East Coast Australia; Brisbane to Cairns including The Daintree and Port Douglass

As we departed Russell Island and waved goodbye to our friendsEc (and Yolly *sobs*) we were excited to get going because we had a visitor to pick up!

Nick’s brother Dave flew out to meet us for four weeks (which soon turned to six!) and it was so lovely and exciting to have a familiar face with us!

Our first point of call was Brisbane and to try and fend off the jet lag that was limbering around Dave. We’d already visited the city and decided that we could probably walk it and reward ourselves with a swim at the Southbank pools. It’s a chilled out city which has a perfect balance of old and new. We visited the museum which was quite small so didn’t take too long, went the Mount Coot-ha lookout and Botanic Gardens, walked across the story book bridge and just lapped the city up. It doesn’t feel like a city but it really is a lovely place.

After a few days in Brisbane it was finally time for Dave to give Australian camping a go and it was also the first time in over a month that it rained. And I mean it rained! Prior to the downpour however we managed to go and see the glasshouse mountains and the surrounding areas. The lookouts around this area are all worth a few minutes stop because they give unprecedented views of the mountains in all their unique shaped glory. There’s also a rainforest walk and centre (Mary Cairncross scenic reserve) which is free to enter and is a really good way to get to know the bugs and trees common to Queensland rainforests. (There is a lot of rainforests!) 
Tip; In Australia and mainly Northern Queensland/Western Australia the summer is the wet season and it really is wet. You need to be aware of cyclones and adverse weather and you MUST stay ahead of the weather as you will run into trouble. We have been really lucky but that’s because we’ve stayed ahead by following the board of meteorology weather forecasts. 
Our first night camping together wasn’t the best experience but you live and learn and soon the tent became an easy process and so did the camping. Now, Nick and Dave are Steve Irwin fans and so I was outvoted and we embarked on our day trip to Australia Zoo. I’ve always been a bit sceptical of zoos but Australia zoo was a great day out. We laughed a lot and the rangers have an excellent knowledge of the animals and where they’ve been rescued or come from. It was a laugh if nothing else! 
After we visited the zoo we headed north up the coast until we reached Noosa. Noosa is very similar to Byron with its surfs shops, endless blues and surfers. It is absolutely stunning. The Noosa Heads National Park is one of the best walks I’ve ever done. You stop every few minutes for a photo or, even better, a quick dip in the sea! The south of Queensland is one of the last places in Queensland where you can just jump in the sea without having to worry about marine stingers and crocodiles! Make the most of it! 
The campsite in Noosa was one of the best in Australia. We literally opened up onto the beach and you have your own bit of beach to enjoy! It really was excellent and a brilliant to wake up in the morning! 
From Noosa we wanted to go over to Fraser Island (separate blog!) but we had to wait a few days so I’m the name of efficiency we headed up to Bundaberg with a stop off at Tin Can Bay to see the famous Australian dolphins that visit each morning. The dolphins are unique to Australia and unlike the typical grey dolphin they are black and white speckled and really big. They’re endangered so it’s really worthwhile visiting to learn a little something about them. The reason they visit is because they got accustomed to the fishermen returning after a night of fishing! They are insanely clever creatures! 
The day we visited the dolphins was the day we went to see the turtles at Mon Repos. We were so so SO lucky that day. Not only did we see over 120 hatchlings take their first teeny tiny steps into the ocean but we also saw a loggerhead turtle laying her eggs. What an experience! The Mon Repos centre is one of the best places we’ve visited in Australia and this experience is one which I’ll wholeheartedly remember for the rest of my life. It started off really badly and we were so fed up/tired we almost gave up waiting but then we got to see all of that! Lesson; patience really is a virtue. 
If this is something you’d be interested in doing then bare in mind you’ll start at 7pm and it goes on until 2am. So get a good night’s rest prior! The experience is dictated by the turtles and so you may not be as lucky as us (it’s really rare to see both laying of eggs and actual hatchlings at the same time) but for $12.80 I’d say it’s worth the risk! Honestly, absolutely magic. I love turtles they’re remarkable animals. 
