The coach journey from Airlie Beach to Noosa was a gruelling 17 hours. We drove through the night, straight after our whitsundays sailing tour which thankfully helped us sleep for the best part of the night.
We arrived in Noosa around 1pm, and thankfully our hostel had a courtesy bus to shuttle us to our accommodation. We were staying at Nomads, which is a global chain of backpacker accommodation, and a pre and post tour stay was included in our booking. When we checked in we discovered we were staying in a 16 bed dorm, initially I was dreading it but it didn’t turn out to be too bad when we got to our room. We spent most of the day booking some onward travel and accommodation, and getting some snacks for our tour. At 6pm we attended a safety briefing, which was watching a video advising us about driving on soft sand and when we would need 4 wheel drive etc. The video made the whole thing seem pretty complicated and dangerous, and we were both left feeling pretty nervous about what the next 2 days were going to bring.
Our alarm sounded at 6:30am, I didn’t hear it going off thanks to my earplugs, and eye mask keeping any signs of dawn at bay. There were several people in our dorm up and about as they were also going on the trip. We checked out at 7am and waited for our bus to arrive to take us to rainbow beach, which is where we picked up the cars.
The journey to rainbow beach took around 2 hours. We were dropped of at a workshop where we met our guide, linc, and he ran through some more safety procedures and divided us into groups and then allocated us a vehicle. He was great fun from the start, and made us feel a bit more comfortable about the trip. In our car of 7 only John and myself were English, so we had the advantage of driving in the same side of the road as they do in Australia. No one seemed to be very forthcoming with offering to take the first drive, so John ended up agreeing he would do it. Naturally before we set off we took a car 2 selfie!
As the front seat passenger you have 3 very important jobs. The first is you are in charge of all communication through the walkie talkies, the second is keeping an eye on the cars temperature to ensure it doesn’t overheat, and the third, final and most important job you have is… To be DJ!
We took a quick pit stop at a liquor store to stock up on some alcohol for the trip, then we were headed for the car ferry to take us to Fraser Island. The initial drive wasn’t too bad, but as we got closer to the ferry John had his first experience of soft sand. Linc shouted through the walkie talkie “wheels straight and power on” which is basically foot to the floor and pray you don’t get stuck. The ferry to Fraser took around 20 minutes, and from there it was a 1 hour drive to our first destination where we would have having lunch. The drive was tough and the car (and passengers) was flung around whilst driving on the sand and racing through the streams of water,but we all made it safely to our first stop thanks to John’s great driving and no one got stuck!
After a lunch of make your own sandwiches we took a 2.3km walk through the sand and rainforest to Lake Wabby. The heat of the day was beating down on us and after about 35 minutes we reached the top of a sand dune, from which you could see the lake at the bottom. Everyone was straight in the water to cool off. The lake was filled with tiny fish which nibbled your feet, much like the pedicures you used to get. We only had around 45 minutes at the lake before we had to head back, thankfully the walk back seemed much shorter. We switched drivers and headed off to our next destination, which was a shipwreck.
The SS Maheno was washed up by a cyclone on Fraser Island in 1935. It was once used as a hospital ship in WW1 but is now a rusty shell disintegrating on 75 mile beach, and a popular tourist attraction on the island. You aren’t allowed to walk inside or within 3 metres of the ship due to the rusting metal and possibility of debris falling. We spent about 15 minutes walking around taking pictures before we moved on to our next destination, Eli Creek.
Eli creek is the largest creek on the eastern beach of Fraser Island and produces 4 million litres of fresh drinking water every hour. When we stepped in the creek the water was ice cold, and flowing quickly past us. Linc told us a few facts about the creek and then said he was going to take us to the waterfall he said we would see. The waterfall turned out to be him splashing the ice cold water at us all until we were soaked, which meant everyone had no excuses to not get fully in the water. You can float very quickly in the fast flowing water down to the end of the creek, which was such good fun we did it twice. After our visit to the creek it was time have some drinks on the beach and dry off before we headed to our accommodation for the night.
We were staying at eulong resort in dorms of 4. We divided into our groups and set down our belongings then went for our spag bowl dinner, before having a few drinks and heading to bed before our 7am wake up call.
Our first stop of day 2 was lake McKenzie, there would be 2 drives to the lake as it was quite a long way, and I opted to be driver for the second part of the journey. I was driving on soft sand, down steep hills and in the pouring rain. It was definitely the biggest driving challenge I’ve ever had but its definitely given me some confidence in my driving ability. We made it to the lake in one piece and ran through the rain, mud and sand to the lake. The lake was incredible, the sand is made of pure white silica and the water is so pure it is unsuitable for many species to live there. The lake is perched over 100 metres above sea level, on a bed of leaves, twigs and dead plants which have hardened over time. We spent well over an hour there, playing games of volleyball and enjoying the warm waters of the lake. The heavens opened again whilst we were swimming and it was a strange experience being in the water with rain beating down. It didn’t deter from any of our fun though and no one wanted to leave to head to our final destination.
Our final stop of the tour was to the rainforest, for a small rainforest walk and to enjoy some lunch. There was another creek running through the rainforest, which was full of fallen branches and other debris, linc said this is what Eli creek would look like if nobody swam in it. After our walk we switched vehicles (we were now in car 1) and headed back to the ferry. Linc was driving the lead vehicle so we were in safe hands all the way back to rainbow beach.
Nomads put on an after party for those who had been on a Fraser Island tour, we had some free drinks and nibbles, and danced the evening away with everyone on the trip. Some of us headed out to club rolling rock to finish off our evening, before a short walk back to the hostel to sleep off 2 days of great fun with some great people.