Wow! Fraser Island did not disappoint! I went with the company Dingos, and it was such an epic experience! My danish mate Jeppei and my welsh besties Beth and Laurie were all booked into the same tour and even got to ride in the same 4×4! Within this car there were 8 of us, Andy and Dave, Jay and Sophia, all from the UK, and the 4 of us.
Part of the package when booking the dingos experience is staying at the Dingos Backpacker Resort Hostel at Rainbow beach prior to visiting Fraser. Beth, Laurie, Jeppei and I were all booked onto the same dates to do the 2 nights camping on Fraser however there had been a complication in the booking and Dingos asked us if instead of us staying 2 nights at rainbow beach before Fraser, if we could do one nights stay before, and one nights stay after. We agreed to do this, and because they messed our dates about they said we didn’t have to pay for our sleeping bag hire, or for our car insurance, saving us $40, which we were more than happy to comply with as long as we all still got to go together was the main thing! At the hostel you are given a cup, plate, bowl, knife, fork and a spoon to take with you onto the island, these are a $20 deposit, which you will get back if you return all the items! Also at the hostel, prior to leaving for Fraser, we had to watch a safety briefing DVD, where we were told about not going in the sea, due to very strong currents, being cautious of dingos, and the do’s and don’ts of driving a 4×4 on volatile land. The vehicles are manual, and you must follow the tour guide at all times, sticking within order of how the groups are arranged, e.g. Group A at the front followed by B, C and at the rear, D.
It’s a 5 minute drive from the hostel over to the ferry, which takes you to Fraser Island, and whilst approaching the ferry, we noticed dolphins jumping emphatically in and out of the water. I hadn’t seen dolphins since I was 8 in Tenerife, so it was incredibly exciting seeing these majestic creatures seemingly enjoying life in their natural environment.
Dave had the joys of driving first, there was such a buzz once the wheels had rolled over onto the sand! It soon became apparent that Fraser Island was huge! Now I know it is the biggest sand island in the world, but I didn’t realise it was going to be this big, we would drive for miles and miles up a vast stretch of beach! It’s a 70 mile long beach! To our amazement, there was even a few shops on the island where we were able to stock up on a few extra snacks for the next couple of days.
It’s up to you when you want to switch drivers, but generally you would swap drivers every couple of hours. Depending on your driving confidence, the tour guide will recommend when it is best for you to drive, for example if you are not very confident then your best time to drive would be when there is a low tide. As the tide comes in the sand obviously gets wet, and at high tide the driving becomes a bit more tricky, having said that, the 6 of us that drove had no problems whatsoever.
I was a little nervous about driving the 4×4, as I’d only driven for a year back home so I wasn’t the most experienced driver. If you are considering going to Fraser Island with Dingos, then it’s worth noting that you need to have a drivers license to drive on the beach, both Andy and Jeppei, didn’t have their drivers license, and as much as I’m certain they really wanted to drive, they still had a great time, so it is still worth doing, driving is just the cherry on top of the cake! Within the car there was an aux lead, so you can play some tunes! Andy and Jeppei, the non drivers, were the only two to have any music on them, and boy Andy’s music was good! It consisted mostly of cringe 90’s tracks, but everyone was digging the cheese! Hit me baby one more time!
Our first destination on the island was Lake Mckenzie. The water was so beautiful, such a translucent light blue alongside a contrasting dark blue. In my 24 years this was possibly the most beautiful scenery I had come across. Our tour guide told us to protect the water, it is recommended that if you put suncream on, that you put it on at least 10 minutes before getting in the water! This helps keeps the water pure and rid of chemicals apparently. We were also told to not bring any food down to the beach as the scent may attract dingos, so only take a drink with you, and please don’t litter. In my opinion you should always be respectful to the environment, but in such great natural attractions please take extra care of not leaving any rubbish behind, it angers and frustrates me when people litter, showing no respect whatsoever.
Another of our stops was the Champagne Pools, defined by the overflowing sea water into rock pools, where the water is then trapped, along with some fish! In all honesty I really hyped these pools up to be amazing, yet on discovery they were slightly disappointing, purely because they were a lot smaller than I envisaged, nonetheless still worth a visit But it was here, a group of the lads from the tour, including myself played some 5 aside football on the beach, it was a great mixture of nationalities including English, Danish, Irish, French and German, unfortunately my team lost, but you really can’t beat a bit of football on the beach! (SOCCER)
We also pulled over at the sunken Maheno Ship. This ship was used as a hospital ship by the New Zealand Naval Forces during World War 1. Devastatingly the Maheno was washed ashore on Fraser Island when a cyclone struck in 1935.
