For those who are not familiar, the World Heritage listed Fraser Island is one of the ‘must dos’ on the East Coast of Aus. The island is 76 miles long, 13 miles at its widest point and covering a total of 710 square miles, it is the largest sand island in the world. There are various different trips ranging from 1 to 3 days on the island, setting you back anywhere between $179-495 (100-295gbp). Alternatively, if you have your own 4 wheel drive you can go by yourself.
I paid approx $460 (265gbp) for the Nomad’s 3 day 2 night tour, with 1 night accommodation in Noosa pre and post tour. Additionally to this, we had to pay a $250 cash deposit or a $10 non nefundable fee that would supposedly render us free of damage costs to the vehicles. Even if you weren’t driving, you were still subject to this. My problem with the $250 is that this would be kept even if someone else in your car damaged it. My problem with the $10 is quite simply that it is money grabbing. The waivers stated if we caused damage and the combined vehicle passenger total of $80 did not cover it, we would still have to cover the costs, when we were infact told we would not have to pay anything else if we caused damage. They informed us false information, took our payments and then made us sign waivers that stated the contrary. Bad form Nomads.
After arriving at Noosa late on the 24th (May) and successfully missing the safety briefing, I had to be up even earlier than the 6:30am meet time in the morning. This was not okay. More specifically, I was not okay. After a kip on the 2 hour transfer, I started to vaguely feel like something resembling human again. Split in to 4 cars, I would be first to drive! Yep, that’s right mum, I was in charge of a 4 wheel drive with 7 other passengers. My new buddies belted up in fear as I explained I wanted to drive first to be sure I could remember how to drive on the road before we got on the island…
Off the ferry and on to the island, we followed in convoy with our tour guide Paul in the leading vehicle. The sand was at first dry and I was hastily nicknamed ‘drift queen’. Not that I objected to being labelled as a queen, little did they realise, it’s pretty hard to not drift slightly on a surface where you lack grip. Amateurs.
After some lunch, we had a very bumpy drive through the rainforest to Lake Mackenzie! It was like paradise. On our way back we drove along a track where on one side was forest and on the other was rainforest. This was pretty awesome and apparently a rare occurrence throughout the world.
When I booked I had the option to stay in a tipi or a dorm. Why anyone would choose a dorm is beyond me, we LIVE in dorms. The tipis were excellent quality with lighting, plastic flooring and plugs. My only gripe was we had to pay a non refundable $10 to rent a sleeping bag. I hate hidden extras.
Dinner and definitely too many drinks down, we headed to the beach. The stars were INSANE. So bright, so many, we all laid there in awe. We could even see the Milky Way!
The next day we headed to the champagne pools. The weather was a little overcast, but the sun made an appearance for us. The photos don’t really do it justice, they were so much fun! As the waves crashed over the edges of the rocks, bubbles would fill the pool of water, hence champagne pools.
Shipwreck story time!
Built in 1905, the New Zealand owned Maheno began life as a luxury cruise ship. During WW1 she was commissioned as a hospital ship, consisting of 4 wards, 2 operating theatres and 340 beds for the wounded. After the terrors of war ceased, Maheno was once again refitted as a luxury cruise liner. By 1934 she was considered obsolete and sold to a Japanese company for scrap. Whilst being towed to Japan, Maheno found herself caught in a cyclone, causing the towline to break. Washed up on to Fraser Islands’ 75 mile beach, the ship was used in WW2 for bombing practice. Still there today, the shipwreck attracts thousands of tourists every year.
What a hidden gem! An incredible piece of history that held so many different memories and stories for thousands of people. Favourite holidays, wedding proposals and a workplace for some. For others, a place they were nursed back to health.
On our last day we had a whole lot of hoo har drama. We woke up, had our breakfast, got our bags ready and headed for the cars. Off we walked, round the hostel across the field and through the gates where we were confounded to discover that our car had be stolen! Cars 1, 2 and 4 remained. And so it transpired, an Aussie from the bar drunkenly took it upon himself to Hotwire it and drive it 20km north, completely burning out the engine and writing it off. You can tell he was intoxicated purely by the fact he took the 3rd vehicle. Logical? I think not. Bloody aussies.
In our hungover state we embarked upon a 45 minute walk through the forest to a green lake, moaning the entire way about our self inflicted pain. As we emerged from the forest, sand dunes engulfed us, before shortly reaching the lake at the bottom of steep dune. Luckily, it was worth it. Swimming in a green lake, it seemed so surreal!
After lunch it was sadly time to head back. Other than my gripes with the hidden costs, my only other point for improvement would be that we had to help cook the food/clean, the hostel staff could have done this. This aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. $460 (265gbp) for a total of 4 nights accommodation, 3 full days guided tour, 2 hour transfer there and back, the use of the cars (which was super fun) and all our food included, I think this price was spot on. Our tour guide was knowledgable, I had an incredible time and experienced some amazing things.
Thank you Fraser Island!