Adventures Down Under [Part 2], Fraser Island
After an exciting & a busy couple of days in Australia, it was time to begin my G adventures with the gang led by our enthusiastic CEO (Chief Experience Officer) Hendrik Van Der Walt a.k.a “Ninja”, a rather odd nickname for someone who was chirpy, full of energy, open-minded and down to earth character.
On June 17th morning, “The Gang” had assembled at 7.30 AM sharp at our base hostel as per our CEO “Ninja’s” instruction from the previous night. We were embarking on a journey together for the first time, beginning with Fraser Island with 2 nights of exclusive camping on the island, private 4x4 Fraser Island safari which included checking out some of the highlights such as Lake Mckenzie, Eli Creek, 75 mile beach, Maheno Shipwreck and the pinnacles.
After a quick breakfast, we loaded all our bags & luggage onto a tour bus and headed north from Brisbane City. The journey to Fraser Island would take about 4 hours approx. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t the greatest with overcast skies and constant showers but there was nothing much we could do in that regard.
The journey was quite good with some music in the background, an occasional chat with “Ninja” and checking out the Aussie countryside from the bus window. Four hours went by quickly, We arrived at Rainbow beach around noon where we got transferred from our bus to couple of 4x4 vehicles which we were gonna take to Fraser Island. Ninja introduced the gang to Corey Carlyon, who was going to lead the gang to Fraser Island. Corey supposedly knew the island like the back of his hand, In fact, he was born and brought up there. He seemed like a multi-talented man who kept us entertained and shared a lot of information about Fraser Island.
After a quick lunch and strolling around a bit on Rainbow beach, we were soon getting ferried across on a large barge with our 4x4 vehicles to Fraser Island. Only 4x4 vehicles are allowed on Fraser Island due to difficult terrain. Meanwhile, Corey gave us a briefing on some of the dos & donts on the island, dingoes and general safety measures. Remember, there’s no permanent settlement on Fraser Island except a few camping sites with minimum facilities.
Within few minutes we were zooming on Fraser Island, on the famous Seventy Five Mile beach, I could see the difference of having 4x4 vehicles over such sandy terrains. It was buttery smooth and fun driving on a vast stretch of beach which continued for miles and miles. The weather was getting quite bad with incessant rains and stormy weather. We drove for little more than an hour on the beach before we headed into the rainforests of Fraser Island into Lake Mckenzie.
Arriving at Lake Mckenzie, everyone was super keen to get in the water and no one bothered about the chilly wet weather. I was beyond excited at the sight of Lake Mckenzie with it turquoise icy blue fresh waters surrounded by lush rainforests that I forgot to change the GoPro case to waterproof casing and ended up screwing up my GoPro within seconds of immersing it in water. Probably, I have never felt that stupid in my life and rarely have I ever done such dumbest thing concerning camera equipment.
I managed to do some damage control by bringing and removing the battery, case and drying it with my towel. I have to admit that I was in tremendous anxiety over my Gopro situation, although I didn’t show it to anyone while we were in the water having fun. But all I could think of was how to fix my GoPro, what to do if it didn’t work at all over the course of my trip. So many questions were popping in my mind, but I didn’t have an answer. I had a backup with my Sony A6000 mirrorless camera, but I don’t think it could match the versatility of my GoPro.
The only thing which came to my mind was burying it in a pile of rice to suck all the moisture out of the GoPro. A trusted method back in India when people drop their cell phones in water. I asked Corey if he had any rice at the campsite and to my luck he said he had some. We started from Lake Mckenzie to our campsite around 4.00 PM in the evening amidst terrible weather. The storm had become intense with incessant rains, thunders and poor visibility that it was quite miserable. It was chilly too.
After a gruelling two hours drive, we arrived at our campsite which was a basic setup, but decent enough to last couple of nights. The beds were comfy. First thing first, I buried my GoPro in a bowl of rice after thoroughly drying it with a cloth. Hoping the rice would fix it.
The sun had set and the gang assembled at the kitchen/dining tent to help Corey with some cooking.
Everyone seemed pretty enthusiastic, happy and were getting along like a house on fire. I was a bit bummed and remained quiet. Corey cooked up a fantastic dinner for the gang which included vegetarian meals for some of the vegetarians in the gang including me. The food cheered me up a bit!
