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Published: October 7th 2010
We certainly needed a bigger car! It was probably a little ambitious to take our 4 wheeldrive car to Fraser Island (or K'gari (Paradise) in local Aboriginal dialect - the largest sand island in the World) during the school holidays but, after a lot of researching and planning we decided to give it a go, taking all the safety precautions we could for every eventuality. But there is always the unexpected and the the fact that the car performed so well, we thought it capable of more but had not expected to encounter such deep ruts and pot holes made by large tourist buses and trucks recycling the rubbish at set stations along 75 mile beach as we ventured inland to explore the island.
An early 5am start saw us on the road driving north to Rainbow Beach and Inskip Point to drive on to the beach barge that was to ferry us across the short stretch of water to the sandy shores of Fraser Island. As it was the first day of the school holidays, it seemed that half of Brisbane had also got up at the same time to time the drive along the beach at the best
Preparing for Sand Driving
Before boarding the barge tyre pressure must be dropped to only 18psi for improved traction. The tyres look very flat!
time of day when the tide was low. The first 20 miles was a bit scary as everyone drove and swerved their way to the first inroad making deep sandy ruts and a criss cross course that even Jeremy Clarkson would have found a challenge. It seemed quite bizarre to be driving on the beach with the sea lapping alongside the car and to be negotiating sandy wash outs and rocky outcrops on the ground, with light aircraft landing on the beach in front of you, forcing you to swerve to avoid them landing on top of you. It was all very Australian! Kevin was brilliant throughout the whole journey and we arrived with sufficient time to pitch our tent and go for a walk before the light faded.
With warnings of Dingoes in and around the campsite, we made sure all our food was locked away and placed in plastic boxes, but this did not deter one young mother who decided to carry our dirty saucepan away from our pitch and lick the cream sauce out of the pan.
It was important to plan our trips around the tidal times, allowing sufficient time to return and reach
The Manta Ray Barge from Inskip Point to Hook Point
Sand to sand - a short 15 minute barge journey ferries you from Inskip Point near Rainbow Beach to Hook Point at the southern tip of Fraser Island. Travel is only possible 2 hours either side of low tide.
the entrance to the campsite before the tide was too high. We also had to think about our crossing of Eli Creek that would be too deep to cross at certain times of the day. The drive to Indian Head gave us the opportunity to climb out onto the headland and look out to sea to watch whales breach and splash their fins with pleasure as they swam close to shore with their new calves recently born in the calm waters of Hervey Bay. We were also fortunate to see Ospreys, Sea Eagles, Honey Eaters, Kingfisher, Figbirds and a lovely little Red Breasted Wren who sat on a branch nearby to the path and watched us as we watched him. There were waders and shore birds in abundance all along the coastline, Oyster Catchers, Little Terns, Yellow Faced Plovers and Cormorants.
Another day took us further north on the island as we left the car at Indian Head and walked the 3km beach to Champagne Pools where Dominic enjoyed a refreshing swim in the warm water left behind by the out-going tide. Despite the beautiful beach and enticing waves, you are not permitted to swim in the sea due
75 Mile Beach - the only road running north-south on Fraser
Normal road rules apply - there is even the occasional speed limit sign!
to strong currents and shark presence. The only people who were seen in the sea were the keen fishermen who waded into the water up to their knees in hope of catching Tailor fish - a local delicacy, gutted on tables near the beach and cooked almost immediately.
Unfortunately, the weather was not brilliant whilst we were there and we drove for a tortuous 50kms to Lake McKenzie through washouts and potholes to see the lake in torrential rain, a great disappointment as the perched lake is famous for its turquoise blue waters and white sands. The water has such a high acid content owing to the numerous minerals in the sands, only the Acid Frog can live there. It did not stop Dominic going for a swim though, along with a few other mad visitors. The drive through the forest was amazing though as we passed different Gum trees with beautiful bark markings and tropical vegetation with ferns and tall grasses. We look forward to a return visit to see it in its true colours and not under a cover of rain.
Getting 'bogged' (stuck in the sand) was an experience we would have liked to have
The wreck was once over 400 feet long and now is half its original length and rusting under the salty waves.
avoided, but we managed to dig ourselves out with our collapsable shovel and plastic frisbee along with the help of more experienced off-road drivers who had special 'Maxx Trax' boards which were placed underneath the back wheels to give traction and support when acceleration is applied when reversing out of the hole at break neck speed. As the saying goes 'drive it like you've stolen it!' We soon learnt how to read the tracks and negotiate our way around and over difficult terrain. We were just grateful in a way that the rain had helped to compact the sand more and create a harder surface, making some of the roads more passable.
The walk to Lake Wabby was a pleasant 6km round trip along a sandy path and under the shade of forest vegetation which meandered its way to the Sandblow which is slowly engulfing the forest and the lake at the rate of approximately 2m a year. The lake was a deep green pool of water at the lowest part of the dune, surrounded on three sides by trees and scrub land with a sheer sand bank leading down to the water on the other, before shelving deeply
Two inexperienced Off Road Drivers
We were more than happy to let Kevin do all the driving.
into a black abyss.
Eli Creek was very popular with young families as children could swim safely in the beautifully clear creek and enjoy being washed along by the natural water flowing gently down from the centre of the island and then out to sea. The wreck of HMS Maheno is also a popular spot along 75 mile beach to stop and photograph. The wreck is of a Scottish liner which was sold for scrap to the Japanese who were towing it to Tokyo when the lines broke in a storm and due to the propellers being removed, the ship ran aground where it has been left and is slowly breaking up.
The whole trip to Fraser was an experience rather than a restful holiday by the sea, but one we enjoyed and were glad we did. Next time we will definitely take a bigger car!
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