Now, after the turtley amazing experience (sorry, not sorry) we had in Mon Repos we weren’t sure how the rest of Bundaberg would hold up. People are always negative about everything and we’d heard bad things about Bundaberg but we should have just realised by now not to listen! Bundaberg is Australia’s home of excellent drinks! The Bundaberg Rum Distillery and the Bundaberg Barrel are absolutely a must do if you’re visiting Bundi! We visited the rum distillery first and it was an ace few hours which was followed by samples of 3 different rums. The rum here is something else a totally different flavour to the rums we get back at home! Yum yum yum! At $28 entry fee this really is a bargain the tour takes two hours and includes the three samples and also gets you access to the museum which has some really interesting facts and artefacts about the history of the rum and particularly what it meant during WWII. 
The Bundaberg barrel we visited the following day and this place does the BEST soft drinks made from local ingredients with no nasties! The ginger beer is so good especially with some rum and lime over ice! The barrel cost $12 and this allows entrance into the museum, 18 samples and then 6 bottles of your choosing to take away! A bargain and a really great experience! Just prepare for the sugar rush.
Next up Fraser Island but I covered that in a separate blog which is worth a read if you’re considering visiting! 
After we departed Fraser Island we decided to waste no time and head straight up the coast, again, 1770. The only place in the world to have a number as a name. As you may have guessed they have a lot artefacts and tributes to Captain Cook and those who first came to explore Australia. It’s also famous for it surf lessons and is renowned as one of the cheapest places to learn on Australia. Me and Dave didn’t fancy it but certainly did enjoy watching Nick master it and we loved it even more when he fell off! 
Next up we decided to go inland to give Dave an outback experience, to see the beauty of a pitch black night sky and to see the stars like he’d never seen them before. Well…what can I say? He certainly did get an outback experience; 
• A farm stay – ✔️ 
• Steak from the farm and cooked on a fire in the bush – ✔️ 
• A whole bunch of frogs and cane toads plus other creepy crawlies – ✔️ 
•The second deadliest land snake in the world – ✔️ 
• A quintessentially Australian farmer pull out a shotgun and kill said snake whilst keeping his beer in hand – ✔️ 
I don’t think that’s going to be an experience any of us forgets anytime soon! Only in Aus! 
After the experience of the night before we decided to take it easy and happened across Finch Hatton Gorge which turned out to be one of our favourites sites. A beautiful and freezing cold swim spot with no need to fear any crocodiles! It’s a treacherous walk and does involve clambering through the river which are super slippery unless you’re Dave/Mowgli so maybe take some aqua shoes! Another relatively quiet and unknown spot which is just so special. It was so lovely we ended up visiting twice! From the quiet peace of the gorge we were onto the hustle and bustle of Airlie Beach. The gateway to the Whitsundays. Once again a bucket list experience for those visiting this side of Australia so we decided to experience by air and by boat and it was an absolutely gorgeous day. We walked to the hill inlet lookout, had a go at stand up paddle boarding, snorkelled off the boat but most importantly we flew. We flew around the islands and then went out to fly over the Great Barrier Reef and to see the infamous heart reef. I cried. The Great Barrier Reef is so beautiful and it looks like it does on any tv show or Attenborough documentary and it was definitely a ‘pinch me because I’m so bloody lucky’ moment. A must do in Airlie Beach! We flew with GSL aviation and I’d highly recommend them. 
After a few days R&R and waiting for the floods to pass we headed to Townsville to spend the day on Magnetic Island or, as it’s more lovingly called, Maggie Island. An island famous for its snorkel, it’s koalas and it’s great history during the war. We sadly didn’t see any koalas and due to the floods and full mol. the snorkel wasn’t great but the island really was beautiful and the Forts Walk was so beautiful. Looking at mainland Australia from a distance against the blue backdrop of the sky really is a sight for sore eyes!  
Tip; you can hire ‘Barbie cars’ or buggies to go around the island or you can use the bus service. I’d recommend to hire the car as the bus service was really quite terrible. 
Our next few days were spent exploring waterfalls and rock slides in the national parks which back on to Mission beach where we spent two nights searching for a cassowary bird which, despite all the signs, we didn’t manage to see! 
