Yesterday and today have definitely been one of the highlights of the trip so far (as well as the whale watching trip of course!) It’s weird to think that just across the water from Hervey Bay where it’s quite populated and busy, albeit only slightly, there’s an island with barely anybody on it and with so many interesting things.
The start of the adventure and wake up at 6:30 was a bit difficult as it’d had been a bit hard to sleep the night before in the heat and with all the excitement but once we were up and ready to go, everything was fine. That is after I’d had a fight with my rucksack to fit everything in it! There was quite a lot of shoving and throwing things about until it was finally sorted but it got there in the end (stupid shoes taking up all the space). After getting on the coach and picking more people up along the way, we were off to Riverheads where we were to catch the barge across to Kingfisher Bay. I have to admit, this wasn’t the most exciting part of the trip. When we got on we headed straight up to the top so we could see everything and the island approaching but after 50 minutes of sitting in the wind on quite a slow boat, it started to get just a teeny bit boring. Not for long though as I realised that everyone else had their swimming costumes on under their clothes which is something I hadn’t even considered so had to make a dash to the toilets on the car deck to get changed quickly before we docked. It was a bit of a rush and I almost lost my clothes to the toilet at one stage as I’d hung everything on a tiny hook right above it, in hindsight a terrible idea but soon it was all sorted and we were ready to disembark and start the adventure properly.
Getting off the barge and stepping on to the island was exciting straight away as it really did come across as being a prehistoric island, the type of place you’d expect to see dinosaurs roaming around. Pelicans were perched on the rocks in the bay with big wide eyes staring back as everybody looked at them and the noises of the birds squawking in the trees gave it a really tropical feel. Once we’d found our driver Sean, we clambered on to the big 4WD bus and chose our sears near the back which turned out to be incredibly fun. Fraser Island is an island made entirely of sand which meant that you were really thrown about when the bus was being driven across the tracks and soft sand. There was a warning to all the people by the window, which included me, that there was a high risk that you could bang your head so be careful and this really made me smile. Who would have thought that the risk of cracking your head open could be so exciting? It really was and although I managed to avoid injuring myself, it was still really very fun.
As we went along the paths and after eventually getting past a 4×4 which had already become wedged in the sand, Sean told us all about the history of the island and how it had ended up how it is today as well as it’s future. Formed around 750 000 years ago when sand from the continent blew on top of volcanic bed rock, the island supports a wide variety of wildlife and vegetation which is quite surprising considering it really is just on a sandy base. Currently, there are two layers of sand with the third one currently blowing it’s way over and once it’s complete, in about 12,000 years, all the animals and plant life will have to start all over again. It’s quite strange to think that everything there at the moment will be uprooted and new things establish themselves but I suppose you don’t even know whether some species will even exist that far into the future. Nevertheless, just looking out of the window at all the trees and vines with all the markings from sugar gliders waving their way up the trunks, you can’t deny it isn’t a fascinating place to visit.
Our first stop was Lake Mackenzie, a perched lake with water with a ph level of 4.5 and so pure that only one species of fish is able to survive in it. With pure white sand and crystal clear water it was breathtaking (hehehe Dad) and I couldn’t wait to have a swim as we hadn’t been in water deep enough the whole time we’d been in Australia so far. After performing the usual sun tan lotion ritual and checking the cameras were protected from all the sand, we headed into the water. What came as quite a shock was how cold it was! I know we were hot after being in a really humid environment but it was so freezing that we had to force ourselves to submerge our shoulders. Of course after we’d done that it was fine and it really was a refreshing dip and the ph level was the same level as hair conditioner so my nice dry straw like hair had a nice treat for a change. We didn’t swim too far out as apparently it got quite deep quite fast and a few people had drowned in past and that wasn’t something we wanted to repeat. Also, there’s something about dark water that makes me think “shark” so even if nothing can live in there really, part of me remained a little bit suspicious. Perhaps, a good idea for a cheesy, Sharknado style film?
A few photographs later and we were ready to head backs to the coach when a sandy goanna lizard popped out from the shrub and ran down towards the water. Everybody quickly gathered around it with some people getting up quite close to take photos with their Go Pros but it didn’t seem to care one bit. Maybe it thought it might be a famous lizard. It began digging in the sand for a while and then starting pulling out eggs before chewing them up, spilling yolk everywhere and then gulping them down. We managed to get a few photos of him munching away but we were already on the last minute to get back to the tour and so we had to tear ourselves away. Grrrrrrr.
Back on board and the sand had managed to creep everywhere into all my clothes and my shoes but I told myself that we were on a sandy island and so sand just came with the tour. This approach was short lived and my the next day I wanted to hurl my flip flops through the window. For the time being however this didn’t matter as it was off to Central Station next to have a look at an old milling area and to learn a little bit more about the industry on Fraser. From the 1860s to the 1990s, logging began and many trees were sent around the world for use in construction including parts of the Suez Canal in Egypt. Due to the fact that many workers had families and didn’t necessarily want to spend all their time on the island, houses and two schools were built in the Central Station area for them however all but one remains after they were eventually moved further south. It was really interesting to see the little remaining restored house as it was so small, it was quite hard to believe how many people had to live and spend a lot of time in there. It was also very interesting to see the dead, shrivelled up Python that hung from the window in the roof of one of the sheds after failing to make it through. As we wandered around the buildings looking and learning all about the milling trees, we had to keep an eye out for Dingoes as there had been quite a few in the area. Although many hadn’t be seen lately due to it being the puppy season, there was still a risk that they could appear and after hearing that they like to circle smaller people to dominate them before attacking, I didn’t fancy one coming up behind me!
