Rainbow Beach & Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia

Fraser 089I already sped down New Zealand’s 90 mile beach, I already spent four days in a 4 x 4 in Bolivia. Neither comes ANYWHERE close to Fraser Island. Yes the capitals are necessary, I’m shouting/enthusing THAT much.

*This is all post dated, as I’ve just returned to the land of technology. And whenever a road trips is involved it’s hard as everything starts to blur. Plus this has been drafted on the back of an old dog-eared map so apols in advance.

Saturday 10th September

Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, world Heritage site, and all round big deal. Everyone bangs on about it being BEST trip in Australia (the caps thing getting annoying yet,? I’ll stop.) It’s jumping off point on the mainland is Rainbow Beach (so called because of the multi coloured grains in the sandblasts). Fraser has no roads, so one of the coolest ways to do it is via Pippies Hostel on a 4×4 camping trip in a ‘tag along’ convoy (they let backpackers loose to drive and you follow a ‘lead vehicle. ’) It’s like, proper wilderness. The cars have emergency tanks of fuel which we carry with us, there’s no mobile signal, the nearest medical assistance is a helicopter.  The servers are down people, the GHD’s firmly off.

 We got the ball rolling with a safety briefing, which involved a ‘You are probably going die/be injured and this is our disclaimer’ DVD, and us signing away our credit cards and god knows how many thousands of dollars for the insurance bond on a Toyota Land Cruiser. Bit scary. Turns out , if the off-roading car crashes don’t kill us, then the frequent shark/dingo attacks might. Sharks , I hope, are self-explanatory. Dingo’s FYI, are wild crazed wolf/fox/dog hybrids. The only remaining pure ones left in the world. Apparently if one attacks you have to go all Caesar Milan (Dog Whisperer –  Sky One) on their asses, stare them out, and never run. Basically everything your natural instincts scream the opposite to do then. I increasingly find myself wondering how I end up in these situations, when that previous sentence is my exact worsted fear in life.

Perilous danger aside, the most important make or breaker to the whole experience is obvs who you share it with.  Thankfully the friend roulette gods were shining down. I’ll give you a quick cast list:

Car 1: Bunch of 5/6 random Irish girls/boys. Nice enough but bit Jeremy Kyle, all falling out after a beer or two. We leave them to it, mainly as we can’t really understand their extreme Northern Ireland accents. I’ve mentioned them, but they aren’t really integral to the story. They were a bit wimpy and road in the lead car with our guide Tony. In fact, let’s not bother with them.

Car 2: 7/8 German/Swedish boys and Flo, one of their girlfs. All very funny. We all cook our meals together and have some good group 2/3 rivalry when we overtake them every day and they eat our dust in the sand. Moses (Canada) and Alex (Sweden) are my faves so get a mention.  ‘Boom – Roasted.’ (Apols for the in-joke if you aren’t either of them.) It’s a variation of ‘get skanked’ (maybs you had to be there.)

Car 3: Our motley crew exists of: David (Canada) Looks like Borat, thinks he’s Enrique Iglesias. Aude (France) she is mad as toast. Jen & I think there might be a point where we might throttle her, but turns out she’s good value when drunk, which she is for most of our 72h together. Jen & Emma (Scotland/UK) My BFFs and partners in crime. Julie (Korea) Lovely and sweet. 

So our first hour together we have to go to the supermarket (/bottle shop) for supplies. It all kicks off. It’s a cross between a school trip and a bad semi final task in The Apprentice. Arguing with people you’ve just met over the price of grated vs. block cheese, and brands of apples does not a great afternoon make. I’m so glad I’m travelling alone so don’t have to do this every day. Jen, Dave and I (unhelpfully) form a splinter group and stock up on Tim , (Legendary Ozzy choc biscuit) custard, and a year’s supply of Black and Gold (aka Tesco Value) choc éclairs, wine gums and misc other junk food. I’m amazed we haven’t come back raving diabetics, the longest we’re not been dripped up to sugar being about 10 mins in the last 3 days. Other groups spend $16 each, we go a bit crazy and spend $40 on things like carrots & lettuce. Not sure where we thought we were going. It makes us happy though, and everyone knows sugar is like gold bullion after a few days of camping. We are corrupt enough to accept bribes to the highest bidder. It’s not the girl guides, it’s dingo eat dingo out there.   

Sunday 11th Sept

Now, it’s so hard to blog about travel without a few cliché’s, of which I’m definitely guilty of, but gods honest truth (you can tell I’ve been hanging with the Irish) I’ll try and paint you this picture.