When we have up hope and left mission beach we took a little detour to Etty Bay and managed to see not one, not two but three! Beautiful creatures which are absolutely terrifying. A living dinosaur if you will! 
But, going back to Mission beach; it is SO beautiful here! The unfortunate thing is the water is riddled with crocs so you have to be really careful but an absolute must stop of you’re driving north of Townsville. 
We were going to head straight up the coast but a lady told us to take our time and to go through the Atherton Tablelands. She was so right and I’m so pleased we took her information. The tablelands drive has something for everyone; walks, waterfalls, a tea plantation, a specialist chocolatier and places to see Australian wildlife (we spotted a tree kangaroo). We were mainly interested in the waterfall drive and managed to see them all! The tablelands is the first place this side of Australia where I’ve felt like I’ve managed to get fresh air as the temperature really does drop quite significantly! Our night in Atherton was the first time in months where I’ve actually been really cold! Madness!  
I think the Tablelands can be a forgotten place to some tourists and the colder and wetter weather here is also something that can put people off but they really are beautiful and a short detour from the main highway can give you a whole different version of North East Queensland. We followed the tablelands up to the Daintree and then we went onto the ferry for the Daintree rainforest and Cape Tribulation. Another one of my favourites views from our time in Australia! 
Before we hopped on the ferry we decided to go crocodile hunting but…for our safety, we opted to take a cruise with The Solar Whisperer. A lesser known company who use a very quiet solar powered boat with a croc cam and much smaller numbers. We were so lucky we saw snakes, bats and two big crocs and three young/baby ones. Im usually not a big fan of tourists attractions like this but, actually, David and Martin who run the Solar Whisper have the mission to unravel the myths around crocs who are unfortunately being culled due to fear and misinformation. It was really worthwhile albeit a bit scary being in a tinny boat in croc infested waters! 
On to the Daintree next and oh what a marvel it was! The oldest rainforest in the world and one which holds a million tales. It’s spectacular, it’s so vast and it’s just like a film set. It’s where the jungle meets the ocean and the look outs hold for spectacular views of the majestic land and sea meeting as one.  We spent the night in the rainforest and it was ace to see all the creepy crawlies, spiders and snakes and to be awoken by the cries of a thousand birds. I certainly don’t mind that alarm clock! A must visit in the rainforest is the Daintree Ice cream farm. All the fruit for the ice cream is grown on land and you can choose, for $7, a taste root which comes with different flavours which you probably wouldn’t opt for if you had the choice. We had coconut, jackfruit, wattle and a plum specific to Queensland. It was so delicious and interesting to taste different fruits! 
There is so much to see and do in the Daintree but it will make me sound like a broken record so I’ll just say this; do as much as possible. Take the walks along to the lookouts, do the rainforest boardwalks, go to the swim-spots and don’t rush it! Some people try to do it a day but I think you need at least two/four depending on how much you like walking! It was onto our last major stop and the thing that’s been top of our bucket lists since we arrived and the one thing Dave said he wasn’t leaving until he experienced. Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. We chose to go to the reef via Port Douglas because it’s closer than it is from Cairns and the operators from Port Douglas seemed better than those from Cairns. 
Before I go on to the reef I’ll mention Port  Douglas. It is beautiful and it really is so lovely. We walked around the town and it would be so easy to live there. The famous white church on the beach (St Mary’s by the sea) and Dickinson Inlet make for picturesque Sunday strolls and photo opportunities. There’s also a wealth of bars and eateries which we didn’t experience a lot of but I would definitely recommend Hemmingway’s brewery as they have a whole host of crafts beers, the most delicious alcoholic ginger beer and some tasty food! There’s also one in Cairns which has a trivia night on a Wednesday which is such good fun and it was the way we spent our last night in Australia! I’d definitely recommend a spot if only to quench your thirst. Now the reef; it’s everything you expect and more. The colours aren’t as vivid as those dramatised in magazines and books it’s actually more earthy colours which is wonderful as it means it’s healthy! It also worth noting; there has been episodes of bleaching and coral damage but it’s not as extensive as we see in the media. That’s not saying we don’t need to change our ways but don’t let anybody put you off experiencing the reef for yourself because I can promise you it’ll be one of he best experiences of your life. It was so good we opted to do it twice and both times we went from Port Douglas because we just didn’t like any of the companies in Cairns and really didn’t want to go from a pontoon where there would be way too many people. 
