Saturday, 27 November 2010

Fraser Island and up to Airlie Beach

Hi everyone! We're still on the road in Queensland, making our way up to Cairns in our campervan. The past few days have been a bit of a rollercoaster ride and we've got lots to update you on!

One trip we were both very keen to do here in Oz was a Fraser Island tour. FI is the world's largest sand island and is a short ferry ride from Hervey (pronounced HARVEY) Bay in QL. Last Sunday night we arrived at the YHA Colonial Village Hostel, which incidentally was excellent, ready to get up early the next day for our Fraser tour. After some safety briefings about driving a 4x4 (more on that later) and on dingoes (!) we met our tour groups. Because Fraser is all sand, you can only drive an off-road vehicle there. Our tour was a 'ride-along'. We had four trucks: one driven by Chris, our guide, and containing all our supplies. The other three were made up of 8 passengers like us! We were 'Car 2': Ania, myself, Dan, Neil, Steve, Dan, Emma and Sarah. We felt really lucky to have such a great group! We all bonded really well, lucky given that we had to spend 3 days and 2 nights in a confined space together!

If you've been reading this blog regularly, you'll know the weather has been awful here in Queensland, with rain on most days. I'm pleased to say that largely, we lucked out with the weather on our tour. The group who went before us were washed out and spent three days getting soaked on the world's biggest sand island! That's not what we signed up for!

So on Monday we left in convoy for our Fraser ferry. The first day we visited Lake Birrabeen which was gorgeous. Our group of 24 played volleyball in the water, swam and sunbathed, it was bliss! Then we drove some more and set up camp. All the food was provided so we ate a huge meal of sausages, burgers and salad and had a few drinks before getting into our two-man tents. it was a rough night's sleep on the hard ground without a pillow!

On Tuesday we rose early to yet more delicious food being cooked for us by Chris. Then we saw another lake, Wabby, the Maheno Shipwreck, some aeroplanes taking off on the beach, a lookout point called Indian Head and a place called the Champagne Pools. Lake Wabby was surrounded by tea trees, so the water was a deep green colour. We walked over sand dunes to get to it.

Ania (in the water) at Lake Wabby, Fraser Island:

We also did a long stretch of beach driving. I loved it! We returned to the same camp that night and had a repeat of the previous night. More great food and a few drinks. We played a drinking game based around the Police hit, Roxanne, and I shocked our guide by singing along to Raspberry Berret by Prince (Aussie men don't sing, they consider it a waste of drinking time). Our guide, Chris is probably worth a mention here actually! He insisted on calling all the girls 'Baby' ALL THE TIME, which they all loved, naturally. He was a character to say the least!

On our last day on Fraser we went to Lake Mackenzie, which again was beautiful. Mackenzie and Birrabeen are both freshwater lakes, with white sand and crystal-clear water. They're fed exclusively by rainfall and having a swim is like having a lovely bath! Ania, Steve and Dan P swam to the other side of the lake (it was far) while most of us messed around in the water. We then drove to the ferry dock and ate some lunch before we headed back. The heavens open and we all got soaked! I think we were all pleased that if it was going to rain, it happened just as we were leaving. It was a great trip and Ania and I would recommend Unique Fraser very highly. It was also really nice to hang out with such a great bunch.

The gang at Lake McKenzie, Fraser Island.

Ania and Rob lend a hand cooking at our camp on Fraser.

Ania in the Champagne Pools, FI.

Standing in a creek, FI.

Us two at Indian Head, FI.

The Maheno Ship Wreck, FI.

Ania doing a spot of beach driving on Fraser:

At the end of our trip, with our van. From left to right: Steve, Dan P, Dan D, Sarah, Ania, Chris (Baby!), Emma, Stu and Neil.

After getting back from Fraser we spent one more day in the hostel. We got up on Thursday and backtracked slightly south in the car to Tin Can Bay, where you can feed dolphins. Unfortunately our timing was off and it only happens very early in the morning, so we moved on to Rainbow Beach. We found some incredible sand dunes and some inland waterfalls (very tiny ones) which were beautiful. We spent Thursday evening back in the hostel in Hervey Bay with Emma and Sarah from our Fraser trip.

The sand dunes next to the sea at Rainbow Beach. This is called the Carlo Sand Blow.

Friday and Saturday we've mainly spent doing some serious driving north. On Friday we visited Agnes Water, a town right next to The Town of 1770, where Captain Cook arrived in... wait for it... 1770! We hired body boards (is it hiring if the old stoner guy in the shack says you don't have to pay?!) and spent an hour catching waves in Agnes Water, before moving on to spend the night in Rockhampton. We got there late and left early, so couldn't claim to know much about the town, but it seemed fine.

On Saturday we kept going north and saw a whole lot of nothing, well that is with the exception of beautiful landscapes! We both shared the driving and I think I'm safe in saying our favourite stop was the home-made ice cream place on the Bruce Highway, Flaggy Rock. We shared three scoops: mango, lychee & ginger and banana & cinnamon (the last one was the best!).

So now we're in Airlie Beach, the launching pad to get to the Whitsunday Islands. We're booked on a boat tomorrow and will spend one night sleeping out on the water. I expect Ania will tell you all about it in our next blog post! Phew!

Last night we were visited by a possum, who sat in Ania's chair at our fold-out dinner table, as if he was ready to order! We named him Cheeky!

A bit later, our neighbours in the campsite called us over and we realised Cheeky has a friend. We named his mate Chappy! Here they both are, poised to eat from our neighbours' Jucy camper!

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