Crikey! A Dingo ate our bread!

Trip Start Oct 13, 2011
Trip End Jun 07, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Friday, January 13, 2012

Annabel: We have now completed the first of our two major tours in Australia, Fraser Island, and are now at the disembarkation town for our second, sailing on around the Whitsunday Islands.

We had a brilliant time on Fraser, definitely helped by having a really great group of people and a really good tour leader.  In the afternoon we arrived at Rainbow Beach, and the 17 of us on the tour all had to sit and watch a video about how to drive on sand, one of those typical 'first day at work' type films with all the information you know will actually probably come in useful but you can’t be bothered to listen to at the time, then we were split into two groups and had to sort out and go and buy all the food we wanted for the trip.  As usual, I was the only vegetarian in the group and the evening meals we had decided on for both nights were…BBQ!  Initially I thought sorting this all out was going to be a total nightmare, no one really wanted to take charge of what we got (pretty standard with a group of random people! Conor – I took charge of the trolley) so I thought I would give it a go making some decisions, but like I said, a veggie organising BBQ, not a good move!  In the end we sorted it all out pretty quickly and then headed to the liquor store for what most people agreed was a far more important purchase, alcohol!  Due to a limited amount of weight you were allowed to pack in the cars (well, this is what we were told, but I think the real reason is that if you don’t put a limit on the amount of alcohol a backpacked can take on a trip they will take the whole off licence!) the maximum we could buy was a crate of beer and three boxes of Goon (an Australian boxed ‘wine’).  This was definitely not going to be enough for the guys in our group, in particular I am referring to three Irish guys from Cork, but I was pretty sure that somehow they would acquire some more to meet there needs.  And indeed they did!

After we had sorted all our food and drink out back at the hostel, a few of us went for a guided walk up to a big sand blow near the town (Conor: Here’s the science bit. A sand blow is a massive sand dune created by sand blow off the sea. This slowly envelopes the land around it, forest and all).  It was really stunning.  A few people, including Conor, did some sand boarding then we had a bit of a walk around the sand before sitting to watch the sunset.  Unfortunately it was really cloudy by this time so there wasn’t really any sun to see, but it was really beautiful anyway.  There wasn’t really time left after that to do much more that sort out some dinner and pack what we would need for the next two days on Fraser.

The next morning we were up bright and early, and after our free breakfast (a massive novelty out here!) we headed off in the cars to the ferry to the island, although we didn’t get very far before we were already stuck in the sand!  Rather amusingly it wasn’t Dan, who was driving our follow-on car who got stuck, it was Nipples (real name Dan) our tour guide!  This meant we had to push both the cars back and reverse back onto the hard sand before trying again.  That was the first of the unfortunate things which happened to Nipples, on his first time out as a solo guide, and unfortunately it was not the last!  The next thing happened only minutes after the first where he started to drive away before everyone was in the back which resulted in him running over one of the girls in the group with the trailer on the back of the car!  Luckily she was ok, but it wasn’t exactly the best of starts!  Luckily we managed to get on and off the ferry and over to our first location on the island without any further problems.

Our first stop was the biggest fresh water lake on Fraser Island, called Lake Mackenzie.  It was really beautiful, and we could see why it was a really popular spot.  We had a swim around, played a bit of frisbee and ball and had a look for freshwater turtles in the reed, no luck seeing any though.  After that we all had some lunch then went to our campsite which was going to be out home for the next two nights.  The site was run by Aboriginal people and because of this we had to be respectful to their culture by follow a couple of rules which were no spitting, for most people a pretty easy thing not to do, and no whistling, something you wouldn’t think was too hard not to do till you realise you are not meant to be doing it and find you do it quite a lot!

Conor: Annabel forgot to mention that I had the chance to drive our 4x4 up to Lake Mackenzie. We were on a driving tour, meaning that those with driving licences could have a go on car. The majority of this would be on the sand of the beach, but the drive up to the lake was on ridiculously bumpy and treacherous island tracks, going up and down hills and bumps of every size. I had never driven a 4x4 before I can honestly say it’s one of the funnest things I’ve ever done. With the car sliding around all the over place and using copious amounts of 1st gear to get out of trouble I am proud to say I didn’t get stuck once. 

On our way back from the Lake we stopped by a freshwater creek on the beach that led into the sea. It was quite cool as it the force of it would carry along, though occasionally you ended up beaching yourself!

As night fell we came to cook our BBQ feast. We opened the cool boxes where our food was stored and behold, a soggy soggy mess. Basically when Anne-Marie got thrown from the car some caring soul went into our cool box to get some of the ice at the bottom. The bright spark then placed a massive lump of ice back, on top of our food. As a result all our lovely chicken burgers and ham was covered in dirty water (with the added flavour of the two XXXX beer cans that had burst). Annabel put on her best smug vegetarian face upon realising all her vegetables were fine! Anyway, being men, we decided it was no bother and fried the burgers to a crisp. The end result was…still soggy, but definitely edible. The other group greatly enjoyed their pristine burgers.

After the meal we settled down around the camp fire to start on the goon (which I can now only say with an Irish accent due to the Irish contingent of the group!). It was a really fun night. We had nipples playing guitar and singing (he was pretty good), dingoes passing us in the night (I love dingoes!), hilarious conversation on behalf of Jo, Max, Nick, Ben, the Irish (Kev, Shaun and Chris, Danny and Adrianna), Tim and Bev and all the others, beautiful singing when Shaun could be persuaded and enough marshmallows for everyone to toast. Gradually everyone crawled to bed (goon hits you hard!), though we know that the cork lads stayed up till 5.30. Mainly because we could hear them!

