Fraser Island 16-18th October

After Brisbane, I got the bus to Rainbow beach. Having talked to Jess (from the Brisbane hostel) about future plans, we realised we were going to be on the same bus, she was just hopping on later at Noosa. We got to Rainbow beach without any hiccups and after we had checked into our hostels, we went for a stroll down to the beach. The name is a little misleading given that it refers to the vaguely changing colour of the dunes behind the beach but you only really notice it if you really look. This is not how other people had spoken about it but hey. I wasn’t on the beach for very long as I still felt pretty rough and I had to get back for my briefing about the trip to Fraser. After getting everything ready, we all went to bed nice and early in preparations for the early start.

You can just about see the change dune colour

After a smooth journey over to the island, we started our three day journey on the sand. Straight off the barge that carried us in our Jeep we saw a dingo who was not at all fussed by a convo driving along the beach. I was in a 4×4 with 7 other people and car number 4 out of 4 on this trip. In my car, there were 5 other Brits and 2 German girls. There was some interesting driving conditions on the soft sand where the car just goes wherever it wants to and half the time you don’t have a choice in the direction as the wheels get stuck in the tracks made by other cars.

The first stop on this trip was Lake McKenzie which is definitely a postcard location with perfect white sand and blue, clear water with a little island in the middle. It’s a “perched” lake meaning that sits well above the water table so is only filled with rain water. After a pleasant slightly nippy dip and quick exfoliation with the extraordinarily fine sand (but I passed on the “brushing teeth” part which is apparently also a done thing…), I dried off on the beach before we all headed off to Central Station for our lunch. Central Station used to be where many of the loggers and their families lived on the island. It had a school for the children to attend and about 30 houses. Now it is the information hub of the area with lots of facts about the island and its history. It seems weird to see all these massive trees growing out of the sand as clearly there’s enough nutrients, water, and ground stability for the large trees to grow and yet the island is the worlds largest entirely sand island. On that note, it’s also really weird how there are fresh water lakes on the island as well. Since coming back off the island and back into phone signal, I have since read that the lakes keep their water in them with densely packed sand mixed with a build-up of organic matter and that the trees rely on sea spray and fungi to help create the nutrients needed in a symbiotic relationship, or something like that!

White sand and crystal water from the island within Lake McKenzie
Paddle boarding on the lake – a bit too blue but that’s something my phone seems to have got into the habit of doing when I’ve zoomed in.
Trees of central station

Once we had settled into the campsite, we then walked up to the dune just behind the camp (still a solid 45 min walk on energy sucking soft sand) and slid down it on body boards. You needed quite a push to get down it but it was good fun, even with sand going absolutely everywhere after wiping out at the bottom! I then headed back with a small group and got these photos to try and show the scale and peculiarity of this place. Our tour guide, an amazingly Australian guy (accent, swearing, laid back attitude etc), had said we needed to come back in at least pairs while carrying a stick just in case any lizards, snakes, or dingoes decided they wanted to come too close. I don’t think anyone in the group had any issues but I’m definitely not used to having to be scared of wildlife in this sort of manor! After a delightful shower getting a ridiculous amount of sand off/out of my hair, we cooked supper and then after a quick period stargazing, I went to bed while most people stayed up drinking. I was shattered and the granny life continues for me!

The group I walked back with with the sea in the background
The rest of the group who stayed for a bit longer

One issue with the tent though… it had holes in it which meant that spiders and other creepy crawlies would be able to get in. This was made even worse by the fact that just before we had left on our tour, someone from the hostel we’d all be staying at had been bitten by a spider and ended up in hospital. As the story was told, apparently someone she had been with at the time had thought to tie a tourniquet to stop the venom spreading and that the doctors at the hospital commented that that action could have saved her life….! Argh! And I was camping in a tent with holes in it in a country where I had always joked with my brother that everything wants to kill you but I’m not so sure it’s a joke as it seems that everything does want to kill you; on land, in the sea, and in the sky! So that night I took a nice big old dose of sleeping pills which worked a charm. 😀

The next day, unfortunately, I was far too unwell to join in on the activities so I took the morning out and slept most of the time. However, I had taken my food out of the car before they all left in case I got hungry and had left it on a table inside a sandwich bag (with a fastened zip-lock) that was inside a plastic bag and all wrapped up and that plastic bag I had just placed inside my backpack, covered but unzipped. I came out of my tent after a nap to discover a giant crow pecking at something in my bag. The damn bird had pecked through the plastic bag (and several layers of it given that it had been wrapped up), pecked through my sandwich bag and was eating my fruit and nuts that I had brought with me to snack on! I have no idea how it smelt them as they were very much sealed in the bag but anyway, I had to throw them all out which really annoyed me but I was also simply amazed by the perseverance of the bird!

After lunch, I was feeling a lot better and so joined back in with the group. We went off to the SS Maheno and Ely Creek. The SS Maheno is a shipwreck perched on the beach. It was used in WWII and then eventually sold onto the Japanese who tried to tow it back but the tow rope snapped during a typhoon. When the ship washed ashore and the storm passed, they thought it would be too expensive to try and retrieve so they salvaged as much stuff as they could and then left it where it still sits today.

SS Maheno

Eli Creek was very calming and relaxing. It is a fresh water stream that feeds into the sea and its about knee depth most of the way down the stream and flows at about a slow walking pace. We brought big rubber rings to float down in which were very relaxing before getting a game of beach volley ball going on the beach. It was a great afternoon after a pretty awful morning.

Eli creek
Sit, sit, sit in a ring going gently down a stream. Merrily merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream
Car 4 Crew with Bruce, the car!

Our last morning on Fraser, we were up at 5:30 to get to Lake wabby before other tour groups could get there. The lake has a capacity limit and so we had to get there before others did or else we’d be sat on the beach for a while waiting for people to come back down from the lake.

It was quite a walk up there again on uneven, energy sucking ground when I really didn’t have a whole load of energy in the first place. Once we’d made it up to the lake, once again it was a big open dune with this little late at the bottom of it. There are the little fish that nibble your dead skin in the lake but given that I have this fear that when I swim, fish are going to eat my feet, I wasn’t so keen to let them literally eat me feet! Having said that, I tried to let them without freaking out and I felt a grand total of 2 bites before not being able to take any more. However, by this time, they were getting quite a feast from the few pairs of legs in the water and they didn’t want to leave me alone, no matter how much I tried to scare them away while I tried to wash the sand off before heading back to the car.

Less picturesque lake as it’s green but still an amazing place to visit!

We then had our final lunch of the Fraser Island tour on the shore near to where we would get the barge back to the mainland. We had been thinking about what if something major had happened while we were on the island as we wouldn’t have a clue until we got back to the mainland due to the complete signal dead zone and as we were waiting for the barge, a few of us had a little bit of signal and were greeted by the delightful Brexit news of the Irish boarder backstop issues potentially being solved so I guess that’s the piece of news I’ll always remember where I was for!

Back in Rainbow Beach, we unpacked the cars and cleaned out all the sand they had accumulated. I checked back into the hostel for another de-sanding shower, relaxation, and then said a few goodbyes. Hopefully I’ll be able to see some of the people I’ve spent an intense few days with when we’re all back in England.

Good old Bruce