4×4 fun and a permanent layer of dirt


  • Agnes Water – Rainbow Beach
  • Rainbow Beach – Fraser Island
  • Fraser Island – Rainbow Beach

The bus to Rainbow Beach was relatively easy, departing Agnes at 6.30am and arriving about 2pm. My hostel, Dingos, was right opposite the bus stop which made life even easier for me. I checked in and found myself to be the only one in my room and so I put on my laundry and went off in search for some lunch before the Fraser Island safety briefing later that afternoon. Rainbow Beach itself was a very small town with a handful of shops and cafes. I soon found a backpacker-friendly place to grab a toastie, wondered to the beach lookout where I could see plenty of surfers (and watch their technique now that I’m also a pro) and enjoy the sunshine.

At the safety briefing I then met my group for Fraser. There were 7 of us, all in one 4×4 car for the trip, and so we completed the necessary documents, ordered $120 worth of alcohol between us and made a plan to meet back in the bar that evening. This gave me a chance to pack, sort out my washing, cook some dinner and speak to Mum for a bit first.

At the bar that evening, I sat with chinese Chris and a few random Germans. One of these was Steffi, who quickly became my gal pal outside of my Fraser family. She kept topping up my glass each time I tried to go to bed and we ended up playing pool with two guys from the Australian army before we eventually did call it a night.

7am the following morning we were up and eating our free pancakes in preparation for the 7.45am meet time. We also had two further guys join our group so that Group 1 became the Fraser family of 9:

Gabby/Mum/DJ Blondie, Jake and Chris/England, Tove/T-bag, Chris/China, Ben/Germany, Johannes, Celine/Dion, and Amilia.

Chris and Jake arrived late which meant we had to ride in the tour leaders car on the first day so that they could complete their safety briefing. It also meant that I, being the smallest, was sat in the front between two sweaty, forty-something Australian men where I affectionately gained my nickname of DJ Blondie.

Day 1 on Fraser we got the ferry across to the island and then drove 18km’s inland on the 18-track (quickly I have realised that Australian place names are really really simple; an 18km track is called exactly that). The 18-track led us to Fraser’s only town where we prepared and ate our lunch of ham salad wraps (and was when I started to show my motherly traits preparing the family’s food).

After lunch we went up to Lake Birrabeen for a quick cool-down and then on to Lake McKenzie, Frazer’s best known lake. You need a permit to stop off at McKenzie and it was therefore quite quiet which made the crystal clear waters and white paradise sands all the more special. The sand, like Whitehaven Beach, can also be used to exfoliate your body, brush your teeth and wash your hair, which is exactly what I ended up doing! Jake, Chris, myself and Charlie (who was in another group but hung out with us from time-to-time) also swam across to the island in the middle of the lake for a different view of the place. Lake McKenzie was just stunning and we even got to see a Dingo (fitting on a tour named Dingos).

We head off to camp from here, arriving an hour or so behind schedule as the sand tracks had really tested the driving, let alone 4×4, skills of each group. It was great fun being flung around, driving through the rainforest, water, and sand though.

Camp was great. There were packs of 8 tents so that each group could have their own area, several small kitchens and outside seating areas and even what they called the night club, which was a hut with some speakers and an aux cable! Dinner that evening was chicken stir fry and Mum Gabs therefore began preparations with a few of the others as kitchen hands. Although our food took the longest to cook, it also looked and tasted the best of all the groups, as noted by the other groups and the Fraser family, which put us all in excellent spirits for our night on beer and goon!

The rest of the first evening was then spent playing drinking games, wondering down to the beach to see the stars and getting to know each other. We had a small performance from some Aboriginal locals where Tove and I joined in, although I have to say the Moari dancing was more impressive. My favourite moment of the evening came from China, who tucked in to a can of cider early doors and after 15 minutes piped up with “Oh, is there alcohol in this, I’m feeling a bit drunk?!”, subsequently having to take herself off to bed 20 minutes later to the sound of our giggles. Bless China and her not being able to drink.

We had a 7am wake up call on day 2, followed by breakfast for champs of cereal, toast, jam and Nutella. Ben had the excellent idea of taking a Nutella pot and one of our loafs for mid-morning snacks, along with our bag of cookies which we thought had got lost on day 1 when the other groups all devoured theirs.

After waiting for a change of car as Group 4 had burnt out the clutch, we finally got to drive our own 4×4 and Mum (me) was up first to take the kids on the school run. I was too small for the pedals so had to loads a heap of towels behind me to make my chair closer but eventually we were off along the beach and soft sand towards Champagne Falls. Driving in really soft sand is difficult and actually quite nervy and I was much happier on the dirt tracks and harder sand.

When we arrived at Champagne Falls, it was easy to see where the name came from. These were large rock pools with a ledge looking over the sea, and when the waves came in they crashed against the rocks, spilling over and filling the pools with bubbly water (again, Australian place name demonstrate they are what they say on the tin; although, actual champagne would be more fun!).

