02 March 2013

Four - Wheelin' on Fraser Island

A jellyfish of some sort on the beach

I was a tad hesitant going on the Fraser Island trip.  First of all, it’s a three-day trip in which only 4-wheel drive can be driven on the entire island because it is the largest sand island in the world.  I don’t really know how to drive manual.  Minor problem.  Could I drive manual enough let’s say in an emergency situation?  Yes.  Could I do it without stalling or perhaps burning out the clutch?  Um, well…  maybe just a little bit.  4-wheel driving?  Never done it.  And from what I hear, driving in sand is a lot like driving in snow.  Again, something I’ve never done (I've been living in LA for the last 15 years and the warmer part of the Northern California before that - why would I drive in the snow?).  And in addition to all that, the three days would be  driving in a car with a group of strangers.  That’s not necessarily something that I don’t like, in fact I really enjoy meeting people, but I typically pick and choose whom I travel with as not all personalities/travel styles are compatible.  

Like I, mentioned, not all personalities/travel styles are compatible which I discovered on the night of our meeting the night before our trip.  Without going into a whole lot of detail, let's just say there was quite a difference in age between myself and everyone else in my car that I was assigned to (about 10-15 years difference.  Let me clarify that I know some amazing 20-year olds, but then again, I've been around some very young 20-year olds and it can be tough to find middle ground) plus there was a significant language barrier where they all spoke one particular language and kept forgetting that I couldn't speak their language... for the majority of the trip - so you can imagine that I became a bit frustrated ...though it as nothing that alcohol couldn't solve!  After some drinks on our first day out (not the driver), everyone was finally getting along and soon enough I got them to start teaching me some drinking songs and profanities in their language.  See?!  Everything can be solved over some wine!  After that, we were all in much better shape for the rest of the trip once we found our common ground - booze. 

So back to the trip  Fraser Island!!  We hopped into our SUV’s and headed to the outskirts of Rainbow Beach where we pull to the side of the road to let some air out of the tires and put the cars into 4wd (Exciting! Yeah, it doesn’t take much for me.) and minutes after that, we’re deep in very loose sand – to the point where one of the cars got stuck and had to be pushed out – and we’re not even on the island yet!!  Finally, we got all cars out and onto the ferry that took us to the island and along the way, we see some dolphins playing in the water next to us.  We got on land and thus began our adventures for the next three days, driving along wet, compacted sand, dry sand, fluffy sand, super watery sand with potential sinkholes, along with the potential of washouts too with the ocean waves coming in quite suddenly – as well as the potential of man’s own stupidty in possibly rolling the car too.  All things are possible when driving on this sand island and with possible irresponsible and inexperienced drivers – thus why I never drove.  Days consisted of us exploring the island to different beaches, beautiful turquoise lakes, massive sand dunes that seemed to take forever to hike up and down, and going up to large cliffs with amazing views of the island.  Nights were spent at our camp, prepping food, cooking, cleaning, drinking boxed wine, hanging out around a campfire, dancing, more drinking, playing drinking games with the Irish (which most others will never win at), trying to make sure to stay away from dingos, etc.  All good fun with a bunch a strangers!

Now, about those dingos, we’re advised to stay away from them for good reason.  One, they’re wild creatures and this is the one place they naturally exist and are not to be fed, pet, bothered with, etc. as they are to naturally exist and survive on their own there.  This means that all food, fish bait, and apparently even vitamins have to be locked up, small children must stay with their parents, and we even had to be walk in pairs at all times as the dingos tend to stay in the dark and are pack animals where they can become quite aggressive very quickly.  Should people intentionally come into contact with dingos, if they are caught, they will be fined and the dingo gets put down as they don't want dingos getting use to coming near humans for food as it becomes a domino effect of changing their nature to associate humans with food.  I'm all for leaving the dingos alone.  

We were fortunate to only have a few dingos come through our camp (of which we were instructed to yell out "dingo" so the entire camp knew they were around).  Crazy stuff.  I'll save you the details of the horror story which made news last year where essentially it ends with a guy waking up from being passed out drunk in the woods and he's being eaten by dingos.  Yeah, not a pretty story but there's a lesson to be learned there.  

I enjoyed my time there but safe to say, group trips like this are not for me.  I like having alone time and I wasn't allowed any (thanks dingos!).  I am fortunate to have met some cool people during the trip whom I continue to keep in contact with to this day.  I guess you never know how things can truly turn around... including myself.


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