Rather than ramble I’ll give you a breakdown; 
Wavelength, Port Douglas – A company owned and operated by marine biologists with calibre of staff all trained as dive experts, marine biologists or specialists. The operation is run really professionally and with ease. It makes it so much easier for you as a customer and means you can really make the most of your day. We went on a day where the sea was exceptionally rough and it made a lot of people poorly so make sure you take the medication they tell you too PRIOR to getting on the boat and you should hopefully be ok! We experienced three spots on the Opal Reef but the company also go to Tongue Reef and ?????? Reef. The whole day was magic! We swam with a turtle with five minutes of being at the first spot and even managed to go on a snorkel tour with a marine biologist. This was  my favourite company to go with as they were so organised and professional. I’ve a massive fear of sharks so was a bit nervous about going in and even considered not doing it but he marine biologist gave such an interesting talk on reef sharks that I was intrigued rather than scared and literally jumped right in! The boat only held 45 which meant you could really get to know the staff and each other and it just made for an easy day of happy memories. 
Silverconic, Port Douglas – A franchise out of a mass owned company Quicksilver who own several operating boats from Port Douglas. The boat held 85 and held a lot more customers. They also offered the opportunity to dive which seemed to take priority and meant the day didn’t run smoothly and snorkelers were ordered about a little bit more i.e. had to watch lunch before entering the water a second time. There didn’t seem to be much freedom and there wasn’t any marine talks with biologists just site information. The best thing about this tour was the reef it visits. It goes to Agincourt reef which is somewhere actually visited by David Attenborough and the wealth of life in coral and fish in this area makes it worth the hustle and bustle of the tour. I managed to swim two turtles and swim with two sharks and Maori wrasse on Agincourt and that’s why I loved the day. 
Overall; Wavelength were the best company and if they managed to go to Agincourt then don’t even hesitate but to book with them. However; research the reefs prior and understand what it is that you want to see and base your choice from this. It’s only one day and although it’ll blow your mind it’s only a mere dot on the reef because it is so vast and so big! You’d never be able to see it all so choose wisely! 
In between visits to the reef we drove to Palm Cove and Clifton Beach taking in all the sights gifted to you as a passenger on the Great Barrier Reef highway. If you’re coming this way try and do the drive twice as it’s spectacular; especially on a clear day! 
Our last major excursion in Australia was the Kuranda train and then we made our way to Cairns where we spent our last few days. I wasn’t too impressed with Cairns and I think it’s more of a gateway to the Daintree, the Great Barrier Reef and also to Kuranda. 
We opted for the scenic railway up and the sky rail down. We zigzagged up mountains ascending 1 metre every 50 until we reached the highest point where we jumped out and looked out to Barron falls. The journey was absolutely spectacular and gives you more of a taste of the dense rainforest that this part of Queensland is so famous for. This is only heightened on the Sky rail which takes you over the tops of the trees, the Barron river and over the rainforests amongst the birds and the Ulysses butterflies. The view spanned for miles from the coral sea to the burdening mountains. Absolutely breathtaking! And just like that; it was all over. Australia completed!  We sold the car pretty quickly and with a looming home deadline we didn’t waste anytime and booked our flight over to New Zealand ready to continue this pretty epic adventure we’ve embarked on. 
I think I’ve left a huge part of me in Australia and it’s certainly left it’s mark on me (no sunburn though) and it’ll always hold a special place in my heart. We’re visiting friends back in Melbourne before we come home but we’re planning a big trip in a few years just to tick off some places we’ve missed but I have to say…as travelling goes; I think we’ve smashed it! 
Australia; you’ve been the dream. Over and out!

