Fraser Island, Australia
25° 15' S 153° 10' E
Oct 01, 2007 11:26
Distance 127km

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Text written in: English

4x4 Camping Trip

Fraser Island.. what a trip it turned out to be. I met some brilliant people and had a fantastic time.

Fraser Island in on the East Coast of Australia, inbetween Brisbane and Airlie Beach and is the biggest all-sand island in the world. It all began in Hervey Bay where we met the people we were going to be spending the next 3 days with and we were all briefed on the do's and don'ts of camping on Fraser Island. After all the formal stuff was over we headed out to get our shopping for the 3 days. Now, bearing in mind there were 11 in each group you can imagine this was no small task. However, after a loooo-hooong time in the super-market we has sorted it all out.

The next morning we had to have our second team meeting and briefing at 6:45am .. bright and breezy! We got together and had to sort out all the camping gear and were given our 4x4 vehicles for the trip. I was appointed driver .. which I was pretty excited about as it involved lots of driving along gorgeous beaches and mental sand dunes.. not every day you get to do that!

The first day was a scorcher so after a few hours taking the ferry across to the Island and driving through the mainland to get to the other side we were all ready for a swim. We took a slight detour to a beautiful lake called Lake Birrabean. When I say beautiful it was like nothing i've ever seen before. The sand was whiter than white and the water was tirquoise blue.. and it was fresh water! We all swam there for half an hour before heading onwards to the next lake. We had to keep going as there are only certain times you can drive on the beach.. between the hours of 6-9:30am and 3-6pm .. this is because all other times the tide is in and we're not aloud to get the vehicle in the salt water.. ruins the engine. So we headed off for the next lake in order to make it to a campsite along the beach before it got dark (at 6pm). Although the other car got stuck in the soft sand and after 4 attempts to make it up the path we had to give up and turn around. So we took another route and finally made it to the East Coast where we drove up the beach and made it to our campsite.. just in time to set up camp and cook our dinner before dark. Dingos are very common on Fraser Island so we had to make sure that all of our food was put away before we went to bed otherwise it's attract them to our campsite. We all had dinner together (sausage sandwiches!) at our campsite that was right on the beach. Some of the party animals were up till 5am but knowing that I had to drive at 6:30 I decided to get an early night. So you can imagine getting everyone ready and packed was easier said than done the next morning.

The groups weren't up for the early action and the majority of them took an age to pack up their tents and get themselves ready. We didn't end up leaving till 8am which only gave up an hour and a half to get up the coast to the Champagne Rock Pools and Indian Head (where you can spot Tiger Sharks). At parts the sand was so thick.. you wouldn't believe how much it controls the streering of a car! If you think about it.. the car itself probably weighed a couple of tons, with 11 passengers, all their gear and camping equipment.. it was not easy to control.. and to make matters even worse all the gear was packed in the roof so we nearly toppled over a couple of times (the rule was to jump to one side if it felt like we were going to topple!) We didn't make it to the pools as we would have run out of time to get to our campsite before dark so we stayed at Indian Head for a bit (didn't see any sharks) then started to make our way down the beach. We stopped at Eli Creek.. a fresh water creek that flowed into the ocean. It was such a hot day campers from all around were bathing there.

