Exploring the largest sand island in the world…
In this post I detail what I got up to in my third week in Rainbow Beach, Fraser Island & the Town of 1770.
Today was a day to chill out by the pool before my Fraser Island tour, all I did was top up my tan relaxing in the sun. In the evening I went to the safety briefing for the Fraser Tour where I met the people I was going to be spending the next 3 days with – they were a Canadian (Simon), two Scots (Ross & Sari), three Mexicans (Nat, Paloma & Pau) and a fellow Englishman (Jake) who were going to be in Car 6 with me. It was at the briefing that I found out that it would be me doing most of the driving for the next couple days as it was only myself and Simon who could drive.
I had to get up early this morning to eat breakfast, check out and store my bags as I had to go to a drivers briefing where they basically just told us not to flip the jeeps. Seeing as I was the only driver in our group that had driven on the left-hand-side of the road before (the correct side) I was tasked with driving our group from the hostel to the ferry and onto the island. As I hadn’t driven in a year I was slightly anxious but in the end I had nothing to worry about, that was until we got onto the island and onto the sand.
Apparently (although I was unaware) within thirty seconds of driving along the beach I had already managed to get the car to drift at an almost perpendicular angle to the way that I was driving – a great start! Luckily I was only on the sand for a few minutes before turning inland onto a dirt track. We were on the track for an hour and had covered roughly 20km before making our way back to the beach. Unfortunately the weather and tide conditions were not on our side when we arrived, it was high tide with waves 20ft high and the conditions weren’t set to change to allow us to pass along the coastline for a couple of hours. This meant that our convoy were stranded waiting for the waves to retreat back in. After what seemed like an age we did get moving again towards our camp which was still 60km away.
We did make a quick stop at Eli Creek which was a few kilometres away from our camp before the sun went down so we did actually see/do something as part of our first day but other than that we didn’t do anything.
When we arrived at base camp our group had to cook our own food so we got on that right away, tonights menu was chicken stir fry. Although I have very minimal culinary skills I was put to task as head chef and after a while slaving over the stove we managed to muster up a good hearty meal. We had 8 eight mouths to feed but we must’ve cooked up enough for at least twenty as we had not even got halfway through our pot by the time we were all done. After that we were free to do whatever we liked so our group played cards and drank late into the night.
After a late night the first thing you want is an early morning wake up and that’s exactly what we had today. Seeing as we didn’t see what our guide had originally planned yesterday we had a jam-packed schedule today. With the conditions still being poor we couldn’t go to any of the spots that most of the tours usually go to, instead we went to a place called Lake Allom which they visit 3 or 4 times a year. The lake is tea tree and apparently has one friendly resident crocodile in it although I don’t know how much I believe that. As soon as we arrived we saw a bunch of turtles swimming and feeding where we were supposed to enter the lake. We waited a little while for them to do their thing before heading in. Most of our tour swam a couple hundred metres across the lake and back but our little group preferred the lush life so we got rubber rings and just drifted around whilst we were there.
After all of the others swam back from the other side of the lake we drove back towards Eli Creek making a stop along the way at the Knife-blade Sand Blow viewpoint (we were not allowed to step foot on the sand blow due to aboriginal laws but it did look cool from what we could see although we couldn’t see a lot as the viewpoint wasn’t much of a view). Along the path to get back from the viewpoint to the cars we did spot some big spiders hanging just above us in the trees so we decided to make a swift exit.
We had one more stop before we made it to Eli Creek and that was SS Maheno Shipwreck. It was a cool aesthetic with waves crashing against the wreck and a great opportunity to get some cool pics. The boat was from New Zealand and it’s name translates to Princess which was a bit of a coincidence as Fraser Island is called K’Gari by the aboriginals which translates to Princess.
Eli Creek was much the same as yesterday however the weather was much better so it meant we could chill by the water and top up our tans as well as cruise our way down the lazy river. Before heading back to camp we also made sure we got our group photos with the cars whilst we were there as that’s what everybody does when they’re on a Fraser 4×4 tour.
Once back at base camp it was time to cook dinner and on tonight’s menu was steak and mash. Seeing as I didn’t do a bad job with last nights meal I was back on head chef duties which was a questionable decision – the last time I cooked steak I went a little overboard with the chilli powder. I didn’t make the same mistake again luckily for the group as we actually mustered up a cracking meal. It was a do-over of the previous nights activities following our meal except tonight we knew our limits, well some of us! Jake and Simon maybe not so much.
I wanted to make sure I saw at least one sunrise whilst I was on Fraser Island so as it was my last day today I made sure to set my alarm for 4:45AM to not miss it. The Mexicans were supposed to join Ross, Sari and I however they decided that a lie in sounded like a better idea – and I don’t blame them! The sunrise was worth getting up for however it wasn’t crazy looking like ones I’ve seen before; it was a nice way to start off my final day on Fraser.