East Coast Australia; Sydney to Brisbane

Hello…sorry it’s been a while! The fact of the matter is; there’s far too much to see on the east coast and I’ve just been taking it all in and enjoying myself.

After our pretty intense Christmas and New Year stint and the craziness of the summer holidays still present we decided to lay low for a few days before we headed to Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay. The little break was very welcome and it was so lovely to not be rushing around and having to deal with really busy crowds even if only for three nights!

A lot of people seeing travelling as a ‘big holiday’ but it’s actually hard work and sometimes feels more like a chore! I’m glad to say though that this burdenous feeling has only hit me a couple of times and I’ve mostly loved the camper lifestyle!

This part of the east coast, like Sydney, has a few ocean pools and when the weather is scorching there genuinely isn’t a better place to be! Jump in, cool off and enjoy the crashing of the waves along the side gently showering you in salty water. They were great for camping as it meant we could free camp a bit longer as we were getting a swim and then a proper shower for free afterwards! Now that’s a savvy traveller tip for you!

Along the coast we drove to Coffs Harbour. As you guessed, a harbour! Full to the brim with yachts and boats, belonging to those with money trees in their gardens, simply bobbing away patiently awaiting their next outing. There’s a really gorgeous walk up the hill which overlooks the ocean, the harbour and the distant mountainous neighbours who are as plush as a tennis lawn! The walk can get quite steep but it really is gorgeous!

From Coffs Harbour we had a pit stop in Byron Bay. We planned to try and stay a couple of days but the volume of footfall meant it was super busy and expensive. The town itself is really chilled out and, aesthetically, has some of the most beautiful shops and restaurants and beaches but the beauty of this is was taken away by the mass of tourists and, mainly, backpackers. Sadly, this wasn’t for us so we decided to move further north. However, we did stop at the Cape Byron Lighthouse. What. A. Beauty!

Tall, naively elegant, bright against the vivid ocean blues and near the most easterly point of Australia. It’s not difficult to see why this place is so busy. It really is spectacular!

There’s a walk along to the Easterly point which takes you along the cliff edge looking down into the depths of the ocean. We were really lucky and managed to catch a glimpse of the ginormous sting rays just frolicking about. Those cheeky people pleasers!

Overall, I think I’d love Byron but crowds (on that scale) are simply not my cup of tea. Maybe we should try again out of the school holidays!

Those mountains I was talking about earlier? Well they hide away a completely different world; so vast from that of the coast. They offer shelter from the burning sun, plentiful walks for all abilities and also some of Queensland finest national parks. Some of them are quite famous, especially in the UK, as they are (one of) the host park(s) for I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! The park is superb there’s natural bridges, waterfalls a plenty and spectacular lookouts throughout. (The place where they do the shower scene? Well, I would not mind having to have a shower there!)

If the national park is not enough the drive to and out of it zig zags along the border of New South Wales and Queensland and offers lots of stop offs. My personal favourite on this drive and somewhere you should definitely visit is the ‘Best of All’ lookout. On a clear day the view stretches all the way to Byron Bay! Australia is full of sites like this which locals take for granted. They’re magic and they’re, almost, always free of charge. Some of the best things we’ve seen in Australia have been free and isn’t that just amazing!

After some awesome outback/rainforest adventures (and goats on the car) we were back on to the coast as we were approaching the Gold Coast. The place everybody raves about and tells you, you simply cannot miss! (Clue; That is a lie)

I’d just like to mention the best campsite we’ve come across on the East Coast; Hosanna Farm-stay. A religious campsite but views are not forced upon anyone. They have farm animals which they feed and let you help, a water slide and park for children. Most importantly; A DAM! A whole dam with kayaks and doughnuts to just have good fun! They even have a three metre diving board for children (and big kids) to practice their cannonballs on! Definitely check it out if you’re up this way!

Shortly before the Gold Coast though is a place called Burleigh Heads which has the famous snapper rocks, a gorgeous ocean pool and good surf. We sat on the bank soaking it all up whilst in Burleigh as it really was tremendously beautiful. As are the (almost unvisited) nearby areas; Fingal Head and Bogangar/Cabarita beach. The beach was a stop off to have a quick dip and watch some surfing! Excellent.

