While I was working as a travel agent in the lovely concrete metropolis of Brisbane, I was invited to travel up to a certain island that lays claim to being “the largest sand island in the world” Now growing up in New Zealand spending all my spare moments in the outdoors – many of them on our “beaches” made me wonder what all the fuss was about – after all it’s just bloody sand!!
Couple that with Australia’s claim to have the biggest this, the biggest that, and the biggest everything else, and the fact that sand always, and I mean always manages to find it’s way into the wrongest of wrong cracks and crevices had me somewhat skeptical about this Fraser Island place. Add to that the fact that Fraser Island is populated with certain four-legged animals that apparently have a predisposition towards helping small humans disappear, and you can start to appreciate why I was in a kind of “sure I’ll go on the trip, but I don’t expect much at all” zone when the day came to depart for Hervey Bay to catch the elusive ferry for my Fraser Island Tour.
I remember arriving in Hervey Bay at 8-something pm and thinking “lovely, not only did I get to not see Hervey Bay at all, I have to be up at silly bugger o’clock to catch this dinghy to the big sand pit” Well I think it goes without saying that I had entirely the wrong attitude, and after our monster 4wd bus pulled up - this boy doesn’t do camping anymore people, it’s guided trips and resorts all the way – I slowly awakened to the idea that this was going to be something very unique, and I had been a fool of the highest order to think other wise!!!
“Welcome to Fraser Island folks, please disembark safely, find your bus and have a wonderful trip” our ferry captain said, so off I went in search of an even bigger, more 4 wheel drivey type bus thing, found it, and climbed on board. The bus could seat 40 people, there were only 11 of us, it felt like my own private tour. Nice one Fraser Island!
And so off we went. Up, down, forwards, backwards, side to side our big bus went, shaking everyone down to their very foundations and providing much laughter as various members of our “tour party” – sounds like an African safari expedition!! – attempted to stand up even though we had all been warned not to, and quickly went a** over t** back into their seats – we were off to a cracking start!
To say the first impression you get driving through Fraser Island is amazing is a complete understatement. You are immediately swallowed whole by the massive expanse of rainforest that surrounds you as you bounce on down the bush tracks – there are no real roads on Fraser Island – and around every twist, turn and bump, something else appears that makes you sit up and take notice big time!!! Just don’t stand up!! Hahahaha!
Our first stop was Central Station, an old logger’s settlement, and it was with complete amazement we read, and were told about the hardest of hard existences these poor buggers eked out while felling the rainforest giants around them, so not only was Fraser Island truly beautiful – and we had only been here for an hour so far – it had an epic history that none of us had heard of too!
As we journeyed onward through the middle of the island to the massive long, white sandy beaches, we were constantly staring out the bus windows at the magnificent forest we were journeying through and whenever we stopped to have a look at our next “point of interest” our anticipation levels increased, and Fraser Island never, ever let us down. In fact there was so much going on no one actually knew anyone else’s name until we reached our accommodation for the night – Eurong Resort, nice!!! – and stopped for 5 minutes over a much deserved beer to have the chat that had eluded us all day due to our amazement at where we were!
Here’s what our first day entailed….. Pick up in Hervey Bay, ferry to Fraser Island, board bus, Wanggoolba Creek, Central Station – although you’d swear there was no creek, the waters that clear and pure!!!! Then off to Lake Wabby and the Hammerstone Sandblow before finally relaxing at the resort!
We were supposed to go to lake McKenzie which is the on ALL the brochures, but our guide made the decision to go the next day due to a better weather forecast – more about that later!!! After stuffing our selves full of food at the all you can eat buffet, then having one or two or maybe more beers at the bar, no goon here, we all retired to our very nice resort rooms and got some much needed shut eye before the next days adventures!
It was at this stage that my traveling companion announced that we would be getting up to watch the sunrise on the beach at stupid o’clock in the morning, which as you can imagine impressed me no end, so it was lights out, shut up, and sleep!!! As my alarm blared announcing to all and sundry it was time for sunrise I actually had no trouble dragging my sorry self out of bed as the first day had impressed me so much, I was hankering for more Fraser Island action!!! Sunrise done, all you can eat buffet breakfast inhaled, back on the bus, and off on day two of our “expedition” – we had decided to call it an expedition for added dramatic effect – to explore yet more of “The World’s Largest Sand Island”
First stop was Eli Creek and it was p***ing it down, the supposed “better weather” had well and truly failed to materialise and our tour guide suffered for it – all in jest of course!! But do you think a bit of rain stopped us? Not a chance!! We all promptly stripped down to our swimmers and in we got – for about 3 seconds – then out we got very rapidly!! At least we can lay claim to swimming in the famous Eli Creek!!
As our 4wd monster bus raced on down the beach, which we discovered rather abruptly also doubles as a runway for sightseeing planes, we were wondering what would be next when out of the salt spray and sea mist appeared the Maheno shipwreck – a beautiful old wreck in very good condition with quite an amusing story behind it – so photo time it was again.
Then boom, off to Indian Head, the Champagne pools, and The Coloured Sands. Now don’t get me wrong, these were all very, very nice, but – and I still don’t know how the hell he managed it – the sun burst through the rain and clouds, blue skies appeared all around, and Lake McKenzie revealed her true beauty to us. The Lake is simply amazing, the sand is so white and pure it cleans your jewelry for you – just ask nicely, and the water is so pure you can drink from it as you swim through it!! Just don’t constantly drink; you should probably take a breath in there somewhere if you want to tell anyone about Fraser Island!!!!
All too soon we were back on the ferry and returning to the Australian mainland, adventure had, minds blown, and expectations shattered in the most positive way imaginable, and now everyone I see has to go to Fraser Island, no exceptions, no excuses, nothing – to miss out on Fraser Island just seems criminal So go and check it out, all the stories you’ve read or been told – like this one – will fail to do it justice, you really do need to do this “expedition” (hehehe) for yourself, and whether you do it camping style or resort styleee, and whether the weather is beautiful or raining hard – or both like we had - you will love it, it really is that good!
May I offer one last piece of advice though avid readers – remember the 4 legged, dog like, small human transporters I mentioned earlier? If you do encounter one of them as we did, don’t crouch down to take its photo. You go from being a lot taller and more intimidating than the dingo, to being a small human all in one quick movement, and then you’ll find yourself eyeball to eyeball with said dingo at a meter and a half, I don’t think I’ve jumped up that quick for quite a while! So get amongst it and experience Fraser Island now! You’ll love it!