Throughout the day, there was a lot of buzz around a game of rugby between Queensland Maroons & New South Wales Blues. After dinner we were all invited by Corey to join him to witness the rugby match live on a big screen T.V which was a surprise in the camping area. The game was pretty entertaining with its aggressive style of play and passion and kept me occupied for a couple of hours. Somehow, NSW Blues won the game that day and apparently it’s a rare incidence. After a long, tiring day we all retired to our respective tents. I went to bed praying for my Gopro to come back to life and hoping for a better weather the next morning.
Woke up at 6:30, the next morning after a good night's rest. It was chilly in the morning, but it looked like a clear day, which lifted the spirits in the camp. I got refreshed and we all had breakfast by 7.00 A.M rearing to begin the day's adventures. Of course, the big question was whether my Gopro would turn on or not? With a lot of hope and despair, I put a
Corey briefed us on Eli Creek, which is the largest creek on the eastern side of Fraser Island, the creek pours up to four million liters of clear, fresh water into the ocean every hour. According to Corey, the waters of the creek are probably one of the purest waters on the planet with medicinal properties and healing powers. We had a great time at the creek swimming, running a race, playing rugby, frisbee for well over an hour which was super fun. Meanwhile, my GoPro was in the sun still drying up.
After Eli Creek, we drove to Mahano’s Shipwreck which is pretty iconic and right there on the beach. We took group shots, found a dead sea snake, hung around a bit. Later, we checked out Pinnacles! An ancient rock formations with an interesting blend of colors. We were also able to spot some whales at a distance. Apparently, the mass whale immigration has been just about two weeks away where they travel from Antarctica to the warmer waters of Australia.
By noon, we were back at the campsite for another awesome lunch by Corey with the gang chipping in to help. We even had curious visitors called Goannas, monitor lizards visit us at the camp looking for food. I would also like to mention that on a numbers occasions, we bumped into Dingoes, the famed wild-dogs of Australia. The ones on Fraser Island is supposed to be of the purest bred left in Australia.
After couple of hours of lunch, ice-cream and relaxing. We were off for an optional scenic flight over Fraser Island, it was $75 and was well worth it. The girls went first for the scenic flight, most of the boys opted out but I was very keen on checking out the island from above. I was accompanied by Ninja & Corey. My Gopro was functioning perfectly by then, but a bit of moisture on the lens was making the photos fuzzy. I was luckily able to borrow a Gopro from one of the boys for the scenic flight. Our nine seater took off on a stretch of beach which was pretty nerve wracking but cool. As we were taking off, we were able to spot tons of sharks, dolphin pods, rays in the crystal clear waters of the Fraser. The sight was amazing with rainforests, freshwater bodies, creeks and the coast. I was even allowed to take plenty of selfies, switch seats and scream at times :)
The day was turning out to be an amazing day, thanks to Corey, Ninja who were making sure about each and everyone in the gang. Also, everyone in the group was bonding quite well, which was a huge plus while touring as a group. After the scenic flight we had a couple of hours before the sun set in and Corey took us to a short hike of a hill on top of a cliff called “Indian Head” where you get incredible views of the island, the ocean and rainforests of Fraser Island. I took plenty of photos including panoramic shots.
While looking at the crystal clear ocean, we spotted plenty of sharks, rays and other marine life. No wonder why not many people go surfing on Fraser Island, although there is plenty of surf available. We continued from Indian Head to Champagne Pool, our last stop on Fraser Island.
Champagne Pool is a collection of recreational pools formed by volcanic rocks. It’s the only place on Fraser where saltwater swimming is allowed. We spent like an hour in the pool swimming and doing plenty of catching sessions with a cricket ball, rugby and frisbee while diving into the pool while being cheered by the rest of the gang.
We headed back to campsite after an amazing day on this beautiful paradise. We had another sumptuous dinner that night with Corey doing an amazing job once again as a chef. There was plenty of music, beer, food and bonding of the gang. I felt like I was the odd one out in the gang being a sober person at times while the gang went all guns blazing that night.
Meanwhile, I sneaked in a couple of great conversations with Corey & Ninja from surfing to holistic lifestyle and stuff which was fantastic. I retired to my tent for a peaceful nights sleep with great memories and experiences of Fraser Island.