5 February 2016

Lifestyle | Fraser Island

Sitting at my kitchen table in grey, dismal London, pondering whether or not to put the heating on or man up and grab another jumper, Australia couldn't seem further away than it does right now.

Fraser Island was too memorable an experience not to share - good and bad included.

Located along the southern bay of Queensland, Fraser Island can only be reached by boat. You can rent 4x4s if you don't have one or hop on board a tour bus that'll take you round the most idyllic parts of the island during on day or two with an overnight stay.

My mother and I, being the fearless (read obnoxious) types, decided to go it alone in our 4x4 - with it's 'sand' setting located just by the handbrake, it seemed like it was meant to be.

It wasn't. We didn't make it on to the golden sands of Fraser Island or even the barge to get us there before our first disaster.

We were breathalysed and away we went to tackle the sand before the barge. Adrenaline hit as we put the car into sand mode and ventured into the sand to the barge. For all of five seconds before we got stuck.

Think stuck in the mud and then replace the mud with sand. You put your foot down harder on the accelerator and the deeper the car gets stuck. The only benefit with sand is that it's much easier to dig out the car, be it with your hands. Lucky for us, a couple of guys came to our rescue with some solid advice. Driving on sand 101: the key is to let down the tyre pressure.

We pushed, and the car was out. Much less enthused than previously, we drove onto the barge and were driving along the sand on Fraser Island in session with the other cars. Until ours got stuck, again.

This time no one came to the rescue. And there we were, a couple of metres from the tide, which seemingly looked as if it was coming in, stuck on beach, again. Did I forget to mention that it was 32 degrees at this point? I think the best phrase to use to describe the situation would be 'a frenzied panic'. You literally can't write this sort of shit or you can, but you know what I mean.

For thirty minutes we attempted to dig out the car with our hands. Tour buses drove passed and waved, their drivers carry the smug smile that shouted, "Should have paid the $200 and saved yourselves the drama."

Then, in the distance out of nowhere, and just when we'd lost all hope - lol, kidding but we were pretty desperate by this stage - came a truck of burly bearded men with all sorts of wonderful gadgets and mechanisms to retrieve our heavily sunken car from the sand. There was the tyre pressure gage, the ramps, the rope - you name it, they had it. Once again we had our tyre pressure lowered and we were pulled free from the sand, thankfully, for the last time.

What did we learn? Sand settings are a lie. It was nothing to do with our poor preparation for driving on Fraser, obviously.

We bounded up and down sand dunes towards Lake McKenzie. The sand surrounding the lake has got to be the whitest I think I've seen to date - a quick Google tells me that it's almost pure silica, giving it that beautiful lack of colour. The water was clear and, as you can see above, becomes darker shades of blue as you move deeper in.

Lake McKenzie is centred in the middle of the island but if you head back out to the sand beaches along the coast, you can treat the beach as a motorway or sorts and drive for 70 miles to the top of the island - views and memories that you'll never forget included.
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