The day before our Fraser Island adventure began we had a briefing at Pippies Beachhouse Backpackers in Rainbow Beach as Pippies was the company we had booked our tour with – 330 AUD each (approximately £200) for 3 days and 2 nights. After the briefing we needed to find someone to stay for the night, as the hostel itself wasn’t cheap and didn’t have space for our camper. After picking up supplies we drove to a campsite in by the beach in Bundaberg, pitched our tent, cooked dinner (the last of the tuna!) and wandered down to the pitch-black beach for bright stars in the sky before getting an early night in preparation for a 5:30am wake-up call.
It was a freezing cold morning and after packing up we headed back to Pippies for 6:30am for our free breakfast and then jumped into our 4×4 with our overnight bags and snacks. As each 4×4 fit 8 and we had 6 in our group, 2 extra females joined us, and each person in the vehicle would take it in turns to drive (so long as they wanted to!) Toby drove first, taking us out the hostel and onto the ferry to cross over to Fraser Island (where we saw dolphins on our way over) and then, once on Fraser Island, across the sand to our campsite. It was surreal and absolutely stunning to drive along the beach with the sea to our right, the sun piercing down and the sound of the waves crashing against the shore.
We had been briefed on safe driving and the speed with which to take, yet on our first journey – where all four 4x4s drive one in front of the other – the 4×4 in front of us had a tyre explode right on the middle of the beach as we were going approximately 70 mph. It was an opportunity for us all to take a pit stop and snap some photos with our 4x4s on the sand, and more than anything we were just pleased it wasn’t our 4×4 to experience the first problem!
Once at our campsite we picked our tents (obviously me sharing with Tiia!) and dropped off our stuff.
It was then my turn to drive the 4×4 (or, I was the first to shout “me!” when asked whom wanted to drive next) – I haven’t driven an automatic in YEARS, and never across bumpy, skiddy sands, so I was a bit nervous, but I found it really enjoyable and most of my drive was through the forest rather than next to the sea; I instructed Toby to play The Chainsmokers and spent the journey bumping along the sandy path to my favourite music.
We first went to Lake Mckenzie, which has pure sand (like the Whitsundays) with fresh spring water from the rain forming the lake, meaning it is so pure you can wash your hair in it. It was crystal clear, sparkling from the sun, and ridiculously refreshing.
I then drove us a bit further on to a section of the forest that had a rainforest walk, where we then had lunch of salad and meat wraps on the picnic benches. It was then Matthew’s turn to drive us back out the forest and across the beach to the SS Maheno shipwreck; an ocean liner that operated in the Tasman Sea crossing between New Zealand and Australia (and was used as a ship by the NZ Naval Forces during World War 1) before being washed ashore on Fraser Island by a cyclone in 1935. It was then Rasmus’ turn to drive the 4×4 back to camp and we almost had a moment where we crashed into the side of the pathway leading up to the campsite – negotiating sandy slopes isn’t the easiest feat!
We then headed off as a group to walk across the vast, smooth sand dunes for sunset, which ended up being a long and tiring walk in the heat but it was completely worth it. We then headed back to camp for a BBQ dinner – which we pitched in to help with – followed by drinking games.
We were up early at 7am for breakfast followed by aboriginal dances by a local aboriginal family – it was interesting (and pretty cute from the little ones!) to see aboriginal arts. It was then Tiia’s turn to drive the 4×4 and she took us across the beach to Champagne Pools – which sparkled like glitter in the early morning sun – where we got to sunbathe on the sand and swim/splash around in the jacuzzi-like waters. It was also from here that we spotted dolphins out at sea.
One of the other females with us – Emily – then drove us from Champagne Pools Up to the base of Indian Head, where we then had to climb up and across rocks to be gifted with panoramic views across the ocean. Here we managed to spot sea turtles, dolphins and whales, me being totally mesmerised by the deep, vast ocean below us. Umbi then drove us across the beach to Eli Creek where we did tubing down the river – the water was supposed to be 28 degrees celcius, meaning it should feel pretty warm, but it certainly didn’t seem that way to me, and with the water pretty shallow it wasn’t the best tubing experience I have had in my life (Vang Vieng in Laos was far better!) We then had lunch (salad and meat wraps again) before Rasmus then drove us on to Tea Water Lake – a lake that looks tea-coloured but is actually completely clear when you try to scoop it up.
Unfortunately it started drizzling at this point and didn’t look as impressive as it could but there were beautiful surroundings of lush green trees, and because the temperature dropped due to the rain it was actually colder standing outside the water then being inside. Afterwards, Umbi drove us back to our campsite where we had warm showers followed by a spag bowl dinner and more drinking games. On my walk to the toilets later that evening I passed by a group of 11 year old boys asking if we were having a party and if they could join – “we’re ready to get wasted!!” Sorry guys, wait a few years and you will be inappropriately drinking in abundance on the streets!
We were up at 7am again the following day to have breakfast and pack up our tents and bags. Toby then got to be one of the last ones to drive the 4×4 (following some game he introduced that I am certain he knew the inside secrets to!) along the beach to the base of a forest walk that ended at a huge lake at the bottom of another sand dune. We all chilled out by the lake, taking a swim out to the bushes and back again, before walking all the way back to the 4x4s and having our final lunch of wraps (there is a theme emerging here), for Rasmus to drive us back to the ferry across to Rainbow Beach.
Once back at Pippies we all had a shower and re-packed our belongings before driving to a free campsite an hour away from Noosa. For me, Fraser Island was peaceful and spectacular, with being able to drive a 4×4 across the sand with the ocean beside you a completely unique experience, and I loved how far away the rest of the world felt. If I had to pick – HAD to – I would probably say I preferred the Whitsundays over Fraser Island, but it was such a fun experience and beautiful place that I would totally recommend that you go.