Monday, March 1, 2010

The dingo stole my ham


3 hours north of Noosa is Hervey Bay, the gateway to World Heritage Site Fraser Island.  The only way to see Fraser is by 4x4 vehicle as all of the driving is done either on the beach or on trails made of deep, soft sand.  We decided to book a package deal that included the 4x4 plus 2 night accommodation in Hervey Bay (to stay in before getting onto Frase and upon return to the mainland) and 2 nights at a campsite on the island.  All of the camping equipment was included with the vehicle which was handy as we only own 2 sleep sacks and a spork between us.  The 4x4s hold 9 passengers so it was us, Kate and Lizzie and 5 young Swedish guys.  The idea is that everyone who can drive takes turns on the island.  All of the Swedish guys were under 21 so for insurance puprposes couldn't drive.  Lizzie left her license in the UK.  That left us and Kate.  The vehicles are all manual which makes sense as they are 4 wheel drive off-road vehicles but we figured even though we both only drive automatic at home we would pick it up quickly and be just fine.  Then we were informed that the clutch and gearbox are NOT covered by insurance.  Without much choice in the matter, Kate was quickly designated official driver for the trip.

The Fraser Island team with Sheila Svensson (our aptly named 4x4)

We were made to sit through about 45 mins of videos informing us of all of the things on the Island that could either injure or kill us including reckless driving, various snakes, Tiger Sharks (Fraser Island is a breeding ground for them), and Dingoes (the video actually said if a Dingo threatens you remain calm and back away slowly.  However, if a Dingo attacks you "defend yourself aggressively"...what?!?)

We loaded up our 4x4 with food and booze (plenty of Goon) and headed for the ferry.  Once on the Island we were immediately in deep sand on narrow trails surrounded by tall trees and bush.  It was like something out of Jurassic Park, especially with the huge hungry prehistoric bugs flying around and attacking us any chance they got.  After about 40 mins driving on the bumpiest trails in the  road we were shaken, a bit sweaty, and ready for a dip to cool off.  Luckily our first stop was Lake Mackenzie.

Beautiful Lake Mackenzie

Lake Mackenzie is rated one of the top 10 beaches in the world, not sure who decided this but they weren't wrong.  The lake is in the most amazing setting.  The water is crystal clear and warm and the beach is a long stretch of fine white sand with a backdrop of trees and bushes.  We had lunch here and were joined by a huge Moniter Lizard who was invariably looking to score some food.

We left Mackenzie in the early afternoon and after a brief stop at Central Station, a former logging depot with a crystal clear creek runnning through it, we headed for camp.  Because the main north south road on the island is the beach you can only travel at certain times due to the tides.  If you're not sure when high tide is you could find yourself stranded on the beach, getting a bit wet, or worse.

Setting up the tent was a bit of an ordeal.  None of us are campers so it was pretty much the first time we had seen a tent, never mind construct one!  The Swedes put us to shame by effortlessly erecting their tent before we'd even got a stake in the ground.  We finally got the thing together and as we were admiring our accomplishment we were joined by some of the local wildlife - two dingoes.  Now, after the scary videos we were made to watch before getting onto the island our natural reaction should have been one of terror.  However, in this case we weren't too alarmed as the Aboriginies that look after the campsite where we were staying said that these particular dingoes had been around for years and were sort of their pets.  They did look pretty well-fed so we felt fairly safe and confident that they wouldn't attempt to chewing on one of our legs.

For dinner we decided to have mince meat and pasta.  Not the original plan but our ice had melted much earlier in the day and it didn't look like the mince would make it through the night.  We also had burgers and sausages in the cooler and we all agreed they stood a much better chance of still being edible the next day.  After dinner pretty much the entire campsite decided that copius amounts of Goon and other alcoholic beverages should be consumed.  After all, what else is there to do when you're on a huge sand dune surrounded by deadly animals and insects?  Not much sleep was had on the first night due to a combination of loud partying, frequent dingo fights right next to our tent, and Lee's snoring.

Up at 6am the next morning, we had a quick breakfast before jumping into the 4x4 and traveling north up to Indian Head and the Champagne Pools.  Indian Head is the furthest we could drive in our rental so we walked the rest of the way to the Champagne Pools, an hour round trip.  It was definitely worth it.  The pools are set in craters formed in volicanic rock and are filled with ocean water crashing onto the rocks.  They get their name from the bubbling and fizzing that occurs when sea water fills the pools.  Its the only place on Fraser Island where you can swim in salt water as the ocean has strong currents and is teeming with Tiger sharks (the east coast of the island is a Tiger shark breeding ground) so swimming is NOT recommended.

After a dip in the pools we hiked up Indian Head which provides incredible views of the island and Pacific Ocean and is a great spot to try and catch a glimpse of sharks, rays, and whales.  In the short time we were up there we saw a shark, a large sea turtle and a stingray, very cool.

Back at camp for lunch we decided to cook the rapidly deteriorating burgers (they were delicious and nobody got sick) and then drove inland to Lake Allom for a swim.  The lake is full of tea tree oil from the surrounding tea trees so apparently very good for the skin.  It was very different from Lake Mackenzie.  The water was very dark due to the tea tree and other deposits in it so you couldn't see through it at all.  We were a bit apprehensive about swimming in it until a Hungarian man that was hanging out there said using some very limited English that a group was there just before us and they were all swimming it in.  That was all we needed to hear so we all waded in, being careful to avoid stepping on any of the numerous turtles that had come over to see what we were up to.  We all enjoyed cooling off in the lake but in retrospect the Hungarian guy's English was so bad that he could have been saying a group was there earlier and they were al eaten by giant Fraser Island crocodiles.  Anyway, we all survived and returned to camp with silky smooth skin and clean, soft hair.

The second night was a little calmer than the first with a lot of the campers still recovering from the first night's partying.  We taught the Swede's how to play Farkle and then took a nighttime walk down to the beach with one of our aboriginie hosts.  The sky was clear so we saw so many stars including the Milky Way which was clearly visible.

After a decent night's sleep we were up early again for our last day on the island.  The day got off to a bad start when we discovered that the ham we had planned to have for lunch that day had been stolen by one of the resident dingoes.  Apparently all the years of hanging around the campsite with drunken backpackers, the dingoes have learned how to open coolers!

They may look cute but they WILL steal your ham

We packed up our tent and supplies and headed south towards the ferry.  On the way we stopped at Eli Creek for a swim and Lake Mackenzie for one last time.  As our ham was being enjoyed by the dingoes we had no choice but to eat what was left of our food supplies - cornflakes, bread and jelly (jam for the English readers).

Mmmmm

Back on solid ground in Hervey Bay we grabbed some much needed showers (Courtney's first for 3 days!), washed some clothes, then headed into town and treated ourselves to a nice dinner.

2 comments:

  1. sharks, and dingoes and swedes oh my!

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  2. Sounds fantastic. Love the health & safety video.

    I hope Mum doesn't read this, as last time she was here I asked what she thought about your trip...She was utterly convinced that you were going to be eaten by a crocodile.

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