A Full Day of Driving, Lakes, Pools, and Swimming

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May 22nd 2007
Published: August 6th 2007
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A Full Day of Driving, Lakes, Pools, and Swimming

Boomerang Lake and Lake Allom

For our final day on the island we were planning on getting a full day in. Unlike the day before, when we couldn’t hit the eastern beaches until around two in the afternoon, we were able to get out on the beaches in the morning for a short window and then back on again in the afternoon around 2pm. Therefore, we drove out to the eastern beaches, north on the beach and got off on an inland track before our beach window closed at 10:30am.

The inland track in question was a loop that went from the eastern beaches around to the Boomerang Lake and Lake Allom and then back to the eastern beaches. What looked like a short trip on the map was a much longer trip once we were actually there. The track was in pretty bad shape because it is a less traveled track and therefore isn’t maintained as well by the park service. When trucks travel on these paths they create pot holes, some of which could swallow a small car. Our normal pace was severely slowed by these monster potholes.

The trek started with a drive through dense sub-tropical jungle. We drove with the windows down and let the cool breeze under the dense forest canopy blow in the car. It really felt like we were on a jungle trip in Africa due to the dense vegetation and the sounds from the wildlife all around us. We stopped for some pictures because it was just to cool to pass up.

After driving for close to an hour of tortuous stop and go driving we arrived at our first destination, Boomerang Lakes. We were really excited when we pulled up to the lakes because there were no other people around. We figured this would be our first chance to grab a spot by the water and enjoy a bit of solitude. After parking in the small parking lot we grabbed our towels and set off to hike around the two boomerang shaped lakes.

Very quickly we figured out that our hopes were dashed. There was no beach and the lakes were murky with moss that had grown in the standing water. We continued to take the twenty minute walk around the beach anyway. The vegetation around the lakes was vastly different from the jungle we had been in just minutes before. Here there were sparsely grown trees that looked more like desert growth. While the lakes were really pretty, we decided to move on in hopes of having more luck at Lake Allom.

The track to Lake Allom was, if anything, worse than the track we had driven on earlier in the morning. The pot holes got so large that in some places we had to slow to less than 5 kph and crawl through the holes in hopes that they wouldn’t snag our wheels and leave us stranded. At this point we were twenty kilometers or more from any help - the last thing we wanted to do was break the truck and get stuck now.

Lake Allom arrived after another twenty minutes of driving and we stopped in the much more populated parking area. Aussies know how to camp and still eat well; one guy had steak cooking on a gas powered hibachi grill set up in the parking lot while another group showed up with pre-made sandwiches, fruit and a cooler full of beer and wine (they even had proper wine glasses!). We joked with them that we must be traveling in the wrong circles while we drank our water and had salami & cheese sandwiches. Everyone got a good laugh at our expense.

Prior to eating we had stepped down to the lake to see if we were going to have more luck with beaches/swimming areas here. Unfortunately, no beach and limited swimming but the wildlife turned out to be much cooler. Lake Allom is highly populated with turtles who are not shy. We stepped into the shallow water beside a German couple who were coxing the turtles closer by dropping small amounts of sand in the water. The turtles came about a foot away from us and continued to snap at the sand in hopes that it was food. By the time we grew bored there had to be at least forty turtles swimming around us.

Back to Indian Head and the Champagne Pools

With lunch in our tummies we decided to set out to see the Champagne Pools which we had missed the day before because we had run out of time. Since we were out on the beach much earlier, about 2pm, we had a ton of time to race up the coast and try and catch some cool wildlife in the natural pools up by Indian Head.

By this point we were much more confident of our beach driving so set off at close to the 80kph beach speed limit. Thanks to the fact that we started further north and set off at greater speed, we reached Indian Head by about 2:30pm and then took the short trip further north on an inland track to the Champagne Pools.

When we arrived the place was crawling with gangs of backpackers. Kel and I always feel like outsiders when we arrive amongst these ubiquitous travelers because we are older and always more conservatively dressed than they are. These “kids,” as we refer to them, always tend to be skimpily dressed and highly tanned and usually in search of ways to impress members of the opposite sex while we show up in comfortable yet not incredibly fashionable clothes.

We were lucky that, by the time we hiked our way around to the pools, all of the backpackers packed up and left. Either they had some place to be that we didn’t know about or we smelled bad. Or both. Either way, we were happy they had gone and left us alone to admire the natural beauty that surrounded us.

The Champagne Pools are named for the froth seen as waves crash over the rocks which ring the pools and separate them from the sea. The pools vary in depth from about ankle deep to about waist deep and contain fish of various types and mussels which cling on the rocks. The really pretty part of these rock ringed pools is the surf crashing over them creating ripples in the water and spume which trickles down the rocks.

I spent about a half hour climbing through the pools doing my best not to get too wet while Kel sat on the bank and watched me. After a quick wander in, she wasn’t quite as thrilled by the wildlife as she was by the beauty of the pools themselves so she was more than able to enjoy them from the beach. (Kel: also the beach had a shady section - always a serious plus for me!) After taking some pictures and wading through the water for a while we decided to head back south. We wanted to get back to Lake Mackenzie to see if we could get a little bit of swimming in before the day was over.

Nature’s Swimming Pool All to Ourselves

The drive back south was uneventful but long and tedious. Going pretty much the speed limit the whole way, it took about an hour and a half to get all the way back to where we had started the day. We arrived at Lake Mackenzie at 4:30 which is only an hour before the sun fully sets. Even with the late arrival we were really surprised that no one else was at this lake which is the most popular attraction on Fraser Island. We had been told the tour groups usually left the area at 2pm but we figured there would be at least a few stragglers around. Nope, it was all ours!

Lake Mackenzie is the largest lake on the island and has a large white sand beach along on side. With a completely sandy bottom across the whole lake and no algae or plant life at all, it is gorgeous all the way through. The water is crystal clear by the beach and then becomes varying shades and depths of blue as you get closer to the middle. We grabbed a piece of sand for our towels and then ran into the water like a couple of little kids. The water was freezing and the air temperature was quickly dropping but we didn’t mind because of our isolation. We figure that almost no one gets lucky enough to spend 45 minutes here without a crowd. During the summers it can be difficult to even find a section of sand to sit in, instead we had the run of the beach.

We stuck around and watched the sky change from a deep blue to purple, to orange to red and the sunset. Figuring that we needed to get on the road before it got completely dark we dried off and jumped back in our faithful steed for the last 15kms back to our room at Kingfisher Bay. By time we arrived home it was pitch black but, since the sky was clear, the stars were out in force creating the perfect spectacle ending for a beautiful day.

We grabbed a quick dinner and then played an hour or two of ping pong before setting off to bed. Our next day would be a long one since we needed to drive all the way south in the morning, catch the ferry back to Rainbow Beach, return our truck and then drive the four hours to our day’s final destination in Agnes Waters.

Hope you are all well at home! Keep reading and sending comments, we love getting notes from our friends!

Editor’s Note: I have to take a minute here to call out Kudos to Mike for his driving on Fraser Island. It was stressful, alternately scary/wild as he balanced the three competing priorities of (a) don’t shake our teeth completely out of our head with bumps and ruts and (b) don’t get stuck in soft sand so that we’ll be camping in our trusty steed and (c) don’t hit anything - tree, oncoming truck, or jacked-up bus. He kept his cool, learned from his (rare) mistakes quickly and did an awesome job. He’s a great driver regularly, but this jacked up his skills to a whole new level. Go Mikey!

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