We were given three rules for Fraser Island: don’t roll the van, don’t get caught in the high tide and don’t miss your ferry back. Well, two out of three ain’t bad.
To assist us with rule one we had been given a smaller than usual 4WD. Normally, there are at least eight people in a group. Ours however was made up of just five people, meaning we got a smaller van.
That meant we didn’t have to scale the van roof every time we needed a change of clothes. Our rucksacks were comfortably wedged into the boot, along with a gas canister, a plentiful supply of goon and half a dozen cockroaches.
Regardless of this, our initial foray into driving did not win us favour with the Fraser Island tour buses, who seemed to think that 10km/hr was not in fact a legitimate speed limit. Better safe than sorry was the argument we were going with, but they didn’t seem to agree.
To aid us with rule two we had been given an example itinerary which listed to the minute the exact time we had to be everywhere. Should we deign to spend a minute too long lazing in our stuffy tents or enjoying our homemade cheese sandwiches on the beach, we would be swimming with the sharks come teatime.
Too hungover most of the time to consider freedom of thought, we pretty much stuck to the itinerary suggested. So far so good. Now comes rule number three; don’t miss the ferry back. A simple enough rule you might think and I would agree.
However I think our adventures on Fraser Island over the last three days had caused us to get a little cocky. We’d managed things we’d never done before; putting up tents, lighting campfires and getting blind drunk with a bunch of Aussie fishermen.
So we thought finding our way to the ferry would be a doddle. But even with our driver’s stunning performance (he’d gone from granddad driver to V8 superstar in a matter of days), we were running late.
In the rush, we missed the sign directing us to the ferry port, and so gallantly headed off in completely the wrong direction. Of course, by the time you realise you’ve messed up you’re half way along a single lane beach track with a steep drop on one side. Not really the place for three point turns!
So we sped full pelt to the end of the track, attempted to turn around before realising the road was one way, as most are on Fraser, so we couldn’t go back. We continued on, only to get back to Lake McKenzie, exactly where we had started 45 minutes ago.
Now I’m not saying Lake McKenzie isn’t to be appreciated – it is – but not when the ferry port is 9km away and your ferry is leaving in five minutes.
So we try again and this time we manage to locate the previously missed signpost and, with our driver breaking land speed records, we get to the ferry port just in time. Just in time to see our ferry as a spec in the distance that is, and getting smaller. Shit.
Ah well. I guess getting stuck for an extra night on stunning Fraser Island isn’t the worst thing to happen. If only we’d not finished off all our goon the night before…