Fraser Island

Didn’t think I’d be able to say this at any point- but I’ve 100% just had the best four days of our trip so far! Fraser Island has exceeded my expectations, and I’ve left feeling really uplifted and knowing a lot more amazing people from all over the world.

Before coming to Australia, and in fact during my first few months here, I never felt as excited about doing the East Coast as I did about going to Asia, and now Hawaii. It had something to do with the fact that it was still so long away, and that I know a million other people that have done it before, which means I’d heard a million stories and seen a million Instagram photos of all the mains spots, and despite how incredible everything looked, part of me felt like I had already done it all and seen it all before.

However, no photo can justify just how overwhelmingly great it feels to see each place in the flesh. No photo can give you all the smells, sounds and tastes or the unique little surprises that not everyone gets a chance to experience during their time at the same destinations. Our three days on Fraser Island are the classic example of this.

A group of I think twenty four of us, woke up bright and early on Wednesday morning downing cheap, bitter hostel coffee and rinsing the free breakfast before we were met by our tour guide for the new days. His name was Aido and he is the world’s BIGGEST legend!!

The best way to describe Aido is a barefooted, middle aged, typical Ozzie bloke, who has the hair and beard of a castaway, a cheeky smile, hilarious sense of humour and who is so chilled out it’s like he’s constantly baked. He’s a fun guy who embraces his inner child and doesn’t take anything too seriously, but has so much knowledge on Australia and history and nature that I could just sit and talk to him for hours.

All together we had three 4×4 cars between us- me and Jen were lucky enough to be in the lead car with Aido as the driver, which was great because we felt so much safer not having to put our lives in the hands of another backpacker who had never driven on sand before hahah. In the same car, we got to know to lovely girls also from England, a friendly guy and two bubbly girls from Germany, and two friendly French girls who we seem to keep bumping in to as we travel down the coast!

Driving on sand, with nothing but the forest to our left and the ocean to our right, felt like a proper adventure. Definitely not something you get to do every day! It was like being inside a calendar photo; everything we could see consistently being a picture- perfect moment. The dj next to Aido at the front was playing proper 90s and early 2000s throwback songs we could sing along to, and no matter how many times we bumped around in the back when going over the sand, it never got boring.

Before we’d even reached our first stop, Lake McKenzie, we saw our first Humpback whale of the trip. I know I’ve banged on about whales time and time before (sorry I’m obsessed), so I won’t bore you by banging on about them again, but I will say that in the space of just three days, we saw 30-40 whales all together!!!! How ridiculous is that? I’ve never seen so many breach and play and flap their tails around. Knowing what an empathetic and intelligent animal they are, it’s so nice to be able to see them going about their day enjoying themselves in the distance so peacefully. I just love them 😦

Lake McKenzie was an interesting place, purely because it’s basically a giant fishbowl in the ground, filled entirely with nothing but collected rain water. This not only means that the water isn’t salty, but there aren’t any minerals in it either, meaning that aside from a few small fish and turtles, there’s no wildlife swimming there.

The water there is SO refreshing to swim in. After being used to almost floating in really salty water, the lake water feels a lot heavier like it’s pulling you down, requiring a lot more effort swim in. With it not being summer here at the moment, it’s still nice and hot, but if the clouds are covering the sun when you get out of the lake it can be a bit chilly. But the benefits of it not being summer at the moment is that when going to places like Lake McKenzie, it has half the amount of tourists. When camping on the island at night, it’s less crowded and easier to sleep because it’s not a sweat box. And it’s cheaper which is obviously the biggest benefit!

I never realised how big Fraser Island is until we were driving and driving and driving. I love car journeys, and nothing was better than being able to cruise along and be one of the only cars in site, with no roads or road signs or roundabouts. Only passing the occasional Dingo or two or a few fishermen who would wave as you went by.

We took a lunch break in the middle of the forest and everybody got to know each other a bit better. What started at this moment of people barely knowing each other’s names, would in two days’ time turn into us all being like one big, multi-cultural family, having banter and private jokes and almost crying when we had to leave each other. These were definitely some of the best people we’ve met so far, that I will without a doubt want to see in the future. What I love about travelling is that you seem to get really close to people, really quickly. You share such rare experiences with them in such positive environments that everyone seems to click, and anyone slightly irritating or rude stands out like a nun in a sex shop. The only down side is as soon as you all seem to get close, you have to go your separate ways again.