In the morning many were nursing sore heads, and Bev didn’t emerge at all! Annabel, who craftily hadn’t drunk, jumped into driving seat for the first drive of the day, to the Champagne pools and Indian head. Annabel’s stretch of the driving mostly involved driving on the beach (harder than it sounds), and then one very short island stretch. During this the Cork lads were in our car, fast asleep, when Annabel drove over some particularly violent bumps. They nearly flew out of the car! If I can I’ll upload the video I have of this, if not ask to see it when we get back, it’s hilarious! 

Anyway, the champagne pools were like a little protected cover right at the tip of Frasier Island. It was basically a pool with a small amount of low rocks separating us from the Pacific Ocean, which was pretty sweet. I was lucky enough to see an eagle/hawk take off as we arrived and then we spent some time swimming, and cutting a little bit cut up by the rocks! From here we were to drive to Indian Head. Indian Head and Champagne Pools are the whole reason Frasier Islands exists. These two separate rocky outcrops have been capturing sand between them for millions of years, and slowly but surely Frasier Island grew from nothing. It is completely made of sand and grows about a metre every year. On our was to Indian Head our beach ‘road’ disappeared due to high tide and we were stuck behind a downed tree for about an hour. Dan said some of the group could go on ahead to see the cliff at Indian Head, which seemed like a good idea until a ranger came down to tell him off, as they had gotten too close to the cliff edge. Not a good second day for nipples.

Once the water receded the rest of the group went up to see the cliff, and then we drove inland again to a tee-tree lake.

Annabel:  The tea tree lake was really cool, but also pretty scary as you couldn’t see anything below you as the water was all stained brown.  It was particularly scary if you swam into the reeds!  It reminded quite a few of us of Lake Placid.  After the lake we stopped at a shipwreck to have a look and take some photos, then we had a bit of a chill out just playing some Frisbee and ball again, and playing Jo’s favourite game, charades!  It was then back to the camp for our final night, where we had a bit of an unwelcomed surprise of a new tour group all sat around the fire and kitchen area.

It wasn’t that we were all against having new people there, it was just that we had all got to know each other pretty well by now and for our last night we were all quite keen for a replay of the night before, but that wasn’t really possible with the arrival of about 25 new people.  Nipples even ended up going to bed at about 8pm!  We all cooked dinner then it wasn’t long till everyone was on the goon again.  We spent the night sitting around the fire chatting, had some guys playing didgeridoos which was pretty good, and laughed at the Irish guys getting progressively more drunk every time they returned from ‘getting fire wood’ over by their tents.  The next morning our group awoke and went to our food box to get some bread for breakfast, only to find the lid open and all the bread gone.  We all jumped to the conclusion that in the night some drunken people must have fancied a late night snack and helped themselves to our loaves, which we were all pretty annoyed about as this was our breakfast and our lunch.  After settling on having left over apples for breakfast, and moaning about not having any lunch, one of the Irish guys stumbled upon some chewed up bread packets on his way back from the toilet and we realised that it was actually dingo’s who ate our bread!

We ended up leaving camp about an hour later than we were meant to which meant that we had to wait for about 2 hours for the tide to go back out before we could dive to our final location of the trip.  This was another fresh water lake, but to get to it you had to walk about 1 ˝ km through a forest area then over a sand blow.  Coming out of the trees on to the sand blow was really stunning, just a sea of golden sand, it really felt like a dessert.  Then coming over the sand blow and seeing the lake was really stunning again!  It was so picturesque with the deep blue pool next to the golden sand, with a line of luscious trees behind it (I hope you are all forming a lovely mental picture in your head with my amazing description, or alternatively, take a look at the picture!).  After spending some time swimming we headed back to the cars and then it was back to the mainland.

That evening we spent one last night with some of the people from our tour and Nipples in a bar down the road from our hostel.  The next morning we said goodbye to the group, but only to half of them as some were getting the same bus as us to Airlie Beach!  We spent our morning doing a bit of shopping and failing at surfing as the conditions were so rubbish, so we went to for a swim in the sea instead.

During our bus journey we had a 3 hour stopover in Harvey Bay.  Around the bus station there was pretty much every type of fast food you could ask for but not really anywhere to pass 3 hours in.  Luckily there was one actual sit down restaurant there called the Hogs Breath Café which had a bar area, so me, Conor, Adrianna, Danny, Nick and Ben who were all on the bus together decided to pass some time by having a drink before going to get some food.  But after they had said it was ok to sit in the bar as long as it wasn’t busy, the manager then said we couldn’t drink there unless we ate as well so as we had so much time to kill we decided we might as well eat there and we just dragged our feet as much as possible to make the meal last out the time till we needed to get the bus.  We finally arrived here at Airlie Beach in the early hours of the morning after a far more enjoyable journey than we initially thought it would be.
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Dad (getting good at this!) on

The time at Fraser Island sounded great,. I know from our travels that sharing the company of others can be a trial but more often a triumph. And it says much about you both that you seem to be mixing very well and I am so proud of you both for achieving that.
Thanks for all the joy of allowing us into your adventures.
(Bit serious that!)

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