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Published: June 26th 2009
Our ride to the island
It poured down the entire night we spent in Hervey Bay and we were starting to dread this camping trip to Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world. In the morning some of our group slept in past the meeting time of 6:30 thanks to some confusing directions on when everybody needed to wake up. The grumpy old men that ran the show took offense to this and continuously threatened to cancel our trip because some people were 15 minutes late. Needless to say, after a few shouting matches, this was not the best way to start our trip and we were all happy to finally be on the road and away from these clowns for a few days.
The way these trips work is you sign up with the backpackers hostel in Hervey Bay (or Rainbow Beach) and they put you in a group of up to 11 random people, put you in a 4x4 and give you enough gear for 3 days/2 nights camping. You pre-order your alcohol and arrange your meals with the group and the whole trip turns out to be reasonably priced .. perfect for backpackers! We really lucked out with our group,
It looks like we're just flying but this is actually our first sand road on the island and Jay was driving about 25 km/h
we all got along very well and had a great time together. We could have used another guy but camping with 7 other girls was alright I suppose. There were 3 from England, 2 from Ireland and 3 of us from Canada.
We got to the barge in time and finally made it onto the island by noon. It rained the whole morning when we were packing up but as soon as we hopped in the truck the rain miraculously stopped and didn't start again until after we returned back to the mainland. It truly was a miracle considering the mainland was flooding during our trip and some parts very close to Hervey Bay were labeled 'disaster zones'.
Our first stop on the island was Lake Benaroon. Driving on sand in these beasts was great fun. As mentioned, it had previously been raining heavily so there were huge puddles all over the place. We came across a few people stranded with swamped engines. Luckily our truck handled it flawlessly. Jay had the first driving shift then I took the controls as we drove from Lake Benaroon to Lake Boomanjin. After having a look at the lake we decided
The truck and our group
to head for the nearest camp site for the night. We ended up setting up camp inside a dingo-safe enclosure so we didn't have to worry about those marauding dogs. We had a great night making steak burgers and drinking goon with our newfound friends. We spotted a few dingos outside the fence and Jay had one come quite close to her as she walked to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
The next morning, after bacon and eggs for breakfast, we made off for the Maheno shipwreck. This famous ship washed ashore in 1935 and is a must-see for most people on the island. It was an hour long drive along the major highway on the island, the beach at low tide. We made our way along the beach while having to take steep inland tracks to get around the points. The shipwreck was interesting and we wanted to keep driving north up the coast but it was closed thanks to all the lousy weather we've been having lately.
From the Maheno we made our way through the only town on the island, Happy Valley, and headed for another lake, Lake Garawongera. After a quick
look around we tried to make it down an unknown road heading south but were stopped about a kilometer in by a massive tree that had fallen and was blocking the path. Thanks to some skilled maneuvering by Jay we managed to turn around and go back towards Happy Valley.
It was getting late and the tide was coming up. We made an attempt to drive in each direction along the beach but the water was way too high. Most of the group was properly terrified by now. Jay was now driving the truck of another group that we'd been travelling with and I was behind the wheel in ours. Apparently the Dyers have the skills to dodge incoming waves with the girls screaming in the back. Thankfully we made it back to high ground and found a pathway to a nearby beach campground. We unloaded the gear and finally had camp set up just before nightfall. After a fairly stressful afternoon we were all able to finally relax and enjoy the stars with the waves crashing only metres away. We spent the night eating the rest of our food, drinking the rest of our wine and reminiscing about
Jay testing out the waters
our trip. Throughout the night several dingos surrounded our camp looking for scraps and a few times they came quite close. It was weird because they look like playful puppies but the fact is they did kill a little boy on the island about 15 years ago. Needless to say, it was a restless sleep for some people in our group!
The next morning we packed up and left for yet another lake, Lake McKenzie. This is the most famous swimming hole and we soon found out why. The sand was impossibly white and the water was perfectly clear. The sun was out so we spent the afternoon on the beach while we waited for the ferry to take us back.
All in all, it was an amazing trip. One more night catching up on sleep in Hervey Bay and tomorrow we're off to reacquaint ourselves with our Australian home base, Mooloolaba.
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