OK, so we left Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays sailing knowing we had atleast a 12 hour drive down to our next big activity which was Fraser Island. So we decided to split the drive over 3 days to give us a bit more time to relax and see some of the coast. Our first day involved a short drive down to Mackay which didn't appeal mainly due to the rain and so we headed on a scenic drive of the coast where the beaches of Australia continued to impress as they were all so long and untouched. We stopped for a while and collected some more fresh coconuts for desert before stopping at a farm for some fresh and cheap fruit and veg! We parked up in a rest area on the side of the road and were up at the crack of dawn the next day and took a drive into the next big town of rockhampton. It was another unappealing australian town with nothing much to see but an art gallery and so we continued on to the small town (barely even a strip of shops) of 1770 which is actually the name of the place! It's where captain cook first landed in Australia (funnily enough in 1770) and there was literally nothing but a beach and a shop. but it was a nice place to chill out for the evening and we saw an amzing sunset that lit the sky and the sea in reds and oranges. After a wierd meal of rice and other ingredients, we set off the next day for the town of Bundaberg, once again unappealing but only really to stop off at the rum distillery. Bundaberg Rum is famous in Australia and the tour certainly lived up to the expectations as we saw the whole process as well as the huge vats of maturing rum where you could suck in the alcohol vapours and be amazing by the billions of pounds worth of rum sitting there. After a quick stop in Hervey Bay, we headed to our final destination of Rainbow Beach which was where we were to leave the mainland and spend 3 days on the national heritage park of fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world.
We arrived at our hostel and met our other 9 companions who we were to spend the next 3 days with and got all our gear together in our self drive 4x4 landcruiser that was enormous! we were up early in the morning and after a serious briefing we took the ferry across and were on the island that was unbelievable. The first thing that struck me was how the beach was actually a highway and we could drive so close to the sea. The beach on Fraser Island is 90km long of beautiful sand with the open water on one side and rainforest on the other. Unfortunatelt our drivers weren't very good though. they were a french couple who seemed to have to tell eachother what to do at the wheel which resulted in them becoming very stressed and angry and eventually bogging the car in soft sand after 5 mins! We were all very anxious as if anything went wrong, we would end up paying! But we made it to our first stop which was Lake Birrabeen and admired the amazing freshwater lake which was perched in the middle of sand dunes and was so peaceful. We had a quick dip in the icy water before taking a walk through the thick forest to a small lake whichb apparently had turtles living there but we didnt see any. We set up camp for the night and made beef burgers and drank goon before smashing our front bumper in the dark and getting an early nights sleep.
We were up early the next morning before the crowds and got to see Lake mackenzie (the main attraction) before all the tourists arrived. it was amazing with pure white sand that looked and felt like snow and the water was so clear. We sat in the peace for a while before moving on to Lake Wabbi which was once again amazing. It's basically sand dunes as far as the eye can see and we rolled down the steep sand dunes into the deep water. was such great fun and after a rest to get our heads straight we moved on. We attempted a drive up the beach at high tide which meant driving through soft sand with people screaming in the back because the car felt as though it was going to tip! We all got out, happy to be alive, and went to see Eli Creek where we floated down the water underneath the trees. We were used to the cold water now! We camped up on the beach for the night and cooked up some spaghetti while listening to the ocean.
We had another early start and began with the Maheno Shipwreck that was right on the beach as we drove past. Was so wierd to see such a huge structure right on the beach and was really interesting to learn about. We then had a fast 1 hour drive up to the northern part of the island and sat and Indian Head to watch whales, dolphins, shakrs and manta rays as the migrated past and showed off their tricks to us! Was so amazing and everyone was cheering as the whales flicked their tails in the air. We had one final walk north up to the Champagne Rock Pool where we sat in the sea and watched the waves crash over the rocks creating a champagne effect that was great. We then had a final 3 hour drive back down the beach which wasn't the most comfortable of journeys and arrived back to Rainbow beach that evening, all tired but at the same time all excited after such a great trip.
We were so lucky with the weather there, 3 days of great sunshine and hot weather, as the rain would have put us off doing stuff. Our group was great too as we were all very pro-active and wanted to see a lot and there were no major arguments. The island itself was amazing, has been the highlight of Australia for me so far. there was so much to see and do and the fact that we had our own jeep was awesome. The scenery was so different and it was wierd to see forest and lakes perched in sand, as well as the huge beaches and the fierce sea.
Sorry has been a long blog, but that hasn't even really gone in depth as to what we saw and did on the coast and at Fraser Island, but don't want to bore you anymore. Have had an amazing time so far. Continuing south and will continue the story in the next few days!