Fraser Island

The Mission:
Off to the largest sand island in the world, chock-a-block with rainforests, a 120km long beach, and lotssa dodgy dingoes.

The Crew:
The usual (me, Brad and Bec), and Kim, representing Britain; "King Chopper" Brian and "Double Trouble" Shannon and Heather, representing Canada; and Jimbo from Melbourne.

Day 1:

Got up at 5.30am. Nightmare. Jim, Brian and I had been drinking until 1am, which didn't help at all. We had to sort out the jeep and stuff, fitting 8 people, food and booze into the none-too big jeep, which was not easy, especially at 6am. Eventually we drove off, down to the ferry over to the island. We made it over at 9.45 - by 10.15 we gad a puncture! Some bloke - it later turned out to be the tyre repair mam - drove past us, enquiring if we had a flat as he went. Git. Luckily, some kindly old couple stopped to help us, as our excelent tour operators had forgotten to include a wheel brace (US=tyre iron) for us.

So, after a visit to the tyre bloke to get a new spare, we were finally on our way, driving down the long eastern beach on Fraser, which is officially designated one of Oz's highways. The thing about this highway is that it is made of sand - being a beach - and is not entirely flat. Taking sand jumps sitting in a 4WD doing 80kph would ordinarily be fun, except when you're sitting in the back, on benches with no seatbelt. One jump - the first and last we took at speed - resulted in me smacking my face into the roof, cutting me above and below the right eye, and doing my back in for a bit. So far, not a superb start to the trip!

But, the day got much better; we drove up to the top of the island, explored some sand dunes (very Lawrence of Arabia). We ended the day camped behind a set of sand dunes, watching the waves of the South Pacific slowly creep up the sand, cooking up steaks and burgers. Not bad.

Woke up at 5.30am (again), this time by the campfire, having fallen unconscious there the night before. Crawled into the tent.

Day 2:

Woke up again, this time in the tent ay 7am - they were placed (in a brilliant move) in direct sunlight so I was roasting hot. We all got up and found the nearest campsite - a hot shower has possibly never felt so good.

After that we headed down to Eurong in the south, pausing at the Pinnacles, amazing coloured sand formations that form part pf the local Aboriginies' sacred beliefs. My sister nicked a bit to use as a paperweight.

From there we continued down to Eurong, then inland to Central Station, where we walked for a while in the rainforest. Absolutely incredible. Just as good, about an hour's drive away, was Lake MacKenzie, where we camped for the night. This is the most perfectly clear lake that I have ever seen (yes, even clearer than the cesspool at UEA); the water is part of the water table, and is totally uncontaminated (apart from my presence). It was like being in a swimming pool, except better.

That night in the camp was great - while Kim, Jim and my sister went to bed, the rest of us stayed up late playing drinking games. Shannon and Heather definately had a capacity for alcohol, as did Brian, whose seemingly fixed grin becomes rock-solid when he's drunk. Perhaps it was the alcohol, or perhaps not, but we all legged it down to the lake around 11pm to indulge in a bit of skinny-dipping. There were many moons that night, some of them lit up from the shoreline by a random bloke's torch.

Day 3:

This morning, we got up early yet again, and did nothing except soak in the beauty of Lake MacKenzie. I went out for a quick dip, then decided to swim the lake - a bloody long way, it turned out. About half a kilometre, and it felt it.

We had to be at the ferry by 2.30 in the afternoon, so we left in time and got back at Koala Backpackers in Hervey Bay, where we were staying the night, about 3.30. We all went out as soon as possible having returned to civilisation (except Jim, who had sodded off), and left en masse for Pizza Hut, for the all-you-can-eat. Thus time it proved to be too much, and I spent the following 2 hours trying not to feel bloated. I tried hard enough, and eventually felt well, and got stuck into some drinking in the evening. We had an early celebration for Brian's 25th birthday, buying him some nasty cocktails, and plenty of beer; we all ended up doing the limbo. Brian was a dancing legend all night long, especially when the woman behind the bar found some vaguely-country-ish music for him, and even when we went into Dolly's, the hugely tacky nightclub next door. Ritzy's couldn't even compete with this. I think we stayed there until about 2.30am, groovin to (among others) Gramndmaster Flash and Marley Marle - a solo effort on the dancefloor for me - and (may God strike me down) the Backstreet Boys. Truly I have sinned.

I have to say, the 3 Canadians with us were some of the finest human beings I have (briefly) met, and I'm looking forward to meeting up with Shannon and Heather again, to introduce them to the joys of getting wasted in London, as they're there for my return on the 14th August. Coincidentally, also my birthday. Large just got larger.

All in all, a hell of a trip within a trip.

Post-Fraser Mosquito-Bite Count:26

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