Camping mornings start early, with the dawn – and tea was on at 6am. As we surfaced we realised that we were definitely in backpacker corner of the camp – surrounded by half a dozen identical 6-man tents. Fraser Island is a popular trip for backpackers, where the hostels in Harvey Bay (where they all congregate) bring together groups of 11 people, and kit them out with a 4WD and camping gear for the same trip we’re doing. Last time we travelled through Australia, when it was just the two of us, we did it that way – it costs about Au$150 per person – but this time we didn’t think that the others would appreciate two small children in the 4WD. By hiring a Land Rover ourselves, we’ve actually ended up spending less (a total of AU$450 for three days for all of us) and being able to decide when and where we go (and not having to cram 7 other people into our vehicle!). It’s worked out pretty well.
Mind you, backpacking isn’t what it used to be! When we pulled in to buy our plates, the car park was full of backpackers eating Magnums – I dunno, in my day as a backpacker we didn’t have the money for that. But most shocking was last night, when I found we’d cooked too much pasta in tomato sauce – I offered it to one of the groups, but they declined because they’d bought too much food themselves – and they offered me a veal steaks. I ask you, what’s the world coming to when budget backpackers can afford veal?
The journey for today was two halves – before 2pm inland, to see some of the lakes – Lake Birrabeen for lunch, a suntan session and a swim, followed by a trip down to the Eurong, ready for the dash down the beach when the tide started going out.
Then it was time for the long journey back down the main beach, to catch the ferry home. The girls slept almost all of the way, reflecting the exhausting time they’d had on the island, running around, climbing dunes and swimming. Without a doubt, the trip to Fraser Island was one of the highlights of our trip so far. For the lad in me, the chance to drive a Land Rover 200 miles on sandy beaches, sandy roads and lumpy-bumpy tracks was a hit; for the nature lover there we saw some great wildlife on land and sea (but not, thank goodness, a brown snake); and for the beach lover – well, the whitest beach in the world is definitely on the shore of Lake McKenzie!