After a few days in Airlie Beach, it was then time to depart for Hervey Bay, which is popular among the younger hostel traveling crowd because it is the main launching point to get to Fraser Island. Seriously, I thought Hervey Bay was a geriatric’s paradise! Unfortunately, I was in my 20’s and still enjoyed running around causing havoc like the young whippersnapper I was, so it wasn’t a great fit for me. Perhaps I will go back when I am 60.
Fraser Island, a heritage-listed site, is the largest sand island in the world known for its exceptional beauty and ancient rain forests growing among the sand dunes. What exactly would I be doing on Fraser Island you ask? Splitting into groups, camping in a tent overnight, and going four-wheeling with a bunch of foreign strangers! It’s sort of like Survivor except for wussies. And we eat and don’t vote anyone off. Ok, so maybe it’s just hardcore camping for a person like me.
The night before departing for Fraser, we are assigned to teams. I was the last person to join a 6 person team in which 5 Brits were already friends. This could have been very disastrous but they adopted me into their pack and we carried on, buying food for our impending camping adventure. The next morning we awoke bright and early to saddle up for the big camping trip. Note: I would not say I’m an avid camper. I don’t HATE IT, but it’s certainly not my favorite thing to do in the world because I like my sleep. In fact, sleep is literally one of my hobbies. I don’t care if you say it isn’t a hobby. It is! Upon arriving we discover 2 things: 1. We literally have nothing to sleep on- NO PILLOWS OR BLANKETS! 2. The 4-wheeling would be conducted in the off-roading vehicles which require someone to drive on the left hand side of the road on the right side passenger seat. No problem for any of the Brits of course, but I decided to bow out from driving so that I could umm… live. This leads me to my first tip: Be prepared!
1. BE PREPARED!
We brought plenty of spaghetti and goon (goon is a popular term for boxed wine in Oz) to go around, but what I didn’t think to bring was bug repellent. And let me tell you, there are a LOT of creatures and gnats roaming around Australia in the summer. One man we were with got bit by a grasshopper and was bleeding! We didn’t have to worry about getting a tent or camping supplies because the group we went with supplied that for us, but if you are camping on your own you might want one of those! Here are links to the camping permit and vehicle access permit if you are interested in going without a tour group!
2. CHECK OUT THE MAHENO SHIPWRECK:
SS Maheno was an ocean liner belonging to the Union Company of New Zealand that operated in the Tasman Sea, crossing between New Zealand and Australia, from 1905 until 1935. She was also used as a hospital ship by the New Zealand Naval Forces during World War I. On the afternoon of 7 July, while about 50 miles from the coast, the towline parted during a severe cyclone. Attempts to reach the towline failed in the heavy seas, and the Maheno, with eight men aboard, drifted off and disappeared. (excerpts from Wikipedia- find out more about the Maheno shipwreck HERE). Because it has mostly been damaged and destroyed, access to it is prohibited, but you can clearly still take an obligatory jumping picture in front of it.
3. GET FAMILIAR WITH OFFROADING ON SAND:
If you’ve never experienced driving in sand before, you are in for a treat and possibly a wild ride! It would be wise to drive around on the hard sand before venturing off into the rugged areas there. Don’t break hard or swerve sharply, observe the normal rules of the road when greeting other cars, and travel at low tide. Low tire pressure is necessary for four-wheeling Fraser Island, but the adventure group you go with generally takes care of all of that for you.
4. SCOPE OUT BEAUTIFUL LAKE MCKENZIE:
Lake Mckenzie is a unique body of water as it is a perched lake on Fraser Island. Perched lakes do not stem from streams or flow to the ocean and are actual rainwater, which makes them so fresh and pure! So pure, in fact, that many species cannot survive due to the high acidity levels. It is the lake’s fine, white powdery sand which is mind-blowing and so ideal it actually makes a wonderful exfoliant! If you would like more information on Lake Mckenzie I highly recommend clicking HERE. This site explains Lake Mckenzie in depth and also lists other camping areas on Fraser Island.
5. BEWARE OF DINGOS AND GIANT CREATURES!
We’ve all heard that expression: “The dingo ate my baby!” I tried to refrain from using it while in OZ so I didn’t look such a stereotypical foreigner. Click HERE if you need a refresher on that dingos case and how it came to be. The truth is, the dingos I discovered on Fraser Island appeared far too skittish to be vicious in any way, and believe me, I was on the lookout! Then someone found this little guy below at our campsite. YIKES! Don’t worry. I don’t think it was poisonous!