By the time I got back to base camp from the beach it was 5:30AM, time to pack our bags and make our way back to mainland Australia. Simon was supposed to be driving for the first part of the day however he enjoyed himself a little too much last night and scored double the legal limit so was not able to drive for the whole day, this meant it was a full day of driving for me. Before we got back to the ferry port we made our way inland via a dirt track to Lake McKenzie, the most visited spot on the island. The drive took about an hour and a half and was supposed to be one of the hardest parts to drive on the island because of the steep hills, uneven surface and oncoming traffic however it seemed pretty easy.
We spent a couple hours at the lake soaking up the sun as well as the views. There were many girls taking photoshoots but our little group found some fun with the sand – some of the finest in the world. Apparently the sand there was a really good conditioner and exfoliant so we were all there putting sand in our hair and on ourselves to feel silky smooth; some people even took it to the next level by brushing their teeth with it as they had heard it makes them whiter, I didn’t trust it that far though.
When we left Lake McKenzie we were en route back to the ferry, this was another hour or so drive however it was prolonged even further as my car had a bit of an issue so we had to stop about 10km away from the ferry. The back left of the car was making a loud noise when I kept my foot on the accelerator for a certain period of time, once we stopped our guide checked it out and found that the front axel was broken. Apparently if we had kept on driving and went over a big bump I could have lost control of the steering and veered off the road into the bush. We had to wait for a while for the guide to find a resolution, in the meantime we had our lunch and waited to hear some news.
I was told to carry on in the car but to drive extra slow all the way back to the ferry where we would make a change with another car on the mainland – very safe! Luckily nothing came of it and I drove our group back to our hostel in Rainbow Beach safe and sound. I think we all had the same thing on our agenda and that was to shower; after three days on the island with a hose acting as a shower it was safe to say we were not smelling the greatest.
Natalie, Paloma, Pau, Ross, Sari & I wanted to make the most of our final afternoon together so decided to join a sand boarding activity put on by our hostel. The walk to Carlo Sand Blow where we were going to sand board took way longer than we anticipated and was up a very steep hill which was just what we wanted after having showered. We did eventually make it and it was well worth it, we all had a go sand boarding and took in the view from the Sand Blow. We were planning on staying to watch the sunset however the clouds were covering most of the sky so we wouldn’t of seen anything so we made our way back. We then spent the rest of the night playing bar games and had a comparatively early night compared to previous nights.
I woke up early along with Ross & Sari to say goodbye to the Mexican girls as they were leaving – we woke to have pancakes together before seeing them off at 7:00 on their bus to Brisbane. As I was already up I decided to have a morning swim and chilled by the pool for a few hours before heading to the rainbow steps. As the name suggests it just a set of steps painted with the colours of the rainbow so it wasn’t anything to write home about it was a sort of Instagram photoshoot spot more than anything.
On the way back to my hostel I made a quick stop at a restaurant called ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ where I had a Quesadilla with extra Guacamole and Sour Cream – Quesadillas were one of the main things the Mexicans spoke about for the last 3 days so I couldn’t resist when I saw them on the menu. The meal was okay but wasn’t anything compared to what I imagined a proper Mexican quesadilla tasted like. It was straight onto the greyhound bus for me again after I’d finished my meal as I had a 6 hour bus to the Town of 1770 – great fun!
When I got to my hostel in the Town of 1770 instead of getting some sleep that I was hoping for I had to try to fix my phone as the SIM card had stopped working. I tried to get it fixed for the rest of the evening but had no luck. I needed to wait until I got to Cairns to go in store and get it fixed.
I’ve always wanted to be bilingual and since I’ve been travelling I have even more so especially as I hope to backpack South America in the near future. Being with the Mexican girls for the last few days picking up a few words and phrases has made the goal more of a priority, as such I spent most of the day starting to learn Spanish on DuoLingo and trying desperately to learn to trill (roll my r’s) but to no avail.
In amongst all of the Spanish lessons I also found time to catch up on the social media I had missed over the past couple days and also got a little bit of tanning by the pool in too.
This morning I was running out of snacks and supplies so I made a quick trip to the grocery store in town via the hostel shuttle bus. There I met Renée, a German girl who was driving the shuttle to and from town. As she had a lot of time to kill between driving the minibus to and from town she asked whether she could hang out – we spent the rest of the day chatting and playing cards in the lobby.
I had an overnight greyhound bus to catch at 9:10PM so I had a quick shower and bite to eat before leaving the hostel and getting on the bus to Airlie Beach.
If you missed my previous post about my second week travelling the east coast of Australia be sure to check it out.
Next week I’ll be heading to Airlie Beach, Whitsundays, Magnetic Island & Townsville; follow my blog to be notified of when I post my next instalment of my East Coast trip. And if you want to stay even more up-to-date with where I am and what I’m doing be sure to check out my Instagram @chadkirby_ and maybe even give me a follow.