Normally, I like to do things myself. So far, I’d hired a car and driven myself to Rainbow Beach from Melbourne, created my own itinerary and gave myself tours around everywhere I wanted to see. I knew Fraser Island wasn’t going to be like that and I wasn’t looking forward to it.
I’d seen that Fraser Island was the highlight of a lot of people’s East Coast trip, so I needed to do it, but the effort of finding a 4WD to hire, getting a permit to visit the island and figuring out things to see while I was there. It was kind of exhausting, not to mention expensive. I decided a tour would be the best option. Besides, I actually like tours when I’m on them. Finding out interesting facts about the island from a person who’s been doing this stuff for years, you can’t get that from a self-drive tour, but I’m stubborn and still wanted this to be my trip when I did everything by myself. Still, you can’t have everything, can you? I booked a tour.
I originally planned to have three days exploring Fraser, but those tours were out of my budget so I booked the one-day one instead. This way I could go all out in the Whitsundays later on.
I booked the tour a week before and as I was sat in my camper in Rainbow beach with the rain pouring down, I wondered if I had made a mistake. I couldn’t possibly do Fraser in this weather, could I? I didn’t want to give up, so I didn’t cancel my trip and I’m glad I didn’t. Like everyone else, Fraser Island ended up being the highlight of my East Coast road trip too, despite the rain.
Firstly, I was picked up from the petrol station in Rainbow Beach. Yes, this town is so tiny it only has one petrol station and it’s the only one for miles. Stock up while you can. There was about thirty or so people on the bus, so clearly I wasn’t the only one not deterred by the bad weather.
Because of the bad weather, our driver had to drive down the old mining track rather than the Seventy-Five Mile Beach. Here, we saw two young dingo pups playing in the grass. Fraser Island is famous for dingos and this was a treat for us as a sighting of them is actually quite rare according to the other people I’ve met who’ve been.I got talking to a Dutch girl and a Norwegian girl, because we were the only three young, blonde girls travelling alone. This is one of the most rewarding things about tour groups, it’s easy to find your people. Unfortunately, we weren’t together long as they were both on the three day tour.
After breakfast (a tea and coffee stop at a local hotel), our guide drove us to Lake McKenzie where I happily dove into the crystal clear rainwater lake and swam around with the fish for a while. I even witnessed a man yelling to his kids when it started to rain again, ‘quick kids, get out of the water, you’re gonna get wet!’ and that sentence alone made the whole day worth it.After Lake McKenzie, everyone on the two, three and five day tours said goodbye leaving six of us left on our tour bus. A German couple, a newly wed Aussie and New Zealand couple, me and the driver, whose name was Cam.We did a short bush walk through the old logging village, then climbed back on the bus for a quick lunch at the same hotel as breakfast. There was a few vegan options here so I ate as much as I could then it was time for our next stop. The SS Maheno shipwreck. We didn’t stay here for long. The storm made it difficult to get pictures. Every other tour bus around the shipwreck had queues of people taking pictures from the doorway, however the five of us on our tour were crazy enough to actually explore.Next up was the coloured sands. Before the tour started the most common question everyone wanted to ask Cam was, ‘is Fraser Island even going to be worth it in this weather?’ and he replied, ‘coloured sands will be good.’ Apparently, the rain brought out the colour in the coloured sands. Science.I was the only one on the tour bus who remained fully dressed to go and see the sands. Everyone else stripped down to his or her swimsuits and I don’t blame them. The rain was now as strong as a shower. I got soaked.
Finally, we ventured back down the Seventy-Five Mile Beach to Eli Creek, a place where it’s expected to get soaked. Even I decided to leave my clothes on the coach this time. You’re supposed to walk down the walkway, dive in the creek then float your way back to the beginning of the walkway. It was so much fun and actually the epitome of what I expected from backpacking around Australia. My stubborn, lone-wolf style of driving up the East Coast and living in a Camper hadn’t allowed me any time to do anything crazy like this so far and I really appreciated it.Overall, I’d definitely recommend Fraser Island, even when the weather’s bad. The pictures all looked rubbish, but the experience itself was unforgettable. My only regret was not making time to stay for longer.