More Australia Pictures: Fraser Island # 1
Fraser Island is the larget sand island in the world. It is 112 km (67 miles) long and 25 km (15 miles) wide. Virtually the entire island is in one of two national parks. There is less than a mile of pavement on the island, so the only was to see the island, other than from the air, is with a four wheel drive vehicle. There are hundreds of km of sandy off road trails, or 4WD tracks as Aussies call them.
Right around low tide you can also drive along the eastern beach. However, you must watch out for landing airplanes, dingos, the rising tide, and hard to see freshwater creeks. Most people, like us, choose to camp on the island.
Leaving our Hervey Bay hotel by 8:30am, we began scouring the 4WD rental places in Hervey Bay for anybody that is still renting on the Sunday of a three day weekend in Australia. We succeed with a company called Safari 4x4's. Craig almost settles for a Suzuki sidekick, but we end up with an old-school Toyota LandCruiser wagon, equipped with a snorkel.
It has 222,000 km (133k miles) on it--most presumably put on while it was at an off-road rental place. We had to have a common sense briefing: don't drive in the ocean, check water depth before crossing ponds, and don't burn out the clutch. We had to do a damage walkaround before we took off and the thing was riddled with dents from all the off road rentals. Other than that, it was in surprisingly good shape.
By 11am we were on the 30 min ferry (known locally as the barge) to Fraser. Len is reducing the tire pressure.
Len smiles in front of the barge's dock.
Craig throws a shout out to Len on the barge.
Dingos are a constant danger on the island. Fraser Island is where a kid was killed by a dingo in 2000.
Our first stop on the island was Lake Birrabeen. Craig stands in the shallow, clear water. We spent two hours here, unknowing that even more picturesque lakes lie down the off road trail.
Craig drives the LandCruiser through a muddy patch of trail. He stopped before the mud and made Len walk through it so he could get an action shot. Keep your eyes on the trail, Craig.
The wide beaches of Lake Boomanjin. We took a two mile hike along the lakeshore and were the only people on the lake for most of the time.
A quarter-mile wide sand beach at Lake Boomanjin. Lake Boomanjin is the largest perched lake in the world. A perched lake means that the surface of water is not at the water table, but rather is a large "puddle" sitting in a depression in the underlying sandstone.
Unlike a few of the other lakes the water is not clear here. It was a slight brownish tint due to organic material and the color of the underlying sandstone.
Craig slammed on the brakes during the next patch of 4x4 trail when he saw a large (7 ft) snake laying halfway across the road. Australia is home the world's ten most poisonous snakes, include species that cause nervous system shutdown in less than 30 minutes and have no antidote. That's why Craig decided it would be a good idea to hop out of the car for a picture of the unknown snake. No worries. We later found out that this was actually a species of python that eats small mammals and birds and not poisonous at all. It wasn't moving so Craig lobbed a stick in its direction and accidently clocked the thing in the head. "Sorry there, little guy," he says.
We eventually reach the South Pacific beachhead just before dusk. However, in order to get to a campsite, they need to drive along the beach. However, driving on the beach near high tide is against the rental contract and possible dangerous. A moral dilemma. After a period of indecisiveness, Craig says, "Alright, command decision here, we're driving on the beach." To that Len retorts, "Hey, there are no command decisions here."
This is a picture of the sunrise from our camping spot the next morning. We had to wake up early. We could only drive on the beach ride around low tide, which meant between 6am and 1pm on this day.
If you ever want Craig to do something, tell him that it can't be done, or more specifically, that he doesn't have enough time to do it. The 4x4 rental place told us that we wouldn't have enough time before high tide to drive all the way up the island to the Indian Head lookout. Therefore, Craig was absolutely certain that they were making it to Indian Head.
Len is checking the LandCruiser fluids.
At approximately 6:45am we saw one of those dingos on the beach.
This is a prototypical picture of driving on the beach. The "speed limit" was 80 km/hr or 50 mph.
There were dozens of small freshwater creeks that continually poured across the beach from the forest to the ocean. This is one of them. Since there are a few that get very deep, the 4WD company said we should always check to see how deep they are and make sure that they are less than knee deep.
This is the first appreciable creek that we come upon, so Len is checking the depth. This is also the last time we check the depth. That backfires big time later on.
Len is cruising through one of those freshwater creeks.