Thursday morning we (Rachel and I) drove from Hervey Bay to Rainbow Beach, where our Fraser Island self-drive camping safari was departing from. We had to get to Rainbow Beach in the afternoon the day before, so we could watch a video about the island and meet our group. Four girls (Danielle, Claire, Laura and Gemma) from the Whitsunday Islands sailing trip were doing the Fraser Island trip at the same time, so we made sure we were in the same group. Besides us, there were two English girls and two German guys in the group, so not a bad female-male (7-3) mix at all.
On Friday morning we packed all the stuff on the car, got some 4WD instruction (not that I needed that), and we set off in convoy (6 cars with about 10 people each). I decided to book a self-drive tour to Fraser Island, because (1) it would be quite costly to get my own 4WD onto the island, (2) I did not want to rough it too much before selling it next week, (3) the rental vehicles would be better, and (4) I figured it would be more fun with a larger group as well. Besides, I figured I would be doing much of the driving anyway, since I was one of the few with actual 4WD driving experience. As it happened, I did drive about half the time, so that was pretty cool.
After getting off the barge onto Fraser Island, I drove us to Rainbow Gorge, where we made a short hike. Next stop was the ‘Maheno’ wreck, that was laying on the beach. We stopped shortly at Eli Creek, before setting up camp next to a group of Irish. We spent all evening cooking, eating, and drinking lots around the campfire.
Saturday morning we had breakfast, packed all the stuff onto the car again, and continued driving on the beach to Indian Head. The best place to drive on Fraser Island is the beach, because the inland roads mainly consist of loose sand, and the maximum speed there is 35km/h, whereas the maximum speed on the beach is 80km/h. That seems pretty fast though, especially when the car is leaning over towards the sea. Driving on the beach is best during low tide, when there is a lot of hard sand to drive on. Unfortunately, we drove up to Indian Head with the tide coming in, so we had to drive more and more through soft sand. When I had to avoid a bogged vehicle, and got out of a track, we got bogged ourselves. Luckily some nice Australians came to the rescue (girls are terrible when it comes to digging out a car), and after a few unsuccesfull attempts to get the car unbogged, we discovered that the front wheel hubs were unlocked. That basically means the car was not even in 4WD that day (only the rear wheels were driving), so we locked in the front wheel hubs and got out straight away. Somebody obviously pulled a good prank on us there, since that was the only time I got bogged with the 4.2l LandCruiser Diesel.
After looking out from the top of Indian Head, we walked down the beach to the Champagne Pools, where we went for a quick swim. When we got back to the car, we drove to Happy Valley for lunch, and on to Lake Wabby. There we went for another quick swim, because it was getting late and we needed to set up camp. We did that in the dunes, together with the Irish group. We again spent the evening cooking, eating and drinking around the campfire.
Sunday morning we enjoyed a nice cooked breakfast, before Rachel drove us to Lake McKenzie. This is the largest and most beautiful lake on the island, and we went for a refreshing swim (I actually swam to the other side and walked back). Afterwards I wanted to take the inland track back to the beach (we could not drive on the beach until 12.30 because of high tide), but after we had to wait quite a while for a bogged vehicle, we decided it would be quicker to head back to the beach and drive on the beach back to the barge. On the way we saw a recovery truck with the broken down vehicle of another group (10 girls, and they crashed into a tree, luckily no one was really hurt, but it does prove some prejudices about female drivers). On the beach Knut (one of the Germans) drove for a while, but when we got off the beach onto the inland access road to the barge, he got us seriously bogged. It took quite a few attempts, lowering tire pressure, digging out the wheels and everybody pushing to get the vehicle out. But after that all was smooth and we got back to the hostel without any problems. In the evening we had a nice BBQ dinner and some drinks at the hostel.
Today we (Rachel and I) drove to Noosa, where I have some hours of free internet access, so I could check my e-mail, bank accounts (not looking good), and update my website. In the afternoon I also did a 7km hike in the national park to compensate for all the hours in the car.