Friday, June 09, 2006

Vol 13 - Survivor - Fraser Island

Heading further south from Airlie Beach I found myself in Hervey Bay. There's not much to do in Hervey Bay except go to Fraser Island.... So I did.

Fraser Island is the world's biggest Island made purely of sand. It has several great beaches and pure fresh water lakes. It also has rainforest in the middle. No where else in the world has rainforest on sand. It is also inhabited by about 130 dingos. You can only travel around the island by 4WD.

After all my shenanigans I was feeling quite poor. So rather than taking a guided tour I chose the cheap backpacker option of a self-drive tour. They stick 10 random backpackers together, give them the keys to a 4WD and a bunch of camping gear. Then sit back and wait for the inevitable phone call saying the truck's been rolled, bogged or lost at sea.

It was a lot like a series of survivor. There were 20 of us split into two groups. Our group contained 4 Canadian girls all around 22 years old, a slightly older French Canadian couple, a 20 year old Northern Irish computer nerd, a large 29 year English woman, a quirky oddball Spanish guy called Kiko, and me. We were called team 2. I studied the group carefully, deciding who I should make an alliance with, who was likely to get immunity and who was going to get voted off first.

To our mutual disgust the English woman and I were dubbed mum and dad.

Our first task was to head to the supermarket and buy enough supplies for 3 days and 2 nights camping on a sandy island. Cultural differences soon became apparent. The french Canadians, despite 4 white loaves, 4 brown loaves and 4 buns were concerned we didn't have enough bread. In contrast the 4 younger Canadians despite 1 slab of beer, 1 goon sack (cask) of red and 1 goon of white were concerned they didn't have enough alcohol. I thought I'd be OK with 3 mixed vodka cans and a 700ml bottle of vodka.

Having the most driving experience, on the left hand side, in a 4WD, off road, and overall I was elected head driver. Also at 32 I was the oldest, and the others mistook this to mean the most responsible. I drove us to the ferry and while waiting for it to head off the 4 Canadian girls shot gunned a can of beer each. It was then I figured this trip could be quite fun.

On the island I negotiated the bumps and lumps of a very dodgey sandy track. It was established in the minds of the others that I knew what I was doing and was going to get them safely about the place. I even received some cheers from the now quite drunk Canadians. It was then I decided to give the Northern Irish kid a go at driving, after all who wants to be the sensible one. I quickly drank three vodka mixed drinks to secure my position in the back.

The poor kid was cruising along the flat sandy beach at around 80km/h when he hit the foot deep creek. This was ideal to secure my position on the Island. No one was going to vote me off now, and I got to have a few drinks in the back. However I no longer got any cheers from the girls. When you've been pidgeon-holed as the sensible dad it's hard to change your role in the team.

That night we made our way to Waddy point. We weren't sure if we could camp there but the Canadian girls saw some boys going that way. Since they voted as a group they usually held the deciding vote. The ranger informed us we actually had to book to camp there but since it was a bit quiet we'd be OK. They also said we could ignore the 9pm curfew since we were far enough away from the others. The only thing they asked of us was not to use native wood to start a fire. This would destroy the habitat of bugs and stuff.

We set up the tents, our cooker didn't work properly but we got to eat eventually, and we had a few drinks. I was well into my Vodka when two Aussie and two English guys spotted our 4 Canadians. They turned up with half a tree and offered to start a fire. We couldn't really stop them if we tried. All was going well when an Aussie guy fell off a wire fence and cut his head open. He really needed stitches but on Fraser Island there's no doctors so we used a plaster. Luckily no anaesthetic was required.

It was then the fire was put out and everyone was sent home to their camps. I was sure I only drank half a bottle of vodka but in the morning it was empty.

We were woken by the rangers at about 7:30am who were furious that we'd burnt native timber. Our group dobbed the visitors in. Although the rangers couldn't pin the fire on the visitors, they were fined for leaving food out for the dingoes and making noise too late. Justice was done in the end.

I took control of the 4WD and took us to the Champagne pools which were really great. You bathe in a pool of sea water as fish swim around you, and the waves crash over the rocks. Wacky Spanish guy Kiko came running down wearing baggy silky shorts, swimming goggles and wearing a whistle around his neck. We all cracked up laughing and one Canadian girl said "That Kiko, he's full of surprises".

That night we tried to camp at central station but realised it too was only for people who booked. It was getting dark and the group was split. The Canadians and Irish nerd wanted to go to the beach, the rest just wanted to set up camp there and risk a fine. I had the deciding vote (well the keys to the 4WD) and took the decision to head to the beach. We were at our lowest morale so I gave a "let's go team 2, cheer" which was followed by some Canadian "woo hoos" and we headed off.

Large English woman, who'd had the most concerns so far on the trip and had admitted she had control issues, was a little freaked about the dash in the dark. But when we made it safely she hugged me and said she was glad I got her there safely. I was perplexed as to why she was so concerned about her safety, from my point of view I didn't think she had much to live for. If it was survivor I'm pretty sure she'd be voted off first.

We ran into team 1. The Canadians were very happy since they had some hot boys in their group. But they all just got stoned and said not much. So it was a fairly quiet early night.

The next day we went to the highlight of the island, Lake MacKenzie. It's a great place for a swim in pure fresh water with a sandy beach. As the Canadians found out the lake also made a great bucket for a bucket bong. Determined not to be the sensible Dad I joined them and handed the keys back to the young nerd.

We made it home safely.... just.

I then headed down to Sydney to meet, Lisa, Olivia and Lucy who I worked with at Proximity. But first I met up with Lisa's twin friend Tash. The plan was to meet up with Lucy and Olivia and to check out Olivia's boyfriend. Unfortunately Lucy had forgotten she'd booked a flight to the Gold Coast. The rest of us had a nice night out in Manly. Despite the onset of a cold I managed to drink a large amount of wine. As you can see from this very familiar looking drunken photo Lisa and Olivia haven't changed a bit.

I'm now back in Edenhope and I've been sick for the last few days. Damn these southern states and their cold weather. Jon will be pleased to know I have to stop writing this volume of the Chronicles so I can run to the toilet and do a poo.


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