On a brisk Ekka Holiday Wednesday morning, eight vehicles assembled at 4.00am at the Twin Shells at Wild Horse Mountain for a 4.30am departure. Being a blue trip, we had one visitor, Ross Clark. All loaded up with coffee, it was (apparently) a surprising on time departure up the Bruce Highway. Once we turned right at Gympie, heading to Rainbow Beach, the fog rolled in! But it made for a glorious arrival as the fog lifted and the sun rose over Rainbow Beach, revealing paradise - and a Pikachu! A short stop in Rainbow Beach allowed the convoy to re-fuel, both cars and bodies, before heading to the barge to Fraser Island at around 7.30am. Once on Fraser Island, we commenced the over 2.5 hour 100 -odd km journey up 75 Mile Beach to our camp ground at Waddy Point. By mid-afternoon everybody had set up camp, and it was time to relax. The early start was starting to catch up with a few people, but a small group headed up to Waddy Point headland for sunset. I had been in Fraser Island for mere hours, but was being hooked. Later, as we sat around the fire, had a dinner and a few drinks; we met new people to the group, or re-acquainted ourselves with old friends. Most people headed for bed early that night, but word around camp was that there were a couple of blokes that stayed up until 2am! Not a bad effort considering the early start! Thursday morning was another early start, after easily spotting of the 2 culprits who were up until 2am, we departed Waddy Point heading to the top, Sandy Cape at 8.30am, due to tides. All was going swimmingly, especially for the newest member of the club Peter and his stock standard 2012 Holden Colorado. Look, I had taking the light-hearted ribbing on the chin, and was proud to dispel the doubters by hauling our family camper through Indian Head. Today though was a different beast. Welcome to Ngkala Rocks! You’re going nowhere champ! After a couple of attempts (solo, and assisted) we ended up parking the Colorado up on the side, and continued on our journey. But not after good couple of hours helping a few others through the soft sand. I think a 2” lift is on the cards. So a day relaxing at Sandy Cape and a few of the group decided to head up the 1.2km (10.2km according to Belinda) walk to the lighthouse. One of those people was Ben, and one that wasn’t was Andrew. There may be a picture of Andrew’s handy work, but at least Ben took it in good spirits! I’d be watching your back on the next few Trips, Andrew! Meanwhile Kerry introduced himself to the volunteer lighthouse keepers, wanting to know if they had the kettle on! It was pretty funny to see, but in the end it was a very informative chat with the Volunteer Lighthouse Keepers – who have nothing to do with the lighthouse! On the return to camp, we came across what seemed to be over 100 people fishing in a group. The taylor were on. Deb stopped to have a chat to one of them who informed her that he had caught 8 fish in 20 minutes! It truly was a sight to behold and words don’t do it justice. Friday night we all drove our cars out to the beachfront at Waddy Point to have night photos taken of the group and individually. I’m sure when Laura goes through the photos she took you will see some amazing shots, and the light that came out was truly spectacular! It had only taken three days, but tonight we managed to spot our first dingo, and it wanted to part of our group before Tiny showed his dingo management prowess, and sent the rather healthy looking specimen packing! Friday we headed to Platypus Bay, after a quick stop at Orchid Beach to replenish some supplies. Seriously, you have missed a special place if you weren’t on this trip. After a drive through non-descript bushland (and a wade through the most rancid water you will ever come across) the track makes a left hand turn, and BAM! A picture postcard moment greets you as you head to the beach! Belinda and I have been on cruises to the south pacific to see scenery like this, and here it is in our backyard. A finewhite sandy beach, and turquoise, crystal-clear water greeted all of us. But it wasn’t over. Not content with sitting in paradise, it came to us, and we didn’t have to pay an overpriced charter boat captain to see it. I think there were over a dozen whales spotted throughout the day, playing in the water. Truly awesome. What wasn’t truly awesome was some of the cricket displayed on the newly formed FICG. Thanks to Kerry for the drop-in pitch!