Our first nature walk after lunch was really nice. We walked on a wooden boardwalk which took us through some forest overlooking a crystal clear creek, with fresh water than runs down into the sea. The tap we used for drinking water actually came from this creek, and it was some of the best tasting water I’ve ever drank (much better than the cocaine and chlorine contaminated London water).

The trees in the forest were positively intimidating to look at. There were loads of different types- palm trees, brush box, pines, but they all had long, strong trunks that reached right up into the sky, with their heads and foliage poking up at the top. They resembled long, strong bamboo, fighting for sunlight.

The famous shipwreck on Fraser Island is that of SS Maheno. She was a ship that belonged to the Union company of New Zealand, that crossed between Australia and New Zealand between 1905 and 1935.

Her corpse now lies on shore of Fraser island, after being washed up there in 1935 by a cyclone. She left Sydney under tow after being purchased by a Japanese shipyard, who intended to, in a way, melt down and recycle the metal to prepare for the next world war. SS Maheno has been corroding on the island since and is now a huge tourist attraction. Over the years the ship seems to have sunk deeper and deeper into the sand, the metal becoming increasingly more orange and rusty.

When we finally arrived at camp, retrieved our alcohol and unpacked our things, we gathered in the communal food area and Aido gave us a little welcome speech and advised us of the rules of the camp. I wish I could remember it word for word, because it was bloody hilarious. It was something along the lines of him being totally about nature wee’s, and they’re absolutely fine, just don’t do them by the car or in the walk way (a couple of days later, I’d find myself walking barefoot through far too many nature wee’s). He also requested that we didn’t shit in the middle of the walk way or IN A CUP left on the footpath (this legit had happened in the past).

We had a few warnings about where not to explore in the camp if you didn’t want to come across venomous snakes/spiders and die and what to do if we came across more Dingos. Aido re-enacted little g’day mate’ conversations he has whenever he stumbles across them. A couple of days later he told me about how once he was lying under a broken down car in the scorching heat and dingo came under and joined him and they chilled and had a little chat.

That night we had a BBQ with some salad and played Dutch drinking games and got through a lot more beers than I had originally intended to. One minute everyone seemed pretty mellow, then everyone seemed to switch all at the same time!

At some point in the middle of the night we stumbled down to the beach in the dark, laughing and slurring and hoping to find some dingos that we could make pals with. When we got to the sand, that’s when we decided FUCK IT, let’s all go for a swim! And we legged it towards the sea, threw ourselves in and spend the next fifteen minutes jumping around screaming and diving into the waves. The water was surprisingly not even cold!

The next day Aido told one of the guys that was probably a bad idea, considering SHARKS ARE NOCTURNAL AND WERE PROBABLY OUT LOOKING FOR THEIR DINNER!!! Not only that but apparently the currents can be quite strong on the island. Imagine being pissed in the middle of the night and get being swept out to sea by a current?? Then a shark just coming up and swallowing you hole omgggggg gives me chills just thinking about it. But none of died and it was ridiculously fun so it’s fine hahah.

A lot of people seemed pretty tired the next day, and we had another seven AM start. But as soon we jumped into the glistening water of the Champagne pools, we all woke up and were ready to power on.

The Champagne pools, which unfortunately aren’t actually filled with champagne, are such a nice spot to go swimming in. The water is crystal clear and slightly frothy, and you get a beautiful view of the islands surrounding cliffs. On the walk down to the champagne pools, there’s some really great photo spots, and if you’re as lucky as we were you might even spot a few whales or manta rays swimming around below.

We were lucky enough to get the same views of stingrays and whales when we reached the top of Indian Head shortly after. Indian Head is a coastal headland, located on the East side of Fraser, where you can get breath-taking views of the Coral sea, the island and cliffs, and if you’re with Telstra you’ll get signal too!

It was there that I accidently left my flip flops in the sand, and I ended up walking around barefoot for the rest of the holiday which wasn’t ideal (Aido probably has hard feet by now so it’s alright for him, but mine are like baby skin). I now realise how ready I am to come, considering I now own zero pairs of shoes (except one pair of vans that have holes in them), five socks (and no, that’s no pairs, it’s literally four socks and they don’t match), the only bag I have is an old, worn, dirty tote bag and a single bra that barely fits… just dying to get my super back ASAP so I can finally do some shopping!

Probably one of the biggest highlights of doing Fraser island had to be Eli Creek- a natural lazy river. I didn’t get photos because I didn’t want to drop my phone into the creek with my reputation of constantly breaking phones…. But I stole this one from Google images…

We headed to the start of the creek and Aido gave us a little speech and tip of the best way of getting into the creek and facing the 18degree water. He stood at one of the bottom steps and just unexpectedly fell backwards like he was fainting, and just dropped straight into the water then came up with his hair and beard soaking wet hahaha. So we all had to get in a line and take turns doing the same, anyone who refused was splashed until they were just as wet as everyone who threw themselves in.

