– MAY 04-07, 2015
Leaving Brisbane and the amazing hosting of Tristan and Nancy, we have rode the night bus to arrive at Rainbow Beach. Rainbow Beach is a very small town completely dependent on the tourism to Fraser Island, a short 15 minute ferry ride away. There are three hostels in this town, but we had the unfortunate opportunity to stay at Pippies Hostel since we booked our Fraser Island tour through this same company.
The hostel was the most disgusting place we have stayed yet. The kitchen was plastered with signs reminding the guests to clean up their messes after themselves. Yet as you can see below, they clearly ignored these requests and left a huge mess for the staff to clean the next morning. This picture only caught half of the mess and the next day they posted more signs with harsh signage on this same subject matter. It was one night there, then off to Fraser Island with the tour group the next morning.
The tour group contained 34 passengers and one guide. Our guide was simply amazing and has lived in the area his whole life, doing these tours for the past 5 years. His name is Danny and he almost singlehandedly made up for the horrible hostel accommodations the night before.
We loaded up in four 4×4 trucks and everyone took turns driving on the island. The island was all sand beach roads with various obstacles to maneuver around.
After a short 20 minute drive we arrived at the ferry boat. The ferry takes only 15 minutes to move from the main land to Fraser Island. It was a small boat, but it easily fit our vehicles and another competing company’s bus.
Fraser Island is home to a dingo population. The dingo is a protected species here and while they look like a cute dog, they are definitely a wild animal that must be respected. One dingo can take down a full grown kangaroo.
We went to see Lake McKenzie (also named Boorangoora). It is a fresh water lake located in the Great Sandy National Park. The sands around the lake are composed of pure, white silica and the water in the lake is also so pure it is unsuitable for many species. The colour of the water changes from light to darker in strips due to the sand drop-off. It looks spectacular.
This lake was the finish line of the reality competition The Amazing Race Australia 2.
We went to the campsite and set up for the night. This is a 3 day-2 night tour of Fraser Island. Next was a visit to the Champagne Pools. This area has a rock formation that catches the ocean’s waves and forces the white water into the beach pools.
You can see this result in the pic below.
We hiked up to the top of a nearby hill to get a view of the marine life. We took the opportunity to get an entire group photo at this spot.
On the second night, Jill and I went down to the beach to dig up pippies (oyster cousins) to add to our pasta dinner. You look for a slight bump on the sand, then dig into the sand a few inches with your fingers to find the little sucker. A stainless steel bowl with some ocean salt water kept them fresh as we went about collecting about 50 of them for our dinner. We steamed them like clams and they were quite tasty.
This campsite had private access to a large sand dune which was good for sandboarding.
There was a small fresh water stream that ran to the ocean. We made the walk to a starting point and then floated down to the ocean. A tire tube was easy to balance on as I rode the flow to the bottom. Jill didn’t want to get into the cold water, so she walked down in the shallow sections.
The SS Maheno was launched on June 19/1905. It was an ocean liner that was also used as a hospital ship by the New Zealand Naval Forces during World War 1. After World War 1 it was turned back into a commercial service vessel. The vessel was sold to an Osaka shipbreaker and he linked to another ship to tow it to Japan. On July 7th/1935, the line was severed in a cyclone and attempts to reattach it went unsuccessful.
The ship drifted off and disappeared as the towing vessels steering gear had been temporarily disabled. Three days later the vessel was found shipwrecked on Fraser Island. The ship was stripped of her fittings, but they could not get it to refloat and nobody stepped up to buy the shipwreck.
Over the years the vessel has either been destroyed or disintegrated and the visible remainder (approximately half of the vessel is all that it left today) has become severely rusted.
Tourists are not allowed to go close to the vessel or to enter it. There is a bottom compartment and the floor could cave in if people were in the wreck. This vessel was also used as a testing target for the navy many years ago, so they are not completely sure if any shells that did not go off are somewhere in the ships floor system.
Next Danny (crouching in the pic below) took us to see the bones of a beached baby whale shark.
The tides had beached the young whale and the dingos cleaned up everything but the bones.
There were times to sit down and take a casual break throughout this trip to Fraser Island.
As we got ready to board the ferry back to the mainland, we got a group photo of our big blue 4×4. It was a good group with Brits and Canadians.
After the ferry ride back we had to stay at Pippies hostel one more night to catch the night bus the next day. The hostel was a bit cleaner this time, but it was best to sleep and get out as fast as possible. The mainland hostel was terrible, but the time in the 4×4 trucks, at the island campsite and all over the island was pretty great. Overall it was a good experience and if you come to Australia then you need to visit Fraser Island.
For more photos of our adventure go to our flickr account here.