fraser island: 4×4 hummer expedition

From Hervey Bay or Noosa? Which port to choose? Are their rentals at both ports? Are they available? How much? What is the difference between renting a 4X4 on the mainland vs. on Fraser? How long are the safety videos? What time do the ferries leave? What is the best and most reputable company for rentals? What happens if we get stuck? What time is the return ferry? Where we will park our ‘other’ rental? How much is the deposit? Are we camping there? Where can we camp? What should we bring? What’s Kingfisher Bay Resort? How long will it take to drive around the island? When are the tides? Who do we call if we get stuck in a tidal zone? Etc. OMG.

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BOTTOM LINE: TOO MUCH STRESS.

After driving for two weeks, Devin was confident in his ability to drive in Australia. Yeah, yeah, left side of the road. We know, the turn signal is switched with the windshield wipers. But, adding all of these above questions in addition to driving a 4X4 vehicle on Fraser Island? Ehh… Warning notifications were posted on every rental website, experience was a must, etc.IMG_20150213_125321

In hindsight, Ryann is very convinced that Devin could have, and would have done an excellent job. But, why bother? Why add more self-driving and staggering amount stress to the Australia trip? Devin would’ve been concentrating on driving too much, rather than looking out the windows and enjoying the mini-excursion. It’s supposed to be a VACATION. So, our recommendation is to sit back, relax and leave it to the experts and guides.

That is why we decided to skip the rental and instead, go on a tour in a big ol’ American-made Hummer.

[Side note: We decided to take the trip from Hervey Bay and not Noosa, because it was closer to all the attractions on Fraser Island and would have more time on the island before tides and at each stop.]

Getting to Fraser Island

We were picked up at our accommodation in Hervey Bay early in the morning. The other couple was already in the hummer which meant we were off! We were given water bottles and settled into the cozy leather seats. We had to split up because of the number of seats, and we would all take turns sitting up front throughout the day.

IMG_20150213_164310Our driver took us to the ferry terminal, where we made a last-minute bathroom break. From there, we all waited outside of the Hummer with a medium-sized crowd of others for the ferry to return from the island. Fifteen minutes or so passed by, and then we returned to the vehicle to drive aboard the ferry. Once all the vehicles were loaded and it was “deemed safe,” we were invited to walk around the ferry, but had to return 10 minutes before arriving to Fraser Island.

We sat on the top deck of the ferry and scoured the waters for dolphins or other sea life. To no avail, all we saw were the occasional birds. This would be a true-telling theme for the rest of the trip.

It was time, so we returned to the Hummer and climbed back in. We looked at the other drivers and saw some other brave travelers ready for their attempt at driving on Fraser Island. We started to doubt a little, wondering if it was all a big fuss or lie, invented to promote tourism through guides and personal drivers. We pulled off the ferry and were on our way.

Central StationIMG_20150213_134626

As soon as we left the ferry, our driver took us through what is called “Central Station.” In short, it’s what’s considered “the bush.” Lots and lots and lots of trees. Luckily for us, our driver named every single species of plant, tree and other fauna. What was impressive at first, quickly became irritating. As our driver droned on, using both the mainstream and scientific names of the plant-life, we held onto our seatbelts and seats. SO BUMPY. Devin and Ryann exchanged knowing looks, thank God we didn’t rent a car. SO BUMPY. Finally, we turned a corner and saw civilization again, what looked to be a hotel or other business of some sort. It wasn’t a tree or a bush, so we didn’t hear about it from our guide.

Maheno Shipwreck

We knew we wanted to see a shipwreck while in Australia. We were originally planning on visiting Moreton Island IMG_20150213_101957but decided Fraser Island included more and ranked higher on the “must-see” list. No, you could not snorkel or scuba dive around this shipwreck, but the story behind Maheno was irrevocably extraordinary. But hurry! Every second that passes, the ship continues to sink below the sand. Our guide predicted that it will be fully buried by the year 2025 (we’ll see if he’s right!).

To read about the history, visit here.

We were here when we realized how fortunate we were to not be in a large tour group. Two tour buses full of tourists came right after we finished taking all the pictures we wanted. We were enjoying our coffee and cookies while watching the tourists try to take pictures without other people in the shots. Thank goodness, we beat them. We quickly chewed and swallowed our “breakfast” and hurried to the next stop, ahead of the buses.

The Pinnacles/ Colored Sands

We stopped here to learn about the Aboriginal history and practices as well as the geographical information.  If you’ve visited Sedona, you probably won’t be as fascinated as the next person would be. Apparently there are up to 72 different colors found in the sand. Who counted, we’ll never know. Moreover, according to our guide, this was the meeting point where women would convene during menstrual cycles. He also made an off-color joke regarding the “colored sands.” Sorry for the pun…

Eli Creek

Probably during your research, you’ll read about “tubing down Eli Creek.” If anyone has found this to be an adrenaline rush or exhilarating in the least, then they probably passed out on the ferry ride. The creek water level IMG_20150213_111115was about thigh-high for us. The water barely moved, but definitely stirred enough in order to filter the water, the creek was Neutrogena-approved: “clean and clear and under control.” We walked on the wooden board walk (5 minutes max.) to the end to the descent into the creek. Take notice of the No Diving signs. We agreed that if someone dove into this water, then surely the brain damage that would result wouldn’t make much difference to their prior life’s decisions.

The walk back in the creek was about 10 minutes, splashing through the water. Guys, please do not pretend to your girlfriend that you see water snakes as Devin did for Ryann at this time.

After our strenuous and tiresome drudge through the terrifying waters (sarcasm at its best), we read information about the dingoes on the island. We both hoped we’d have a dingo sighting. A nice, safe dingo sighting. This also may have inadvertently inspired us to adopt our own version of a dingo: an Australian Cattle Dog.

IMG_20150213_105133We laid on the beach for the remainder of our time at this stop, workin’ on our tan burn.

Lunch

After leaving Eli Creek, we ate lunch at Central Station. For this particular tour, our guide presented us with Tupperware packed cold cuts, pasta salad and apples. The food was, meh. We will leave it at that, for it was exactly, “nothing to write home about.”

P.s. Still no dingoes.

Lake McKenzie

After lunch, we drove to Lake McKenzie. This was undeniably our highlight of Fraser Island. Sensational. Spectacular. Blissful. Which descriptive adjective is most appropriate to use that best portrays Lake McKenzie? Perfect. Yes, we agree that Lake McKenzie was perfect (minus the fact that we still did not spot any dingoes).IMG_20150213_150015_panoramaThe water was crystal-clear and bathwater warm. Our guide explained to us that this lake, is not really quite a lake. It’s more of a giant puddle of rainwater. That is the easiest way to illustrate and explain Lake McKenzie. Somehow, of course, there managed to be little fish in the water.  God can only explain His reasoning for putting them there because the water is 100% leftover rain. But more realistically, not 100% due to the tourists, if you know what I mean.

We swam around, where in all of Australia, Ryann felt perfectly safe. There were no poisonous jellyfish or octopus here to be wary of. Only miniature, magically-appearing fish.

When we returned to the Hummer, our guide treated us with Lindor truffles and glasses of champagne. Yes, please.

Returning to Hervey Bay

Our mini-excursion was coming to an end. We had to ride though one last stretch of uncomfortably rough and bumpy terrain before returning to the dock. This was also when our guide gave us “Hummer” candy. We survived our day on Fraser Island. No dingo attacks. No tidal accidents. Sure, we didn’t make it to the Champagne Pools, but we DID enjoy a pleasantly long rest at Lake McKenzie. Plus, we heard a few days later that there was another serious injury due to the mussels and conditions of the rocks found in Champagne Pool. It’s not the safest place! We boarded the ferry and made our way back.

Although we failed to have a dingo sighting, Fraser Island remains a successful visit on our itinerary.

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