4WDing on Fraser Island - Part 2

March 30, 2012 - Fraser Island, Australia

 We were all up bright and early on the morning of the second day, with several people very much feeling the effects of the night before. After breakfast of eggs and sand we set off in the jeeps to the first stop of the day, which turned out to be my favourite of the trip - Eli Creek. This was a beautiful creek flowing down towards the beach where it ended in the sea.  A boardwalk took us down the creek to the spot where we could get in and the idea was that we lay in the water and floated all the way down the creek - the dead means float. The water was cool and so refreshing as it was a hot morning and the whole experience was amazing - as you lay, carried along by the steady current, submerged in crystal clear water and looking up at the the trees and greenery that surrounded the creek, you felt a million miles from everyday life, totally free of worries. Floating peacefully through the rainforest was, as Geoff said, a moment where everyone could feel happy and beautiful, and it was true - you really did feel at total peace with the world and yourself and for a few minutes I even completely forgot about my foot.

The whole experience was so incredible that once I reached the end I crutched all the way back down the board wak to do it again, and it was so worth the effort. afterwards we chilled for a bit on the beach, soaked up the sand and the beauty of the area, took photos and all too soon it was time to jump back in the jeeps and continue down 75 mile beach.

The next place we stopped at was the shipwreck of the Maheno which was beached in 1935. It is now pretty much just a  skeleton of the original ship, but was still pretty interesting and a good photo spot. We also got some awesome whole group pictures, before heading down the beach again, passing the multicoloured sand cliffs called the Cathedrals. During this drive, Geoff told us stories of funny things that had happened on trips before and it passed veryt quickly. In no time at all we were  at the Champagne pools, or at least at the start of the path down towards them. These are a cluster of natural rocky pools, divided from the sea by a line of rocks over which the waves frothed and bubbled, giving the pools their name. It is also the furhest north on the island that vehicles are allowed to travel. Getting down to the pools proved a bit of challenge on crutches, even though my foot had improved even since the day before and I could put quite a bit of weight on it. Luckily, there were plenty of people to give me a hand and I made it right down to the beach, where the final hurdle was the rocks that completely covered the last 10 yards to the beach and the pools. But Geoff being the legend that he was, wasn't fazed and gave me a piggy back all the way across - pretty brave seeing as a few people, such as Martha, had fallen over on them just trying to get across themselves. But we made it over in one piece and had a lovely afternoon swimming and chilling in the pools and sunbathing, which again made the effort getting there well worth it.

Getting back up was another challenge, especially because going up steps was much harder than going down. I was rescued however by a lovely guy from a completely different group, who saw I was gong to struggle and simply stopped and said 'hop on'. He gave me a piggy back up all the steps (and there were a lot!), all the way back along the board walk and right back to the jeeps - such an awesome guy.

We also went to another lake, which I can't remember the name of. The water was brown, but in fact it was one of the very cleanest lakes on the island, the brown colour comes form all the oils in the water, and the lake has a reputation as a healing lake. There were also lots of turtles whch we could hold before we went for a swim. I spent quite a while lounging around in the water, in the hope that I would come out and my neck would be healed...it wasn't, but was certainly improving.

That evening we, were all pretty tired after such a full and energetic day, but managed between us to produce a fairly resaonble stir fry for dinner (or I thougt so anyway). Afterwards the goon came out, along with the drinking games, but this time everyone was far more chilled: we had all got to know each other more, and the whole atmosphere was much more relaxed than the hardcore drinking of the night before. Again I don't know where the time went. The group had split into pretty much two halves as i think is always inevitable with such a big group, but it meant that i got to chat and get to know some new people which was great. Eventually, tiredness caught up with us and everyone drifted off to bed.

That night, we found out exactly why the rules regarding the dingos are so strict. the boys in their drunken states had forgotten to to cover up the food eskys on the trailers, and the dingos managed to get into them and eat most of our remaining food for the next day. they also spent a good part of the night fighting over the food - our tent was one of closest to the communal area where the food was and we were woken in the night by the sound of two dingos having a vicious fight. The howls and screeches came closer and closer and suddenly the 2 dingos, caught up in their fight, launched themselves onto our tent, literally landing right on top of me, with just the tent material between us. that was incredibly scary, especially as for at least another couple of hours we could hear them prowling round the outside of our tent, obviously finishing off the scraps. Martha slept through most of it but I was pretty freaked out and came out with a few ridiculous comments such as 'Martha where is your head' in a sudden sleepy/still drunk panic that dingos might have eaten her head. In fact, she had just turned round and was sleeping the other way round. After a couple of hours of quietly freaking out to Alex we managed to get some sleep and wke the next morning to the disaster site ourcamp had become. The boys got it cleared up pretty fast though, and luckily there was plenty of bread and peanut butter left for breakfast.

While people were still waking up, Martha, Rachel and I headed onto the beach where I had yet another flash of feeling so incredibly lucky, and happy. The sun had only just come up over the surf, the sky was a hazy blue with the promise of an other beautiful day and the beach was deserted as I sat on the sand dunes and decided that broken foot or no broken foot, this was one of the most special moments of my travels so far.

Our main stop that day was Lake Wabby and this proved to be the only thing I really couldn't do, as it involved a 2.5 kilometre walk to get there, over a large sandblow (mini desert). If we had had all day I would have made myself do it, but we didn't and although I was upset I realised it just wasn't going to happen. But once again Geoff proved to be amazing and instead of going for a swim with the others the two of us jumped in the jeep and headed off up through the rainforest, where he showed me a few lovely spots, before going on up to the most amazing look out place which gave us a totally stunning view of Lake Wabby, the sandblow and the sea beyond, and I felt so lucky to have experienced it, especially as nobody else did.

A little later we stopped on the beach for Geoff to give us the story of Fraser island. there are two stories: the western version and the Aboroginal version. In the western version the island gets its name from Eliza Fraser, the wife of captain fraser whose ship was wrecked off the island. the story goes that they were taken in by the aboriginals who inhabited theisland then and looed after, but eliza made a load of money by spreading the story of how badly they had been treated to the newspapers. Unsurpisingly a lot of people, including Geoff, prefer the Aboriginal story, in which the island goes by its alternative name of K'gari, a beautiful goddess who was given just that tiny part of australia to create while the God did the rest. She made it so incredibly beautiful and refused when asked to help with making the rest that lovely, insisting that she was going to keep just her little bit of paradise. This story really reflects the island...it is so stunning it really does make you think it can't just all be there by chance. I'm not going to get all philosophical, but when you consider the fact that it is a totally sand island yet there is lush, dense rainforest growing out of it, it does make you think...

Even with crutches, the 3 days I spent on Fraser island were 3 of the very best days i have experienced on my travels so far, and i think that says a lot. The only thing to rival them was the riding in New Zealand, which is still waiting to be beaten (i dont think it ever will). It just goes to show that with a bit of determination almost anything is possible and good times are still to be had, even if at first it all seemed impossible. I actually feel really proud of myself for managing to have sych a great time, despite my foot...thank you to all the fantastic people who helped me so much and thank you Fraser Island/K'gari.

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1 Comment

Sandy Bryan:
April 16, 2012
Some truly evocative, and informative! pieces of writing -
some Bryson touches in that one can feel and see the travels unfold in your diary/memories.

You have learned so much about yourself...and I am proud of your gut determination, knowing the frustration, pain and upset you were in. Love you x
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