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Jen and Dan
Roadtrip Through Oz

Off Roading On Fraser Island

Saturday - 23 Nov 2002


On Saturday Nov 23 we left Airlie Beach and spent the full day travelling to Rainbow Beach, which is a very small coastal beach town 3 hours north of Brisbane. We arrived around 7pm and checked into the hostel. We grabbed a bite to eat and made a few arrangements for the next few days. The next morning we woke up at 6am and were picked up from the hostel at 6:30. We took a ferry to Tin Can Bay, which is a frequent spot for dolphin sightings. At the Bay we bought a pail of fish and joined a number of other tourists in the ocean (at knee deep level). Sure enough a dolphin came by around 8am and spent an hour eating fish right out of the hands of the tourists. Apparently dolphins like human interaction and have been coming to Tin Can Bay for food for almost 15 years. The dolphin happily ate from Jen's hand but unfortunately, it would not take the fish from Dan. Nevertheless we got a chance to get right up close and take a few pictures.


Afterwards we went back to the hostel and headed out for a hike. We went to see the Carlo Sandblow which is an impressive sight. A massive amount of sand had filled a large crevice on top of a hill facing the ocean and surrounded by a mini forest. The view from the sand was spectacular and we spent an hour enjoying the scenery. Later that day we walked around the town and relaxed for a while by the beach. At 3pm we met up with 30 other backpackers that were also doing a 3 day, 2 night camping trip on Fraser Island. Fraser Island is a national park island that is 120km long by about 40km wide. It is a popular place for camping and off road driving. The 30 of us were divided into 3 groups of 10. Our group consisted of 1 other Canadian, 3 guys from the UK and 4 Israelis. We got together and planned our trip. We offered suggestions for the food we might need and in the end were sent on the task of buying all the groceries.


The next day we got up early and finished packing for the trip. We then met the other travellers and found out that the Canadian and her UK boyfriend had backed out. The remaining 8 of us went to see our 4X4 truck that was going to be our best friend for the next 3 days. We packed all our food, tents, cooking equipment and clothes on the top of the truck and then drove down to the beach. A ferry took us (and our truck) to the island. One of the Israelis, Asi, who had been in the army and had driven a number of 4X4 trucks was the first one of us to take a turn at driving. The first part of the drive was on a semi-paved road in the centre of the island. However, when the pavement ended we drove through thick sand, over tree stumps and deep ruts. The speed limit on the island was 35km per hour, but it was almost impossible to go over 10-15km per hour. The drive was very bumpy and we ended up getting stuck a few times.


Apparently the trick to driving on the island is to spend most of your time driving on the beach. However, due to high tides, there are only small windows of time where it is safe to be on the beach (due to the potential of being swept into the sea). We eventually made our way to our first stop, Lake Boomanjin. The water had a reddish tinge to it due to the colour of debrise strewn in the sandy bottom. The water was nice and warm and we all went for a quick dip. Then, after a picnic lunch we headed back into the car to Lake Birrabee which had a pure white sand beach and multi-toned blue coloured water. After a small break at the lake, we headed to the main beach. Dan took a turn at driving, which was probably one of the most stressful (and fun) drives of his life! We made our way to the beach and had our first view of the island from the beach. The beach shore was very wide and went on for miles in both directions. Driving on the beach was definately easier and faster and we were able to reach speeds of 80km an hour without much trouble.


We drove to Indian head, which is at the northern tip of the island. On the way, we got a chance to hike at the Rainbow Gorge (which was not very impressive), see a shipwreck, and see a dead dolphin on the shore. Finally we reached our destination and set up camp next to a number of other travelling groups. Dan arranged a huge meal and we got a chance to relax by our tents. Due to the dry weather, there was a total fire ban on the island and we were forced to eat around a lantern. A park ranger came by and warned us about the dingoes, which are a cross between a wild dog and a wolf. They scrounge for food (especially at night) and have been known to bite humans while they are enjoying "natures public washroom". She also warned us about the 4 poisonous snakes which roam the island. As you can imagine, this did not make for a great bedtime story and we agreed to go in pairs whenever nature called. Given Jen's small bladder, Dan got the pleasure of getting up 3 times during the night.


The next morning we woke up early and hiked to the top of Indian head, where we got a great view of the ocean. Apparently you can sometimes spot dolphins and sharks, but all we saw were a few turtles. Afterwards we packed up and were approached by 2 Irish girls that asked if they could join our group. Then the 10 of us drove to see the Champagne pools, which are supposed to be natural hot pools. Unfortuately due to the recent weather the pools were full of sand and were not that impressive. We then raced down the beach, trying to get as far south on the beach as possible before high tide. We eventually drove inland to Lake Allom and had a late brunch and a swim. The lake was full of turtles which would swim up close to you while you were in the water. We then headed back into the car and drove through some more bush until we entered the rainforest in Yidney Scrub. The scenery along the drive was very impressive and we stoped a number of time to take in the view. We stopped briefly at another lake which was very swampy. Eventually we reached Eli Creek which was this windy creek of fresh (and very cold) water that flowed in the direction of the ocean. We climbed into the creek at the top and floated down towards the bottom. That night we decided to camp on the beach, and found a peaceful spot. Unfortunately the beach turned out to be very windy, and we struggled to get the tents up. Eventually we managed to eat dinner by candlelight (somehow our latern broke) surrounded by dingoes who were waiting to see if we would leave any food behind. We took our minds off the dingoes by star glazing. The sky was very clear and we got a chance to see a sky filled with millions of stars. None of us had ever seen that many stars in one place. It was stunning.


The next day we got up at 4:30am and went down to the beach to watch the sunrise. Even though it was a little cloudy (and cold) we were rewarded with a breathtaking view. We then went back to sleep for an hour and eventually got up, ate breakfast and packed. We headed inland to Lake McKenzie, which is the jewel of the island. It took us almost 3 hours to get to the Lake, but it turned out to be well worth it. The aquamarine waters and the white sand beaches made for a great place to swim and suntan. We relaxed until close to 1pm and then headed back south to the ferry. We were supposed to reach the ferry spot at 3pm or risk missing our ride home. Asi handled the car very well and we managed to find a balance between fast and cautious. Even though we did excellent time, we still missed the pickup time by 20 minutes. Luckily it turned out not to be a big deal, since the ferries left every half hour. We took the ferry back and got a chance to see some dolphins swimming nearby. Back on shore we said goodbye to our group and decided to head to Brisbane in order to save a half day of travelling for the next day. We had really liked our trip to Fraser Island and had had a great time with our group. We ended up exchanging numbers with the others and left Rainbow Beach by 6pm.

Below the Ocean in the Great Barrier Reef
Bushwalking through the Rainforest
  Jen and Dan - Bio and Journals
  Roadtrip Through Oz - Intro Average Rating of 13 Viewers
Chapters of Roadtrip Through Oz
  A view from Sydney
  The Koalas of Yeppoon
  Below the Ocean in the Great Barrier Reef
  Off Roading On Fraser Island
  Bushwalking through the Rainforest
  Jen joins the Byron Bay circus
  Bushfires, Shiraz, and Harry Potter
  The Preston Resort in Melbourne

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