Saturday was to be the longest day of the whole trip. Today we played tourist! We set off at 8.30am for the short trip to Champagne Pools. The tide was on its way out so there weren’t any waves crashing over and into the pools, but you could imagine on a hot day this would be busier than Santa in December. There was a foreign family who didn’t mind the cold, and went for a swim in the clear pools, but nobody from this group went in! After a relatively short stop and some pictures we continued on. Next stop was the wreck of the SS Maheno that operated between Australia and New Zealand. After being sold for scrap in 1935, it broke free from its tow, and ended up stranded on Fraser, where it has happily rusted for our viewing pleasure to this day and beyond. After a group photo, we then proceeded on our way, stopping at Eli Creek. We’re only here for 10 minutes, was the call. I think that was when we saw Andrew with his boogie board, heading up the boardwalk to immerse himself in the rather cool waters, and the touristy thing of floating downstream! I walked it, but it was too cold for my liking to go higher than mid-thigh! It was at this point that Ray, I think, befriended a young couple who were visiting Fraser Island for the day, and heard that our next stop was Lake McKenzie. They were allowed to tag on to the group, and off we headed for the long journey down the beach, and inland. Upon arrival at Lake McKenzie, it became apparent that our new tagalong buddies were in a spot of alternator trouble. Tiny managed to work on their car, and get their battery charged enough to get them back to the barge and ultimately, the mainland. It’s then that we went for a dip in the fresh, crystal-clear waters of Lake McKenzie. A good run-up and a dive was the only way to do it. It certainly took my breath away – and I didn’t stay in there long! After lunch, we started the drive to our next destination, the historic Central Station, the former centre of the forestry industry on the island. There was a distinct change in vegetation, and we were now deep in rainforest. It was pretty awesome to see how much the area had changed since the early days! And some of the old equipment on display was pretty cool. Like the bath from the Maheno. They don’t make them like that anymore. Late afternoon now, and we’re heading to McKenzie’s Jetty to get some awesome sunset photos looking back over the Great Sandy Strait towards Hervey Bay. Whilst we waited, some of us decided to head up and check out the remnants of the old Z Special Unit Commando training centre. Others decided to have a nap, or had a snack back at the cars. Awesome sunset photos will be doing the rounds from this place, I’m sure. Finally though, it was time for dinner at Kingfisher Bay. We all descended on the Sand Bar, and had a well-earned drink, and a feed. It was a great relax before the long drive back to camp. It was a pretty uneventful night drive back to Waddy Point, with the exception of the dingo that wanted to take down Nathan’s car! It also wanted a piece of Tiny’s car eventually the dingo gave up, and we continued on our way, with the occasional “Freaks” by Tiny Trumpet & Savage being played over UHF to keep the eyes open, and give us all a laugh. We rolled into camp around 11.00pm. What a long day! Before we knew it, it was time to pack up and leave on Sunday morning. Deb left Ray behind, and Ross, Belinda and I had to head back to reality. As I write this report, the lucky buggers are still playing in paradise, heading home tomorrow, but I wished I could have stayed. As Andrew kept telling me, it’s only a phone call! But Belinda and I will be back for sure, and we will be bringing the kids. They were just unable to make it this time due to school commitments. A big thank you to Ben and Laura for taking the time to show us the Island that they know, and to all the other members who made us laugh, supported and helped each other throughout the 5 days. Too many funny moments to mention, but I will mention Curly Bear – apparently it’s available at Costco? I will also mention that Deb loves pork crackling, asking in the morning if there was any left. She ate what was left, the night before! Some short-term memory loss there perhaps, Deb? But for mine, the trip MVP was Kerry (aka “the toy-boy”). Word around town Kerry is that you are quiet and sometimes reserved. But you are a funny bugger, and you have a gadget, or “toy”, for any situation, including an immaculate 3m of astro turf – perfect for beach cricket! It was awesome for Belinda and I to meet some new people, and look forward to many more trips and meeting their families
by Pete Lawson