University of the Sunshine Coast offers several weekend trips throughout the semester. I signed up for two of the trips; one of them was to Fraser Island. It was a fantastic experience and I had non-stop fun and adventure for two days. We were given very little information prior to the trip. We got one email telling us to pack a warm jumper (sweatshirt) and our thongs (flip-flops). We were also told that the bus left the station at 5:45 am on Saturday morning, but that’s about it. I had no idea what we would be doing or seeing, but I enjoyed the surprise.
Around 5:30 am Saturday about 30 of us made our way to the bus stop. I knew a few of my fellow Elon students, but there were many new faces as well. We board the bus and head North. Many of us fell asleep for the 2.5 hr journey up to Hervey Bay. From there we board the ferry, which took us to Fraser Island.
We departed the ferry and met up with our tour guide, Craig who would be with us for the next two days. The group boarded a large bus and we were off. I was very surprised when we went from driving on smoothly paved roads to the sand rollercoaster, as they called it. We were off-roading in a 40-person van. Good thing Craig told us ahead of time that seatbelts were necessary, and he advised anyone who gets motion sick to sit towards the front. I made sure to get a seat at the very front of the bus, and I am so glad I did!
We knew immediately we were in for an adventure, and the excitement only continued when the bus lost its 4 wheel drive. Everyone had to get off the bus on the side of the sandy road and wait for a mechanic to come. While we were waiting, Craig asks the boys to help him push. They gave a good effort, but the bus didn’t budge. The mechanic came, and we were back on the road.
Day 1 was full of different activities. One of the first places we went was to Lake McKenzie, which was beautiful! The water was freezing, and some brave souls decided to go swimming. I was happy just dipping my toes in the icy water. The sand is also supposed to have great exfoliating properties, so many of us decided to rub it all over our arms and faces. I think it may have worked! From there we enjoyed a deli-style lunch with cookies and tea to follow. We then made our way to the rainforest where we could hike two separate trails. One of them took us to Eli Creek, which is a freshwater creek with a flow of 80 million liters/day. We were encouraged to take a drink from the creek, and it tasted like bottled water! Very refreshing. That was a cool experience, and that combined with my earthy outfit made me feel like I was really getting in touch with my inner nature mama!
I was exhausted by the end of that day. We went back to the resort and were given our room assignments. After that we enjoyed a great pizza and pasta dinner before heading to bed.
This was the first time we got to fall asleep with a heater! Our dorms on campus don’t have heat or air-conditioning, so during the freezing night, we just have to bundle up in as many layers as possible.
The next day we were up by 6:30 getting ready for another full day of adventure. We got to go to the Maheno Shipwreck which was fascinating. I found some information online that better explains the shipwreck.
“The Maheno - is the most famous of Fraser Island's wrecks and has become a landmark attraction. Built in 1905, the SS Maheno was one of the first turbine-driven steamers. She plied a regular route between Sydney and Auckland until she was commissioned as a hospital ship in Europe during World War One. She also served in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
In 1935, she and her sister ship the Oonah were sold to Japan for scrap. The rudders of the boats were removed and they were being towed to Japan. When they reached Queensland Waters, a cyclonic storm snapped the tow chain and the Maheno drifted helplessly onto Fraser Island's ocean beach.”
The group then hiked to the top of Indian Head, a large landmark, which is also the most eastern point on the island. From the top, you can see for miles and overlook the bay below. When we were at the top, we got to see a humpback whale jump out of the water and turn on its side. It was so exciting!
There were a number of Dingo sightings throughout our two days on Fraser. For those of you who don’t know much about dingos, they appear to be friendly, average sized dogs, but they are actually extremely vicious and aggressive. Just a few weeks ago, a tourist who was camping on Fraser woke up to a number of dingos eating is leg and face. Craig said it was the tourist’s own fault because he was so drunk and passed out on the trail in the middle of the night. Yeah, maybe so.
Around 5 pm we caught the ferry back to the mainland. It was a quiet bus ride home. I had a wonderful time, and it was a thrilling and exhausting adventure!