Fraser Island.. yup, there's more sand here than in the Sahara Desert.. it's a fact folks!
June 1st. Arrived in Hervey Bay around 5:30am (phew, a wee bitty tired today i have to say!). My "Cool Dingos" bus was picking me up to start the third and final installment of my Queensland adventures.. this time i was going to hang out at the famous "Fraser Island" for three days! As the brochures say, Fraser Island appears too lush and green to be the world's biggest sand island, but its ecology really is one of its many wonders...there are rainforest, gorges, mineral streams, and some 200 vivid fresh water lakes all found within this amazing place! The island itself, although only 120km by 15km, really does contain more sand than the Sahara Desert. Pretty impressive eh! The dunes, known here as sand blows, stand up to 220m high. With over 350,000 tourists arriving here annually, it is definitely one of Queensland's (and Australia's) most popular attractions. Wierd thing is - with all this gorgeous sand and sun comes the need to jump in the ocean.. but you can't! This is where there are a plethora of man eating sharks, and if they don't get you, the dangerous riptides probably will! There are certain areas you can swim - Champagne Pools for example, but the ocean is a big no-no!!
Anyway enough of the facts, lets move on to the human interest part of the story! I was on the bus as we picked up other folks around town! Started getting a wee bit worried as many of the people were definitely older (yes, even than me!). However, when we arrived at the ferry terminal, we were all divided up and the "Cool Dingo" team was born - and as always (yup, I'm a broken record but again just really lucky!) I got a fab group!!! Met Niamh, her brother Feargal and their pals Murt and David, all from Ireland. Also Chris and Kerry, our two (clearly mad as we later found out - but in a great way!) new Canadian pals! Got to our "resort" (wow, sounds like I'm living it up here!) at Kingfisher Bay. The boat guys lugged our bags onto a wee lorry and all of a sudden we hear "Oh - My - God! Whose bag is this!". I knew immediately, with a sinking heart, that it was mine! Didn't really want to own up to it in front of about 50 other people! But of course i had to! "How on earth can you carry this" they asked? "Well, I used to be over 6ft so obviously it is having an impact", I replied - quite wittily i thought! But they are right - it is SO heavy. Can't wait to post stuff home when I get to Sydney!
Anyway - moving on! Met our guide, Chris and headed to our bus to start the trip! First stop, we took a walk for about 3kms, to Basin Lake. Then another walk through the rainforest to Central Station and Pile Valley. After that it was off again to famous Lake Mackenzie.. really pretty here but a tad chilly. No chance of going into the lake! But did find time to chat to more of the gang - Sarah, traveling on her own at 18, from England (amazing!), Gaby and Karolina - US-Hungarian and US-Polish traveling together (soon to be doctors in NY!), and the fab Caroline and Wauther from Belgium -great couple! After "afternoon tea" - ridiculous amount of muffins and cookies - we headed to our lodge! Really nice i have to say, to be honest, wasn't quite sure what i had signed up for here, so definitely pleasantly surprised! After a wee relax, we all headed down to the Dingo Bar for dinner, and more socializing. Met Michelle and Susan, also from Ireland - hilarious girls. And Susan, the vegan from Hawaii... bad to label people but she had a tough time trying to explain her eating style to the cook here.. poor thing! So another fab first day. Fraser Island is interesting so far.... hasn't blown me away yet but two more days to go so we'll see what else there is on the agenda... (and it's a hard act to follow after the Whitsundays!).
June 2nd. Today dawned another beautiful day! Yah - so much for coming to Australia during the winter.. ok its a bit cooler but still, every day is gorgeous! After breakfast as we were getting on the bus, when there was a ton of commotion from the Welsh couple in our group (who very interestingly, speak Welsh as their first language .. lovely couple - Arwel and Eleri!). Anyway they had told Chris, our guide that their room had been broken into and everything taken! What - within a half hour of breakfast - we all thought this was terrible and how could it have happened so quickly! Hmmn - seems they were still a wee bitty tipsy from last night and so when they went back to their room after breakfast to grab their bags, they went into a completely different lodge, never mind just different room.. so big sigh, nothing pinched and we all had a great giggle about it!
Off to 75 Mile Beach...stunning beach, so clean, wide, and white! We stopped at Coloured Sands to check out the multi-coloured rock formations. Then off again along the beach until we met the bi-plane that takes you over the island.After this, we visited Indian Head (so named by Captain Cook who looked out from his ship when he arrived off the coast of the island, saw some of the Aboriginal people watching him, and famously said "the Indians are there!".. in those days apparantly everyone who was of native descent was called "Indian" who knew eh!). Indian Head really is the best vantage point on the island. From here you can clearly see sharks, manta rays, dolphins and whales... the 360 degree view is just gorgeous. So we all hiked up to the top and checked out the view - and it really was impressive. Some of the sand dunes we saw were over 800 million years old apparantly!
Then we headed over to Champagne Pools (and no - for once I really don't know why its called this .. sorry folks!) for a well earned swim! At last! After that we were, yes, you guessed it, off again, this time to check out the wreck of the Maheno passenger liner (built in Scotland in the 1800's) that was blown ashore by a cyclone in 1935 while being towed to a Japanese scrapyard! The wreck was used more recently for target practice by the Australian Airforce. But with over 100 pot shots taken, they only managed to hit the wreck twice! Not such great accuracy there, wouldn't you agree!
