(Tour with Fraser Explorers)
18.12.2011 - 20.12.2011 34 °C
Fraser Island - Day 1
7am coach picked us up from our lovely Flash Packers hostel and took us on a short journey to the ferry port which was our way onto Fraser Island. The ferry journey took about 40 mins and as we approached the island the water channel got very narrow and shallow. Infact I asked the captain how deep it was and he said it was only 1.2 metres deep! Although he reliably informed me that he could operate in 0.67 of a metre, which considering the size of the ferry was quite unbelievable!
We walked off the ferry and was met by a chirpy ozzie called Steve who escorts us to a coach that looked like it was on steroids. It was a military spec engine and chassis with over 300bhp and a custom built passenger section on top (looks like were in for a fun ride!).
Steve took us along narrow winding jungle paths barely wide enough for our behemoth of a 4x4. The sand was super deep and very fine so we suddenly realised why the choice of transport.
Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. It is 122 km long and over 15km wide. It is a purely sand island but with 14 lakes and jungle so dense the sandy roads were the only real way to get around. The main 'highway' is the east beach that runs pretty much the length of the island and is accessable at all times other than very high tide.
Our first stop was to be at Lake Wabby. The coach dropped us off and Steve explained that the path infront of us would lead to the lake and was a lovely 3k stroll through the bush and over some sand dunes. The forest was beautiful and very varied
so it was a suprise when we turned a corner and all of a sudden popped out of the forest onto huge sand dunes.
It was like we had been magically transported from the Jungle to the desert in an instant. The sun was beating down on us and there was nothing but sand dunes infront of us for miles. After a trudge over the dunes we crested a hill and this beautiful green lake appeared in front of us.
It was bizare because if you turned your head 90 degrees you went from Lake to Jungle to Sand dunes in the blink of an eye!
Jayne went for a swim to the other side while I swam in the shallows and watched the giant catfish meandar their way around me, seemingly interested yet completely un-threatened by me floundering around in the shallows. After drying off in the baking sun
and not realising the time we half ran back down the track to the coach.
Second stop was Lake Mckensie. Now there were a lot more people here which spoilt the effect slightly but what a beautiful lake. The sand is nearly white, the water is pure rainwater and as clear as tapwater and it is surrounded by bright green dense jungle. It looked like a postcard picture everywhere you looked.
The sand here is over 90% silica which means it is incredibly fine and people call it a one stop beauty shop. The silica is particularly good at exfoliating skin, cleaning gold and even whitening teeth!? Also the water has such a low PH that if you wash your hair in it it feels like you have used the best conditioner money can buy!
All too soon it was time to head back to the coach again for the journey back down the beach and bumpy roads to Central Station. This was the main logging camp on the island for 100 years until world heritige took it over and shut it all down. They then re-planted trees in the areas needed and have protected the island for our childrens children.
Steve took us for a short walk through Central Station explaining some of the history and showing us interesting trees/plants in the area.
It was then a short journey back to Eulong beach resort which would be our accomodation for the night. The room was a 4 bed dorm which we shared with a young blonde soon to be a doctor 'Sophie' and 'Alex' the mad student from London who cycled across the south coast of Australia. After an all you can eat buffet Jayne and I slinked off to the local (and only) beach bar for a few beers. The barman was dressed in a hulk costume that would look at home at a gay pride festival with his ass half hanging out showing a silky black thong!? We found out it was the staff xmas party as more turned up in amusing costumes so we stayed for a few beers and a chat with a very funny essex lad called 'Mark'.
Fraser Island - Day 2
Early start with an all you can eat breakfast (yum!) ready for the fairly long drive up to the very north of the island to a place called Indian Head (named by captain cook as when he sailed by he saw local indians crowded on the tall rocks watching him). After only a short way bouncing along the beach we stopped to let a pilot on from a company running planes up the beach. He jibbed on for a bit explaining that the scenic flight over the island would be amazing and we virtually ignored him thinking that the cost would be astronomical. When he finally said the cost was $70 each we looked at each other and shot our hands up into the air to be first on the plane! Jumping off the coach with big smiles we hopped into the little plane sat on the sand with the two we had shared the room with (Sophie and Alex).
The four of us just about filled the plain and he fired her up pointed it at the beach and said 'lets have a look at the runway'. Two seconds later he shouted 'looks good, lets GO!' and throttled the thing to maximum, so before we knew it we were up in the air!
The flight lasted 20 mins as he showed us many of the lakes from the air and we realised how dense the jungle was as it looked like tightly packed brocolli covering the island.
After a time skimming over the sea as well spotting Mantas and sharks, he throttled down, plopped it onto the sand and drifted to a stop about 2 feet from another plane. What a very un-expected and exciting morning!
Back on the bus as we were talking about the flight the bus very nearly got stuck in a giant sand blow. It was because Steve was trying to get us beyond indian head to the champagne pools, but after 6 attempts and various run ups we finally made it! The Champagne pools are so called because when they fill with salty water from the sea they froth up and bubble - looking like champagne!
After tea and muffins we headed back down the beach to Indian Head and took a walk to the top which was 60 metres up. Sitting on the top watching the clear blue waters we spotted a few turtles and even a giant manta ray swooping through the waves.
Back down to the bus then for a short journey to a fresh water creek for a picnic lunch and another sun baking session.
All too soon it was time to head back to Eulong Bay beach resort to have a quick break before taking the final few bumpy roads to the ferry landing.
On the way we did stop at an old ship wreck of a boat which was beached here over 80 years ago. When it was first beached it was completely intact and the caretaker of the boat was actually allowed to have his wedding on board as the rooms and cutlery etc were all in the right place! It is now looking a bit sorry for itself though as it has been eaten away by the tide and sunk 3 storeys below the sand. The Australian military didn't help either as during the 2nd world war when they targeted it for bombing practice and blew it in two.
There was much more water than before making the ferry journey far easier on the way back to the mainland.
When we arrived back at our flash Packers lodge there was just enough time for a quick shower before getting onto the greyhound bus for a monster 12 hour overnight journey to Airlie Beach.
I think I felt every minute of the 12 hours as although I am getting quite good at coach tai chi (moving slowly into every position possible) I couldn't find a position that mimicked a bed and only managed to catch a few hours sleep here and there.