Monday, December 3, 2012

Fraser Island Day 1, Night 1

I honestly don't know what to write about Fraser Island. I don't even have that many pictures. I just laughed the entire time. If I had any doubts about my group or about being a solo traveler, they instantly vanished that very morning we left. I absolutely adore them. Even though I genuinely miss them, I don't know if we could have handled a third night - we would have abs of steel and it just wouldn't be fair to anyone else.

Fraser Island is the world's largest sand island and the only World Heritage Site that meets all criteria.

That day there were eight cars going out and each car had 8 people in it. There were 2 lead cars and the rest were tag-alongs. So we split up, as each lead car took 3 cars to follow, creating two main groups. We had another safety lecture and were told how to pack up the cars. It took an absurd amount of time: packing up, checking out the cars, putting the food away...Then we had another safety lecture about drinking and dingos: There was one guy who got drunk and wondered off and had vomit on him and a pack of dingos mulled him until he finally made it back to camp a couple hours later with ligaments hanging out and his eye coming out of the socket. Another girl got drunk and was kneeling over and vomiting and a dingo came up and licked her bum. One guide woke up in the morning to a girl screaming who had found a guy drowned and washed up on shore. Another bloke was having sex in his tent and got bit in the butt as it kept going in and out of the tent, somehow. You always had to have a Dingo Buddy. If you encounter a dingo, they told us to cross our arms around our chest to...protect our nipples? No one knew how that would scare them away. There used to be two dingos, Winky and Dinky or something, that used to look after the camp site, come up and lay under the tables and play and they kept the other dingos out, but because of all these drunken idiots, they were shot and now the new dingos, who love the smell of anything even toothpaste, are aggressive and not afraid of coming up to the camp. There are also apparently spiders a meter's length in size. So we had that to look forward to.

And then those who volunteered as drivers were given another lecture.....and we were off.

Now, let's talk about our car. Our 4X4 would soon be fondly named Horsefly. He was white. He had two seats in the front, three in the middle, and three cramped ones in the back. The back door hatch, stuffed with 8 people's bags, didn't close properly. The seatbelts worked, for the most part, but it was all about the angle of the car. There were chunks missing from the seat. The latches for the windows were missing. The stereo barely worked. Well, it worked - just from the driver's speaker and only sometimes could you hear the actual lyrics of the music. I'm not sure if the blinkers or the hazard lights worked. But it was Horsefly, and he was ours. He was loyal, and transformed our trip.

the other group waiting for the ferry.
Jack, from England, was the first to drive. He said he was really nervous, maybe after all the lectures, but he did a great job. He drove to the barge that took us across to the island, and then we got off, and got stuck in the sand. Bogged. Being in the middle row of seats, the three of us and the front seat passenger had to jump out, per lecture instructions, and push the car as Jack put it in reverse. I've never felt so strong! It was the first, last, and only car that got stuck, but there were definitely moments when others were driving where we were just holding our breath, waiting for something wrong to happen.

Because it was high tide, and the cars aren't allowed to go in the water as it will cause corrosion, we took the inland roads. All the roads are one way and I'm really not sure how they are not flattened, smooth sand with the cars that go over them. Instead, it is thick, soft sand and the roads go in and out and around the trees, up and down hills. No where in any of the brochures or safety meetings does it say that this trip would not be well suited to those with motion sickness or for the faint of heart. We bumped around, skidded, slid, bounced, jerked, jolted, dove, thrusted, flicked and flopped....we were holding on, sometimes screaming, definitely laughing with relief and yelling from the back to the driver.
We were the last car in our group so as we were following, we were going to get the dust storm kicked up by the other cars in front. We were told that as long we could see the dust it meant we were going in the right direction, even if we couldn't see the car in front. One of the girls had been on a similiar trip in Kenya and said we should close the windows because after her trip, her black pants were covered in dust. Why she was wearing black pants in Kenya I don't know, but we closed the windows and we were absolutely sweating and suffocating. I wouldn't have minded being covered in a bit of sand dust if we could breath. The girl next to me, who was also in Kenya, was dripping goblets of sweat and soaked right through her clothes enough that she had to get her towel to wipe down. I eventually cracked open the window and we could all breath again. We swapped drivers throughout the trip, depending on who wanted to drive, but since I cannot drive a stick shift, I was not about to even attempt to learn on this trip.

is she even paying attention to the road??

We stopped for lunch in the middle of the beach. Each car had two crates of food and a menu to specify how to allocate your food so it would last for the three days - if it didn't go missing.....du du duh...

Our guide, (who's job title is to be the lead driver and lead us around the island, not babysitter or tour guide) was named Brett or Brent, or just BRT really quickly. No one really knew, with his low Aussie drawl. He said, I've thought long and hard now that I've gotten to know you and I have come up with the perfect team name for you guys. TEAM EXTREME! We all cheered, half-heartedly, knowing very well that every team was extreme.

We drove on to Lake Mackenzie, a fresh water lake. Because Fraser Island is an all-sand island, it looked like a beach, but then once you jump in the water and taste that it isn't salty, it is the most confusing sensation. It was like a giant cold bath. We were told to put on our sunscreen before so that it would soak in and not come off in the water in order to preserve its purity. We were literally just drinking from the lake. Everyone sort of stuck with their group in the lake, getting to know each other and laughing. I was grateful that Choloe didn't like swimming in the deep water either so I had someone to wade with.
Looks like Jack's dolphin is about to get SHARKED!

We saw dingos running around on the beach.....

  and stopped to see a natural fresh water spring, that was like quick sand.....
geting sucked in.

 Later, we arrived at our camp site on Aboriginal land - which means no whistling and no spitting in the fire. Our tents were already set up for us, four rows of three under a large canopy, and we were told there would be plenty of tents so we could each share with 2 people, but in reality, there wasn't, and I ended up sleeping with 3 others every night. At first Kyle and I agreed we would share a tent because everyone else in our group were in pairs. We took our dingy sleeping mats that we were given and laid them in the tent to claim it but were told to leave our things in the car as the dingos might like the smell of it. Of course, that tent was later claimed by two sleeping bags which is how we ended up sleeping with Lovina and Inken.
 The other group, with the two girls from Dublin, were on their second night, and we all had to share the cooking facilities. There.Were.Flies.Everywhere. Choloe, a vegetarian, claimed she was pretty sure she was no longer vegetarian after that trip because of all the flies around the food. There was a bonfire and a tin hut guised as a night club. Some of the tables were playing drinking games, but honestly, my group didn't bring that much alcohol and we didn't really need it - we just laughed non-stop.

Plus, the thought of hanging the next morning on a bumpy 4X4 when you have to wake up at 7 did not sound appealing to any of us.
 Maybe to the girl the next morning who opened the car door and vomited before we had even left the camp site...

No comments: