25.05.2010 - 30.05.2010 21 °C
We arrived in Hervey Bay, nervous to meet our group for Fraser Island, having already been warned that your trip depends entirely on your group. We were brought together for the briefing, and realised within a couple of seconds that luck was against us, and except for four others, we had been placed with a group of freaks. Typical. Our first task was to go shopping for food for the group for the next three days. This should have been a team-building activity, but only served to encourage us in the idea that we had been placed with an entirely intolerable group. The panic that we did not have enough food was a theme for the entire trip...it was also a completely misplaced fear. Even we, who can can eat enough food for a pack of dingoes, were convinced we would be fine. Our priority after all was the goon. To our devastation, when the only two other people we got on with, an English couple, David and Jo, asked for a show of hands who else would be buying alcohol, we were the only ones to raise our hands. What freaks.
The next morning started bright and early with us being given the 4 wheel drives and a couple of disturbing briefing videos. We then were sent on our way to the ferry to take us to Fraser Island. Once there, we made our way through the rainforest towards the eastern side of the island where you can drive on the beach. Our first stop was Lake Wabby, approximately 2000 miles from where we parked the car on the beach. Here we had an amazing time, but really seemed to separate into the two groups, what we liked to call the cool group and the rejects. As soon as we entered the water, which of course, with Donna being a redhead took 3 years, we were asked by the Canadian Dictator what time we would be leaving. We were unsure whether or not it was even afternoon or morning, let alone the actual time and so shrugged and swam off to play in the sand. We had been told in our briefing before we came, that we should try drinking all the natural waters that the island had to offer. This resulted in Laura screaming 'Drinks on me!' and us all dunking our heads under to taste the water. A very creepy experience. Laura wasn't happy when David wouldn't down it as she demanded.
Next stop was Eli Creek where we were told to leisurely float down the river back to our car. We all got in ready to let ourselves go with the current, only to realise that float was a bit ambitious. Many decided, including Donna, that walking would be better but a few, including Laura, decided that the best course of action would be to crawl instead. Once out of the water, we were freezing and desperate to grab our towels only to discover the keys for the trucks had been left with the German bitch (whose name we still don't know) as she doesn't like water and doesn't like to swim (nice idea then to go to a sand island whose main features are lakes and the sea). Unfortunately we were disappointed to find out that she had gone to the toilet, a trip that would take a normal person 5 minutes, but due to her refusal to cross the three inch deep creek, took her 25 hours on a massive detour walking around it. Fantastic.
Next was Lozzy's turn to drive us to our first camp site. All was going fantastically until we hit some deep soft sand at the same time as meeting some trucks coming the other way. Laura slowed down to avoid skidding, but accidentally stalled. Apparently starting again in the deep sand was harder than she imagined. We soon found ourselves bogged down in it. Laura managed to get us going again and was directing the truck to the flat hard sand, when the Canadian tosser, who had decided he was the only one fit to direct her from outside the truck decided to jump back into the truck instead of waiting two seconds. Laura had no choice but to stop as he was about to be crushed by the swinging door and we were stuck after all of her efforts once again. In true Laura style, not wanting to do this again and being constantly annoyed by the Canadian, she got a boy to do it, who suceeded by engaging a mysterious gear specifically designed for deep sand...maybe we should have listened a bit harder in the briefing. Nonetheless, Laura got back into the driving seat and everything else was fine.
We went via the Maheno wreck to get to the camp site. This is an amazing sight, a ship sank in 1905 and has since been washed ashore. Laura insisted that the Scots deserved it. Many pictures followed before heading off to set up camp. This was to be an experience in itself. Our priority was the goon, clearly. Disturbingly everyone else wanted to set up the tents and organise dinner first. Our group insisted for every obstacle to have a 250 hour discussion on which order things should be done and how they should be done, we are not programmed for this. It had started to get dark and everyone was in deep discussion about where to hang the light. This would involve moving either the car or the picnic tables. While this was going on, we realised there was in fact a hook on the bonnet, perfect for hanging a light. We attempted several times to voice this...but since we were competing with the 1000 decibel voice of the 32 year old Canadian (sorry Jamie, but this is old), decided we must lead by example. They eventually noticed and the problem was solved. Nice one Noodlez and Lozzy. We then, not fancying putting up our tent, dumped everything in the middle and waited for a boy to notice. We didn't have to wait long and soon our tent was standing. We were happy now that we had a tent and goon and declaring that we would wash up instead of cook went to stand around the barbeque far away from the Canadian.
