There is so much to do in this country, inparticular the East Coast that you could spend years here and still not see everything, so with only 10 days left on my visa I did the supposed 'must see' attractions of the Whitsundays and Fraser Island, before flying to New Zealand. The first stop at Airlie beach followed a 9 hour bus journey from Cairns and brought to me the worst storm I have ever seen and hopefully will ever see. Wet season in Queensland is not a pretty site. Sailing the Whitsundays is usually an idyllic 3 days and 2 nights travelling around 74 of the most beautiful islands in the pacific, some beautiful beaches, amazing snorkelling and swimming with dolphins etc. It was quite clear on arrival at Airlie Beach however that this was not going to be the case for my time there! The nearest any of us got to sailing was putting the sail up at the start of the trip and we were anchored for two days in conditions more becoming of the north sea than the whitsundays! in essence it turned into a two day booze cruise as there was simply nothing else for our group to do as the weather prevented us from venturing out to the gorgeous beach at Hamilton Island, but armed with an Esky of goon and an Emile of beer and two days of drinking games, the time seemed to pass enjoyably enough. It was a fun two days in the end but i cant help feeling this was a missed opportunity to experience one of the most wonderful things Australia has to offer.
On return to Airlie beach, I was confronted with two pieces of awful news, competing with eachother in their incredible s***ness. Firstly Tottenham had lost after extra time in the semi finals of the league cup at Arsenal and i vowed never to drink goon again in protest. Secondly the storms meant that all of the roads into and out of Airlie beach were shut and none of our group were going anywhere. There are many worse places to be stuck however and our group had another two days of fun and frolics at Airlie before we finally all got going and i embarked on the killer 14 hour overnight journey to Rainbow Beach, gateway to Fraser Island.
Fraser Island is a a massive secluded sand island off the east coast, famous as a recreation ground for camping, 4x4 beach driving and some good old aussie wildlife. It was without doubt one of my best experiences in Australia (even better than some of the cricket). Put into groups of 11, you get a surprising (some might say naive) amount of trust placed in a group of pissed up backpackers in their early 20's and get sent on to the island with camping equipment, food, eskies of alcohol and a 4x4 vehicle to do as you wish for 3 days. There are some beautiful sights and attractions on fraser island, particularly Lake Mckenzie, the most stunning fresh water lake i have ever seen and pure paradise to swim in. The sharks and dolphins swimming around Indian Head are also quite a sight, as the is stunning Eli Creek. After sampling some of what is surely the most smelly water in the world at Lake (eel piss) Wabby, Lake Mckenzie was quite a pleasure. We also got to see some great wildlife on the island, ranging from the supposedly deadly Dingoes (very skinny dogs) to the more scary sharks and iguanas, with a couple of eels and dolphins thrown in for good measure. Each night ended with 3 groups meeting up for some good old camp site fun and (drinking) games and it is no surprise that virtually everyone who goes says nothing but good things about their time on fraser island. I STRONGLY recommend it to anyone going to visit australia and im sure punch and mikey will love it if and when they go. A lot depends on the group you are placed with, as you have to live shelter-less, toilet-less and kitchen-less for three days, no easy task for a bunch of pampered Brits and Canadians, but you have to be pretty unlucky to get a bad one. Our group was a really good mix as im sure most are and the nights outside the tents were highly amusing! And so after three months in this amazing country I'm now off to climes less sunny but im sure equally as amazing in New Zealand!