When we got to Rainbow Beach we parked outside Dingo’s hostel and it ended up being a huge piss up. We played Dingo Bingo and it all got a little out of hand… Christie won the bingo and got a $50 bar tab, a kayak with dolphins and a private room for the night! So unfair.
The next day I was pretty hungover and when I woke up in Fran it was so hot. We attempted to tan all day but it kept periodically raining – we should really stop being surprised at the weather. The day passed quite quickly and we had our safety briefing for Fraser Island in the evening and met our group. We also got to sleep in a hostel room that night which we were so looking forward to!
Okay so sleeping in an actual bed was not as lush as I’d thought it would be. I was so so knackered that I went to bed at 10pm but these girls were repacking their bags with about a million different plastic bags – you know what fair enough, do it at night so that you don’t wake someone up in the morning. BUT at 5:30am they 1. snooze their alarms a million time AND 2. re-pack their bags all over again! They also turned on the main light – now that’ juts bad hostel etiquette. We had to get up for Fraser Island at 6:45am and it’s safe to say that I didn’t get back to sleep after those girls woke me up.
On a happier note, Fraser Island was amazing. Definitely my favourite part of the trip so far. We did the 2 night/3 day tag-along tour with Dingos. This involves driving a 4×4 behind a lead driver over beaches, in the sea and through jungles. Fraser Island is the biggest sand island in the world – now that doesn’t sound that impressive until you realise that its covered in rainforest (how on earth do trees grow in sand!?), it has loads of beautiful lakes – the most famous one being the perched Lake McKenzie and is home to a huge variety of animals, the top of the food chain being the Dingos themselves.
Our lead driver was a guy called Geoff and he absolutely made the trip for us. He was such good laugh. When you set off from the Dingo’s hostel on the mainland, you get given all your food and drink for the next 3 days (you camp at the Dingo’s campsite on the Island), you also get given all the alcohol you had pre-ordered in the previous evening’s safety briefing. As usual, we really outdid ourselves with our car being the only one to have an extra crate of alcohol because we couldn’t fit it all in the cool box. You’re only allowed to bring a small bag of clothes and things with you so we cramed that all in the car and set off!
You get a small ferry across to the Island and then boom, beach/sand driving from there on out. So, I’ve never driven a 4×4 before and in fact, I hadn’t driven a manual car in months. They also have a rule here where you have to park it in 1st gear so obviously everyone keep forgetting and starting the car, lurching forward and then rolling back down hills – when Christie did it I was in the front with her, both of us freaking out and me pulling on the hand-break with two hands, with our guide laughing at us from the other car.
We were actually put in Group 1 with 3 other boys; two French brothers called Jean and Pierre (you couldn’t make it up), and a German called Max. They were all lovely and we had such a good time with them. Being in group 1 meant we were actually in Geoff’s car – it was a bit annoying as we couldn’t drive the lead car, but we did get swapped out with group 2 halfway through the first day; they only had 2 drivers (you have to have a manual license and be over 21), while we had 5.
Driving along a beach is a pretty surreal experience, it was so beautiful. Our first stop was lunch which was wraps with some form of meat (we had the same lunch every day). But I’ll tell you what, they definitely don’t let you go hungry – there was SO much food! After lunch we got swapped with Group 2 and Riss was the first to drive. She did amazingly well and made it look so easy! The non-road roads were obviously pure sand and she was driving through pretty tough jungle terrain. I was very impressed. Next, we headed to Lake McKenzie. This is the picturesque lake that everyone imagines when they think of Fraser Island. Lake McKenzie is a perched lake, which means it sits above the water table. This, in turn, means that the whole lake is actually rainwater which is pretty cool in itself. Fraser Island also had hardly any air pollution so the rainwater is actually so pure – your not allowed to go in if you’ve just put suncream on as it would just pollute the lake. What does go in the lake, however, is all the tea tree oils from the surrounding forest so the water is actually really good for your skin! The lake is freezing and it wasn’t particularly hot that day but the whole group got in for a swim.
After Lake McKenzie Christie was in the driver’s seat. This was when we had the rolling back experience. There is also an aux in the car so those poor European boys had to listen to our tunes for 3 days straight! (we were loving it obviously). I won’t lie, after Christie’s driving, she made me a bit nervous to drive! I thought it would be easy but after seeing her I was thinking otherwise!
After Christie it was my turn – I definitely stalled the car a few times getting it going (how do you use a clutch again!?) but I got the hang of it eventually. What wasn’t ideal (although it turned out to be great fun) was that we were running a bit late and therefore the tide had come in a lot more than was anticipating or what they would usually get people to drive through! One of the main rules is to never drive in salt water unless you absolutely have to because it can damage the car. When I was driving you had to anticipate the waves and quickly get around rocks and over sand dunes before the wave could come in and hit you! At one point the sea was halfway up the car! The most tricky part of the drive was a huge hill, about 45 degrees of soft sand. You just had to put it in first gear and hope for the best! I’ll admit I was pretty proud of my driving when we finally made it to the campsite. Geoff even said we did a good job – go me.
The Dingo’s campsite is pretty cool, you really are in tents but there are bonfires, kitchens and even a small club! I mean, by a club I mean a room with lights, speakers and an aux cable but we still ended up there every night!
