We arrived in Hervey Bay after a rough night on the overnight bus. Early the next morning I set off for Fraser island with my group of 7 and Ev headed back to the UK for 2 weeks. The 8 of us were packed into a 4WD and given directions to the nearest grocery store and the ferry point. Luckily we made our ferry with 5 minutes to spare! It's called a self drive and is basically a tour without a guide. So that means we had to navigate around the island, hit the main tourist attractions and when our 4WD got stuck in the sand on the biggest sand island in the world we had to work together to get it out (what did I sign myself up for).
We got to the island and began our drive on the worst roads since Kenya (I still have the bruised to prove it)! Got to Eurong and headed for the beach. On Fraser Island you can't swim in the ocean as it has a remarkably high chance of killing you (breeding ground for tiger sharks, blue bottle jellyfish, stingrays, etc) so you use the beach to drive on instead of
sunbathe. Our first night we headed for a campsite near to Lake Wabby. After an hour walk up and down the sand dunes we arrived at the freshwater lake filled with catfish that nibble at your fingers and toes and the occasional turtle.
It's truly amazing that Fraser Island exists. A completely sand island that somehow developed a rainforest that sustains large mammals and holds numerous freshwater lakes. After a refreshing dip we made our way back to our campsite for a BBQ with the dingos that just casually strolled into our camp, had a laugh when a storm blew in and left us all huddled under the tarp to escape the bad weather and ended up sharing our campsite with 10 other trucks.
Up bright and early the next morning. Queensland doesn't use daylight savings time (I have heard it explained that it is so hot here year round that they don't want anymore summer daylight to melt in). So the sunrises around 4:30am and that's about the time I woke up each and every morning which made for a long day. With no one else awake it only made sense to spend my first hour sitting
on the beach watching the sunrise. What a way to start the day!
On our second day we drove up the beach a few hours to Indian Head. From the top of Indian Head we saws plenty of stingray and a turtle but sadly no sharks. From there we made our way down the beach further to the Champagne Pools. As the waves crash over the rock walls that divide the pools from the sea they fizz like champagne. A bit smelly but so cold and refreshing after our long walk.
Headed back down the beach for the Maheno shipwreck before making camp (after many attempts to push the 4WD up and over the sand dunes that divide the campsite from the beach). Last stop of the day was Ely Creek. This freshwater creek flows down to the sea and maintains a temperature of about 16C year round. After a 35C day you can imagine the relief the cold waters brought. We spent the arvo floating to the sea on the cool water current.
Our last day saw me up at 4:45am yet again. A sleepy encounter with 2 dingos and the blurriest picture imaginable for proof
started my last day on Fraser Island. Our only goal of the day was to head for Lake Mackenzie and get some ice cream on the way. We bumped and bruised through the longest 11kms to the secluded lake and proceeded to take dip after dip in the cool water. Caught the ferry back in the late afternoon and spent the evening at the hostel flogging the sand out of all of my gear.
From Hervey Bay headed for Rainbow Beach for 1 night. I hadn't thought I would be so sick of the sight of sand when I planned the day in Rainbow Beach. Nevertheless I forced myself out onto the multi colored sands and in the evening took a walk to the Carol Sandblow, named for one of the crew on Captain Cook's vessel. The sandblow is basically a massive sand dune that cuts across the forest and is the best place for sunset (and evidently a game of rugby). It ended up being a lovely day albeit on sand.
I awoke early the next morning headed for the dolphin feeding at Tin Can Bay. I caught the ferry and had the pleasure of hand feeding
a wild humpback indo-pacific dolphin called Mystique. His podmate, Patch, was also there for a free hand out of 3kg of fish each (fed to them one by one). It was a really cool experience. As the dolphins are completely wild as soon as the free food was gone they headed back out to sea. These dolphins have been enjoying a free handout for the past 30 or 40 years and although it is techinically illegal to feed wild dolphins the EPA has allowed this particular feeding place to remain due to its long running history. The stipulations are that each dolphin can only be fed 3kgs of fish per day (a very small percentage of their diet) between 8am and 10am daily so that they do not become dependent on humans.
From Rainbow Beach I headed south further to Noosa on the Sunshine Coast and more sand! I explored the very expensive but lovely town before taking my book to the beach and falling prey to an afternoon nap. Back to the hostel for a free mushroom risotto (also known as wallpaper paste!). Next stop Brisbane! Thinking of you Richard!
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