We snake- swam our way down, and went down in rubber dingys and it was funny to see a huge group of adults all suddenly acting like kids-pissing about, splashing each other, screaming, spinning the dingys round… I wish we could have stayed there all day and chilled on the sand for a bit but there just wasn’t time.

For sunset that night, we took a HUGE trek up some sand dunes to get the best view possible. It was exhausting. The sand dunes were steep and so deep that every step required a lot of effort. Halfway up I was tempted to give up and just stop, but we powered through and the view from the top was amazing.

We had the whole mini- desert to ourselves. People brought up body boards to slide down the slopes with (literally like sledging in the opposite environment), we had blankets to sit on and someone played music off a speaker and it felt so magical and surreal. Because of how much of the sky we could see, we could see the sun at one end, then the moon in the opposite direction, and the rainbow colours of the sky and darkness creeping up behind it.

We were followed by a nosy little dingo on the way back, taking Aido’s advice of maintaining eye contact and having a chat with it so he didn’t think we were dinner (I just wanted to stroke 😦 )

Getting up for sunset that morning, after two- three nights of shit sleep, was really hard, especially considering it felt cold and damp and my eyes felt like they had a rash from being so itchy and heavy. But I’m glad I pulled myself up because it was such a nice way to end our trip, and we saw so many more whales once again. We climbed up a small cliff to get a better view, and the sunset was literally just strips of colour, starting with red right along the horizon, then going up to orange, yellow, blue and purple.

We took one last 2.4k hike to our last lake before leaving the island. It took us about forty five minutes to reach the lake which, as you can imagine after trekking the sand dunes yesterday, was pretty exhausting. It was the first time I’d noticed that I’d never actually been in any forest before, where the floor is sand rather than soil, sticks and grass. But being shoeless, although walking in sand is a bit of a work out, I was grateful I wouldn’t be leaving with feet covered in splinters.

We didn’t have much time at Lake Wobby by the time we got there, but the water there was pretty cold and smelly anyway, so we couldn’t do too much other than sit in the sand. Everyone was feeling pretty lazy and moany about the walk back, but me, Jenny and Jana ended up in a forty minute long conversation about food (mmm), so it ended up going really quickly and we were distracted from our shaky legs and breathlessness.

Everyone was buzzing to be spending one more night all together at Pippies hostel, and I was even more excited about that fact that, that night was the night of the blood moon and lunar eclipse that I’d been waiting for, for weeks!

I went to bed early and set an alarm for 2.30AM. The eclipse didn’t actually start until more towards 4.30-5ish, but I got up extra early just in case and it was actually quite nice because then I had time to sit up and do tarot readings for people and write down what emotions and memories I wanted to let go of, and what I wanted to bring into the future.

Just as the eclipse started and the shadow started creeping in from the top right hand side of the moon, two French guys and a German guy emerged from one of the hostel huts and told me they were driving down to the beach where we could get a better view-so I went with them! Such a perfect, unexpected plan, because if I hadn’t gone with them I would have missed the reddist part of the moon.

We lay out on a blanket (after the really funny, cheeky French guy went to confidently walk down the rocky slope and SLIPPED straight onto his back hahahah was trying to hold back laughing so much because I’d just met him but it was too funny), we lay back in awe and just how many stars we could see now that we were away from lights and the brightness from the moon was shadowed over. To put in into perspective, I saw twelve shooting stars in twenty five minutes!! Eventually the blood moon started to fade and the sun started to come up. As soon as it was light again pelicans from all different directions flew down and started swimming around together- so cute!

Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of the blood moon, because my phone camera couldn’t pick it up, but if you gave this one a miss I would highly recommend staying up for the next one!

So what was is that made me decide these had been the best four days of my travels? Probably that Fraser Island just has everything to offer and we did it all. Camping, stunning beaches, fresh water lakes, creeks and natural lazy rivers. Dingos, whales, sunsets, sunrises, hikes, sand dunes, cliffs and the most genuine, hilarious people to experience it all with. I don’t know if I’d ever be able to go back to Fraser, because it could never beat those few days!

We have now reached Noosa, where we can chill for three nights, take a breather, and hopefully save a bit of money. I’m loving the vibe here so far, but will fill you in, in a few days’ time. Much love xoxo

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