Lionel’s ‘Easy like Sunday Morning’ blasting on the group MP3, sun shining, waves crashing to the right of us with a school of dolphins leaping from the actual surf, miles of miles of sandy beach highway stretched out in front of us, and a group of new giddy people singing at the top of our voices, getting to know each other. We all agree, it‘s for moments like this why we all live for travel.

Back down to earth and I should say a word on the driving. The cars really are monster 4×4’s, the terrain really is quite fierce. There are no roads, but there is a violent tide, massive sand dunes,  jungle, wildlife. Everyone in my group was dying to drive, but TBH it reminded me too much of being a responsible adult, and my previous life doing a 80 mile round trip commute so I kicked back and played DJ instead (God help them.) Of course the one person I didn’t mention in the cast list was Ian (Ireland) who only need a three word description in this context: Ex rally driver. Yes, it’s looking more like Final Destination meets Death Race as we speak. Actually no, in fact he’s really good. Aude’s crazy driving was worse than his by a long way.

Monday 12th September

You can drive Fraser in 3 to 4 hours, just to give you an idea of scale. In our short time here we visit the Maheno shipwreck. Tony tells us some looong tale (which sounded suspiciously like Titanic) of how it came to be, and it’s rusty orange frame and ghost like skeleton was very beautiful to photograph at sunset.

A good few kilometres along the same coast was Indian Head, prime Whale spotting vantage point. For a girl who used the phrase ‘when am I ever going to see a whale again’ It’s almost an everyday occurrence now isn’t it. Byron last week, and now here. Indian head is actually the name of the cliff edge whereby aborigines were rounded up and sent to their deaths (to the sharks below), purely based on how black their skin was. If this were to happen today I’d be the first one off there, my Fiji/Oz tan is at least 50 shades darker than normal which i’m loving.

On a less tragic note, Eli Creek is a cute stream where the water is so crystal you can drink it straight from the source, and fill your boots (well, water bottles.) We also stopped here for a game of tag football. A confusing sport if ever there was one. Emma and I were there in body but playing netball in spirit for a while, forgetting to run with the ball. Plus we could only really understand the rules whilst referring back to that Friends episode, much to annoyance of the boys.  After 20 mins of running like excited puppies in the sun however, we’re all keeled over facing the reality that carrying a backpack is not exercise, and we are all super unfit. Frisbee turns out to be much of the same. It’s really not about running on sand.

Perhaps the most memorable images I’ll take with me of Fraser however are lakes Allom, Wabby and MacKenzie. Each more beautiful than the next. The only way I can describe, well not the only way but perhaps the best, is that they were exactly like the place where Johnny takes Baby to do the sexy lift practicing in Dirty Dancing. There was no ‘time of your life’ balled in the background, but it was all just as stunning. The hardcore amongst us (Jen/Em/Mosses/Alex and I) jump in at every available opportunity and even swim with turtles in black water. They laugh at me every time I came out with the phrase ‘If I were a crocodile (frog/turtle/swamp monster) this is where I’d live….’ which I think is an intelligent and valid point but they seemed to think was hysterically funny.

Tuesday 13th September

I’ve taken liberties with chronology somehow, we admittedly did some of the above across 3 days. I shouldn’t however leave out the camping shenanigans which mainly involved drinking goon (cheap ozzy wine in a bag) around the campfire, toasting marshmallows. (No literally, for those in the know, this is not the codeword, I actually mean marshmallows for once :) ), we make TimTam soup with custard – disgusting/amazing, we squabble and bitch about who doesn’t help with the cooking or washing up (David we mean you!)

I said it on Facey but I’ll say it again; Fraser is one of those all time ‘things to do before you die’ places.

There’s so much i’ve left out; catching oysters in the sand eating them raw, holding a gloop of what Tony told us was whale sperm on the beach which turned out to be a jellyfish. Playing the rocks by the Champaign pools (shallow pools of sea water not the bucks fizz variety,) frying apples drizzled with Nutella for breakfast.

Somewhere in the midst of all this I will just remember cruising along an open beach, Hoppípolla by Sigur Ros playing, hair drenched with lake water, sand in every inch of our pores, our voices strained from our howling singing, breeze streaming through the windows,  in a chilled out comfortable silence with 6 strangers-come-friends. Maybe it’s the influence of the Land Cruisers, but the whole 3 days felt exactly like the Top Gear Specials. Beautifully cinematography from start to finish, with those perfect coloured filtered shots, where you have laughter, a few harmless disasters, but a massive emotional life affirming few days.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Pic of the week; Camping at Lake Eildon | Little Anantasin

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An.an.tas.in : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

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