Hervey Bay 4th - 6th October 2010 & Fraser Island 6th - 8th October 2010
We left Agnes Water and Cool Bananas behind (boo) and made our way 4 hours down the coast to Hervey Bay for a 2 night stay before we went to Fraser island. We didn't do much here at all and we just spent the time sorting laundry, I uploaded 3 albums to my blog (took blimin ages!), chatted on Skype, brought an external hard drive and argued with the receptionist over her thinking she wasn't going to give us a refund on our key deposit.
Anyhow, a good nights kip, 2 safety DVDs at 8am, goon packed (sod the food and yes, it is an essential!) and we were all set! All tours to Fraser island now have to have a guide 4x4 vehicle and the other vehicles 'tag along', making all tours tag alongs. This was because of the amount of serious injuries and fatalties caused by giving people a 4x4 who drove it like maniacs along the beaches and rolled them or crashed into each other. We started in the follow on vehicle which was a highly uncomfortable mini bus, which had seats down each side, plus a load of equipment, it only had lap belts and we were being thrown around left, right and centre.It was also full of some extremely rude Germans but I'll come to that shortly. When we got to our first stop which was Lake Mckenzie the tour guide was making jokes asking if everyone was chatting in English, and if not they had to eat a spoonful of vegemite. This obviously fell on deaf ears and they continued to speak in German for the rest of the trip, making sure that no-one else could join in with their conversations. Anyway, back to our first stop - Lake Mckenzie. The lake is one of 100 fresh water lakes on the island and I was awestruck by the stunning beauty of it - crystal clear water transitioning into turquoise and then deep blue, snow white sand, lush rainforest, absolutely picture postcard kinda stuff! We walked part way round the lake where the water was much warmer and then went back to the Jeeps where our Guide Troy had prepared lunch for us all.
One of the other tour guides met us and we took over another vehicle which stays on the island and is full of camping & cooking gear. As Troy was no longer driving the original lead vehicle he asked if we wanted too - hell yeah!
We set off in our massively upgraded 4 wheel drive Toyota with comfy seats and a decent suspension. And by god were we glad when we reached the deep sand! We didn't really know what to expect from the tour, other than everyone says it's an absolute must do. Some of the most interesting facts were that Fraser is the World's largest sand island and has more sand than the Sahara desert! It became a World heritage site in 1991 due to it's unique ecosystem and prior to that it's main industry was logging the wood from the rainforests, along with sand mining, which all stopped overnight as soon as the status was granted. The sand here is very similar to the Whitsundays and as the sand is so round it couldn't be used in cement as it would just fall apart so anything on the island that is made of concrete had to have the sand shipped from the main land - pretty weird considering it is an island made of sand. However, I think the most interesting fact is that the 'roads' on the island are either sand tracks through the middle of the island, or the beach! There are absolutely no tarmac roads, the only man made material which is put in the most hazardous areas are wooden planks to give the jeeps extra grip. Driving around the island in a 4x4 was awesome and once we got to the eastern shore it was actually smoother than most roads in England.
The best parts were when we came into really deep sand. The only way to get through it was to build as much speed as possible before hitting it, make sure you were in 2nd gear and the just go for it. Whatever you did you couldn't change gear as the engine would lose revs immediately, and definitely don't put your foot on the break. The first time we did this we got through it fine, although Troy hadn't told us which way we then needed to go.I'd built up enough speed and we were ploughing through it. The jeep was sliding around as it does and then we realised there was a left or right choice! Thankfully everyone could see where he'd gone and made a hard left. We then waited for the mini bus to come through. We waited, and we waited and we waited. Eventually we all got out to see where they were, and discovered it wouldn't start. They tried jump starting it but that didn't work, so for the rest of the 3 days the only way to start it was towing it until it started. This proved quite problematic whenever it got stuck in deep sand, and whenever we went to see one of the sights, as they had to leave it running!
Anyway, then came time to set up camp and cook dinner. There was a big hill with room for 2 tents at the top and we baggsied that location, along with the Danish couple we were sharing the car with.We then had Steak and diced potatoes for dinner, which naturally attracted a whole pack of wild Dingos - s***! There are warning signs everywhere saying not to approach or feed Dingos (which are a wild dog) as they frequently cause injuries - some serious, and a few years ago they tragically killed a child. Anyone under the age of 14 had to be accompanied by an adult and even fully grown adults should walk in pairs if you venture out at night. The camp grounds and the resort on the island have specialist fences to keep the Dingos out, and an electrified version of our cattle grates to keep them out of these areas, but on our first night we just camped out by the beach.They didn't cause us many issues other than managing to pull one of the coolers apart and got a load of the food, and constantly coming up to the tents and then howling to their mates which was pretty scary. We just shone the torch in their eyes, hit the tent to make them jump and frequently shouted 'f*** off' whenever they woke us up. It was all completely worth it even if it was only to see the night's sky. It is the brightest I've ever seen and we spent a lot of evening star gazing. I even saw a shooting star, but obviously can't tell you what I wished for, otherwise it will never come true. ;)
The biggest let down to our time here was that we had to spend it with the most arrogant, rude and childish group of Germans I've ever met. The group was made up of 6 Germans, 2 English (that would be us), 2 Danish and the Australian guide. One of the German guys was called Karl and he was wicked, but the rest of them (all in their early 20s) were absolutely f***ing appalling!They spent the entire 3 days speaking in German, which completely alienated the rest of the group, wouldn't participate in cooking meals or washing up unless virtually ordered to and very frequently actually ignored us when we spoke to them even when we were standing right next to or in front of them.