Then on our way back we saw a dingo.. the infamous dingo that you are constantly warned about here on the island. The warnings are there for a reason - a few years ago a small child was killed by a dingo, so there is definitely a danger factor. However, its the tourist trade encroaching on their ever-receding territory that brings them so closely into contact with people. Sad fact and there are not that many dingos left in the wild! Only 150-200 here on Fraser Island so it is quite rare to see one as we did!
Did you know that some of the sand on FI actually came from Antartica millions of years ago! Amazing what you learn on these trips! But enough of that! Tonight was Karaoke Night at the Dingo Bar! The excitement! We persuaded Wauther and Caroline to stay an extra night (and just bunk up with us - they were supposed to leave today!). Well, what can i say! What a laugh we had. The Cool Dingo gang certainly like to sing....we must have been up in one group or another, for most of the night! Then there was the "awwww" factor. A Korean couple, traveling with us, (Sosuk Lee and her husband) were on their honeymoon and they got up and sang "How Deep is our Love:.. it was the cutest thing as they introduced themselves to the crowd and told them how happy they were to be with all of us on their honeymoon. Of course, we gave them a standing ovation... even tho' there was a bunch of drunken bums trying to boo them off - really, some travelers have no manners!
Later on that night, a strange situation unfolded. Susan and I had stayed a bit later chatting to the Irish boys.. but after the "soft rock" AKA Bon Jovi music started, some Korean men got up on the dance floor and started going crazy with excitement! Clearly they really liked this music genre! They kept asking us to dance, and nothing against them or their music tastes, but we decided it was probably time to leave! Another key reason was that we had met this wierd Yorkshireman earlier who told us to stay on, as he was going to get naked in the bar soon! Of course, we immediately made our exit at this point - yuk is all I can say! Next morning we found out from David and Feargal; alot did happen after we left! They were standing at the bar, minding their own business, drinking their pints, when one of the Korean guys, not the Yorkshireman, walked up to the bar, stark naked, ordered a pint, then continued to the dance floor where he boogyed on down for quite some time....naked! How strange is that! Pity I missed that photo op for the blog.. but honestly, probably a good thing!
June 3rd. Everyone a wee bitty tired after our big night last night! Today we were off to Lake Wabby. Surrounded on three sides by eucalpytus forest, while the fourth side is a massive sandblow, which is encroaching on the lake at rate of 3 metres a year. We all walked down to it and then sand boarded into the lake below. Great fun, and the water was gorgeous. After this we headed out of the dunes back through the forest to 75 Mile Beach again, AND huge bonus, we saw a whale in the ocean. OK, OK i only saw a big grey blob (even with my fabulous laser eye surgery!) but Chris convinced us it was there! Today was pretty low key, after our BBQ lunch (yes you are right we do alot of eating on this trip!), we headed off down the bumpiest road in history (imagine complete off road driving with a giant bus!). We were falling all over the place, and Chris managed to do a complete "off the ground" number where the bus was actually airborne - fantastic! Arrived at Lake Birrabeen before any of the crowds. Absolutely gorgeous - pristine, beautiful, silent. Just stunning! So we hung out here until the marauding crowds arrived.. had our tea and 500 cookies then headed back to the lodge.. to catch the ferry back to the mainland at 5:30pm. Great fun and really enjoyed this trip. Fraser Island is definitely a beautiful place.. and it grew on me as the days passed I have to say!
Said our goodbyes to those heading up the coast but a bunch of us decided to meet for dinner at a bar in town that Chris our guide, recommended. Why he recommended, never mind calls it is his local, was beyond any of us! It was definitely one of the wierdest bars i have EVER been in, in my life. There was a very interesting and eclectic mix of people here.... from regulars who live in Hervey Bay, to those women living in the 80's with fake leatherette and big hair, to a weird guy wearing a dress jacket and floppy jeans that he kept pulling down; to a huge group of people dressed up in some sort of beach themed gear; to the scary looking bouncers.. and of couse the live band playing "ONLY Australian hits tonight folks".. Hmnn we wondered how long that would take - sorry!!! Then as we were chatting, a giant fight broke out .. luckily it exited the pub onto the street pretty quickly but must be a regular occurance hence the giant bouncers! In the midst of this mayhem, this guy casually walks past the madness, and into the pub, dressed in the most vibrant sunshine yellow suit and matching fedora hat, that i have ever seen. AND he wasn't with the dressed up crowd. We think that was his going out outfit! Indeed, a very bizarre evening!!!! Off to bed as we have to get up at 5am tomorrow for our bus to Brisbane!! Hate to repeat myself, but I had a great time, yet again!!! Thanks Fraser Island!!! Can you believe i didn't have my camera for once! Ahh.. how annoying!
PS yes, I do know there are black dots all over my photos now... thanks to my camera playing up! Will get it fixed soon, and hopefully get back to my usual "David Baileyesque" standards soon!