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Archive for the ‘Fraser Island’ Category

After almost five months in Australia, having sneakily avoided winter, I’m settling back into London life. When I think about my most recent travel adventure, I suppose I was able to see quite a lot of Australia, but really, I didn’t see half of it. This is one big country. I passed through five of Australia’s eight states and territories, saw cities, the ocean and the outback and I left thousands of miles uncovered. But what I did see, I’ll never forget.

I loved wandering through Darling Harbour or taking the ferry to Manly Beach in Sydney, exploring the great cafés and night spots in Melbourne, and hitting some of the fantastic museums in Canberra.

In the Northern Territory, I got a taste of what I’ve always imagined to be ‘real’ Australia (not that the cities are any less real) in the Outback. I walked around Ayers Rock and ran under its waterfalls after the rain, trekked through the Valley of the Winds in Kata Tjuta, and hiked around the rim of Kings Canyon. I drove past herds of wild camels, slowly backed away from a Western Brown Snake (one of the deadliest in the world), and evicted various lethal spiders that had found their way indoors.

On the coast, I got to see some music legends at the Byron Bay Bluesfest before heading up to the Whitsundays for a spot of sailing among these beautiful islands. I walked across pure white sand on Whitehaven Beach, and went snorkeling around the most amazing reef I’ve ever seen. The Great Barrier Reef isn’t world famous for nothing after all.

And finally I got to explore the famous Fraser Island – the largest sand island in the world, with its stunning freshwater lakes and abundant dingo population.

My list of Australian memories could go on, but the list of things I still want to see is even longer. It is almost impossible to really convey how fantastically huge and diverse this country is. I’m glad I got to see what I did, and I can’t wait for my chance to see more. The plane ride has never been more worthwhile.

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So after I recovered from the shock of jumping out of the plane, I hit that annoying (for everyone else) stage where I could not stop talking about it. “I just jumped out of a plane! I can’t believe I just jumped out of a plane. Wow, that really just happened…” on and on it went. I did eventually get the hint, I promise, but not for a bit. You stop being aware of other people’s reactions to a thing like that after awhile…

I met up with the Fraser Island group (the ones that got stuck sorting out the 4×4s and doing the grocery shopping) and hopped into the back of our truck to head to the largest sand island in the world.

After navigating the bumpy (huge understatement) trails, and getting just a tiny bit lost, we found Lake Wabbe. Actually, we found a trail and a towering sand hill that promised to have a lake on the other side. I wasn’t so convinced. But we’d come all that way, so we started to trek up the sand. The steep, slippery, hot sand. When we finally made it to the top, it was totally worth the sweat. The view was fantastic, and luckily there was indeed a lake. Good thing because getting hot and sweaty after a shower free few days is not so nice… A family that had beat us there had boogie boards and the kids were surfing down the sand hill into the lake which made us all incredibly jealous. But we still all barrelled down and collapsed into the cool water. Definitely worth taking a boogie board if you’re going though.

By the way – don’t touch the catfish. They’ll swim around you and act all friendly, but according to our Australian friend, they were armed with poisonous barbs. No thanks. According to the same man, Lake Wabby also has crocodiles. Apparently they’re only baby crocodiles, but then my question is, where the mama? Just sayin…

Every day in Fraser Island was spent speeding down endless white beaches, finding fresh water lakes, champagne pools and breathtaking lookouts, then firing up the barbeques and camping out in dingo-safe circles. The dingoes still got in, but they didn’t cause us any trouble. No babies being eaten here. We saw rays, dolphins, dingos, and the most postcard perfect places I’ve seen in awhile. An island paradise if there ever was one.

Even though I left Fraser with a slightly bruised bum, camping on this stunning island was the best thing I could have done for my last few days in Australia. After this it was on to Sydney for one night before heading back to London town. Oh yea, and I showered once back on the mainland again. Best. Shower. Ever. Although my five days shower free were pretty unforgettable.

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After my days on the Hammer, it was onto the bus for a 13-hour drive down Australia’s East Coast. After watching The Green Mile on the bus television, I did my best to get my dream on, but it’s not the easiest in a cramped upright seat. Oh well. Arriving at about 6 in the morning in Hervey Bay, I got picked up by the Palace Adventures hostel van and taken to check in. Two hours later I was sitting in the lounge room listening to the most painful government safety video. Ever. I was headed to Fraser Island that morning on a three-day camping trip to the largest sand island in the world. I tried my best to listen about dingoes, camping, cooking and driving on dunes, but if I’m honest, I was dozing off… Hey, what can I say, no sleep and a poorly shot film doesn’t help with the whole staying awake thing.

After that, me and all the other backpackers were split into groups to go into the 4×4s. Then we were told about our chores for the morning. Go to the garage. Pick up the 4×4s. Inspect them. Pack the camping gear. Go to the supermarket and plan our meals. Fun. Times… Or…….

After we got our safety lesson, a man came in and gave us another option. I was way too tired to know what was going on and getting out of the morning chores sounded good so I raised my hand…and volunteered to jump out of a plane. Ummm what?

I’d always wanted to go skydiving, but it’s an expensive adventure and I never felt like I could justify the cost. But on this particular morning, I had less than a week left in Australia, and no time to lose. So there I was sitting there with my hand up taking one of four spots to get into a plane and fly over one of the most beautiful scenes

I didn’t really have any time to think about any fears I might have, which is probably best anyway. I got into the tiniest tin can of a plane with my instructor and one other jumping couple. Then before I knew it, a door was opened, a massive gush of wind hit my face, and two people were falling out of the plane.

A voice in my ear was saying “right, okay, left leg over, right leg over, cross your arms, let’s go!” Thank GOODNESS I had no time to pause (the man tightly strapped to my back wasn’t exactly going to stop moving no matter what I did) otherwise who knows what would have happened. But what did happen. Was amazing.

That first second of panic quickly passed on to sheer joy and excitement. It was unreal, and hard to describe, but now I can say that I jumped out of a plane, AND I got to skip the morning chores. Success.

Next, it was off to Fraser Island for three days of camping and swimming in rivers. I was starting to get used to this whole not showering thing,..

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