49. 4WD OFFROAD FRASER ISLAND EXPEDITION. PART 2...
Having booked to stay on the beach at Waddy Point, upon arriving we found ourselves instead preferring the camping area above the beach along the top. All be it wooded, the trees were far less in number and height than Central Station camp area and so allowed through the sunlight and a warm sea breeze. The consequences of a brief chat with a ranger who happened to be driving by, resulted in absolute elation for L. This wasn’t simply due the ranger giving us the go ahead to camp at the top area instead, it was because the ranger identified, without hesitation, that L must be from the North of England and more specifically… Yorkshire! The ranger, an Aussie born and bred seemed pretty please with himself for getting this right, but not half as delighted as L, who’s accent up until now had fallen on deaf ears.The ranger followed up with how the mechanic he uses sounds exactly like L and he’s originally from Yorkshire, and that was how he guessed.
Waddy point had a gem up it’s sleeve: the huge Binngih sand blow, screaming out to be climbed and boy oh boy did we. As we watched the sun set from the top of this monster sand dune, a thought of how fun it would be to slide down on our body boards, suddenly popped into my head. By this point it was too dark, a missed opportunity but perhaps some other time.
The next day (day 6) we fired up the crampervan for a ride out to champagne pools: not far from Waddy Point a series of large rock pools become accessible at low tide making quite a popular Fraser attraction. L having been the one to read up about them came to the conclusion that the pools, part way along a short board walk, are interesting to look at and photograph. Swimming hadn’t been factored in and it wasn’t until we’d set out on the walk, looked down at the pools upon a heap of basking bodies in and around the crystal clear waters, that we realised swimming was very much on the cards. L made a dash for it back to the van, bringing back snorkels and masks so as to get a glimpse of the underwater life trapped in limbo by the tide. He was later nipped on the toe by a small crab.
Having stocked the cupboards full of food, and filled the two fuel tanks to the brim before heading to Fraser, knowing that both of these commodities would be seriously expensive when on the island. One thing we hadn’t given a thought to was the gas bottle! On our 5th night we had our suspicions towards the end of cooking that the flame on the burner didn’t quite seem it’s usual sprightly self. Come breakfast these suspicions we’re confirmed, the gas bottle ran out after limping through the process of toasting bread and boiling a single pan of water to poach some eggs. Alarmingly for L (the coffee nut) this meant that his morning coffee had to either be made from the water used to poach the eggs (sieved) or abandoned entirely… The sieve made it out of the cupboard and the egg water into the press, it’s a good job he likes his coffee strong.
Not relishing the thought of eating dried pasta, uncooked couscous, cold tins of beans or raw eggs for the next few days, we knew we were going to have to pay over the odds to have the gas refilled and so we took a trip to the store at Orchid beach. The lady behind the counter was friendly and gave us an insight into life on Fraser, living and working 9 days on, 5 days off. Sadly this didn’t make the gas refill any cheaper and we paid just over double what we would have back on the main land.
Day 7 saw us leave Waddy Point for the last time (for us, Waddy/ Orchid was our most northerly point) and we make our way back down the island. We stopped at Indian head, as named by Captain Cook and walked the track to the top of the rocks. With a vantage point directly down onto the water, we were able to spot a ray and a couple of small sharks. Returning to the crampervan we continued to motor south down the beach, making a few short stops: The Pinnacles and Red Canyon (formations of ancient compacted coloured sand). We had assumed at Red Canyon there would be some sort of walking track leading inland from the beach, weaving between the sand formations, so we readied the day pack, applied suncream, and filled up the water bottle. This would prove not to be the case: we walked about 20 meters from the van to find ourselves in a fenced area from which we could only view the ancient landscape. All in all we were back in the van after about 5 minutes. The exact same scenario happened later in the day when we turned up at The Pinnacles…
We took a spot of lunch at Dundubara camp area, there was a nice lawned space with picnic benches and we were the only ones there…until a tour bus turned up. As L and I hadn’t yet finished preparing our lunch inside the van, we hadn’t yet lay claim to one of the only three benches. To our surprise the bus driver, who doubled up as an outdoor caterer, laid picnic blankets down on the ground for his passengers to dine on. The panic was over and we later secured a bench in the shade.
