Sand, 4x4's and Goon!
26.09.2006 22 °C
Hot on the heels of The Whitsunday's we were straight back on the Greyhound and down the coast to Hervey Bay ready for our Fraser Island - 3 day self drive safari.
Fraser Island is the worlds largest sand island measuring 120km by 15km and was created by thousands of years of longshore drift. Since 1990 the island has been protected as the Great Sandy National Park and in 1993 it was inscribed on the World Heritage List.
FACT: It contains more sand than the Sahara Desert (source: Paul, Reading)
Another early start, we were up at 6.30am for our first de-brief at the hostel. We were split into two groups, we had a really nice couple from Reading called Paul and Maz and two Danish girls along with us 5. After watching a video all about the island and how to avoid being savaged by a pack of wild Dingoes we had to decide on our shopping and alcohol lists (we were camping for the next two nights). It was just like being in Big Brother, but with it being so early and us being so knackered we just followed the recommended list. Paul and Maz went to go and buy all the food whilst the rest of us went down to the 4x4 rental place to collect all the camping equipment.
Rich and myself were assigned the job of checking off all the equipment which did mean having to count out 9 of everything (folks, knives, plates, cups etc) and then load it all on the roof. After a final talk on how to drive the Battle Bus (when to use 2WD, 4WD & Super-Tractor mode) and being issued a map of the island we headed down to the ferry to start our adventure.
The Battle Bus
Arriving on the island you can appreciate why they give you such a heavy duty vehicle, there are no roads at all only really deep sand tracks and the beach to drive along. We had been given a suggested itinery of what to see over the three days and decided to stick to that to make sure we saw all the main attractions. The highlights of the first day were Lake Wabby a fresh water lake which had vegetation running along one side and sand dunes on the other - a pretty amazing site and a shipwreck on the beach.
At 4pm we had to report into Base Camp where we would be staying for the two nights. We were greeted by the site manager, a very eccentric guy called Macca who talked at length of all the nasty spider and snakes which inhabit the island (funnily enough non of which was mentioned at the booking office). We then very painfully put up our tent which look 5 of us about 2 hours it was seriously like Dumber and even more stupid, you'll be amazed at how wrong we managed to get it. Paul, Rich and the girls made an awesome Banger & Mash for tea on the BBQ and we all got stuck well and truely into the Goon. Now I had no idea what Goon was until Fraser Island but if you can imagine the cheapest wine available which is only sold in 4 litre boxes, they have a very niche market of raging alcoholics who are treating themselves to a night off the Meths and hard up Backpackers. Having said that the Goon was flying down and we all made lots of fun "Spanking the Goon" (which is when the Goon is taken out of the box and you all take it in turns to spank the foil bag it comes in - probably makes more sense if you're Gooned)
Paul & Lisa man the BBQ
Gooned - Me, Jules and Maz
Suddenly there was a rustling in the undergrowth and we all thought we may be about to encounter our first Dingo attack but to our relief it was only Macca brandishing a massive torch doing his nightly spider watch. He enlightened us again to a catalogue of spider and snake attack tales delivered as only Macca could - we all decided there and then that Macca was a legend!
The following day, nursing significant Goon-heads we piled back into the Battle Bus for another day sightseeing the highlight being Indian Head. Indian Head is the top of a cliff overlooking one of the beaches but it is also an outcrop so you are quite far out at sea. From the top you can look down into the water and see Sharks, Mantra Rays and Dolphins (you can't swim in the sea at Fraser because you will either get eaten by a shark or pulled out to sea by a rip)
After hitting the on-site bottle shop for emergency Goon our second evening was spent exchanging scary stories back at base camp (very camping stylie!)
After packing up all our camping stuff which was a hell of alot easier than setting it all up we hit the road for your final day. The highlight of which was Lake McKenzie another of Fraser's fresh water lakes. It was a really hot day so there was no hesitation in wading in there for a cool off (it also works wonders for a Goon hangover)
After dropping off all the camping gear we headed back to the hostel and were amazed to discover that we were still a Goon up so we headed over to the Chinese all you can eat buffet with Paul and Maz for a final spanking session. We all really enjoyed Fraser Island, it has definitely been the best thing we have done in Australia so far - such a unique place to visit.
Our next stop - Brisbane