pools are just at the right level that at a low tide, you can swim in the water safe from all the dangers, and there's loads of fish in the water too. I hopped in, goofed around for about 20 minutes, then we headed down the beach to find a place to camp for the night.


We found a sheltered place on the beach and sat up drinking and chatting with the two other jeeps until the early hours. A couple of dingoes came sniffing around the tents, which was a little scary, but far more scary were the other kiddies singing dolly parton and oasis songs after I'd gone to bed. Surely no one does that?

That night was pretty nasty. the wind was howling, rain drops the size of golf-balls were pelting our tent. it was almost blair-witch like. and to top it all, after going to the toilet in the night (you have to go in pairs for fear of dingo attacks while you're peeing), I get back and Tom has stolen my sleeping bag. Right, Its fine, I'll just pull it back in my direction. OH NO. he's hanging onto it for dear life. I try waking him - nothing. I pull harder. he pulls harder too. Its stressing me out. So yeah, no sleeping bag for me. We end up sharing it, which is weird, and I end up having the worst night's sleep ever. great.


The next day, we hit another lake, this time one formed by a massive sand dune which grew across its drainage route. That was pretty sweet. We saw a big lizard as well. Can't get enough of those bad boys over here.

And then we had to head back to the mainland. We managed to sneak one more stop into lake mackenzie on the way, which was sweet. but before we knew what was happening, we were on the ferry and taking our last group photo before we returned the van.

neither myself or sam slept well at all during the fraser island experience, and to make it worse, we come back, enjoy a massive all you can eat pizza experience with the other jeepsters, and then I spend all night sleeping in the lounge of the hostel on a sofa becuause our room is too damn hot. AND our bus down to Noosa is at 5:45am, so we're up again at 5am. I HATE TRAVELLING. All i want is one good night's sleep. Its been way too long...

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