Having arrived in Hervey Bay the previous night, the main setting-off point for Fraser Island adventures, Ethan and I woke up at 5 am on April 1st to begin our long-awaited adventure. Our first stop was Aussie Trax – the rental company from whom we were renting our 4WD vehicle (as you cannot drive on Fraser without one). We had to be there at 6 am to watch a safety video covering the tricks and hazards of driving on the island and on the beaches (mainly because of the tides). Afterwards, they brought our car around – a little 2 passenger Suzuki Jimny which had obviously seen better days. The back was loaded up with our camping equipment – tent, mattresses, stove, propane, and an eskie (Aussie slang for a cooler). The night before we had gone grocery shopping for supplies, which we transferred to the eskie. We moved the rest of our bags and left everything we didn’t need in our other rental car, which was to be locked up safely in a garage by Aussie Trax. We were supposed to leave on the second ferry of the morning, leaving at 8:00 am, but we took a little longer than we though moving things around, and so we moved it to the (next) 9:30 am one. We still had to drive about 25 minutes to the actual ferry landing at Rivers Head, and we just barely made it onto the ferry, literally at the last minute (this being due to the fact that we still had to pay for our camping permits, which I thought were included in our Aussie Trax package). But we made it!
The ferry ride over took 45 minutes, and we docked in Kingfisher Bay, one of the main resort areas with a restaurant, souvenir shop, spa, cafe, and hotel, and it even had paved roads. We immediately left the area, needless to say. As we left Kingfisher Bay Resort, the road turned to deep sand (and me, who had never been 4WD’ing before, was somewhat apprehensive) and then we were in the rainforest that blankets the interior of the island. It was so beautiful, with huge satinay gums, kauri pines, and piccabeen palms.
driving through the inland rainforest
After our amazing time on Magnetic Island, Ethan and I were looking forward to the big trip – a wonderful week-long excursion of driving down the coast from Townsville to Hervey Bay, from where we would be going on our Fraser Island excursion. We previously arranged for a 3 day, 2 night camping/4wd adventure. There are many different ways to do this – most backpackers do it in large groups of 8 or more (its cheaper that way but you are stuck with people you don’t know and you might not get along or agree on places to visit), or a packaged group tour where you have a strict itenirary and in an even larger group. So we decided to do our own thing and rent a little, tiny 2 person 4wd from Aussie Trax, along with camping gear. They weren’t our first choice, but because we had waited a little late to book (during Easter break weekend), they were pretty much the only place that had vehicles left.
that coastal road from Townsville to Hervey Bay - A1/Bruce Highway - Road Triiip!
Ethan had arrived in Australia the morning before, and I was so, so excited! We had lots of wonderful, planned things to do…We spent that first day exploring downtown Townsville (not much to it, especially right now with their huge renovation efforts of Flinders Street)…but Friday March 26th was the highly-anticipated Full Moon Party on Magnetic Island.
After class on Friday (the dreaded Marine Plants lab), Ethan and I quickly packed up for our weekend on Magnetic Island. I was a bit stressed, because it was the night of the Full Moon Party, and we were the last of my group of friends to leave Townsville…and getting to Maggie was going to take a while with the wonderful public transport system of Townsville. But we finally got the time tables figured out and took the bus downtown around 7, bought some snacks for the night, and walked a few kilometers to the ferry terminal. From there we waited for an hour for the ferry to arrive. Once loaded onto the ferry, it was a speedy, bumpy ride on the large catamaran transporting a full load of already-intoxicated Full Moon party-goers. It took 20 minutes to get to Maggie Island, and from there, a 20 bus ride to X Base Backpackers, who were the hosts of the party, and nicely located right on the beach. We were the last to arrive (at 10 pm) from my group of friends staying together in one dorm – Kim, Jon, Brenna, Steph, Kayla, Elissa, and Charli were already there. We managed to sneak in a bottle of Feijoa-flavored vodka (delicious!) that Ethan had bought from duty-free in Sydney, and then it was time to catch up with the rest of the drunken crowd! Later that night, after some dancing, we all watched a bit of a fire-show and then got inspired to run out onto the beach and splash around in the warm ocean while the party raged on.
full moon in the ocean
Having been in Australia for a month and a half now, I guess its high time to write my first post about it!
Realizing that now it was time to return to the schooling way of life, I had to reset my mind somewhat to prepare myself.