The next stop on the day’s itinerary was the lookout over Knife Blade Sand Blow. Situated along the Northern forest scenic drive, we had thought this road was closed so expected a long walk, it was however very much open saving us a heap of time and energy. As it happened, we would have been pretty disappointed to have walked all that way for a view which was mostly distorted by trees. Snippets of the sand blow, to which there is no denying is bloody massive and equally impressive, allowed me to snap a photo (which isn’t anything special) but will give you an idea to the volume of sand blown inland by the wind, smothering the forest. A little underwhelmed we returned back down the track we’d come, which with all it’s ruts and undulations, was more exciting than the look out.
We’d booked to stay at Wahba camp area (zone 5) right on the beach and we soon found a great spot under some small trees, glimpsing the ocean above the dune. Sadly it was here, a little further along in the camping area where we saw an example of just what the Queensland parks authorities are up against: Morons who don’t observe the rules about securing food and rubbish inside vehicles and not leaving out any cookware, tea towels or anything with a food scent. We witnessed a scene of two dingos rummaging through a bag of rubbish then bitting and tugging at the side of a tent, trying to get in it.
Our penultimate day on Fraser had arrived…but so had the wind. We drove back down the beach highway to Eli Creek where we planned spend more time enjoying the simplistic fun of the natural lazy river. Upon arriving, the both of us changed our minds, instead opting to spend some time in the van writing, reading and people watching.
A handful of tour buses deposited unlucky folk who’d chosen today of all days, to visit Fraser. We watched as the day trippers deliberated whether or not to get in creek. To some the wind was clearly not going to spoil their day, they were the ones who hopped off their bus in shorts or bikinis and either got straight into the water or set about the not-so-easy task of laying down a towel, on the beach, in the blustery wind. The less enthusiastic emerged in jeans and hoodies. Rounding their occupants back aboard, the oversized buses set off for the next stop on their tightly scheduled tour. The very last bus, driven by an overly enthusiastic driver, reversed half way into the creek, this caught my eye as it wasn’t something any of the other buses had done. The driver must have wanted to give his paying punters a little extra thrill for their money, which would have worked, had he not left the luggage compartment door open at the rear of the bus! When I saw what happened next, I could not believe my eyes!…
L who had wandered off to use the toilet, only caught the aftermath of this beaut, and it’s worth mentioning the there was no-one else around, but myself, to see the following unfold… As the bus engaged 1st and lunged forward out the creek, so lunged a load of luggage, in the opposite direction, out the open rear door, and into the water! L returned from his trip to the loos, looking slightly bemused as to why several bags and Eskys (cool boxes) were now floating in the creek. As I frantically tried to find the crampervan keys so I could beep the horn in an effort to attract the drivers attention (the bus was disappearing into the distance), L waded into the creek and began collecting the luggage before it floated off out to sea. A few moments later the bus rolled to a stop, from that distance it would have been impossible for the driver to see the aftermath in his rear view mirror. Either a passenger looking out the back window had seen the trail of luggage left behind or the driver had suddenly remembered that he hadn’t closed the door. As the driver ran back to collect the drenched bags from L, leaving behind a bus of confused passengers, he confessed it had been the latter. I can’t imagine how the rest of his tour went… but for us it was the highlight of our day.
When we rocked up later in camping zone 2, a handful of kms down the beach, we stumbled on the mother of all camping spots. When it comes to looking for a spot to park the van and set up camp, both L and I are very particular. We have a system and it’s not a quick process, we like to park the crampervan in what we believe to be the best spot, then, just to make sure we’ll take a walk around to scout out any other spot that might appear better. It’s really all about the Feng Shui and the vibes! Our scouting out walk took us to an amazing raised area, secluded with an excellent view of the sea and a perfect tree to give the hammock its debut appearance. We played around taking some camp shot photos, before losing the light and sinking a few G&T’s.
The rain we woke up to on our final morning soon passed and we headed on an inland track from 75 mile beach on the East, to Kingfisher Bay on the West, where our 2pm barge crossing back to the main land departed from. On the way we took a small detour to stop at the Lake Wabby lookout which was only around a 10 minute walk from the car park. We arrived at Kingfisher bay, rolling off the last of our Fraser Island sand tracks with just enough time before boarding the barge, for L to use the Dr Air 150 to re inflate the crampervan tyres back to full pressure.
After waving goodbye to Fraser, we waved hello to the supermarket. First priority was to re-stock the pantry, second was a call in at the ‘car and dog!’ wash, to clean off the rest of the beach we’d brought back with us. (Don’t ask me why but most car washes over here are called this and have a dog washing bay!). That in itself turned out to be quite and experience, as the pair of us rushed through the 9 stages, of what was supposed to be a comprehensive wash, to a 6 minute count down on the clock.
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