Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fraser Island

Rainbow Beach - departure point to Fraser Island

The bus got into Rainbow Beach at 1230 where I checked into the hostel, Dingos Backpackers Adventure Resort, yet another great accomodation stop along the coast.  At 130 I had a briefing for the camping safari that was coming the next day.  During this orientation we were told all about safety and things to know while exploring the largest sand island in the world in our 4 wheel drive jeeps. We were put into our groups. There were 6 groups in total, of around 10 people a group. In mine, 1 couple from Holland, 1 couple from Sweden, 1 girl from Taiwan, 4 girls from Germany.  With the heaps of single girls in the jeep you may be thinking o joe what a lucky guy...well the girls were not too much of lookers, unfortunately for me.  There were pros and cons of my group. More on this later.  After we acquainted ourselves we went thru our alcohol order form where we decided how much alcohol we wanted to bring on the trip.  Turned out being the right amount. 60 beers and 3 bags of goon.

After about a 2 hour orientation, I met at the hostel reception to catch a free shuttle to the nearby local attraction Carlo Sandblow.

Not ever hearing of a sandblow I didnt really know what to expect, when I finally reached it after a short hike, I was truly amazed.  Yes it was basically heaps of sand but the whole concept behind it amazed me.  This sandblow over hundreds of year has basically covered everything in its path, including hundreds of trees and forest floors.  It was interesting to see the "end" of it and see the trees beneath it, waiting to be smothered in the sandblows path over the next several years.

Epic Sky here at the Sandblow

Day 1

The start of the Fraser Island 4 wheel drive adventure began bright and early at 730. The hostel served us a complimentary pancake breakfast, great way to start the day.  We were all in our groups when we headed out back to go see our vehicles.  We then went thru another lengthy briefing.  This time mostly about the jeeps and driving safely in the sand.  This took about an hr or 2. Note: I was originally planning to drive, but forgot to consider it would be a manual vehicle, not knowing stick shift, driving the vehicle was now out of the picture, it was a bit of a bummer. From there we inspected our vehicles, obtained all our food for the next three days and loaded up the top of the jeep with all our gear.

My Group

Finally around 10 in the morning we were on our way to the ferry to head onto the island. The ferry took around 10 minutes.  Everyone was stoked to begin the trip.

A bit worried about getting carsick sitting in a jam packed jeep with 9 other people on unknown sand roads, I surprisingly never got sick on the entire trip. Having never driven on sand before I didn't know what to expect, it was pretty good. It reminded me alot of the Indiana Jones ride at disneyland. A lot of ups and downs, swaying left and right.  There was a lot to know when driving, for example knowing when to be in 4wd or 2wd, avoiding the bumps, getting out of the soft sand, and being careful when there were streams leading into the ocean.

Enjoyin the ride with driver Yori from Holland

After making our way up the beach, we made it to the inland road that led us to the highlight spot of the 3 days, Lake Mackenzie. Wow what a beautiful lake, the most beautiful lake I have ever seen in my entire life, probably second to Lake Louise in Banff.  The whitest sand beach I have seen and the most blue and cleanest lake I have seen.

After the long drive, it was time to enjoy the water.  The girl (Emma) from Taiwan, had an underwater camera. It was pretty cool. We had some good fun with it.

Me and Kristian & Camella from Sweden

Nike represent

Our lake time was cut a bit short because it is impossible to drive the beach on hight tide so we had to leave early in order to successfully make it to our campsite on the beach for the night.

We made it tour our Maheno camp suceesfully, and the nightime fun commenced.  All 6 jeeps were camped here so we made it one big party.  We made a semicircle with our cars and set up our tents in the circle, greating a great atmosphere.  From there it was time for dinner.  Emma turned out to be an unbelievable cook, I reckon the best on the entire island. Every other group was jealous of our groups food on each night. The first night was a delicious chicken stir fry. So good.

Dingoes, a sort of dog/wolf are the aniamls of the island. They roam it during the day and night.  They can bite so it is best to keep your distance. There were heaps around our campsite and was always a bit timid while going to take a piss out in nature after a few vbs.  The dingoes on Fraser Island our the purest breed of Dingo in the world.  Here is a picture I snapped on the last day.

The night was one big party.  My group, especially the 4 german girls were a bunch of limpers, they went to bed early, around 10 oclock. Being with the other 5 groups I was thankful because my group was not too much of a party.  Everyone got together and played some drinking games and had a good time.  After a good amount of VBs with Yori and Kristian from my group we decided to go on a beach walk adventure in the night.  Let me first of start by saying that the stars on this night were the best I have seen in my entire life. I guess I would attribute it being on an almost deserted island, but I have never seen so many stars in the sky. It is to bad no picture would have captured what I saw.  It made the night that more enjoyable.

So this beach walk consisted on a lengthy walk to the nearby Maheno shipwreck, a place that we would visit the next morning.  After a few beers, being under the lit up star sky and on constant lookout for wild dingos, it really was a great adventure.  The beach was pitch black and we were headed to an abandoned shopwreck, about a mile or so down the beach.  Along the walk we came across tons of sandcrabs, some close jellyfish encounters and 1 frog.  I was really caught off guard seeing a large frog/toad on the beach. We had some fun with it.

When we finally approached the shipwreck it was pretty trippy, especially being so dark and having the waves crashing up against it.  It was a fun time with my new two friends.

We then headed back to camp after hiding from the park ranger for a bit. From there I met a french gril and a swiss girl where we stargazed and shared drinks and stories.  After that I headed to my tent, who I shared with 2 Germans, 1 a bit large who cramped my tent space.  By that time of the night tho I managed to get to bed fairly easily.

