After the Whitsundays have been sailed and fun has been had in the pretty party town of Airlie Beach, the next obligatory stop on the east coast backpacker trail (for those heading south anyway) is Fraser Island, generally ited as one of the highights of the Australian travelling experience.
It's a rather large island made up completely of sand but home to forests and fresh water lakes and creeks, surrounded by wild seas full of sharks and mantra-rays and goodness knows what else, oh yeah, and populated by loads of dingoes - the purest breed of dingo anywhere apparently.
But it's a rather long drag between Airlie and there so a stop off was in order and a few people had recommended Agnes Waters as the perfect place for a bit of R&R mid-Queensland coast. It's basically a tiny dot of a town, paired up with the bordering town of 1770 which sells itself on the fact it hasn't sold out - if that makes sense....?
Anyway, there's basically not much there and very few people too, but this all adds to the charm and laid back vibe. There are two hostels in town however and both are fab, small but perfectly formed, really chilled out and
sociable, the kind of place where you could hang out donig nothing for ages, except I only stayed a couple of days as I'm not really that type of traveller...
But still it was really lovely there, and I did get into the spirit of things by doing precisely nothing. There were a few good activities on offer which were mega cheap compared to everywhere else, only I decided to do sea cayaking and it went and got cancelled due to lack of numbers (boo!). Oh well, back to the beach it was then. Am really getting very good at laying on beaches, wonder if there is any way to get paid to do it? My CV will be chock full of examples of my sunbathing skills by the time I have finished...
But onto Fraser - Hervey Bay is the most popular jump off point for the island so that's where I went as there was the biggest choice of hostels offering tours. It's a bit random cos for Fraser it's the hostels who offer the tours, not separate companies, although there are firms offering guided tours should you wish, but I went for the self-drive option (3 days-2 nights ) because it sounded like loads of fun and a real adventure. You just sign up and they put you in groups into vans with all the equipment, maps, suggested itinery etc and off you go.
Everyone had different opinions on the best hostel to go with but I went for one that sounded like it attracted a slightly over-18 crowd which I assumed would be preferable to a mob of crazy party people. I was wrong. Unluckily for me, on this occasion, my hostel attracted a group of people who got practically ended up at war, it was awful, I felt like I was in a series of Big Brother, but about eight weeks in so everyone has got really, really pissed off with each other...
I won't bang on about it, full stories of the characters involved will have to wait for my return... However I will say that Fraser itself was absolutley beautiful, we didn't actually see all the highights because of "technical issues" and bad weather (yep, the curse of the bad weather struck again - 12 hour thunder storm anyone?). But bezzing about in the 4x4 was loads of fun, I was cruising at 70 on the beach (whoo hoo!) and splashing through creeks, scaling dunes and everything! The camping was also fun, apart from the rather tense atmposphere and sand getting into absolutely everything, but we just pitched up behind sand dunes on the bech both nights so it was an adventure, just unfortunate that 9 nine people could have such issues....
Strangly though, I came out of the Fraser experience feeling rather buoyant.
Feels like if I get can through that then I can get through anything. And would much rather be by myself with only myself to accomodate than in such a stressful group situation; it really demonstrated the plus-sides of solo travel - which I'm rather good at now I think.
Lets just call it another episode for the 'experiences learnt from' file....