What constitutes success when camping? A dry and comfortable place to sleep? Spectacular views and jaw-dropping interactions with nature? Walks on the beach at dawn and a few cold ones as the sun sets again? If these criteria equal success then we nailed it!
Our recent 4-day camping trip on Fraser Island was actually a re-run of sorts. Last year we forgot the tent (!), and then got raided by a dingo in the middle of the night (read more here). But this year we were better prepared and although last year was still lots of fun, we were keen to get amongst all that the island had to offer. For the unaware, Fraser Island (or K’gari to the traditional landowners, the Butchulla people) is the largest sand island in the world and has been declared a World Heritage listed site. It’s famous for beach-driving, dingos and a stack of other natural attractions.
The trip got off to a good start. Our car didn’t fall off the back of the ferry like these poor people, and we were able to traverse the tricky inland roads without any boggy incidents.
Then we jagged a fantastic beach camp-site. The island has a number of camping zones along the eastern beach that are nestled in the dunes literally steps from the beach. When we booked, we didn’t really know where the good spots were, but we found a beauty. A grassy, flat area perfect for the tents, nestled in the sand-dunes among some pandanus palm trees. We got plenty of sea-breeze without being completely buffeted by the blowing easterlies, and the sound of the ocean drowned out any noise from neighbouring camps, which weren’t too close anyway. We got to sleep under a million stars, and then wake up to little “camp crabs” (my nickname for them) scuttling around.
The days started with a dawn stroll along 75-mile beach watching the sun rise over the ocean, and combing the beach for all sorts of interesting things: giant ocean-going jellyfish, paddler crabs and pippies frantically trying to bury themselves, snails decorating the beach with artistic swirls, shells and driftwood, and these tiny little critters that I’ve since found out are called glaucus (a type of sea-slug).
After brekky we’d head further afield on hikes, swimming adventures and picnics. We hiked up to Indian Head for sweeping vistas along the island and then further north to Middle Rocks and took a dip in the natural spa at Champagne pools. We hiked up to the Wun’gul sandblow and fossicked around for old stone tools and lightning tubes, and walked through a rainforest valley along the Wanggoolba Creek boardwalk.
Swimming in the ocean is strongly discouraged along the eastern coast due to dangerous currents (and presence of sharks?) and the western beaches were closed while we were there due to the discovery of irikandji jellyfish but there are an abundance of other swimming options. It rains on Fraser Island for 300 days per year which results in millions of litres of freshwater filling up the freshwater lakes (we swam in Lake Mackenzie and Lake Allom with the turtles), and spilling into the ocean via freshwater creeks. Eli Creek is the most popular and we joined the throngs of people floating down the creek on a plethora of flotation devices, but we stumbled upon the lesser known Wyuna Creek, nicknamed “little Eli” which was a hidden gem. It was like swimming in an aquarium well stocked with jungle perch and yabbies. We spent the hottest part of the day hanging out at these creeks and lakes cooling off and relaxing.
Our Fraser Island experience was completed when we spotted a wild dingo on the beach at Kingfisher Bay while waiting for our return ferry. What a way to finish 2016 and start 2017! Happy New Year to all, and make sure Fraser Island beach-camping is on your bucket-list!