It was very sad to finally leave Airlie, especially the people. However, I was glad to be back on the road and travelling again. A 14 hour bus journey took me down to Rainbow Beach, the base for Fraser Island.
On arrival my first task was to paint a boomerang. Again my physical co-ordination skills challenged my artistic talent (also sadly lacking). Left with little guidance and only paints, I set about trying to create a lovely sunset scene. To my own credit it did turn out pretty well and was awesome to mess about with paint like when you were little. My boomerang ended up with a sunset and the shadows of two kangaroos, with some aboriginal signs on the base. Maybe a new hobby??!!
Next was a walk to the Carlo Sandblow. I was not sure what to expect but it was a free tour so I jumped at the chance. Luckily a car took us to the start of the walk as it was ridiculously far up a steep, steep hill. The walk started in the forest and weaved in and out of trees.Then suddenly there in the valley was a massive sand desert. It was surreal. Gold sand, pure and clean. Stunning. The view overlooked the ocean as the sand changed to white and red. The ocean currents swirled from dark blue to turquoise and back again. Puffs of water indicated whales in the area and it was possible to see them breach from the water. A beautiful place which certainly allowed me to connect with nature and the pure joy of being a traveller able to see such things.
The main reason for coming to Rainbow Beach is the access it gives to Fraser Island. Traditionally you spend 3 days and 2 nights on the island doing a 4x4 self-drive with up to 9 other people. Due to limits on time and money, I forgo this option and chose to do a 1 day guided tour. I am so glad I did as I learnt much about the island and got to see the main sights.
Fraser Island is a World Heritage sight, stretching over 123 kilometres in length and 22 kilometres at its widest point. With an area of 184 000 hectares it is the largest sand island in the world. We were picked up in an army style minibus, with an extremely knowledgeable and fun driver and taken to the ferry which took us across to the island. First stop was the wreck of the cruise ship Maheno. To get there we had to drive along the seventy-five mile beach. It was really fun and at the same time we could look out for more whales. The shipwreck was impressive, although little remains after it was used for target practice in WWII.
Next was the coloured sands highlighted in the Pinnacles. We stopped for a swim at Eli creek but it was too cold so I waded through enjoying the cool water. After a spot of lunch it was time for some 4x4ing. I am not sure whether it was the skill of the driver or the actual state of the road but we were really thrown around and bounced up and down. It was hilarious! We took a brief respite to walk through the rain forest at Central Station, then it was a bouncy onwards to Lake McKenzie. If there is a rival to Whitehaven Beach, this is it. Pure white and fine sand outlines the lake. The water is so clear you can walk in up to your shoulders before the turquoise blue changes to a deep royal blue. Stunning.
The day ended with a rocky ferry ride back to the mainland. Due to the tide and the weather the ferry had to land further up, and it also meant that the driver had to find another exit off the beach. He chose a path which the bus barely fitted through. One branch scraped across the windows and then as the bus slowly turned, broke through the last window pane. Luckily it did not shatter instantly but held - all cracked. Then as the wind picked up you could hear the window start to moan as it cracked inwards. Luckily, no one was harmed. In the UK the driver would have have got everyone out of the bus and found other transport. Here it was a bit more relaxed. Firstly, the driver did not notice until we screamed at him and then he just proceeded to move people down the bus then drove slowly on, as the window continued to break into the bus! An interesting end to the day!