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Archive for February 21st, 2010

Brisbane and Frasier Island

After Byron Bay, we made our way up the Gold Coast for a short stop in Brisbane, which would serve as the base for our trip out to Frasier Island.

Frasier Island is the largest sand island in the world (123 kilometers), home to a few hundred residents, a couple of ‘resorts’, and a bunch of dingos. There are two ways to explore the island: a) a tour agency organizes groups of eight or nine people and gives you camping equipment, a map, the keys to a 4-wheel drive, and you are free to explore the island on your own or b) you can do a tour with a guide who drives you around and drops you off at various cool spots. I knew immediately I did not want to do the self-drive tour, as I’m a freak about driving on rough terrain (all of the ‘roads’ on the island are sand), and since all of the 2 or 3 day tours didn’t align with our travel schedule, we opted for the one-day guided tour. It also happened to be Australia Day, which is basically their July 4th here. We’d be missing all of the parties in town, but really wanted to see Frasier and it was the only way we could do it.

We met our guide, Graham, at the bus station with the rest of our group, piled into a cramped Range Rover and made the three hour drive to Rainbow Beach. From there we took a short ferry over to Frasier and cruised along the 75-mile beach. Unfortunately, you can’t swim here, as the waters are breeding grounds for tiger sharks. After snapping some photos, we headed inland to check out Lake Birrabeen, a freshwater lake with a white sand beach.

75-Mile Beach

Driving inland on the sand roads was not pleasant for me. Most people get a thrill out of off-road driving, but it’s just not my cup of tea. The roads on Frasier are really rough and it amazes me that companies give a vehicle to any 21-year old with a drivers license and let them have at it. People constantly get stuck in the sand here, damage the trucks, or worse yet, roll their vehicle. Kelly and I did hear that after March, the government is no longer going to allow self-drive tours and I can clearly see why.

At first driving on the sand roads was ok, but after 20 minutes of all of us getting jostled around, I began to feel a little woozy. It was also around this time that our vehicle started to overheat and we would have to stop every so often to let the engine cool down. Great.

Once we finally reached the beach, our jaws dropped. It was absolutely stunning. The water was clearer than any I’ve seen and we spent an hour or so swimming and lounging before having a picnic lunch.

 

Yes, that's a lake

Whoa!

Chillin'

Since Graham was concerned about the vehicle overheating again and us missing the last ferry back to the mainland, we skipped our next stop on the tour and made a brief visit to Central Station to do a quick walk through the rainforest. Once again, we made our way back to the 75-mile beach and had to stop on several occasions to let the engine cool down.

 

Our guide, Graham, showing us a cool tree

Car Troubles

Another tour bus happened to be driving past, so to lighten the load in our vehicle (which would in turn help with the engine overheating), we all piled into the other bus for a ride back to the pier. Long story short, Graham made it back to Rainbow Beach with the car and we made the long drive back to Brisbane. Being Australia Day and all, Kelly, Graham and I celebrated with a couple of beers at a nearby bar and called it a night.

Brisbane

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