On the Road
About Me (2)
About the Trip (2)
New Zealand (3)
* Adrenalin Queen
* Mount Cook
* Sydney: Come in, Your Time is Up
* Byron Bay
* New Itinerary
* Fraser Island
* Road Trains
* Airlie Beach
* S.S. Yongala
* Open Water
* I Pity the Fool
June 28, 2005
The overnight bus ride to Hervey Bay got off to an inauspicious start when, with all passengers and their luggage piled on and ready for the off, the battery went dead. The bus driver ordered everyone out to push and the bus eventually started up. We crashed into a pillar at some point during the night but it was a bit of a blur since I was in that groggy, disorientated state that overtakes you on long night bus rides. We stumbled out for a greasy breakfast in Bundaberg - home of the rum and aviator Bert Hinkler (I found out who he was Rob!) - and motored on to Hervey Bay. I went to a place called the "Friendly Hostel," which actually lived up to its name, with Claire and Jonas. We sorted out our trips to Fraser Island with Coral, the manager, who ruled the hostel - and her husband, Trevor - with a rod of iron.
Fraser Island is the biggest sand island on the planet - at just over 120 km long, they think it might have more sand than the Sahara (and I seem to have taken a good chunk of it with me in my boots). It's a World Heritage Site and a must-visit place on the backpacker and tourist circuit. You can either hire a 4 wheel drive by yourself or through a hostel, which arranges a group of you to go together, or take a tour. Neither Claire nor I could decide whether we wanted to do a self-drive trip or a tour, as we'd heard both pros and cons about both. Since the weather forecast was pretty dire and we didn't like the thought of setting up a soggy tent, being stuck with a bunch of 18 year olds who just wanted to drink, or getting bogged down in the sand, we ended up booking on a two day tour. As it turned out, we stayed in tents, had a really messy night on some boxes of wine and got stuck in sand anyway... but a good time was had by all. At least by us - probably not by those listening to us whinging about our hangovers.
The three of us wandered along the Esplanade for some lunch, and had a mooch around the town, stopping off at a truck by the side of the road to buy some fresh pineapple from a farmer who'd been growing them for 50 years. He answered all our questions and cut up our pineapple for us, which tasted so sweet and utterly different to the tinned stuff. We walked along the beach and saw a flock of pelicans and a gorgeous rainbow.
The next morning we were up early to get our big green 4 wheel drive tour bus. It was huge and stuck out like a sore thumb, but was really comfortable and spacious. We took the ferry over to the island, and hurtled along the narrow sand tracks through the rainforest and along to the beach. I'd never been on a beach in a vehicle before and it felt kind of wrong, like riding a bicycle in a church or something. We drove up to Eli Creek, the Maheno shipwreck, the Coloured Sands and onto Indian Heads and the Champagne Pools. We stopped to help a Japanese self-drive group, and our driver did some handy DIY with a penknife. True to form, they were taking pictures and videos of him fixing the engine and us watching - so we reciprocated with some photos of our own. We were congratulating ourselves on our wisdom in choosing a tour, when our bus got stuck in the sand and had to be towed out. On the way back down the hill, I slipped and fell in some mud. I managed to find one of the rare patches of mud on this enormous sand island and got covered in it.
Claire, Andy, Molly, John and I ended up staying up till 3 drinking goon (my old nemesis) and playing poker. The tents were the most luxurious I've ever seen, with wooden floorboards and proper beds, and it was wonderful not having to put them up or make our own food. This was the life!
We visited Lake Wabby, walked around in the rainforest, and swam in Lake Wirrabeen - which was so cold you couldn't help but shriek as you went in. Our guide had a habit of explaining every single little thing - to the point where we thought he must be taking the mick, but I don't reckon he was. He was a great bloke but had been doing the job for three years and I suppose must have seen so many stupid people that he aimed for the lowest common denominator. He went over everything three times and even told us what a buffet was and how to use one. We tried hard not to laugh when he explained how to make a sandwich...
It was a fantastic trip and Claire, Andy and I celebrated with some more goon when we got back to Hervey Bay. At least we're now sure what a buffet is.
Posted by Rowena on June 28, 2005 09:04 AM
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