On arrival in Hervey Bay I got into a mini bus to 'Nomads Hervey Bay ' and met a lovely British girl called Michaela on the bus, who was doing the same trip as me. Although a lot of people may have reservations about travelling alone I have loved it so far and this was another example as to why. So many other people are doing it! You are never really alone and you do so much more and meet so many more people this way.
Another reason why I love travelling alone is that you do end up doing the same route as a lot of other people so you end up seeing them again. This proved itself seconds later as I walked into the hostel and bumped into Tom (the 18 year old who was considering the penis tattoo in Airlie Beach). Never really alone.
That evening Michaela and I had to watch a DVD, choose the people we were going to share the car with, volunteer to drive the thing and then buy all the food we needed for the next three days. Very productive and really built up the excitement. The DVD warned us about the dangers of Dingos (they eat babies you know) and how to drive on the sand. The people in our Jeep were brilliant, and even though only three of us were driving it, it turned out that all the people in our jeep had a death wish! Behind the wheel I got.
A 6:45 am start, more DVDs... not too sure why really. The one the night before pretty much covered everything. Dingos = danger. Sand = fun. Done!
Then we had to try and pack up the jeep. It was a 4x4 with room for 8 passengers (which we had) and room for most of the stuff... which was a lot. The other cars were all busy getting ready to go. We would have done the same had we had a car... We were never told why it took so long to get one and why ours was considerably older than the others, but at least we had one!
Once packed and ready we drove across Harvey Bay to the ferry which took us and the cars to Fraser Island. We got on the barge by about 10:15am. That means we spent about 3 hours watching DVDs and packing... hmmm...
Once we got to the other side the fun really started. The cars were locked into four-wheel drive and before we knew it we were driving on sand and through very raining rainforests. Our first stop was 'Pine Valley Rainforest Walk'. We saw some big spiders and some other odd creatures and insects but it was a really nice chance to get to know everyone and have a jam sandwich. Our group was definitely the friendliest of the bunch.
After the jam break we headed off to 'Lake Mckenzie'. This was tipped to be the highlight of the tour. A glorious blue lake with a stunning backdrop. It lived up the expectations. The sun was out, the water was warm and the hour we spent there was just lovely. However it became the highlight of OUR trip for a very different reason... Once out of the water and packing up the car we notice a little man, all on his own, checking out a map. Joe (one of the boys in our Jeep) squeals and then ducks into the car shaking, repeating 'It's Bruce Parry, It's Bruce Parry, It's Bruce Parry, It's Bruce Parry'. Yes ladies and gentlemen... Bruce Parry. The legendary hero and star of BBC's 'TRIBE'. We called him over, he merrily came over and joined us and told us he was there on a brief holiday whilst filming. He was incredibly polite, kind and seemed to be very happy to see us. We didn't want to leave him but our guide, who was none the wiser to this rare spot, shouted at us to get back in the jeep. Bruce Parry. Awesome.
After waving goodbye to Bruce and turning our backs on Lake McKenzie we went over to 'Lake Wabby' another very cool lake but this time hidden amongst enormous sand dunes. They were not fun to climb up but great fun to roll down. The lake was good but not as nice as McKenzie.
Once down the dunes we finally got to experience the beach drive! 75 Miles of sand highway to drive up at 80kmph... (or miles an hour if you are me). This time I was not driving, but I was glad not to be as although it looked like a lot of fun it was also raining very heavily by this point and the conditions were not great. We stopped half way to see the 'Maheno Wreck', a huge steel ship which was just washed up on the shore. We took a few rainy beach jump pictures but we were more interested in getting dry and fed so back in the jeep we got to go to K'gari camp.
Our camp was very nice indeed. We shared a huge tipi-like tent with the rest of our jeep and the facilities were all lovely. We managed to all have showers, make a pasta dinner for everyone and enjoy some nice chilled goon. What else could you want? The dingos did come to say hello but they are nowhere near as bad as the DVD made them out to be. In fact they reminded me of my first dog Queenie. I wasn't going to pet them but they didn't bother me at all. Even when they started sniffing the edge of my tent as I slept...
My turn to drive!! If I am honest I really was petrified BUT... after 5 minutes I didn't want to get out. I loved it! It was huge and loud and stiff and brilliant. I want one when I get back home. Not that it would be practical in any way but it would be a lot of fun... taking it to Tesco and back.
On my maiden voyage I took my unsuspecting passengers to 'Red Canyon'. They were red rocks. They were ok. The beach driving was worth it. I suppose you need a destination if you drive, even if you are only using it as an excuse to get behind the wheel. But the beach. Wow. I might suggest that as an option to Bournemouth Borough Council when I get home.
I then took us to 'Indian Head'. A very creepy rock, off which the settlers threw a load of Indians into the sea. It was a holy place to them but the Brits soon turned it into a burial ground. The climb up was exhausting but worth it. The view was spectacular. The boys said they could see the sharks beneath, I didn't bother trying to see them for myself.
The rain then started to fall again so back in the car we got and Michaela then took over and took us to' Eli Creek'. We all got into this freezing cold water and walked up the creek. Our guide told us that this is where cold 'Fiji water' comes from. A fresh spring! We all took long sips (although I am not sure it was so fresh as I was downstream from everyone else...) and then we let the current take us back to the cars.
Once there the sun was out, and so were the Dingos, so we decided to spend the rest of the morning watching them on the other side of the creek as we took in a spot of sunshine and read our books.
Lunch was back at K'gari Camp and then we went to 'Lake Alom' to watch some turtles. Lake Alum is very serene. There is nothing there apart from a few steps which fall into the water and which you can sit on the watch the turtles come in. They are very small and very friendly and came straight up to us while we sat there quietly to watch. I can imagine it being very peaceful, just maybe not with 32 other tourists sharing the steps with you.
That evening turned our happy group into a rowing mayhem. The boys (Joe and George) good friends from school on their gap year, had a little too much to drink and started fighting each other. Joe has a very hot head and totally lost it with George and sent him flying off the bench. Michaela and I tried very hard to appease the situation but in the end we just had to walk off and leave them to it. They eventually made up (what they were arguing about I am not sure) but it did kind of ruin our last night at the camp.
The next morning we packed up nice and early and I drove us all of to the 'Wiggly Tree'. Now I am pretty sure that is not the real name of it but that is what it looked like. It was basically a tree which was hollow in the middle and which we could all climb up. 20 people got inside and climbed the tree. I stood on the outside taking pictures of all 20 little heads and hands poking out of the holes as they made their way up. It was a little trickier getting them all out again but it sure was fun watching them try!
We then went to 'Happy Valley waterfall' - yeah. It was ok. Nothing exciting. Water. Falling. Nice.
We found a nice hotel for lunch so we all got real coffee and ice-cream which were very welcome (not together, obviously, although...)
Our last stop was Lake Birrabeen. Again, this was not as great as the other lakes we had frolicked in but it was a nice way to end the three day adventure AND the sand here was nearly as fine as the sand on the Whitsundays so I got the chance to really clean some silver. Bonus!
And then that was that. I finished my driving and we headed back to the boat and back to the hostel via the mechanics.
In typical Maz fashion, all the other cars check out fine, our engine is full of mud (yes most probably me) so we were told we would get fined $40 ($5 each). However, once we got back and sorted out the paperwork, the new girl at the desk was too nervous to realise and so we all got away with it. PHEW! To be fair, if we drive through mud you expect a little splash back. If they had asked me to get the hose out I would have sorted it out in a jiffy and with pleasure. Anyways, someone else had to deal with it while I preoccupied myself with my own shower.