Jennifer Tice's Blog

After exactly 5 weeks of travelling D day is here – it’s time to settle down again, look for an apartment and get a job so we can keep funding the next 6 months of our Australia travels.  I can’t believe how fast the 5 weeks from Sydney to Fraser Island have flown by. Now it’s back to the grind, no more lying at the beach all day, for now at least.

Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise

We are back to living at Andrew’s mate, Ash’s house, until we can find a place to rent.  This helps to reduce our living costs significantly and my stress levels as the days pass with no luck of finding an apartment.  Searching for a place in the Gold Coast is certainly not as easy as finding a place in Sydney.  For tips and resources on finding an apartment in Surfers and the surrounding area, check out my article here.

It always amazes me at how some people live.  Price is no indicator of what your get. We saw some quite pricey places that were completely trashed, while other less expensive places were better kept but didn’t end up fitting our criteria.  Our daily routine consists of spending our mornings at McDonald’s for the free wi-fi until our computers run out of battery power, go to the viewings and/or apply for jobs in the afternoon while the laptops re-charge, then back to McDonald’s in the evening to look for more places online.  After 5 days of this, we take Friday night off to go out for some drinks, hoping for better luck next week!

Lake Boomajin

Lake Boomajin

Day 3 on Fraser Island is all about lakes. There are a number of fresh water lakes scattered throughout the island that provide for excellent swimming and with the ocean surrounding Fraser Island full of  deadly rip currents, violent waves, jellyfish and sharks the lakes are your only option.  The main attraction of the day is Lake McKenzie, but since we have to get up early to beat the tides again we decide why not take the scenic route and check out some of the other natural lakes on the island. First on the stop Lake Boomajin.  It’s got great colours of sand running out into the lake from all the sediment that has been deposited from rain and the surrounding rocks, but not much of an appeal for swimming. Next we check out each of Lake Benaroon, Lake Barga, Lake Birrabeen, and finally we descend upon Lake McKenzie, our final destination for the day and for our Fraser Island trip.

Lake McKenzie

Lake McKenzie

Walking down the steps to Lake McKenzie it feels like we are entering a tropical paradise that could easily be in the Carribean or some small island off Indonesia. The pure white sand glistens under the sun and music faintly drifts down the beach from speakers at the other end.  The water is a beautiful aqua marine and clear right out into the middle of the lake. I can easily see why this is the main swimming spot on the island. All I need now is a strawberry daiquiri and I’m good to go – unfortunately it doesn’t look like there’s bar service here.  After a swim in the water its nap time on the beach after waking up at 6am for the third day in a row. It’s the perfect way to end our 3 day excursion here on Fraser Island with all of the groups hanging out together relaxing on the beach under the sun. And to think there is a cyclone hitting the coast just north of us and we haven’t gotten one drop of rain. This is our last stop on our Fraser Island journey, and what a way to end it off relaxing at a beautiful beach with new friends , swapping pictures and memories of our 3 day excursion.

Indian Head

Indian Head

Its day 2 and the alarm goes off at 6:15 again.  We have to get on the road early to get to our next destination before the tide gets too high and we are stuck at the campsite for the day. Back on the road by 7am we head up to Indian Heads. Here you take a short hike up to the top for magnificent views of the ocean.  Usually you can see sharks from up here, but the water is too rough today to see much of anything.  With the wind whipping past your head and your feet dangling over the cliff edge, it’s a great place to clear your head and really take in the experience.

Champagne Pools

Champagne Pools

Back in the truck again, we head up to the northern most point accessible in our 4×4’s, the Champagne Pools, large rock pools carved out by the ocean that makes for a nice dip. Do be careful walking out over the rocks. A few members of our group got knocked right off their feet when a giant wave came crashing over the edge and ended up with some pretty nasty cuts and bruises.  We have a few hours to kill here while we wait for the tide to go back out. So we have an early lunch and take a nap on the beach to pass the time. Finally the tides have started to pull back and we start driving back down the beach again looking for some more action.

We come across a sign for the Kirra Sandunes and decide to check it out.  It is about a 45 minute walk that takes you across a vast sand dune of all different colours and textures of sand, definitely worth a stop.  There is a small creek here that flows down the dunes, and the abruptly stops and is absorbed by the sand, very weird. Walking through here you really get a sense for how much sand there really is on the island, it feels as if we are walking through the Sahara desert, except that there are trees and plant life around the edges. It’s amazing that anything can even grow out here.

Lake Wabby

Lake Wabby

A bit further down the beach, we see a number of other trucks pulled over  and we decide to stop and see what is going on.  It looks like there is a trail to a lake about 1.5 km in, so off we go through the bushes to see what it is all about. After about 20 minutes of walking through the forest we come across another large sand dune, and about halfway across we see a lake coming out of nowhere. Surrounded by sand on one side and forest on the other is Lake Wabby. I don’t have my bathing suit on unfortunately anymore, but wade in the water for a bit. There are catfish in the lake here in large numbers, and you have to ask yourself, how did they get here? The lake is completely isolated with no other rivers or streams that feed into it. Perhaps evolution at work? Or maybe someone just dropped them off here, hard to say.  Back in the truck again we head back to our camp for another night of sharing dinner, stories and drinks.