The only other thing I'm going to say about these idiots is that I've always believed in Karma and it struck twice. Spectacularly in fact. The first time was on the second day when one of them stood up in the back of the jeep whilst getting out and hit his head so hard I was sure he'd have got concussion. It was bleeding quite badly for a bit but it still didn't knock any manners into the idiot. I'll come to the next moment in a bit.
The next day we were up at 6:30am to find Troy cooking us all pancakes for breakfast - legend! :) We set off as soon as we could and drove along the east coasts 75 mile beach. The first port of call was the Maheno shipwreck, which has come to rest on the islands eastern shore. We then saw the multi-coloured sand pinnacles and then headed up to the most northerly point of our trek at champagne pools. The whole way up was spent driving along the beach at 60kmph and the safety video had said the worst thing you could do was swerve to miss something like a wave or a Dingo as you'd roll the car.So we're driving along and a wave rolls in right in front of us. It wasn't deep, it was just the end of the wave as it got to shore - probably no more than a few inches. I drove right through it expecting it to be like driving through a puddle, but it actually exploded around us and engulfed the whole car. Everyone had their windows open and it went right round us, covered the windscreen so we couldn't see where we were going and rather than screaming from shock, everyone at exactly the same time shouted 'whoa'. We then fought with the controls on the car to get the windscreen wipers to come on and then all pissed ourselves laughing.Maybe you had to be there, but it was so shocking, we were now all soaking and all our reactions were exactly the same that we couldn't help but laugh. :)
So back to the Champagne pools.The cool thing about those were that they backed straight onto the ocean and the waves crashed onto the rocks and filled the pools with bubbles! We then drove down to Indian Head which offers 360 degree views over the island. This offered glorious views of a monstrous sand dune and an unprecedented view out to sea.Now everyone (and I mean everyone) we've ever spoken to has said that they saw all sorts whilst up here - sharks, whales, turtles, sting rays & fish. Well god only knows what was going on that day as we only saw 1 lonesome turtle. We stayed up there a lot longer than the rest of the group partly just so we could get away from the ever annoying Germans, but we still didn't see any other wildlife. We then went back to the Jeeps and ate the freshly cooked lunch Troy had prepared for us, and then headed to the camp site to set up camp. Once that was done we walked out to the Wungul sand-blow. As there is actually more sand on this island than in the Sahara I'm sure you can understand when I say I actually felt like I was standing in the middle of a desert. Thankfully we'd come out about 4pm, so it was starting to cool, and we walked about for a bit taking pictures.
We headed back to the camp before everyone else so we could get one of the 3 coin operated showers (that's even a first for us - coin operated showers?!) We were absolutely covered in sand - seriously there was sand in places I'd never considered sand could get and so $1 for 3 minutes actually seemed an absolute bargain. Miraculously, one of the German girls not only acknowledged our existence (including the Danish couple too), but asked very politely if we had any $1 coins for the shower - hahaha, funny, somehow I don't bloody think so!
The second 'karma' moment was actually rather surreal. Selena had walked off to get away from them and we were stood around the camp fire when she said 'Dear God, or whatever is up there, please just help me out right now.' Within 15 minutes 3 of them who had ignored what was said about taking a small amount of food first and then if there was anything left you could go up for seconds, had piled their plates high with probably 3 times the amount of everyone else. And then it happened. One of them tripped and landed on the next greedy idiot in front of him, who also then tripped onto the greedy idiot in front of him. Their dinners went flying and they even managed to kick the industrial size pan of hot water full of the pasta all over themselves - oh my god how we laughed! Right then I wouldn't have cared if one of their heads fell off, so a pan of boiling water was highly entertaining. My last attempt at being polite was right after this when I was trying to tell them that there was still half a bag of pasta left in the crate if they wanted to cook it up, but even though I was saying 'yo dude' and waving my hands at them, then followed by 'helllllllloooooooo can anyone hear me' they again still ignored me, so I sat down told them all to f*** off and we poured ourselves another glass of Goon. :)
Earlier that day Troy had got one of the other guides to bring over some supplies to replace the food the Dingo's had eaten, and the next morning he was cooking up bacon and eggs. Great stodge for the day that lay ahead!First up was Eli creek which is the largest fresh water creek on the island and has 4,000 litres of water pumping through it every hour. We then headed down to Lake Wabby and headed off on a 40 minute 2.4km walk to the lake over a giant sand dune. Lake Wabby is the deepest lake on the island and is slowly being consumed by a sand blow at a rate of half a meter a year. The sand blow is now half way through the lake and it looks very unusual having a white sand blow leading almost vertically into a dark green lake and then surrounds by rain forest. The lake is also full of catfish which swim really close to the shore.We did a bit of sunbathing here for about 40 minutes before heading back through the rain forest to the Jeeps. I also cut my foot on what must be the only blimin rock on the island. The walk back to the car proved interesting as every foot step was pushing the sand inside it deeper and deeper - ouch :(.
We then quickly ate lunch, Troy handed over the camping truck to the next tour guide and we had 45 minutes to make the ferry on the other side of the island which was a 1 hour drive away. The next 45 minutes were spent holding on for dear life as Troy drove like a maniac through the island at 80kmph (inland speed limit is 30kmph!) whilst on sand and also on a single track road! Shall upload the video shortly. :)