Fingal Head however, was one of my favourites spots to visit. It was breathtaking. This is the place which has its own version of Giants Causeway and is an ace place to spot some dolphins surfing the waves! There’s a lighthouse and a short walk but you could honestly sit up here for a couple of hours taking it all in! It really was magnificent.

So after all these beautiful places that nobody tells you about we were onto the Gold Coast which EVERYONE tells you about. We expected good things but honestly, we could have just driven through. We’d had some bad news that week and the tent was getting all too much so we decided to book into a fancy AirBnB and have three nights in the Gold Coast. The AirBnB was lovely, although quite an experience, (the host cast a spell on the car..) but the rest of the Gold Coast just wasn’t what I imagined and definitely didn’t feel right as a part of Australia. It was built up like places in Spain and it just felt really out of place. Surfers Paradise was wonderful to look at but, truthfully, I don’t think I’d recommend anybody come here for that; the beach is massive but you can only swim in certain areas and the water can get too rough so even surfers can’t go out! At the risk of sounding like a moaning Myrtle; the Gold Coast was the biggest disappointment in Australia.(Probably my only one…the mini golf is excellent though!)

Next up on our trip was a little island off of Brisbane called Russell Island. We ended up staying on Russell Island for two weeks with Sandy, Sarsha, Minx and Yolly the jack russel. Sandy was the sister to Wendy who we stayed with in Melbourne. We were once again, astonished by the kindness of some people and absolutely loved living with them in the most gorgeous wood house in an art community. Anybody who knows me knows that art is just not my thing. I don’t get it, I can appreciate beauty but other than aesthetics; it’s lost on me. However, being a part of a household with two artists I realised that actually art can be something just aesthetically pleasing and not all artists are awfully judgemental! We even went with their group to do some art work, ‘Mud Lines’. Mud lines is about using what’s around you; leaves, branches and clay and create whatever you want. Nick laughed at me but I was quite proud of my fairy and mushroom! (Albeit I cursed a lot at the clay)

It was a strange two weeks but one of those experiences that we will never forget. I think I’ve said this in every blog but just speak to people. It’s different in Australia. People have more trust and seem to be able to read people. If you’re kind, helpful or even just courteous; that could land you a stay in an Australian home and I promise you, you just won’t ever experience anything like it. It’s so unique. So far we’ve stayed in seven (SEVEN!!!) different houses and not one experience has been the same. We’ve got one more house to stay in near the end of our trip aswell. How lucky are we!

We also went on a couple of trips with Sandy and Sarsha and of course; Yolly. (My favourite dog in Australia.)

We visited an art exhibition in Brisbane which was really quite brilliant so much better than the pompous displays we saw in South Australia and MoMA. Then followed it up with a Vietnamese meal and swim in the Southbank pools. We ‘ummed’ and ‘ahhhed’ as to whether to go but it was brilliant!

Our other trip and definitely one of my highlights (we hadn’t even heard of this island) was our visit to North Stradbroke Island or as the Aussies call it ‘Stradie’. It was an absolute ball ache to get to and from Russell island but it would be a doddle if you stayed on the mainland. You simply hop on the ferry, enjoy the sites for half an hour and then hop on a bus to take you to see the good stuff! We walked along the boardwalk to get to the beach and it was breathtakingly beautiful the whole way along. The walk should only take about half an hour but when you stop every two minutes to take a photograph and then you see huge pods of dolphins, manta rays and turtles. It’s just magic that you don’t want to end! Honestly, it was beautiful and then you treat yourself after a dash along the excruciatingly hot sand with a dip in the sea as you jump into the waves. It just doesn’t get better than that. (Although fish and chips on the beach was an excellent addition!)

After two blissful weeks (although mosquito bites ruined the bliss. Russell island is a mosquito haven and if you’re allergic it’s not good. Take plenty of repellant, I use roll on as spray isn’t enough, and a first aid cream) we prepared for the new addition on the trip (no, not Yolly!) Nick’s brother Dave! He decided to fly out and do the last leg of the trip with us. We were meeting him in Brisbane and booked another Airbnb so we didn’t introduce him straight to the camping lifestyle after a twenty-four flight! The next part of the trip should be interesting as we’ve literally had no room in the car and now we’ve created space for one other person! It’s going to be strange going from two to three and it’s definitely going to be a welcome change in conversation. We’re going to have another voice! Haha!

