Jul 22

A tour of Fraser Island and some relaxing time in Hervey Bay

We arrived in Hervey Bay after a long, arduous train and bus journey from Byron Bay. We’d stopped off in Brisbane the night before in order to pick up the next available train. We didn’t get to see a whole lot of Brisbane, but we are due there for a couple of days on our way out before Singapore.

Hervey Bay is a sleepy little place, more famous for being one of the gateways to Fraser Island. This is exactly why we were here. We’d researched accommodation and had found an impressive hostel going by the name of Flashpackers! Having essentially a whole bag devoted to my tech gadgets, I’m a self proclaimed Flashpacker and proud.

We checked in late to Flashpackers and collapsed in the un-refurbished room they had promised. As our Byron Bay journey had not gone to plan due to only a night bus leaving once a day, we’d missed out on all the rooms, but Bill at Flashpackers sorted us out with a cheap and cheerful room, in fact our cheapest accommodation anywhere in the world so far!

The rest of the Flashpackers was phenomenal in comparison to the usual hostels we visit. It had a bright contemporary kitchen and communal area with spotlights, cooking islands and wooden benches all around the sides bustling with travellers heads down in their laptops. Just off the large kitchen area was a projector room screening
movies, then outside was wooden decking, hanging chairs and a pool. You wouldn’t get this at many 3 star hotels!

We spent a few days at the backpackers before our tour departed on the Wednesday. Most of our time was spent on the delightfully serene beach, reading pages of my surfing book ‘Eddie would go’ to each other. The sun didn’t shine the whole time, but when it did, it was bliss.

On the Wednesday morning, we left early to get our barge over to Fraser Island, to meet up with our tour guides. There was now three of us making our way over to the island. Fi, Robbie and I. Robbie was a quality lad from Ireland. He’s a teacher making the most of the school holidays, doing a compact tour of Oz desperately trying to tan up his pasty Irish legs!

For those who don’t know, Fraser Island is just east of Hervey Bay and is an island made up predominantly of sand dunes which uniquely has rain forest growing on top. It’s known for 4×4 adventures along the beach and through the sand tracks and it houses many natural wonders. The surrounding waters are supposed to be treachourus. Not only for terrible currents but high numbers of Sharks, better known as ‘Shark Alley’ – so swimming in the ocean was off limits.

As soon as we arrived on the island, the tour company whisked us off though the sand tracks back to base camp. We had two additional Hungarians riding with us. They’d broken down on the island and had spent the night searching for help, armed with sticks – to fight off the Dingoes should they approach. We had a big briefing about the dangers they pose. We arrived at base camp and were taken to our dorm. We were sharing with Robbie and a couple called Bianca and Mark fom Germany and Holland respectively. We spent what was left of the first day by Lake Wabby where we sandboadered into the water and caught a bit of the falling sun. That night we all enjoyed a BBQ, all chipping in and then went down to the local pub, where we watched the ‘State of Origin’ rugby league game, which is a pretty big deal in Oz.

We were all up at the crack of dawn the next morning and enjoyed a cooked breakfast from the grill. We then headed back out in the 4×4, heading along the beach just by the ocean. It’s quite surreal driving down a beach at first, as the tide moves in and out as you whizz past. It certainly beats the M27! So, we headed to Kirra Sands first, which is home to an almighty sand dune. Mark had brought his body board along, so we took it in turns sliding down. I braved standing up and it was an exhilarating experience coming down, sad kicking up and eventually landing smack bang on my butt. Totally worth it.

We continued on down the beach to Eli Creek. Where is had suddenly turned a little chilly. Rather than swimming down the creek, we all decided to wade through in our shorts. We did get a little wet at times, but it all added to the fun. We jumped back into the 4×4 a little soggy and made our way past SS Maheno, the shipwreck on the Island. Built in Scotland, the ship was being transported back to the buyers in New Zealand, when it hit rough waters and as a result was washed up on the island. It made for a good photograph!

We cruised on and stopped briefly at ‘The Pinnacles’ some interesting rock formations and ended up at Lake Allom, where we attempted to spot little turtles – a few heads poked out here and there. On our way back to base camp, we stopped off to see Jacko’s (our tour guide) mate Joe, a descendent of the original inhabitants of Fraser Island. We all pushed his car to get it started in return for a quick didgeridoo performance. Despite his severe lack of teeth, Jo seemed like a bloke full of wisdom and charm. We finished up at the rather chilly champagne pools, which we avoided paddling in after many killer squid stories from the tour guide.

That night we all shared a few beers which had cost an extortionate $74 for 24 500ml cans and had a great stir fry and some local shellfish picked up by the rather strange couple that had joined us for dinner. We then clambered into our bunk beds and rested up for the night.

Our final day on Fraser involved visiting Lake Mackenzie, where only Robbie and I succumbed to the peer pressure and went for a dip in the freezing water. I hate that feeling of regret, but boy, it was cold. We finished up at Central Station where we learnt a little more about the islands history and then we hiked around the rainforest.

We returned to Hervey Bay having had an amazing time of Fraser Island – we didn’t quite have the blazing heat, but we certainly made the most of the experience . We spent out last few days at the Flashpackers hostel, where we enjoyed free BBQ’s and stayed up ridiculous late watching the Wimbledon final in the cinema there. We were sad to leave in the end and were pretty blown away by the hospitality we had been given by the owners. Time to follow the sun and head up to Cairns on the 24 hour tilt train!

Until next time, lots of love

Tom & Fi x

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Mark running down a Sand dune!