In honour of the tenth anniversary of that year I spent travelling around Australia (and New Zealand), here is the latest installment of “Stuff to Write Home About”.
First of all, I have to say that I really like the courtesy pick-up service that a lot of these hostels offer. I arrive in a town I have never been to before on the greyhound bus, sometimes delirious because I have been on the bus for more than a few hours, and there is a mini-bus with my hostel’s name on it waiting for me. It is also very handy because there may not be public transportation to the area of town the hostel is in.
Hervey Bay is one such place. I think there is a public bus, but I’m not sure how convenient it is. The town itself is a nice little town and seems like a nice place to live. Probably the best thing about Hervey Bay – other than it being the place Humpback whales spend the “winter” months – is that it is just a ferry ride away from Fraser Island. Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. Except for three igneous rock formations, the island is entirely made of sand. This means that a 4×4 vehicle is required to navigate the island (no paved roads, and the main highway is the beach). Rather than hire a 4X4 vehicle with a bunch of strangers who may have questionable driving and/ or life-skills (not that I am judging), I took a 2 day guided tour. The tour – complete with guided bushwalks, swims in lakes and crystal clear creeks, snacks, and meals – was definitely a good call. The guide was excellent, the tour was fantastic with lots of activity, and the entire group was a lot of fun to hang out with.
If you thought walking on the beach was cool, try going 80 Km/ hour on the beach in a 4×4 bus, add in a climb up a hill made of sand (still in the bus, wondering if we’d make it up), and you have a fun filled adventure that I can add to the list of things I have never done before. We made it up that hill and were rewarded with spectacular views of the coast of the island, where we did see Humpback whales off in the distance. The water is so clear on some parts of the island’s coast that we could see down into the water and observe a sea turtle swimming around. There are lakes on the island as well, which were created by water collecting over many years in sediment-lined depressions in the sand. There is a wide variety of trees on the island as well, and some are really old and quite large. Logging used to be extensive, but Fraser Island is now a World-Heritage listed site so there is no more logging. We also learned some things about aboriginal culture on Fraser and what they used various plants and trees for.
Even though it was quite fun riding in the bouncy 4×4 bus, there is something to be said for that old cliché “I like long walks on the beach…”. Our guide Karl gave us the option of walking along the beach rather than in the bus after lunch one day and he’d catch up with us in the bus. There truly is something about walking along the beach in the sunshine with the sand between your toes as you walk; the sound of waves crashing at your side along the beach and gently rolling up the sand to meet your feet. It’s very serene. I didn’t have shoes on very often while on this tour. By the way, anyone who does the east coast of Queensland and doesn’t do Fraser Island is missing out for sure.
After the tour of Fraser Island, I returned to Hervey Bay to rest up for the next part of my adventure. More to come…