Fraser Island - 4WD's, goon, and huntsmen spiders...
Agnes Water, Queensland
Wow, what a week it's been. I apologise for the length between this and my last blog. I haven't been able to access the internet for the majority of the time you see, which was both refreshing and unnerving for the wifi geek in me. Right now I'm in a place called Agnes Water (in the library in fact, fighting the temptation to give their shelves a tidy). It's so hot, and I've just had my first ever surf lesson, so I'm absolutely knackered. More on this later.
For now, lets track back to last week, where I had my last night in Noosa. My night on the Tixylix paid off, as the next day I was up and showered by 7.30am, ready for the day ahead. Unfortunately the Gods were clearly not happy with me just having a chest infection and decided for it to bucket down too. I donned my Primark waterproof (ladies, form an orderely queue), and headed to the national park to check out the views. Flip flops probably weren't the smartest choice of footwear though, as I fell down a whole flight of stairs on my way to the Laguna Lookout. I did that thing where you check if anyone had seen before swaggering off like nothing had happened. The truth was it hurt like hell and left me with a wet patch on my arse. That walk back to the hostel, soaking wet and looking like I'd had an accident, was a personal low point in my life thus far.
That night though, the Gods were on my side. The hostel has a large influx of backpackers who stay for the odd night before going to Fraser Island, so all of the people from my room the night before had gone, and a whole batch of newbies were checking in. Out of the new people I met, there was Celeste from London, Shannon from Yorkshire, Niklas from Sweden, Sav from Bristol, and Lucy from Brisbane, and I can honestly say they are some of the best people I've met on this trip so far. Me, Celeste, and Niklas are now travelling the east coast together, and it makes me so happy that my last two weeks down under will be spent with them. That night we chilled in the room, boogied at the hostel bar, and laughed a hell of a lot, mainly due to Niklas being hilarious. Man I love the Swedes.
The next day was time to go up the coast to Rainbow Beach, where we were going to board the ferry to Fraser Island. At the hostel I met my group that I would be spending the next three days camping with. They were all nice, with 5 out of 8 of us being German. With the only bit of German I know being "Ich muss cacken!", I was a little nervous that the conversation over the next few days might be limited. Luckily they spoke better English than me, so I didn't have to repeatedly tell them I needed to poo. We were shown a safety video on how to drive a 4WD properly (the only mode of transport allowed on the island), and then were asked to fill in our alcohol order for the weekend, the most important bit. One of the groups ordered eleven boxes of goon between 8 people. That's 44 litres of the stuff. They must have been thirsty.
Before I knew it, it was Fraser Island time. Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, filled with rainforests, lakes and creeks, bundling with wildlife, and lots and lots of dingos. It's a staple for those travelling the east coast, and for good reason. It's the sort of place that everywhere you look there's a 'pinch yourself' view, and driving a 4WD on the beach and off road with all your mates is an awesome experience.
We drove to the ferry terminal, and in no time we were on the island, cruising along the beach at 80km per hour. The weather was shocking, but it didn't matter. I slightly regret letting Alex be the DJ though. Austrian folk music isn't exactly the sort of music you want to accompany a windows down drive on the beach.
We stopped off for lunch at a nearby park, and after filling our bellies it was my turn to drive. I was a little nervous, not over my lack of driving skills (I survived in the Citroen Berlingo for over a year), but due to the knowledge that the next stretch was to be some of the most difficult and challenging terrain on the island. It was mainly off road, with lots of bumps and sharp turns, steep ramps and perillous rocks. We survived though, and it was bloody good fun. All that bouncing up and down had taken its toll on my body though, as once we arrived at Lake McKenzie I was walking like a man who had piles.
Lake McKenzie is a lake solely comprised of rainwater. Usually it's turqoise in colour and can be found on all of the Fraser Island postcards, looking like a tropical paradise. Unfortunately the Wallasey weather had caught up with me, so it looked rather bleak. It was still fun swimming in it though, as turtles could be seen popping up everywhere.