We jumped straight in, being chucked about by these waves, at times in to the rocks and scraping our feet on the razor-sharp oysters, and then took group GoPro footage of us struggling to stay standing in the water. It was so much fun and a really beautiful place. After some water fun, sunbathing and photos, the Fraser family then snuck back to the car to tuck in to our Nutella snacks and begin the group photos.

The next stop, with Tove driving, was to Indian Head (a headland first discovered by some Indian’s, unsurprisingly). After climbing up the rocks, we could see right down in to the small cove below and out to sea. From here, we spot turtles, manta rays, sharks and tuna in the space of 20 minutes and I was more than happy to observe this from 75m above! Still, it was pretty amazing to see.

Lunch was back at camp on day 2 and consisted of wraps again. We had also been warned that a brown snake, the second deadliest in the world, had been spotted a few times in the last week around camp. We didn’t think much of this until said brown snake came scurrying out from under the “night club” during lunch. The next hour then proceeded to be an attempted snake-killing affair due to the danger presented. There were flying shovels, long sticks and macho men but alas, the brown snake prevailed and we were all warned to take care, cart torches and zip our tents tightly that evening.

That afternoon we chilled out down at Eli Creek, a fresh water spring that runs out to the beach. First off, we took the water tanks to the spring and filled them up with fresh, cold water: a real treat in 35 degree temperatures! And then we let them, and ourselves, float down the creek to the beach like on a lazy river. At the bottom, Muzza and Matt, our guides, had footballs, frizbees and tubes waiting for us and the rest of the afternoon I was chucking a frisbee around the Jake and Chris, headering footballs with Germany and chilling out on tubes with China. It was such a nice, relaxing afternoon spent with my Fraser family.

Upon return to camp and post-showering (ridding ourselves of the dirt layer formed over our skins), Mumma Gabs set about preparing the next dinner feast: BBQ steak, potatoes and salad. The boys helped me out that evening, BBQing the steaks to perfection and then frying off the potatoes (resulting in yet another best dinner by Group 1). We were so impressed with ourselves!

The night continued to be one that was truly alcohol-filled. We learnt some international drinking games, in which Ben and I completely f*cked each other over and were soon incredibly drunk, Celine proved to be a very cheeky 18-year old and China upped her drinking game! We soon gained some additions to the family because we were that much fun (!), with Aimee, Hannah, Steffi and Jack joining the pack. And then all those troopers who hadn’t gone to bed whacked on the music, jumped on the tables and danced our bums off before everyone head to the beach.

Down at the beach people jumped in the sea, wondered the dunes, watched the stars and completed various other alcohol-fuelled activities. I think we finally head back to the tents about 4am, when the world was spinning and our eyes closing, only to be woken by a very unwelcome 6.30am alarm and a similar breakfast.

Germany was driving this morning as his head was the least sore and DJ Blondie resumed front seat duties on our way out to another lake that I forget the name of. There was a 2km walk to reach this lake, which went across only soft sand, past many a giant spider, and over boiling hot dunes, before finally the water was in sight 45-minutes later. We all ran straight in to find those little fish that eat the dead skin off your feet were all over us and loving life on our dirty, dry skin! Who says things in life aren’t free?! They just come at the price of a sweaty hike, that’s all.

The morning ended back at the first lunch spot, with wraps yet again (but this time no utensils so the salad was shared out by taking bites of tomato and cucumber and spitting them in to your wrap before passing the vegetable on to the next person! All friends here!). And from here, Chris drove us back to the ferry where the little hungover family all hit a walk and fell asleep to the rocking of the car.

Back at Dingos and after cleaning out the cars and dropping them back to their garage, we jumped in to the pool in an attempt to clean our bodies. However, no amount of scrubbing really removed the dirt on our feet and only the 20minute shower I later took actually made me clean in any way. When I first got out the razor on my legs I thought it was taking away my tan, only to find that this was in fact the permanent dirt layer on my skin!!

Finally fresh-faced, the Fraser family reunited at the bar for dinner of an Aussie Burger (tasted like a normal burger to me) and free beer, where I bumped again in to Jon, before we went out to the beach/BBQ area to finish off our remaining goon. This time the wine just made me sleepy, and after meeting two Aussie guys and giving them some recommendations for their upcoming trip around Europe, I took myself off to bed and found that the rest of my room had also done the same. We were all well and truly knackered from Fraser Island.

I woke up at 7am for the free pancake breakfast and to say goodbye to Tove and Amilia, went back to bed and then checked out before my bus at 10am, where I saw Lily again. I was so excited for this bus because not only did I have friends on it as Jake and Chris also boarded with me, but it was taking me to Brisbane where I FINALLY was to be reunited with Em!

And there we have it, 48 days in to ‘life from a bag’ and so far, so dirty and so cultured with Australian animal sightings. Fraser Island was easily my favourite few days in Australia so far.

Gabby x


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