We woke up to a glorious morning –the sun was shining, and the ground was dry. Although there had been some rain in the night, it hadn’t got any of us wet, so we were all cheerful as we tucked into porridge and bacon ‘n eggs (we think that must be a proper camping breakfast) before settling in to enjoy a day of touring. As the high tide was at 10 o’clock, it meant that we couldn’t drive onto the beach until 2pm, which meant a morning running around the camp, and on the nearby beach and sand dunes (the dunes here are huge, with massive 75m dunes to run down. Charlotte and Emily loved the downhill bit, but weren’t keen on the uphill side of it).
At midday we drove to India Head, on the inland road, where we had a picnic lunch and brewed a tea on the camp stove. After a short hike up the hill, we were standing out on the headland and looking down into the crystal clear ocean to see manta rays, turtles, sting rays, an enormous school of fish that suddenly were surrounded by 5 sharks who had a feeding frenzy and sent the school of fish swimming off in all directions. It was so amazing to see and the clarity of the water made it seem as if we were looking into an aquarium. We sat on the headland completely enthralled by what we were seeing. Charlotte suddenly started jumping up and screaming with delight – she’d just seen a shark eat a sting ray!! Then to cap it all off, we saw humpback whales surfacing and then breaching in front of us!! It seemed such an incredible feat considering the huge size of these creatures. It was like watching a David Attenborough film, it was so breathtaking. The whales were migrating south to Antarctica after having had their calves up north in the warmer waters around Cairns. It was an experience we’ll never forget.
Then we drove on down the beach, passing by the shipwreck of the SS Maheno. It was too good a photo opportunity to miss – how often can you sit on the bonnet of a Land Rover, driving past a shipwreck, on a 70 mile beach?
Further south, we arrived at Eli Creek, which is a crystal clear freshwater stream which runs down from the middle of the island, and hits the sea on the main beach. You can walk on a boardwalk about 100M up the creek, and then swim back down, through the tropical vegetation. It was the ideal moment for the girls to try out their lilo, one of the extras loaded into the campervan by Greg the Rental Man. The girls loved it so much they ended up doing it 5 times. Charlotte said that she thought Fraser Island was a kind of natural Disneyland, what with the water rides, the jeep driving (“Just like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”) and the shipwrecks.
Finally we turned inland as dusk approached. We wanted to camp at Lake McKenzie, which is the most beautiful, and popular, of the inland lakes on the island (all with crystal clear water and white beaches), but when we got there we discovered the campsite was full. So instead we had a 10km night time drive to Central Station, where we arrived in pitch black. Camping amateurs we may be, but within an hour we had the tent up, the dinner cooked and eaten, and the girls asleep!
Last night’s camp had a fence around it, to keep out dingoes, but Central Station doesn’t, so there were 3 or 4 dingoes roaming around the camp, looking for food. It was just like Yosemite and the bears – all the food had to go into lockers overnight. Fortunately living on campsites means that the girls don’t want to go to the toilet in the night, so it was another peaceful night!