We went “camping and 4×4’ing” on Fraser Island, which happens to be the largest sand island in the world at about 75 miles long and 15 miles wide (unfortunately we couldn’t swim in the ocean around Fraser Island due to tiger sharks and jelly fish). By Alaskan standards it was neither camping nor 4×4’ing. I’d call it “glamping” except for the fact that we were dirty the entire time. There were showers, but they were hardly worth is since the walk back to the campsite would just get us dirty again.
The first day started with a four hour bus ride from Brisbane to Rainbow Beach. Then we split up into two Land Cruisers for a quick ride to the ferry. The ferry to Fraser Island was a quick 15-20 minutes and then we were back in the Land Cruisers. The trails on the island were rough unless we were driving on the hard-packed beach. The sand was also very loose and easy to get stuck in. Lucky for us, neither Land Cruiser got stuck while we were there, however our group did push two other 4x4s out.
Our first scenic stop of the day was Lake McKenzie, which is slightly acidic (ph level of 4.3 to 5.2…our bodies are around 7). The fresh rain water stays in Lake McKenzie because of plant life that decayed thousands of years ago and formed a waterproof barrier. If not for the barrier, the water would quickly disappear through the sand. The sand also has a high silica content. The sand and slightly acidic water can be used to clean and exfoliate skin. I used it to smooth out the skin on my arms, legs, and my feet. It felt great.
After Lake McKensie, we headed to our campsite. Once there we got a lecture about dingos. The campground even had warnings about aggressive dingo encounters. The instructions were to carry a stick and not to walk around after dark alone. If a dingo was encountered, we were to back up to a tree or turn back-to-back with our fellow traveler. Then yell “dingo”. I really thought most of this was ridiculous. Past camping adventures had taught me that most animals will not approach if they hear people talking. Much to my surprise, myself and two other travelers had a dingo walk right past us on the way back from the bathroom. For a split second, we couldn’t remember what to do but eventually we started yelling “dingo, dingo, dingo”. We were very close to our campsite and eventually our tour leader heard us. By the time he got there, the dingo had already gone.
When I saw a dingo in the daylight it was hard to believe one could scare me so badly. I’m sure I’d react much calmer the next time…hopefully I’ll never find out for sure. The next morning, our Fraser Island guide woke up early and had to put all the beer and wine back in the cooler. Someone had left the cooler unlocked and a couple of dingos dragged everything out.
After breakfast, we headed to Eli Creek (known as Hangover Creek by our guide). It was a cool and refreshing creek to float down. I could even feel the freshness of the water. All the fresh water on Fraser Island is drinkable due to the filtration of the sand. We also stopped at the Maheno shipwreck (it’s an interesting story…be sure to click on the link) prior to heading back to camp for lunch.
On a whim some of us decided to take a 15 minute scenic flight over Fraser Island. The flight gave a better perspective of the surrounding area, but due to the immense size of Fraser Island it didn’t quite meet my expectations.
After lunch we headed further north on the island and visited Champagne Pools, some sand dunes, and Indian Head (named because Captain Cook mistakenly thought the aboriginals on the hill were Indians).
On our way off Fraser Island, we stopped at Eli Creek one more time for a quick dip.