Our tour guide also explained that thereafter the shipwreck was used as target bombing practice, that’s why only half of its length remains. There are signs up around the ship stating to stay at least 3 metres away from the ruins at all times, to protect what is left of this piece of history, otherwise you’ll face a large fine, police cars to patrol along the island.
Whilst at the shipwreck site, our tour guide suggested about taking a scenic flight over the island. For $50 only you can opt to fly over part of the Island. I would highly recommend doing this, in the grand scheme of things it is not a lot of money, and there’s certainly not many places where you can get the opportunity to do this in the world, so if you do have the cash then do it! You can also pay by card if need be!
The flight lasts approximately 15 minutes, plenty of enough time to soak up the picturesque views! I was in such awe of the pilot, I said to him, ‘you must have one of the best jobs in the world?!’ To which he humbly replied, ‘well someone has to do it.’
There’s also a couple more stops that you may make, for example we all went to another lake where a natural oily ingredient from the surrounding trees drops into the lake creating an imposing dark red/dark green colour. We also climbed to this very impressive look out point.
Food and Drink
The tour guides 4×4 had a trailer attached which contained everyone’s food for the next couple of days. There were 4 4×4’s and in each 4×4 there were 8 people, so there were 8 people to a group. Within the trailer there was a box for each group. There was no room for being greedy as you had to make the food last, for breakfast you had bread available along with peanut butter and jam and enough eggs for one morning meal. For lunch for the entire stay there were wraps, beef, ham and salad, and there were some biscuits and a fruit cake, and for dinner potatoes were provided alongside vegetables and steak for us to cook one night, and i’m pretty confident for the other night it was a stir fry, so noodles, vegetables and I think Chicken?! Someone help me out if you’ve been before! When booking dingos it does let you notify them if you have any dietary requirements. Dave and Andy cooked the first night, followed by Jeppei and I the night after, but it was a real group effort with washing up, etc, and I feel we definitely had the best group out of any of the others, not being bias at all!
Each vehicle also had a water tank that you can fill your water bottles up with, there was plenty enough available to last our stay. As far as alcohol was concerned, you were allowed to take cans, and bags of goon, but no bottles.
Having been to University, and then spending 5 months on a ski season I have done my fair share of binge drinking and drinking games, and to be honest I am kind of over getting drunk to just get drunk, but on the odd occasion I don’t mind, and Fraser definitely proved to be a messy odd occasion.
Jeppei and I bought a bag of goon to share for the couple of nights, but it was all gone by the end of the first night, kindly Beth and Laurie shared their goon with us the following night. We played some drinking games, which commenced straight after dinner, so about 7pm, which is definitely the earliest i have ever done drinking games! The first night I was in bed (bed, being a two-person tent, which Jeppei and I shared) by around midnight, followed by Beth falling into my tent an hour or so later, completely trashed asking me to sing some Britney Spears, which I wasn’t impressed by because I was enjoying my sleep, however, not being a scrooge, at her request I sang oops I did it again, which she ever so kindly snap chatted to her world!
On our second nights stay on the island, we were told by our tour leader that if every group could all scramble up a few dollars from each individual then an aboriginal family would visit and entertain us for a while, after all we were on aboriginal land. The aboriginal family performed a welcoming dance for us, then the leader talked briefly about the history of his people and his land, before playing the didgeridoo. It was a raw, interesting, cultural experience that was definitely worth a few of my dollars.
I couldn’t help but wonder how much the family earns through these performances, more than likely they perform the same routine every other night with each set of new backpackers. If there are 8 people in a group and everyone chucks in say $3.00 each, then that’s $24 per group, there are 4 groups, so that’s a grand total of $96, not bad for an hours work ay! But that’s nothing to take away from these people, they were really nice, and were more than willing for us to take some photos with them at the end a few dollars was the least we could do!
In a way it was a really sad realisation that these people were once the original, thriving people of the Australian land, and now they were a minority. My meaningful ponder was soon adrift though, as the goon and the drinking games once again came pouring in. Bed by midnight again! I truly sucked at staying awake, I use to always be that last person on the dance floor until the nightclub doors would shut, but in Australia i was proving to be one of the first to hit the sack each night, it must’ve be the goon!
Anyways to summarise Fraser Island; it’s a cohering experience, you get to see great natural beauty, as well as camp in the outdoors, drive a 4×4 on the largest sand island in the world, take in some history, soak up some sun, and drink until your liver’s sore. I again would say, like Noosa, that this a must visit whilst on the East Coast.
This article was originally published on euphoricexpat.com.
Book your Fraser Island trip with AusBackpacking
Greg had a fantastic time exploring Fraser Island with Dingo’s Tours. If you’re keen to have an adventure of your own, book your next trip here with AusBackpacking.
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