After that we decided to go somewhere to cook our lunch before making our way to the campsite that afternoon. We got to a place called K'Gari.. a very hidden away Aboriginal campsite that was near enough empty apart from two Aboriginals that lived there. They kindly let us use a shelter they had while we cooked our lunch. Johan and I rustled up a spag bol.. not bad for camping eh! We weren't able to go back on the beach till 3pm so we decided to head up to a place called Lake Allam.. it was inland (about 20 mins) as we were on our way.. once again the other vehicle got stuck in the soft sand. I couldn't understand how Damian (the other driver) kept getting the car stuck.. as much as it wasn't easy, once you got the hang of it, I got it up the soft sand tracks no problem.  We couldn't get the other car out of the sand. Soon enough an island traffic jam developed and lots of locals came to help us. Four of five different 4x4 drivers came to look at the car and told us the 4x4 wasn't engaging and that the car was only driving in 2 wheel drive. That'll be why we kept getting stuck! (I felt bad for doubting Damian's driving). Luckily one of the drivers had a tow rope and got the car out of the sand pit.. and promptly told us not to go back in-land as the car would only get stuck again. By this time we'd been there for an hour and there were around 10 other cars. We eventually got moving an instead of thinking about swimming we had to get to the nearest payphone to call the tour opperators (Koalas) to find out what we should do. We got to the nearest payphone (mobiles don't have a signal on the island) only to find it was out of order. After some more running around we located an office that let us use their phone to call Koalas. They didn't seem to be too fazed that we were having car trouble and sent us onto a mechanic several km's down the beach. We made it to them and dropped the car off to the mechanics. By now it was getting late so we had to set up camp. We located the nearest place we could camp for the night and I spent some time taking all the troops, gear and tents to the site doing back and forth runs. I got the last of it all there by 5:45.. we were just losing the last hours of light. Damian stayed with the car.. that was apparently going to get fixed that evening but they didn't know how long it would take. The rest of us set up camp and began cooking .. most of it had to be done with torch light.. it gets dark so quickly here! A few hours later Damian appeared minus vehichle (he'd gotten a lift from the mechanic) saying that the car was irreparable and we had to get a new car sent out in the morning. (Bearing in mind the next day was our last on Fraser Island and we were due to go to a place called Lake Mackenzie for most of it (which was the highlight of the trip). They weren't going to be able to get the car to us until 10am (we were due to leave at 7am). We decided there as no point in both groups missing out and that i'd take mine along at 7 the next morning. We all relaxed and had a great night bonding over steak sandwiches, baked beans, beer and national anthems. It was a night to remember. We'd attraced a lot of dingos that night. There must have been 7 or 8 that came to visit us looking for scraps. It's against the law to feed them or leave food out as they become agressive and have to be put down. They were quite harmless and easily chased away.

The next morning we got news that the car couldn't be brought over as there were no spaces left on the barge. You can guess the reaction. Our group had left by the time the other group had found this out. I'd taken my group to Lake Mackenzie around 7am. The other group headed up in their 2 wheel drive.. luckily there wasn't a great deal of soft sand so they made it up ok. Our group spent the day at Lake Mackenzie. The road up there was one of the bumpiest yet and the people in the back enjoyed a few bruises! It was all worth it though.. It was stunning. There were turtles in the lake but I couldn't see any. The water was so clear even when you swam out to the middle you could see the bottom really clearly. We lapped up as much sun and swimming as we could before we had to head back to get the barge back to Hervey Bay.

When we arrived back at the hostel we went straight to reception to speak to the manager (who conventiently wasn't there) so another girl came to speak to us. To cut a very long story short she was straight off the bat extremely defensive and before we'd even opened or mouths had worked out an excuse to tell us and somehow make it our fault.  I could only take so much of her attutide and condescending tone before telling her exactly what happened and how.  She didn't seem to like me having my word in and after telling me to shut my mouth barged past me.  This.. as you can guess wasn't the end of it and we made an appointment to see the manager the next morning.  He was very apologetic and the group who's vehicle was affected got the trip again for free however we were offered a free meal.. I stressed that I thought this was extremely unfair and managed to squeeze a free night of accomodation for everyone out of it.  Not the best but hey.. better than nothing!  

It was.. all in all.. a fantastic trip.. I met some great people that have decided to do the Whitsunday Islands with me. There's a group of us heading out together which should be great!

Photos / videos of "4x4 Camping Trip":

The Barge over to Fraser Island Lake Birrabean again again bliss! Sand tracks Traffic jam The gang in the back of the car Shipwreck and again again Me Shipwreck Indian Head (where there are LOTS of Tiger Sharks) View from Indian Head of the West Coast Beach Damian's car driving along the beach The group on our first night Our group eating the spag bol Johannes and I made Eli Creek and again One of the Dingos that paid us a visit on our second night Lake Mackenzie again again ... Me in for a dip feeeet Me again (in the somewhere) Look at the colour of that water!! The boys.. using Cam as an entertainment tool Playing ball Tim and Matt Brian, Cam and James James getting a sock in the chops from Cam Two German girls on our trip Me behind the wheel Johannes trying to get a snap of the view from the front Johannes again View from the back Me falling asleep at the wheel Our group Everyone A few of us at Lake Birrabean