After two days of chillaxin’ in Brisbania, we headed for some more adventure! Speaking of heading, we went to Noosa Heads. In our Lonely Planet book Noosa Heads is described as the Australian version of Nice in France. We found this to be true as a lot of peeps were talking French and prices were HIGH. So we searched a lovely free camping spot at sunshine beach a few kms away.
We took an early start the next morning and (noosa) headed off to Boreen Point, a tiny and cute little village near lake Cootharaba. Although there was little to do, the place was lovely to see and we absolutely would love a holiday cottage there some day.
Next stop: Rainbow Beach. We didn’t actually see a rainbow, we did however see sand, a lot of sand. “Carlo Sand Blow” is an amazing stretch of sand that splits sandy beaches and muddy rainforests. Quite an amazing feat.
The same day (yes - we had a productive day) we also visited Maryborough, a Disney like, ancient and deserted mining town. The buildings were super cute and although we only saw 10 people wandering the streets we saw more than 5 Doctor’s practices. We highly recommend stopping there if you drive along the east coast to get a glimpse of the early Aussie settlements (or if you are in dire need of a Doctor).
That evening we arrived at Hervey Bay, which isn’t really a town but more of a boulevard along the coast. We went there because it’s really close to Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world, which we wanted to visit the next day.
Dear Readers, this will hopefully be our first and last negative passage about Australia. We started noticing strangeness in this town because of all the cops patrolling the boulevard (during our 2000km of roadtripping we only saw 3 cop cars). Still convinced of our correct behavior we parked Fat George on an area without a “no camping” sign for overnight sleeping. Bad Choice. In the middle of the night (well actually it was 22h - but we were already sound asleep) we were awoken by a police officer telling us it was illegal to camp overnight in the town of Hervey Bay and that the fine was 500 $. Say whaaat! Luckily he was a real Aussie mate and gave us directions to a nearby carvan park and didn’t fine us. Ooof. Although waking Melanie midsleep is not a good thing :)
All in all, things weren’t that bad as the super friendly lady of the caravan park didn’t charge us for that night (we eventually stayed two nights).
So Fraser Island… We read that there were walking tracks on the Island and we saw that the Ferry also transported pedestrians so we thought: take the Ferry, hike a little and come back. But noo. Aparantly 98% of the people on the boat to Fraser Island had booked an organised tour. 2%, us two, didn’t. We arrived at Wanggoolba creek with 2 walking options: Lake McKenzie 10.4km or Central Station 14 bloody kms. To be totally honest, Melanie had looked at the map of Fraser Island and was convinced that both would only be 3kms away from the landing point. She was wrong. But, she recovered the situation well when she convinced a tour guide with a bus to give us a lift to Central Station. (Oh yeah - 14kms in 15minutes :) From central station we had a nice walk by Basin Lake to Lake McKenzie (only 6kms). Although we were eaten by miniature sandflies and oversized stinging flies/bees/wasp hybrids, it was worth the trouble:
Lake McKenzie is like a Lake from the movies: super clear water, white sandy shores, only forests around it and - important in Australia - no man-eating sharks. We took an amazingly refreshing dip and continued our journey through the woods back to the Ferry boat station (another 10.4km). To get off the Island there were 2 boats: one leaving at 3pm and another at 5pm. We rushed the last walking kms to try and get the 3pm boat as we were sick of being the bugs’ lunch. At 14:55 we saw the cabins of the station through the woods and increased our pace, we even sprinted half a km (in 30 degrees!) to try to be there in time. Unfortunately arriving at 15:02 means your miss the boat in Australia (still adapting from Spanish mentality). This meant we had to wait at that point for two whole hours for the next Ferry to come along. And it also meant we were now not only Lunch to those fierce blood sucking insects, but also their 4 o’clock snack and early diner. We had to lock ourselves up in a toilet cabin to evade being eaten alive. Nevertheless we made the best out of it by singing along with some all time Lennon hits such as “Imagine there are no insects..” and “Instant Sandfly’s gonna get you!”.
All in all: Fraser Island comes highly recommended. If you’re a backpacker: Don’t fall for the arranged and overpriced Tours (>160$) but do prepare yourselves for long hikes and bring military grade insect repellent (our legs look like pizza!) and you can try to hop on the Ferry for free (no-one checked our 36$ ticket).
From Hervey Bay we drove to the famous Rhum and Sugar city Bundaberg. More on this later as we are now enjoying the former.