After that it was time to head to camp for the remainder of the night. In my tent was Alex and Konstantin. Three guys in a three man tent, there's nothing wrong with that. Only this tent wasn't a three man tent. I don't even think it was a one man tent. The only way it could be classed as a three man tent would be if those three men were Danny Devito, Ronny Corbett and Warwick Davies. It was such good fun back at camp though. Everyone was drinking and mingling around the campfire, and there was even a nightclub. Well, it was a shed with an iPod dock and one solitary strobe light. Not quite Cream, but I was rather fond of 'Winkies'. I slept like a log too. Top tip: an empty goon bag when blown up makes an excellent pillow. I also spotted my first spider of my trip. It was a huntsman, and it was on my plate as I tried to wash up. And yes, I shrieked like a girl.
The next day we were all up early for a long day of driving and sightseeing. Our first stop was Eli Creek (colloquially known as Hangover Creek, as the fresh water is supposed to have healing qualities). Again, the weather was dreary and showery, but that didn't spoil it. The creek was like a sort of lazy river, where you could float along with the current and gaze at the towering rainforest above you. I'm not sure if it was a placebo effect, but I felt like a changed man afterwards. Well, I was still walking like I had haemorrhoids, but my goon hangover was gone. Yipee.
Next was a trip to the Champagne Pools, situated in a rock formation just off the ocean. The pool of water is given its name as there are constant bubbles from when the waves crash over. After swimming, and slipping over a lot of wet rocks, we drove to a place called Indian Head. It's a rock that sticks out of the east side of the island, offering breathtaking views of the ocean.
That night was our last night at camp and the guides had given us steak to have for dinner. What a treat. After our group cooked up a gastronomic masterpiece, I went and met up with Celeste and Shannon who were on their first night of the Fraser Island trip. We drank the remainders of our goon and busted some shapes in Winkies for the last time. A highlight of the night was jokingly mocking Shannon's thick Yorkshire accent. There's a place near Rainbow Beach called Tin Can Bay, and to my knowledge there's nothing that sounds better in a thick Yorkshire twang. Go on, try it. Tin Can Baaaaay.
The night became morning, and it was our last day on Fraser, and for the first time of the whole trip the sun had decided to put its hat on. Hooray. We packed all of our stuff, waved goodbye to our rather cosy tent, and proceeded to drive to Lake Wabi and the shipwreck, our two last stops of the trip. One of the guys in my room at our hostel in Rainbow Beach, Gavin, had told me he was going on a day trip to Fraser Island, and was a little worried that it'd be full of old people. On our way to Lake Wabi I could see a rickety coach approaching, so I turned to Alex and joked that this would be Gavin's Saga tour. As it passed us you could see white perm after white perm after white perm, and to our amazement, there was Gavin at the back with his headphones in, shaking his head as we honked our horn in fits of laughter. Hilarious.
Lake Wabi was beautiful. It took a while to get there, but once you're greeted by the vast sand dunes and the distant sight of its ocean blue water, it's an awe inspiring sight. We sunbathed and swam until it was time to head to the shipwreck, another highlight of the trip.
So that was it. My Fraser Island experience was over, and I had an absolute blast. It was better than I could ever have imagined, even if the weather was pants for the first two days. We arrived back at our hostel in Rainbow Beach, where we drank and reminisced over the fun we'd all just had. For all the discomfort of camping, not showering, being chucked about in a 4WD like a maraca, it was worth every penny and I'd do it all over again.
The next day it was time to leave and head north to a placed called Agnes Water, where I am now. Celeste and Alex are staying in the same hostel as me, which is called Cool Bananas. There's no wifi as the owner wants everyone to interact with each other rather than have their heads buried in their phones, there's heaps of freebies (free bread, free tea and coffee, free pancakes, and just about everything else), and it's just a really unique and chilled out place to stay. If anyone is going to travel here, Cool Bananas is the place to be. Agnes Water is beautiful too. There's a beach on our doorstep, and I've never seen stars like it. Since there's little light pollution, the night sky is breathtaking. You can see the Milky Way!
Today, me, Celeste and Niklas had our first ever surf lesson. I was expecting to be absolutely rubbish, but without sounding big headed, I was actually alright. The surf lesson was $22 ( super cheap), and the group was only 7 people, so we were all able to get one-to-one tuition. It was so much fun. The guide even said I rode the wave of the day. I guess Charlie can surf after all.