After decided that neither of us had $400 for a two night 4x4 tour of Fraser Island, Leon and I started to work out the logistics of hiking it on foot. The island's 120km long and 30kms wide, made of sand and is covered in dense hilly forest, we knew it wasn't going to be easy!
On the morning we were due to leave, the rain was hammering it down. It had been all night. Without a raincoat I was looking for any excuse to pack the whole think. We told a few people in the hostel our plan, they all thought we were stupid!
We had to make a decision whether to press ahead, neither of us wanted to quit, so we just kept pushing forward as planned.
By the time we'd reached the ferry the rain had finally stopped. We decided we'd give it a go to our first camp spot and if we were really struggling make the decision to head back. To ease our nerves, we cracked open a can of beer and joined the silver-travelers enjoying the start of their holiday for a drink!
Arriving in Kingfisher Bay on the east side of the island we started on our 11km hike to Lake McKenzie. The island has a great network of marked out tracks. We were 50m in, full of enthusiasm, when we came across our first hurdle. It was a mammoth hill to climb. We scrambled up it so slowly, stopping every 50 paces or so. That was the first, but not the last time, I wondered if the 5 litre box of wine in my backpack was absolutely essential!
Finally we reached the top.
We couldn't imagine anything else would be as hard as that, with our backpacks at their heaviest. Little did we know the first hill had a couple of bigger, scarier brothers. But after the first we knew eventually there would have to be a top to the hill and long down hill to follow!
Three quarters into our first walk we were feeling a little tired and were slightly dehydrated (worrying about our water supply). With my mind filled with Dingo and wildlife horror stories I'd heard before our trip, I started seeing things that weren't there. A broken bark looked like a pig, a patch of brown leaves Leon disturbed turned into leaping frogs?! But then, together we both saw the finish line. Lake McKenzie! I put down my back, took out my camera and started snapping away. We were so relieved!
It was only when we'd edge a little closer did we realise it wasn't a lake but a large patch of white sand going up a steep hill. We took out our map and realised we still had 3kms to go. Gutted!
The second time, there was no mistake. Lake McKenzie is a huge spans of water, surrounded by hilly forests and cornered by a bank of bright white sand. We chucked off our bags and nosed dived into the water.
We set up our tent, tucked into a well deserved box of pasta and enjoyed a few glasses of wine (goon). Well worth the work getting there.
When we were heading off to sleep, it started to rain. We were used to camping but in holiday parks there are always at least some lights and normally the sound of traffic to keep you company. It was PITCH black. I couldn't see my hand in front of me. Knowing we were the only people around for miles, the noises around us were slightly unnerving. Especially the sound of sniffing around the tent.
Fortunately we survived and spent the next day at Lake McKenzie before heading off for our next stop, Central Station 8km away. We made it just before dark on day two after another few thigh burning hills. We set up camp, got a fire going and enjoyed another pasta dinner.
Despite another rainy night, we were comforted by the company of other people in the camp. They had heavy duty camp gear which put our $20 tent to shame!
We woke up surprised at how well we'd slept. No funny noises, no sniffing, just a good night's sleep. Which was probably helped by the fact we were both nakard!
Then we noticed it. There was a hole in the tent. Something in the middle of the night had nibbled it's way through. We looked a little closer and realised there were teeth marks also going through Leon's backpack, helping itself to nearly half a loaf of bread!
After giving the bag a careful inspection, making sure our new friend wasn't still around, we headed to our third destination on day three - Eurong.
It was a tough walk, about 13kms. We made it half way before stopping to stretch a little. We took our backpacks off, I gave Leon a little back rub. He went to do the same to me and noticed spots of dirt on the back of my t-shirt. He lifted up my top and realised there was a leach sucking away on my back! NICE. After a few hysteric screams and flapping around in a circle he managed to get my still for long enough to flick the b***** off!
The last 3km were pretty slow, the terrain changed making it a perfect home for spiders. They had made their thick yellow webs across our path and Leon had to gallantly go first with a stick cutting them down. They were huuuge!
Eurong is one of the more developed parts of the island on its west coast. When we made it, it felt like walking into 'The Others' camp after being 'Lost' for days in the wilderness!
The nearest place we were allowed to camp was 3km away up the beach. Collapsing on the beach for a bite to eat, Leon went to see if there were any alternatives near by. We ended up in Base Camp Hostel. It being St. Patrick's Day we enjoyed the rest of goon with the other guests and headed down the pub - rude not too.
The hostel was looking for a couple of volunteers so we ended staying there for four nights helping out with odd jobs and nursing our legs and feet back to full strength.
Throughout the whole journey these large brown fly were biting us to bits. While at the hostel, one of the local guides showed us that like bees they collect nectar in a special cut-off compartment and that the Aborigines use it as sweetener. On our next trip out, Leon managed to catch one, rip it apart and I had my very first taste of bush-tucker! Move over Ant and Dec.
On our 7th day on the island we got back on the trail. We walked the 8km north along the beach to reach Lake Wabby. The flat sandy surface was a welcome change. We cut into the forest on the well trodden track and came out onto a huge sand dune. At the bottom of the c. 2/3km dune was a lake, Lake Wabby. We spent most of the day feeding the catfish and watching a super stealthy duck, dive for food. The people on tours walked back up the dune to the beach, while we made our way 500m up and inland to the lookout point and the hikers camp.
By day eight my blistered feet were killing me. From the map it looked like a 20km trek back to Kingfisher Bay but we knew we didn't have enough food for another night on the island.
I was wavering about 8kms in. The pace was pretty grueling to make sure we made the returning ferry. I was imagining a can of coke dangling in front of my face. I told Leon how the sound of a can of coke opening #tut-cluick-tshhh# is possibly the best sound in the world. Which led us to inventing the song:
# I want coca-cola, cokey-cokey-coca-cola, it goes tut-cluick-tshhh #
We sung it on loop for about 20 minutes.
We though we were about half way when we noticed the sign. This one wasn't a mirage. Kingfisher Bay 5km! We were nearly back.
We struggling through the last few kilometers and collapsed in front of Kingfisher Bay convenience store with a well deserved can of coke.
We did it! Over eight days we walked nearly 50km, battled rain and tent invading wildlife!