No dingoes spotted and it was off down the path for a little walk around the rainforest. It really was peculiar to think that there are these huge vines and trees growing in sand and it was even more so to go from the beach to the rainforest so quickly. As we wandered around we learnt all about the animals that live in there like the sugar gliders and possums as well as all the snakes. As much as I’d like to see a wild snake, being told that the venom would kill you within 25 minutes and that you’d only be able to reach a hospital within a few hours wasn’t the nicest thing although it did add a fun element of danger. The good news was that the tour buses had snake bandages that would keep you alive for three days and most of the time the snakes wouldn’t even release their venom so chances are you’d be fine. Nevertheless, I missed quite a few interesting trees watching the floor for naughty snakes.
The next tour stop was lunch which really was amazing. After living on noodles and hot dog sausages any normal food would have been great but an all you can eat lunch buffet was the best and we planned on making the most of it. Lunch was at Eurong Beach Resort on the east side of the island and the place where we were to spend the night. Considering we had been told that it was a budget version of the island’s resorts it was a really nice place and somewhere I definitely wouldn’t describe as ‘budget’ at all. The buffet was made up of lots of bread, cheese, ham, sausages and other tasty goodness. Cheese seems to be ridiculously expensive here so when I clapped eyes on slices of it in a bit pot, I made sure I gathered as much as I could until I came across as a pig. Maybe I did but just didn’t realise (seems more likely!). After a few laps of the food and as much ham and cheese as was possible to consume, everybody clambered back on to the bus and set off for the next segment of the tour: Lake Wabby.
When we were booking the Fraser Island tour, the hostel owner recommended Fraser Island Explorers specifically because they visit Lake Wabby and not many of the others did. It seemed like we were getting a good deal going there and getting to see another of the freshwater lakes, this time a lovely emerald green colour. That was until we were told of the 45 minute walk there and back. A walk, you might say, doesn’t seem quite so bad and with us having constant access to ice cold water under the bus it might be quite relaxing. It wasn’t. It wasn’t a walk but a hike uphill over sand for 45 minutes straight at a speed I could barely keep up with all whilst wearing flip flops. I don’t think I’ve ever been as angry at water before in my life but when we got to Wabby, part of me didn’t want to give it the satisfaction of us going in. It was ridiculously hot though so I didn’t really have a choice and it did turn out to be a nice lake (a barrage and a window lake) We saw lots of little fish swimming around us and two huge catfish swam around and circled us too, one of them even nudging the Go Pro as it was bobbing about by itself. All too soon the refreshing dip was over again and it was time to head back to the bus and for more tasty food at the resort. Yum. The walk back down wasn’t anywhere near as bad and so I got to have a little look around instead of staring at the floor for snakes all the time still. It was very pretty going through the trees and seeing the Pacific ocean poking through them was an added highlight. The sand was still being flipped and flopped around by our shoes which was getting increasingly annoying as the day wore on but we focused ourselves on getting back to the bus, the lovely air con filled bus.
When we arrived back at Eurong, everybody seemed either desperate to go for food or desperate for a sand free shower and a nap. We wanted all those things but a shower was definitely the priority. We’d been given our room keys after Lake Wabby and so once everybody had dragged their things off the bus with them, we all toddled off to look for our rooms, those finding theirs peeling off from the group with smug looks as there was less walking. Our room was 110 in the Trade Winds wing and so we were one of the first to get there (hehe). When the hostel owner booked the tour for us, he had said that we’d be in a twin room as that was the only one left but it turned out we were in a huge family room with a double and two single beds. It was great! No more being crammed into small spaces trying to cool down and the private bathroom was even more of a luxury, as was the TV. I’m finding it really strange here that Australia broadcasts a lot of UK programmes but it was nice to get back after eating tea, sitting in the big bed with fluffy pillows and watch something familiar. After a quick shower and change, it was time for another buffet tea in the resort’s restaurant.
Tea was even better than lunch and there was a Mediterranean theme so lots of pasta and pizza to fill you up. On the first round I had chicken pasta and gnochhi then I went back for more pasta, gnochhi and garlic bread. Yum again. The best part was the peach crumble although I took too much and then felt quite ill after stuffing it all down. I think my stomach must have shrunk from not eating as much as usual as I wanted more but couldn’t fit anything else in. Grrrrr. It was all very tasty though and it was worth the money we paid just for that! On the way back to the room, we watched the thunderstorm that had rolled in which was really creepy as the island seemed so deserted at night, even in the resort. I tried to film in on my phone but didn’t get very far as it’s all a bit blurry! After watching The Big Bang Theory and Top Gear in bed, it was time to sleep as we needed to be up at 6:30 the next morning for breakfast. Of course I had to read a little bit more of my shark attack book first but it wasn’t long until I drifted off…