I'll write about mine and Nat's time in Hervey Bay and Fraser Island, as Nush arrived here later than us, so she can add her own experiences later...
So Nat and i caught the night bus from Airlie Beach to Bundaberg where we arrived at 6.45am, and after waiting for an hour for the only decent looking hostel to open, were rudely told there was no space and to get off their private property (not giving us the nicest first impression of the town). From what we could see of the town it wasn't anything special, and since there didn't seem to be anywhere else to stay nearby we decided to book ourselves on the Greyhound to Hervey Bay 2 hours later! We wouldn't have minded seeing the rum distillery, but that was quite a way out of the town anyway, and weirdly enough we then met some guys who had spent 3 days there, and ended up in an expensive hotel as there was no accomodation anywhere else due to all the travellers who go there to work.
So after lunch we arrived at Hervey Bay, and much preferred the Beaches hostel there to the one at Airlie Beach, as it was a lot quieter, and we had lovely comfy beds with proper duvets for once! That afternoon we just did a food shop and relaxed, and in the evening bumped into Phoebe and a couple of sisters who had done the Whitsundays trip with us. They were doing Fraser Island the next day but Nat and I decided we wanted a day's rest first!
So we got up late and did boring things like laundry and food shopping and before we knew it it was the evening and we were packing for the next day!
We got up at 6.30am to meet at 7 to see which group we'd be in for the three day Fraser Island safari trip. This was quite scary as we knew that our happiness (and lives) rested upon who we were grouped with! Funnily enough, Nat and I ended up being the only girls in our group with 5 guys, 3 of whom were already friends from Wales, 1 of whom was Swiss-German, and the other German. They were all a couple of years older than us (except the German Bjorn who looked quite a bit older) but they were all lovely and it seemed clear straight away that we'd get along well. First we had to assign a driver, bondholder and two food shoppers, and i put myself forward to do the food shop (with $20 from each person) with Nick (a Welsh marine) which was very fortunate as he admitted afterwards that he was just going to go round the aisles, throw in whatever he fancied and see how much it came to. Great. Although i must admit (especially coming from a house of girls) it did astonish me how much the boys ate sometimes!
The scariest thing about the trip was driving the Landcruiser itself, as we watched a horrific video before we left, and every time we turned a corner i winced in fear of the whole vehicle toppling over as they're so top-heavy! Luckily, Swiss Maniel did the driving first and handled it very well, probably the best driver, and then Nick took over, who had done 4x4 training in the desert in Afghanistan! I was still quite scared though ... we first stopped at Central Station where we walked for a long time to get to Basin Lake, that was completely deserted and beautiful, and Welsh Amr nearly drowned before being rescued by Nick and Andy. Nat and I were glad we had a marine in our group!
After that drama we drove to Eli Creek, where like Luce and Ben we waded down it (i did attempt to float but it didn't work) although luckily this did not affect it's beauty. At about this point the German, Bjorn attempted to drive on the beach and a) nearly burnt out the clutch which would have cost us thousands of dollars and b) nearly tipped the vehicle over by spinning it round really fast for no apparent reason. So we made a collective decision to let someone else drive on to the campsite. Before we got there we stopped at the shipwreck which was quite cool, and then went to the camp site and set up our tents before it got dark. That evening we chatted with Phoebe and the others in her group that we'd met before, and had a barbecue for dinner followed by some goon (awful cheaper than cheap "wine" in boxes, in case you didn't know) and partied for while down at the beach before Nat threw up in our tent. Mmm. Luckily Nick had the brainwave of burning mosquito coils outside the tent to mask the smell, which did actually work.
The next morning we had to get up early as we needed to drive along the beach and be off it before 11 for high tide, so it was agreed i was the alarm setter, and woke everyone up at 6.30, although the Welsh boys took about 3 hours to get out of the ten, im sure. Finally we set off up to India Head, where supposedly you can see up to 50 tiger sharks in the sea. I think this is a lie. It was a great viewpoint though, and we had reception on our phones to text! We then stopped at the Champagne Pools, which weren't as pretty as they sound (partly since it was raining) but still nice, and then i sat there for a couple of hours with awful pains in stomach while the others did some driving around. After that we just went back to the campsite (with a litle spice girls singing session on the way), where Nat and I had a nap whilst the boys decided to go fishing in the sea, and found shellfish that resembled mussels, which they cooked later and spat straight back out! Luckily we had spaghetti bolognese for dinner too, and by this time Nush's group had arrived so we got to catch up with her. Nat and I sneaked back to our tent for an early night, but when i woke everyone up at 6.30 the next morning, Nick had only been in bed for 20 minutes. I had to then be a bit bossy, as we had loads of packing away and driving along the beach to get in before high tide, and the guys were RUBBISH at getting up. So i threatened them saying I'd start taking their tent down around them, which i did until they finally got out of it. And then they stood there chatting, watching their tent as thoug it would magically put itself down ... and people say women are bad for "mother's meetings" ... we finally set off though, with Nick still drunk from the night before and therfore unable to drive, and Manuel too stoned from the night before to drive, so Amr ( with no licence) was the only one left, who drove with Nick sitting next to him, drunkenly teling him which gear he had to be in. It didn't help that we somehow took the wrong turning to a lake, so we ended up going down the steepest, horrificly bumpy road ever, and couldn't turn back because we didn't want to drive back up it! Luckily after that Manuel was fit to take over the driving, and he did some amazing manouvering and got us to the beautiful Lake Mackenzie, where we spent a couple of hours before getting the barge back to Hervey Bay.
All in all, it was a great trip and definitely another one of the highlights so far. Back at the hostel we treated ourselves to a lovely dinner at the bar, met a girl staying in our room whose Dad went to Fitz college at Cambridge, and had a good night's sleep before getting the bus down to Noosa the following morning.
Nush here: Ok this ones a hard one to write about as i had exactly the same itinery as the girls, i just did this a day later! I was put with a group of wicked people all around my age and had a great laugh! 3 girls in that group were girls that i had met on the bus comin down from Airlie so i was glad to have them ther as well! There was also an English couple and to Irish guys who were hilarious! Although one of them did throw me into Lake Mckenzie with all my clothes on!