Trip Start Oct 20, 2009
37Trip End Apr 01, 2011
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On the way up to Rainbow Beach, we stopped at a roadhouse and i just happened to glance the newspaper headlines of a kid from Gympie who was cyphening petrol in the dark, from a car in a shed to start a bonfire, lit a lighter to see what he was doing. As expected, he blew up the car and the shed. Onlookers were quoted as saying “the word ‘Stupid’ isn’t strong enough to describe this guy". Later on in the journey, i recognised a burnt out garage and car from the picture and realising that we had just passed a sign for Gympie i had to laugh at the weird coincidence of having driven past the actual sight of the accident. What a muppet.
Landing in Rainbow Beach i met up with Irish Marie, who i had planned to spend my last couple of weeks in Australia with. We then had two days to catch up on travel stories and get ready for the three day, 4x4 Camping Safari around Fraser Island. When i first arrived in Australia, when i was in Byron Bay and Noosa, everyone i met was either going to, or coming from Fraser Island and The Whitsundays, so i had heard many many stories about both trips and had wanted to go since then
We were assigned a group of eight, consisting of me, Marie, two French girls who were friends and two Scottish guys, a Scottish girl and an Ozzy, who were all friends. Everyone was really sound, really friendly and open and we had no problems or arguments as we all got on so well. There were 64 people in our whole group, split into 8 groups of 8 in each 4x4 jeep and as a whole, everyone was really decent and well behaved. No fights broke out, no one squabbled, and everyone got on well and chipped in. So much so, that the guides actually congratulated us all, at the end, for being such a decent group, so this all set a friendly happy background atmosphere to the whole experience.
It had been raining for a week solid, but the day we left, the sun was out in full force and the weather was flawless for the whole time we were away. We were extremely grateful for this, as i wouldn’t even want to imagine camping for three days on an island made entirely of sand, in torrential rain, which the two groups before us unfortunately had to experience, with the rain striking the night before we left for our adventure.
Within literally two minutes of arriving on the island and driving along the beach in an 8 jeep convoy, the lead car stopped so that we could all get out to experience some first class turtle porn, in the form of two sea turtles, both at least a metre long, making babies about 20 metres off shore
The weather being immaculate, we headed straight for the jewel of the island, Lake McKenzie. I actually get chills thinking about this place and words actually cannot even begin to describe the sheer beauty of this natural, freshwater lake. Pure white sands slope gently into crystal clear, warm fresh water, which gradually becomes a perfect turquoise colour as the silica sand slopes away. Then as the sand drops off a few metres out, the water suddenly becomes a deep pure blue. Looking out into the water these colours are so clearly defined and highlighted by the sun, this is actually the perfect beach. The only word which even comes close to describing this phenomenal oasis is perfect.
As the sun began to set we made tracks across the smooth flat sands of 74-Mile Beach and found our campsite for the next two nights
At the crack of dawn, we woke up and headed over to Lake Wabby for a toilet stop only, but a couple from our group thought we were actually going to the lake, possibly with a little help from me ,and they set off on the 2.4Km walk to the lake. This held up the whole group for about an hour and a half, while one of the tour guides who was the inspiration for the Action Man Doll, ran the 5Km round trip over sand dunes to get them to come back. Everyone remained in high spirits though and this actually turned out in our favour by saving us an hours walk later on. We then headed up to India Head, which provided some of the best views i have ever seen, over the island and we spotted a pod of whales out to sea. We also found a dead Sea Snake and took this down to the Champagne Pools which were full of fish, to enjoy the waves crashing over the rocks.
After lunch on the beach, we headed back past a shipwreck on the beach and were treated to seeing a mother and calf Humpback Whales playing out to sea. They were laying on their backs and the mother was teaching the calf how to slap its fin on the water. This went on for about 20 minutes and we were treated to a few jumps as well. As the tide was coming in, the drive back was a bit more adventurous and we had to drive on the softer, bumpier sand. Dropping through a few river trenches we ricocheted about quite a bit and had to drive head on into a couple of waves to get through. This definitely felt a bit more like off roading. We stopped off for a very refreshing swim in a creek with the second purest water in the world, which we drank a bit of, Then back to the campsite for another night. It was a bit clearer this second night so we chilled down on the beach and absorbed the awesome array of stars without being tainted by light pollution, before staggering back to bed, feeling very tainted by Goon pollution.
The last day, feeling a bit worse for wear, we were taken to Lake Wabby again, but this time we actually went to the lake. We all walked 2.4Km there and were greeted by huge rolling hills of sand. Imagine the rolling countryside hills of England or Wales, but made of pure sand, it was an unexpectedly stunning sight. Then one of the dunes drops off to the lake below, surrounded by forest. Laying perfectly motionless in this Tea-Tree infused lake, with Catfish swimming by and little fish nibbling and exfoliating me, watching the sky in the mirror-like lake surface as White Crested Eagles and pure white Cockatiels soared overhead through the calm blue sky was truly sublime and brought a level of peace that is hard to describe in words. Reconnecting with the stunningly creative force of nature and appreciating untainted beauty in its purest form.
After a relatively gruelling hike back through the sandhills, under the unrelenting sun, parched, sunswept and still feeling the grip of the goonbag we were pretty content to bring this adventure to an end and return back to civilisation. After three days of living rough, in the sand, a shower was extremely welcome. We had a drink with the guys from our jeep and then crashed out early to prepare for our 17 hour coach journey to Airley Beach the next day. Leaving at 12pm lunchtime, we got to Hervey bay and had three hours there in the sun which allowed us to scope out the town and check out the beach, before boarding the next coach. This left at about 5:50pm to arrive in Airley Beach at 7am the next morning.
With Fraser Island in the past and over 11 hours ahead of me on the coach journey, I had a chance to reflect upon this magical little getaway. It was almost like being removed from the world for a couple of days and placed in some kind of sandy paradise. The isolation really added to the experience and so did the camaraderie between our team as we battled the sand dunes and prepared our rations. The island was stunning. So pure and seemingly untouched despite the millions of visitors. Idyllic pristine lakes and endless stretches of pure smooth beach, teeming with exotic wildlife. I still cant believe that a place like that actually exists and isn’t man made. But then if this was man made, it would be cheap, tacky and peppered with McDonalds, so I’m glad that mankind has left his ego at the door and let mother nature do what she does best.