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Hervey Bay and Fraser Island

semi-overcast

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Having spent 14 and half hours on the greyhound bus, we were relieved to finally arrive at Hervey Bay. Sam's highlight was helping the bus driver change a flat tyre. E-J was just extremely pleased to have survived the crazy journey having experienced some hairy moments, including having her head smashed against the window when the bus driver (who looked uncannily like Frank Butcher) accelerated a little too fast around a bend.

However, when we did finally arrive, we hadn't expected to find the place quite so spread out, so we quickly jumped in one of the backpacker transfer buses and headed to the cheapest hostel we could find, to make up for the loses we had made over the last few days. The hostel we stayed in was very basic, but the one thing it had was the kindest and most helpful lady on the reception, which made all the difference.

Having organised with her for the Fraser Island tour company to pick us up from the hostel the next day, we set about exploring the place.

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The beach itself was very pretty and deserted, but the town only seemed to have one main strip of extremely depressing shops and cafes. Spending all of two hours wandering around the beach and the streets, we realised there really wasn't that much more to do here, so set about spending a bit of time on the net trying to plan our next part of the trip.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, but we found an amazing Thai restaurant for supper, which really was the highlight of the day.

We were up early the following day, excited to be visiting the largest sand island in the world. It stretches over 123 kilometers in length and 22 kilometers at its widest point. We were greeted by a friendly coach driver who took us to the harbour, then after a pleasant but cold boat crossing we found ourselves on Fraser Island and started to make our way to the tour coach, which would be taking us around the island for the day. E-J had hoped to spend a few days camping on the island with a group, driving around in a 4WD, but Sam had put his foot down, saying he was not in the mood for camping with a pack of nineteen year olds, so we had comprised on the one day guided tour.

When we entered the coach and found the average age of people on the bus to be in the 60-70 year old mark, we realised we may have made a slight error with the type of tour. This was then confirmed when the bus driver proceeded to sing poems and rhymes about his entire life story to us.

This sent E-J into an emotional downturn or what is commonly known as a tantrum! She really didn't want to hear about how the bus driver's fat mother-in-law had been mistaken for a whale and pushed into the sea, or how ever the silly story went. Sam on the other hand wanted to stay positive. Our first stop was the Coloured Sands (The Coloured Pinnacles), which were made up of 72 different colours of sand. On arriving, there was the usual rush of everyone trying to push their way to the look out point and take a photo without any other tourist managing to walk into view. Although we were not mesmerised by this first attraction, we found light relief in having a few minutes away from our Sean Connery look-alike tour guide.

As you can see, our moods were of similar variety to the contrast of Coloured Sands:

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After a brief photo session, we got back on the old pensioners bus and headed for Eli Creek. During the warmer time of year, many people like to wade up the crystal clear waters and then let the light rapids take them back down again, which leads onto the seventy five mile beach, but with the weather being slightly blustery, Sam decided only to walk down whilst E-J took in the views.

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With Sam's shorts now soaked at the bottom and E-J's mood not improving, our next stop was the Mahemo Shipwreck along 75-mile beach. This ship was originally built in Scotland in 1905 and had been a luxury cruise ship sailing between Sydney and Auckland. She had also been the fastest turbine steamer of her time. However when she crashed in 1935, she then became target practise for the airforce during the Second World War as well as practise for the Z force, in planting limpet mines to her and blowing them up, which meant there really wasn't that much left of her to see.

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The Seventy Five Mile beach was beautiful, but it was windy and cold that day, which meant we couldn't stand out there for too long. Also it is a highway, which means you have to be careful of all the coaches and 4WD, which are constantly zooming by.

Aware that the tide was quickly coming in, the tour guide hurried us all to take our photos and jump back on the bus. The journey back to the island resort for lunch didn't help morale when a huge wave hit the side of the bus and a blast of water sprayed through the bottom or side of the coach, drenching Sam and the man in front! It was the only moment of the day when E-J was in uncontrollable laughter! Sam just tried to dry off from this unexpected car wash!

Our half hour break for lunch was light relief from the rest of the group, although the disappointing food was little comfort for either of us.

With mild indigestion and the bus driver hurrying us all up, the Saga group and ourselves boarded the bus bound for a nature walk around the island. Taking in the walk, we were told how the Australian's had invented camouflage, which was due to them noticing how trees found on Fraser Island had camouflaged bark.

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We were also told of all the deadly snakes and insects which also lived here and E-J was rather relieved not to be spending the night there after all.

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Our last part of the trip took us to Lake Mackenzie. This clear blue water lake is ringed with the whitest and finest sand ever. we were told that if we were wearing any gold or silver to rub this sand into it, as it would bring out the shine. We enjoyed the fine sight until two minutes into arriving, a few drops of rain started to pour down.

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After a quick photo or two we boarded the bus one final time and suffered some further painful poems from our driver. We couldn't wait to get on the ferry! Just when we thought things couldn't get any worst, the passengers at the front of the bus broke into jovial song, "for he's a jolly good driver, for he's a jolly good driver". This was the final straw to our disastrous tour and we just wanted out!

We sat on the ferry reflecting on our trip with relief and slight disappointment. We both knew that the only way to salvage the rest of the day was to enjoy another fine Thai meal!!

Sam's Comments: The Thai meal was the only high point on a disappointing part of the trip.

E-J's Comments: I was really sad to be so disappointed by Fraser Island, as I had heard so many good things about it. I found it to be so commercialised now, like some kind of Disney ride - here is this, here is that, snap snap of the photos and onto the next sight. I think I would have got more out of it had I either been a 70 year old pensioner or an 18 year just wanting to get drunk on the beach.

Posted by E-J 23:53 Archived in Australia

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Mama Bear & I took it in turns to read out your fascinating account of this chapter. We noticed that most of your highlights involve food & drink. I personally was intrigued by the texture of the sand and its multicolour layering. Could you let us know approximately how many colours there were? Did the bus driver sing Waltzing Mathilda? What year was the bus manufactured? Did it carry a defibulator?

by Papa Bear

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