Surprisingly, after the hassle of setting up, everyone got on really well. We had a fire, marshmallows and music following an amazing meal of steak and truly delicious potatoes. Just as the night was getting going and everyone was getting merry, it hit 9 o clock. Shit-skis...we had been warned that this was now quiet time and if we didn't want to get hit with a $250 per person fine for noise, we had to continue on the beach sans fire. This was fine for our cool posse and we set off, leaving the retarded group behind. Unfortunately, on our way down to the beach (approximately 3 miles), the heavens opened and we were drenched within seconds. Determined, and already soaked, we thought we'd give the beach a go. We were nearly blown away by the gale force winds. Having attempted to play some odd drunken game, that we can only name 'Cheers', where we all linked arms in a star shape creating a wall facing the wind and taking it in turns to go down the line to clink cups with the next person...resulting in the goon ending up more on us and the beach than in the cups, we gave up and sadly head back to camp. Laura was left in charge opening up the dingo proof fence to get us back into camp. We had given all the cool people nicknames around the bonfire (the Canadian's was Dad, much to his dismay), someone had named Laura Dingo and while everyone was shouting at her to open the fence, she shouted back 'I'm a dingo, I'm not supposed to get into this campsite, someone else must do it!'.
Back at the campsite, we decided to continue drinking in the tents, Donna brought the goon to our tent. Laura went mad at the sight of this, as we were not supposed to have any food in the tents to tempt dingos, and in her drunken state forgetting that we were inside a dingo proof fence and dingos are probably not tempted by goon insisted it was put in the truck. Donna was not keen for this and in the morning Laura realised the error of her ways.
The next day was not so great. After a brief spell of lovely sunshine in the morning, the rain did not stop. After breakfast, we went to wash up before putting our things away, returning to campsite to find our tent standing and the Canadian and a German having pissed off to go and climb a sandblow...thanks. Luckily our favourite people waited and David informed us that the Canadian had offered him the fun prospect of going for a hike that morning...he was keen to reject and we nearly fell over laughing at the prospect of someone enjoying a hike and making it clear that following Kampot, we definitely do not do anything uphill. We then took the far better and shorted route to the sandblow and, having taken some ridiculous pictures, went back to the campsite.
The first thing for the day was to drive up to Indian Head where we had to leave our car due to the bypass having become impassable for us due to the huge amount of soft sand now there. From here we were to walk to the Champagne Pools. We asked a fisherman for directions and were disheartened when he replied 'Where's your vehicle? It will take you a while!'. We had not been warned about this, but nonetheless set off for a pleasant walk up the beach in the direction he had pointed. On our way there, the rain began and got stronger and stronger. Then the wind began. Laura was thrilled that she had her backpack with all of her Fraser Island clothes and belongings and Donna equally thrilled to have her only towel with her. Everything was soaked within minutes and we were freezing. We eventually arrived at the Champagne Pools so called as they are little lagoons surrounded by rocks which the waves crash into creating foam, like champagne. You'll have to take our word for this as we have no pictures, obviously neither of us keen to risk our cameras by getting them out. We rushed into the pools which thankfully were warmed than the outside (although not a difficult feat) and were joined by a group of English boys who were equally entertained by the situation. By this point we may have all been a little hysterical. Either way it was hilarious and made for a good story, with everyone hunched up against the cold repeating 'This is fun!' over and over. When we couldn't take it anymore and had given up final hope of the Sun appearing, we went back to put on our, by now, completely sodden clothes and headed back to the car.