Overall, this part of the East Coast was lovely. Exceptionally beautiful in parts and in others; it just didn’t compare to what we had seen earlier in our travels. I do think that the school holidays had some effect on us as we couldn’t enjoy anything as much without huge crowds. The places that were unheard of and quiet are the areas that will make me smile whenever I think of them! (Springbrook, Stradie and Fingal Head; here’s looking at you!)

Fraser Island, Queensland

My apologises for having gone AWOL for over two months but I’ve just been enjoying myself too much! There will be a big post covering the east coast soon but I thought I’d cover Fraser Island separately as it can be a bit of a mind field when you start looking at all the options!

Fraser Island; the largest sand island in the world, the home of the purest dingoes in the world and, quite frankly, breathtakingly beautiful.

As I said, there are loads of options for Fraser Island. Take your own 4WD car over on the ferry, hire a 4WD and follow a plan to ensure you’re driving at safe times or, like we did, go with a tour company so you can all enjoy it and nobody has to get stressed about sinking in the sand. (Hint; That was me.)

We opted for the tour company Fraser Explorer Tours. The company catered for everyone; explorers for anybody and Cool Dingoes for those between the ages of 18-35. The only reason we went with this company is because they were the only ones who could fit three of us in without us having to wait a few weeks. (Nick’s brother only had a limited amount of time and we had some distance to cover so we couldn’t wait around!)

Overall, the two day one night option was great, the accommodation was lovely and the all you can eat buffets for each meal were cherished after living off noodles and pasta for a while! They do offer longer trips but they were unfortunately a little out of our price range!

The trip begins with an early morning pick up from either Rainbow beach or Hervey Bay. We opted for Rainbow Beach and we’re greeted by a massive four wheel drive bus; it was quite a site seeing that coming down the road! The bus then takes you along to the ferry which you’d access by a short drive over the sand. It was at this point in the day where I realised we’d made the right decision to not hire a car. Tourists and experienced 4WD drivers alike were stuck at this point, having not even got on to the island!

After a short crossing we arrived and it was one hell of a bumpy journey! Exhilarating driving so close to the upcoming tide but nauseating being zigzagged across the beach to the safest spots of sand! (Tip; take travel sickness BEFORE you’re picked up; I didn’t take any until we did our first stop for morning tea but at that point it was already too late! (See photo evidence)

After a brief morning tea stop we were onto Lake McKenzie or, as I like to call it, paradise. The lake has a high PH level which means that algae can’t grow and no fish can live in the lake so it is literally crystal clear water. The clear light blue shortly turns to the deepest shade of navy indicating the depths below. We spent around an hour here and we didn’t get out once. It was lovely to cool off from that burning Australian sun and the rough journey there! It started off so well and it really was going to be hard to top this spot off!

It was back to the accommodation for lunch and then onto a super busy afternoon!

Stop 1; SS Maheno shipwreck – a ship bought by the Japanese that was wrecked when they attempted to take home. The ship has stayed wrecked on the beach ever since the incident and it is slowly and gracefully rotting away; whittling down to sweet nothing. It’s spectacular actually to see it, how big it was and how tragic it’s demise is. Now it’s just an excellent photo opportunity!

Stop 2; At the very top of the island (as far as you can drive) is Indian Head and the infamous Champagne pools. Now the pools were closed so I can’t make comment on them but Indian Head. What a spot! It’s a close call with lake Mckenzie as to my favourite spot on Fraser Island! There’s a short but steep walk along burning hot sand which takes you high up and around 200m into the ocean. The real treat we had was four frolicking manta rays swimming around showing off their majestic size and underside and two tiger sharks swimming up from the depths so we could see them clear as day! It was scary how clear they were from such a distance and really puts into perspective how big they really are! We stayed here for almost an hour and it was amazing to stand so high up and simply take it all in. We were very lucky to see all of this (the guide told us) they don’t usually see sharks or mantas as typically it’s turtles and sting rays!