Day 2

Day 2 on the largest sand island in the world started bright and early around 6am.  The sun was hot on the tent and we had to depart early to escape high tide.  I woke up surprisingly feeling refreshed and started the day with a quick saltwater rinse.  No showers, toilets or anything, this was a pure campout.

Our first stop was the Maheno shipwreck, which I already experienced the night before. It definitely was not as cool in the day time, but was still worth a couple of pictures.

From there we had about an hour drive up the beach to the north part of the island, a place called Indian Head. Here was the pristine lookout point for the island, where it is common to see all types of marinelife in the ocean from the view above.

Well about 10 minutes in we spotted our first sea turtle.  After that a pair of stingrays, and from there a small shark.  Good stuff.

From there we walked further north, since our jeeps were not allowed to go this far north on the island, to the Champagne pools, saltwater tide pools on the ocean front.

As Yori, his girlfriend Iris and I were approaching the pathway to the Champagne pools, a lad came running towards us screaming in pain. He had just been stung by a jelly fish. I recognized him from one of our 6 groups.  This guy(Brendan) was in immense pain and we just sat there clueless of what to do. No cell phone reception, no transport, no lifeguard on the entire island.  He had gotten stung on the ankle. He told us his leg had started to tingle all over and he was starting to feel sick in his stomach.  Some jellyfish here are capable of killing you, if not atleast putting you in the hospital for a couple of days.  This guy started fearing the worse.  The proper ingerdients to relieve a sting is vinegar and ice water, and we definitely did not have any of this.  After seeking some advice from an older couple there was one possible remedy, urine.  With this guys friends not in sight yet, I stepped up to the plate and offered my fresh warm piss.  This guy was in so much pain he was willing to try anything. As I sit and write here before you today, yes, I ended up urininating on this guys leg!  Thankfully there was a nearby bathroom.  The whole situation was a bit awkard naturally, I first thought I would have trouble doing it, but I think seeing this guys pain it was more of me really wanting to help him out, I had no trouble going.

I have always heard rumors of this, and felt a bit like Bear Grylls from Man vs Wild.  To this day I am not sure if this helped, I have read in some articles that urine does nothing to relieve the pain. Plus I dont think the night before with beer and goon in my urine tract helped out to much.

This guy continued to stay real sick, felt sick to his stomach, and could hardly stand.  We were able to get some ointment from a family and some ice water.  Soon there was a large crowd gathered around us and finally his friends had found him. When the piss story was announce, I was viewed as a man of courage, some sort of hero.  The guy that got stung said it really didnt feel any better after the piss, he just got a warm foot out of the awkward situation.  We eventually were able to get him a ride back to his vehicle near Indian Head.

After the ordeal was over, and seeing this guys pain it was safe to say I was not going to chance it swimming in the Champagne pools. The stinger he described was a blue bottle jellyfish, said to make you sick for around 2-3 days.  After checking out the pools I headed back to Indian Head, where I saw the sting victim and he seemed to be doing better, he decided to not go to a doctor.

The entire day I kept on reminiscing on what had just occcured, I just pissed on someone was all pretty funny and great at the same time. I think the recipient would have a different outlook. Anyway, it was definitely the talk of the groups.

After a quick lunch we all hopped back in our jeeps and headed for Eli Creek.  Here was just a creek a bit inland, were we were able to rinse off/a sort of shower.  It felt great.

Yori, Kristian and I

From there we headed into Happy Valley, a small town with 1 shop, a campground and 1 hostel.  There we stocked up on ice to refill our coolers that were filled with food and beer supply.  We then headed for our night 2 campsite at Gambala.

The Group

Dinner was once again top notch cooked by Chef Emma. Tonight, Steak, an unbelievable potato salad, and a vegetable salad.  Pretty great for camping food!

Had another great night, yet another limper performance my my group but was able to take advantage of our excess beer supply.  The stars were out in full force again and played drinking games with heaps of people deep into the morning. It was also great to rekindle the piss story and enjoy a nice cold one with the guy I pissed on hours earlier in the day, (yea he was feeling much better that night, almost 100%)

I ended the night being practically rolled on by the big German in my tent, pretty uncomfortable, i gave her a big elbow and that was settled.

Day 3

The last and final day on our trip.  Just a quick trip away from our campsite was Lake Wabby.  We headed out of our campsite at around 7am.

Lake Wabby was real nice but came no where close in comparison to beautiful Lake Mackenzie.  The one plus of Wabby were the catfish.  There were heaps of them.  Also they enjoyed nibbling your dead skin on your body if you stood still enough. I guess this is an expensive spa treatment in some places, and we had it for free...felt great.

Enjoyin Wabby and Catfish

The Men of the Group

After a 4 or 5 straight hours in the lake it was time to head off to catch our 3 oclock ferry back to the mainland.  We took one final group photo before we took off


It was a great 3 days. We were blessed we great weather, hot however all three days.  I became great friends with some people in my group, especially the Swedish and Dutch couple.  Thankful our behicle passed inspection and we were not charged any excess damage fees.  This reminded me alot of Davis Houseboats but does not come close.  Camping on the beach was great and enjoyed the stars.  Dingos are pretty cool animals, harmless as far as I am concerned, had some close encounters but they scurried away.

Fraser wuill proabably be the hightlight of the east coast trip.  Being the largest sand island you can immagine there was sand everywhere.   it was great to get back and take a fresh shower.

The night we got back, my new Swedish and Dutch friends finished off our excess beers over at Carlo Sandblow.  Will miss them but plan to see them again in the future.


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