Just before Christmas last year, we ventured to Fraser Island. Four friends, a rental 4-Wheel-Drive, and an adventurous spirit.
In addition to being the largest sand island in the world, Fraser Island is famous for being a habitat of dingos, Australia’s native wild dogs. Canis lupus dingo often gets a bad rap. And deservedly so – it is a wild animal that occasionally has a penchant for small children. After a dingo killed a child in 2001, the Fraser Island Dingo Management Strategy was developed to reduce “negative incidents of dingo-human interactions”.
But back to us. In between helping French backpackers to dig out of a bog, driving along the endless sand super-highway, and swimming in the lush freshwater lakes and creeks, we had ourselves our own “dingo interaction”.
Let’s set the scene: we decide to set up camp at the Maheno camp beach site. It’s positioned nicely between Eli Creek and the SS Maheno wreck. We discover that we have only packed a single (one-person) tent for the four of us. Duh. We paper/scissors/rock to determine who scores the tent, and who “wins” the privilege of sleeping under the stars.
Fast forward to midnight. We are asleep: two in the tent and two in a McGyvered ad-hoc structure constructed out of the tent fly and beach towels. Solid. Sondra wakes when someone or something nudges her head. A dingo has raided our camp…and nudged Sondra in the head. She raises the alarm to wake the rest of us, while the dingo first comes over to check me out, then heads over to the tent to sniff at Nigel and Zoe. He circles back to Sondra and drops down onto his hindquarters. Here is where our accounts differ: Sondra thinks he is “just being playful”. I think he is in attack mode. In the end, he lunges for Sondra’s camelback (ie hydration backpack) and nicks off with it!
Fortunately we found the backpack abandoned a few dunes over, and we formed a dingo-watch roster for the rest of the night, but he wasn’t seen again. Just his tracks…
Here’s a few little lessons learnt:
- if you are going camping, pack a tent.
- dingos are a thing on Fraser Island. The warning signs around the place aren’t just a ploy to boost tourism.
- Fraser Island is a “must-see” destination to anyone travelling along Australia’s east coast.
Anyway, we are heading back to Fraser Island to celebrate NYE in a weeks’ time. Looking forward to it!