The first night was hysterical. You cook in your groups and they give you all the food and the instructions. We had stir fry that night and it worked great as we cooked and the 3 boys cleaned. Next came the drinking – the bottle of gin got finished within the hour but not to fret! We still had 30 ciders, 10 beers and 8L of goon.
We all went down to the beach, dingo sticks in hand (yes these are a real thing!). If a dingo starts getting close you have to fight it off with a stick! Very unlikely in a big group but we all had our sticks just in case. We went down to the beach to see the stars. And OMG. I have never seen stars like it. You could see the WHOLE milky way, the stars covered the whole sky – it was like being in a planetarium. You could also see mars – it was very red, Jupiter was amazingly bright and you could even see Venus in the distance. It’s hard to explain how truly breathtaking the sight was, it was actually a little emotional! I would a million per cent recommend going to Fraser just to see the night sky.
After a lot of fun in the ‘club’ Gabby and I were sat in my tent forcing malteasers down us. One of the rules is to not have food in your tents because it attracted animals. Gabby (who was absolutely terrified of dingos) was adamant that we had to eat every last one to keep them away. We were so full and didn’t even want and I felt so sick but we just kept eating… one after another… until the dingos couldn’t get us.
The next day we were all a little bit hungover but not as bad as we should have been! We all had to do a breathalyser before we could drive and Riss was the only one over the limit out in the entire campsite. First, we drove to Indian Head Lookout which has 360-degree views of Fraser Island and the ocean, it supposed to be the perfect place to spot whales, dolphins and sharks but we didn’t see any. We really cannot complain though, we saw so many whales while driving along the beach, it was so cool. I’d never seen a whale before! Geoff would be driving and would simultaneously be able to spot the plume of water a whale shoots up, quite impressive.
Next we visited the Champagne Pools. As the ocean’s tide comes in over this collection of rocks, shallow pools of water are created, almost like a natural jacuzzi (although the temperatures aren’t comparable). After a quick lunch back at camp, we filled up the cars with beers and ciders and headed to Eli Creek.
Eli Creek is a beautiful stream amongst towering trees. The fresh water pours into the sea from a natural spring and it is said to be some of the purest water on earth because they estimate it takes 200 years to filter through the sand before it reaches the surface! We went tubing along it and then played beach volleyball with some beers watching the sun go down. A pretty spectacular day all around.
On our way back to camp we stopped off at the Maheno shipwreck. Maheno means island in Maori (native New Zealanders). Originally built in Scotland, the ship was used as an ocean liner that travelled between New Zealand and Australia. In 1936 the ship washed up on shore due to a cyclone and soon became an iconic part of Fraser Island. There isn’t much of the ship left to see due to erosion, plus In WW1 Fraser island because a SAS training ground and they blew a lot of it up.
Naturally, that night we got drunk again. We weren’t nearly as hammered as the night before but still had a great time nonetheless. I was pretty impressed but we managed to finish every drop of alcohol we had brought (which was no mean feat!)
For the second day in a row I was hungover and for some reason, I was a lot more hungover this day than the previous! (probably a 2 day hang). We only made one stop before heading back on the ferry to the mainland and that was to Lake Wabby. Lake Wabby is an emerald green lake sat in the sand dunes. The colour is quite striking and even though the trek up and down the sand dunes and through the forest to get there was not easy on the hang (it takes about 45 mins each way), it was so worth it for a dip in this lake.
It was safe to say we were pretty gutted that we were back in Rainbow Beach after such an amazing weekend. However, Geoff was not going to let us off lightly! We all headed to the hostel bar and Geoff was kind enough to buy us jugs of beer and cider. He said we’d been one of the most fun groups he’d had in ages and want to thank us for it – it was really sweet. So shout out to Geoff, and our whole group for making our trip so memorable!
So, obviously, after Fraser Island, we were all completely knackered. I was tucked up in my hostel bed by 10pm and passed out hard. However, I woke up in the night to hear a very drunk guy snoring but the snoring was coming and going to I managed to get back to sleep okay. At around 7am I woke up to see Christie on the bed opposite me, white in the face, staring at me and mouthing ‘look at your phone!!’ I opened up my message to find out that the snorer had come back blackout drunk, had PISSED ON HIS BED THINKING IT WAS THE LOO, then realised what he’d done and got into bed with this girlfriend. The reason the snoring was starting and stopping was that she would hit him every time it started – the whole room stank of piss. I felt quite bad for the girlfriend, to be honest, she had no idea what had happened until Christie mentioned it the next morning. God, don’t you just love hostels?
Thankfully we had something pretty cool to look forward to after the piss incident, we were going sea kayaking. This the kayak that Christie won during Dingo Bingo but we agreed to chip in $30 towards my trip so that she didn’t have to go alone. The tour is taken by these two quintessentially Aussie blokes and in the end, Christie and I ended up getting split up because two people need to go with the guides – typical! In the end, I’m so glad we were with the guides, I really didn’t have to paddle at all and they were so good at spotting all the animals (they also seemed a lot more invested in seeing the animals themselves than helping the group see them – oops!). The best thing we saw was probably the manta ray, it was HUGE and came right up to the kayak – it was really amazing to see. We also saw dolphins, turtles, a sting ray, a load of fish and even a little crab that had somehow got lost and ended up out in the ocean!
That evening we drove to Hervey Bay and parked up next to two English girls (Alex and her sister Libby) we get on Fraser as well as their van, now called Stan aka Franny’s boyfriend.