Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Days 4, 5, and 6: Fraser Island

We ferried over to the Fraser Island in the rain and proceeded to see all of the renowned sights on the touristy eastern side of the island through the drizzle (they were crap). The main attraction of Fraser Island for most guests is that the entire eastern side of the island is a huge, hard-packed beach on which you can drive, and indeed land airplanes. There’s nothing so disconcerting as seeing signage indicating that your road is also a landing strip.

By 3 pm, we were done in with the rain and looked in at the K’Gari aboriginal campsite to seek refuge. While the large, open-air huts had been rented out to another group of 6 or 7 Irish boys, they agreed to let us stay with them. Our aboriginal hosts had agreed to demonstrate playing the didgeridoo that evening, but by 9 pm most of us had consumed several litres of wine each and were not musically inclined. Starting drinking at 3 pm may not have been our best idea, but there’s not much to do in a hut in the rain. We did learn that only men are allowed to play the didgeridoo, although there are large plastic tubes that women can play. We were also warned against whistling at night or spitting in the fire, although no further explanation was given.

The camp also had a mostly-friendly dingo. Fraser Island is filled with dingos, and there are signs everywhere showing small children being whisked off by packs of dogs.

Next day we took off to see the forbidden west side of the island. Along the way, we saw lots of scribbler gums. The larvae of this animal are laid inside the tree and eat their way out, creating these weird patterns.

The 4WD rental companies only allow their vehicles to be taken on the touristy, eastern beach; because others are more rule-abiding, we had the entire beach to ourselves. We made a picnic lunch and hiked an hour up the snow-white beach past thousands of suicidal sea slugs gasping their last breaths. Back in our campsite was a freshwater river emptying to the sea with a rope swing. As the sunset, we took turns swinging out into the water, swimming down the river a bit, and circling back for another turn. It was just idyllic. That night we drank wine and ate cheese as we watched the sun set over the ocean and then cooked by headlamp on the tailgate.

Our last day on the island, we drove on tracks through the middle, which took us past a number of the freshwater lakes. I should mention that the sea surrounding Fraser Island is so shark infested that you are strongly advised against swimming in it. Hence the popularity of the freshwater lakes! The water in the lakes is so fresh and clear that you can safely drink it.

That night, we had been told by our hostel owner in Hervey Bay to camp outside the Kingfisher Bay resort. After a frantic dash to and fro around the resort, Eric and I decided just to get a hotel room. Since we hadn’t showered since Brisbane, it was about time anyway. We were boarding a train for 26 hours the next day, so I’m sure our fellow passengers appreciated our splurge.

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