This was not an uneventful journey. Five of us were at the back and as we walked through the bypass at Indian Head, two dingos appeared from the bushes. They seemed worryingly interested in us. We had been told not to show our backs to them as this can cause them to attack, and if they show you attention to fold our arms and look them in the eye until they go away. Whilst the others managed to walk past, we were left just metres away from them. This was made worse when one came towards us and yawned, showing us all its teeth. We were staring one down each as Laura had whispered to Donna, "I'll take the one on the right, you take the one on the left". It was only afterwards we realised there probably was no need to whisper as in all likelihood, dingos probably can't understand human. Eventually we got back, unharmed, and after a 90 minutes discussion on where to have lunch, moved on.
We had a pretty long journey to our campsite and were disappointed to find we couldn't have fires. Undeterred, we searched out the goon. While we got comfortable and the pasta was cooking, the rain got heavier and managed to come through the thick canopy. Naturally, only the English and the Canadian could take the rain. The antisocial Germans went straight to their tent where they stayed for the rest of the evening, only emerging to dump their empty plates on the table. Of course, we were the ones left to wash up the next morning, when we realised that we had been overkeen offering always to wash up, as only approximately 3 people had been cooking, the rest doing nothing. We're still not entirely sure whether or not two of them had voice boxes. The rain put on a dampener on the rest of the evening with everyone going to bed early. We of course decided to carry on the party in our tent, and both drunkenly miscalculated the passing of the cups into the tent, resulting in a collision of hands and cup and the entire cup of goon ending up on the inside of our tent and on the roll mats. Oops. It made for a fragrant tent and, the next day, truck.
The final day, Donna drove the first stint to the clearwater lake, Lake Birrabean. Having not driven through a rainforest in a four wheel drive and a sandy track, was obviously getting used to it, but within seconds was being given 'helpful' advice by the Canadian. Had she not been driving, he would probably have lost a few teeth. Luckily at this point in had stopped raining, as we were due to stay at the lake for a couple of hours before heading to the ferry. We arrived at the Lake to be told that the German girl, who didn't like water, would be staying in the truck for the full two hours. Of course we didn't hear her actually say this. $400 well spent. Everyone else went to the Lake, which was amazing with crystal clear water. We just wished the Sun had been out, especially when Laura declared that in order for us to complete Fraser Island, we must swim in the lake. To her credit, Donna has improved at cold water and all three of us (Jo joining us) managed to dive in at the same time.
On the way back to the ferry, Megan, one of the American girls who had never driven a manual before took the wheel. Once we were back at the car, the German guy, who Laura decided sounded exactly like one of the three little pigs from Shrek (he did), looked at his watch announcing "I have calculated a distance by minutes and I do not think we will be at the ferry on time.". Of course we were...more unnecessary worrying, not that we cared by this point. Megan did an amazing job we thought especially considering the terrain and got us onto the ferry safely. Following this was the most scary part of the journey when the Canadian drove us back to the hostel. He was clearly not as used to a manual as he thought, struggling enormously with 3rd gear and going a bit too fast for our liking. Luckily we survived.
When we got back, even though we had decided we would not do the last bit of washing up to prove a point, somehow the Germans disappeared leaving us no choice. By this point we were fairly annoyed. We had all decided to go and get showers and wash all our soaking wet clothes and towels before meeting back in the kitchen to finish all the food that we had left over. This was not to be. Whilst we were showering, the Germans had come into the kitchen and finished off all the food before disappearing once again. When we arrived at the kitchen along with Jo and David, the American girls and the Canadian, we discovered approximately one slice of bread, no ham, no cheese, no tomatoes and even no cornflakes. We were furious. However, we all went for a BBQ at the hostel and finished the goon playing Wii and games of pool which was really good fun. All in all, an interesting Fraser Island Experience, but at least we didn't die or lose a lot of money, which from stories we've since heard is not altogether unlikely. We were pleased to head north for presumably more pleasant times!