Nearing the end of our trip, we now had to get on to the really touristy bit....
First up was the much talked about Fraser Island. Even in South America we had heard from backpackers that it was beautiful and among one of the best things they had done travelling. So we were pretty excited about the adventure in a 4x4 with our the other 6 people in our group. We all got off to a good start, a little apprehensive about driving a 4x4 on the biggest sand island in the world, but coping. We had a beautiful stop off at one of the island's many lakes and went for a dip, sunbathed and hopped back in the car ready for our next destination. All happy and carefree until....
We were hit by a bus.
Yes that's right, 3 hours into the trip a bus came hurtling around a blind corner, we dived across into where there was luckily a bay, however the back of the bus still managed to get us! The vehicle was undamaged and we could continue, but we were all a bit shaken and pensive about the driving (me and gem were not driving the car at the time). This wasn't helped by us witnessing the toppling over of a 4x4 van that we had just passed soon after. It was a tense time while we waited for people to get out, but everyone was fine and we ferried them to a site where help could be reached (no mobile phone connection on this desert island). Luckily the tide was low so the car wasn't washed away. We were learning that this island could be a bit dangerous! And we haven't even mentioned the Dingoes!
We did continue and had an absolute blast with our fellow campers, especially the Swedes who taught us the catchy and unforgettable bannana dance and small frog dance (it will be a feature at parties when we return so be prepared). The island itself, as well as being hazardous to your health and nerves, was absolutely beautiful. The Champagne Pools, where foam from the ocean comes crashing over the rocks, were a delight, Lake Wabbi with its vast and imposing sand dune was unforgettable - even though catfish didn't nibble at our toes as promised (probably best really, don't want to go killing the wildlife)- and Lake MaKenzie was just so clear, big and picturesque that it was the perfect way to round off an um, very eventful trip.
Another perfect antidote to the pressures of travelling was the wonderful time we spent at a little town called Torbanley, where we were kindly invited to stay with Dale's family. Ros, Peter and Tania, introduced us to their horses, including Dale's called Mr.Vain (no comment), and a galah! The galah was sooo cool, it not only spoke, but in a perfect australian accent, waving when it said bye. We were very excited. Then there were the kangaroos just in their backyard,so we could get pretty near to them. These were the first we had seen close up in the wild so we were excited. We were both very impressed, but even more so when we were presented with prawns they had caught so recently that they were still moving! Wowsers. Ros even humoured us by saying 'don't come the raw prawn with me'. Gemma laughed for far to long at that. Bless.
Our visit coincided with Anzac Day, where Australians honour those soldiers who died in battle, and particularly Gallipoli, we attended the morning rememberence service in Torbanley. It was great to see the number of people, young and old honouring those who had served. The meaning has really effectively been filtered through the generations and it was amazing to be a part of it. Another tradition of Anzac Day which we partook in was 2-UP. This is basically betting in the toss of a coin, simple but addictive. We gave up after losing $5, sensing that perhaps our luck wasn't in after our experiences on Fraser Island just days before.
After being looked after so well, we were sad to leave, but refortifed for the backpacker life. So we headed off to the whitsundays, stopping off in a delighful little place called 1770 so called because that was when James Cook founded it. The Whitsundays are a collection of islands, and we decided to explore them on a 3 day cruise, staying on another little island resort(not entirely made of sand this time). Now we were truly feeling like we were living the high life.
First stop was Whitehaven Beach, one of the top 5 rated in the world because of its sand, which is created by an underwater volcano. It was so soft and in such a lovely setting, we had a great time snorkelling and seeing some weird looking fish and things. You may see the pictures and wonder why we are wearing superhero costumes, well this was not a dare, they are actually very sophisticated 'stinger suits'. Australia is alive with things that want to hurt you - this time jellyfish, so on went the suits. The suits were particularly welcome when we went snorkelling the next day at a reef. We were plopped into the water and although there wasn't really much fish life going on, there were jellyfish - EVERYWHERE! All you could hear in the water was a muffling through peoples snorkels and flapping to get away. Nobody stayed in that long. The jellyfish were cool looking, but we didn't really hang around to get a picture, and were glad to get back to the more civilised life of sailing.Â Â Â
In between sailing, we had a great time at the island resort we stayed at, with jungle parties (hence the funny dress in the pics) and limbo contests - Lisa was keen, but her knees however were not and she came crashing down on them and out of the competition. It was a valiant attempt.
And so with these very different adventures behind us, we looked forward to seeing one of the seven wonders of the natural world - the Great Barrier Reef. Yay!Â