Stop 3; Eli Creek. Another beautiful and shallow swimming spot where we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Fraser Island’s famous dingoes! Absolutely gorgeous and they look like dogs but should in no way be treated like a dog and rather; admired from afar. The creek runs along down towards the sea (which you can’t actually go in due to its sheer ferocity, stingers and those pesky sharks I mentioned earlier!) The creek’s water is so pure that it is clear and with the sand on the bottom it actually looks like someone has put in a concrete path! It’s great fun to walk down or even better to float down in a doughnut! Completely blissful and ultimate chill time.

From here it was on to accommodation for the night! A massive room with three separate beds was a very welcome change from the tent! We stayed at the Eurong Beach Resort. It was spotless, the staff friendly and the food was good so it’s a thumbs up from me!

After a good nights rest it was another early start ready for another jam packed day.

Stop 4; Lake Wabby – This was perhaps my least favourite stop. The walk to the lake is not very fun in the scorching heat and it takes around 45 minutes which of course you have to do on the way back! This involves a climb up a sand dune with the sun literally sizzling the sand which, in turn, sizzles your feet! It was beautiful but a bit smelly and the water was full of little fish who like to eat dead skin so not really my cup of tea! Lots of people said it was their favourite spot so always have an open mind! The walk also boasted a whole host of Australian wildlife including some pretty impressive orb spiders, lizards and goannas!

(Worth noting is to take insect repellant; the mosquitoes are bad but they are nothing in comparison to the horse flies. They are vicious!)

Stop 5; Another top swim spot Lake Birrabeen. A lot quieter than the other swim spots and just lovely. The water was lovely and cool and it was really shallow for around 100 metres which was great for sunbathing whilst remaining cool! This was also the spot where we had our picnic lunch which was great but seating was limited as was the shade!

Tip; If you’re doing it on your own I’d make sure you carry an umbrella just incase all the seats are taken and you can’t find any shade! Make sure you only eat in the designated picnic areas as most places are food free zones to protect yourself and also to protect the dingoes. (Beware of dingoes!)

Stop 6; Central Station and the rainforest walk. The station was the heart of the timber industry back in the day where it was the main work on Fraser Island until tree numbers deteriorated so much the government said that’s enough. The station has still got the houses and work stations with lots of interesting information about them all whilst completely surrounded by some of the tallest and magnificent trees you’ll ever see! From here we took a short stroll along the boardwalk with our guide who then sent us on our way through the rainforests for around 2km. It was breathtakingly magnificent, alive with sounds and vibrant in colours. The walk wasn’t difficult and it was so cool under the shaded canopy of the trees! A must do on Fraser Island. It gives it something a bit different. It’s not all sand and lakes!

And that was that. Our trip to Fraser Island had ended. Content but sleepy we headed back onto our bus along to the ferry where I was greeted by my final ‘ta-ra’ from Fraser Island when I saw a manta ray jump out of the water and I was the only one to see it as it just happened so fast! It was one of the best things I’ve ever seen!

(Make sure you get out onto the ferry as you just don’t know what you might get a glimpse of!)

Overall Fraser Island was something I was glad that we did and had planned to do. It’s expensive and when travelling to have such a substantial chunk of money spent on something short is a big commitment.

I was glad that we chose to do a tour just because the driving on the island was treacherous and a little bit scary. I’d only do it if I was an experienced 4WD driver and I had a trusted car that I knew would see me through. It was alarming how many cars you actually saw bogged down and blocking the roads and it was a hassle we just didn’t want to have. That being said, it was our first experience of being herded in Australia. We bought our own car so we’ve been free to do whatever we wanted for 8 months with no commitments or time frames so it was difficult to adjust to that but it was only two days and it was lovely to not actually have to think and rather just be told!

Side Note; there are a lot of visitors to the island and it also seems like a backpackers rite of passage so they are everywhere but it’s easy to forget them when you just take in the scenery!

Fraser Island is beautiful and is well worth a visit. The drive along the 75 mile highway is something you’ll never forget and it’s such good fun seeing the tide come in one side and looking out for dingoes on the other side all whilst being thrown about as if on a rollercoaster!

A gorgeous place, lots of laugh and wonderful memories to last a lifetime.