The alarm goes off at 6:15 am and we bound out of bed to get ready for our 7am briefing for our Fraser Island tour. After we pack our bags away everyone staggers into the breakfast hall to grab some food and meet our assigned groups.

In the Truck!

In the Truck!

We have 8 members in ours, Andrew and myself, two girls from France, two guys from Germany, and a couple from Italy. I joke that our team name should be the UN since we are all from different countries. After a few short videos and some important decisions about food for the trip, we all jump into our 4×4 truck which will be our transportation for the next 3 days.  The convoy leaves the hostel as we head down to the docks where the trucks will be loaded onto a barge and transported along with us to Fraser Island.

Dingo!

Dingo!

We arrive at the island and after just minutes of driving I can see why a 4×4 is mandatory here, the main “road” is more of a dirt pathway with giant potholes, creeks and puddles making it one hell of a bumpy ride.  Finally after 45 minutes of navigating this road we make it to the beach with much smoother driving from here on in.  The purest breed of dingoes is found on the island, and within minutes of driving we spot one on the beach. Their appearance is very misleading as they look like your common pet dog, petting however is not recommended as they can be quite vicious.

Eli Creek

Eli Creek

Our first stop for the day is at Eli Creek, a natural spring found on the island that has crystal clear waters and supports much of the flora and fauna in this area. We hope out of the trucks finally to stretch our legs and go into the creek for a dip.

Driving back up the beach, you can’t miss one of the most famous icons of Fraser Island, the Maheno Ship Wreck. Most photography stores have pictures of this iconic ship rusting up on the beach shore.

Maheno Ship Wreck

Maheno Ship Wreck

A great photo spot, although it’s hard to get one of just the boat without the dozens of other tourists in the way!  Further along the beach we come to stop 3 on our journey today, The Pinnacle, a giant mountain of coloured sand. I decide this is the perfect spot to grab some sand from the island to add to my worldwide sand collection.  Our last stop for the day – Camp Beaches. This IS the reason to book with this tour company and not any of the others. They have a permanent camp site set up with a large hut for cooking and eating, fire pits, toilets and showers. It is a whole lot nicer to relax at the end of the day with a few drinks around the fire pit and have proper showers to freshen up in.

Noosa Heads

Noosa Heads

Leaving the city of Brisbane, we are headed back to the coast on the way to our Fraser Island excursion. After hearing great things about the town of Noosa, we decide to stop by on our way to Hervey Bay, the departure point for our Fraser Island excursion.  Noosa is probably one of the most picturesque towns we have seen on our trip up the east coast. The beach is unbelievable, with a great point break, making perfectly timed waves for surfing, and as it happens there is a surf competition going on when we arrive.  Noosa is retirement town meets surf village, with expensive waterfront homes lining the ocean and waterways throughout the city.  An aerial shot of the town shows the extensive waterway system that weaves and winds around Noosa creating great waterways for boating, kayaking and swimming away from the ocean. We book our tour for Fraser Island here with Beaches, one of the many tour company offering package deals to Fraser.  Since the tour doesn’t leave until Friday morning, we decide to spend the night here in Noosa before heading up to Hervey Bay for a night.  Since it’s getting late in the day we spend the rest of the late afternoon watching the surf competition before heading back to our hostel for the night.

Iguana!

Iguana!

Now that we have experienced Brisbane by night, we our out to explore the city in the day light. First stop on the list, the Brisbane Botanic Gardens.  Located next to the University of Brisbane, the gardens provide a break from the concrete jungle of downtown. With heaps of wildlife and a diverse range of flora, you could easily spend an afternoon here.  I even managed to get up close with a large iguana before he hopped back into the pond. Next we walked around the downtown core and checked out the  Eagle St. Markets which has your usual assortment of clothing, artwork and food.

South Bank Parklands

South Bank Parklands

Since Brisbane doesn’t have any natural beach front area they decided to create their own little oasis down at the South Bank Parklands. A beautiful lagoon has been created with a number of swimming areas and a water play area for kids. It feels like a tropical paradise just outside the downtown core. For the adults there are a number of high-end restaurants and a large beer garden area.

Story Bridge

Story Bridge

As the sun begins to set we head out on an evening stroll along the waterfront path starting at New Farm. From here you can walk along the riverbanks under Story Bridge and watch the lights of the city begin to turn on as the sun continues to set in the night sky. We (and by we I mean Andrew) snapped some amazing photos of the sun setting over the bridge for a great view of Brisbane at night. Our last night in the big city for a while as we head back up the coast tomorrow.

Brisbane at Night

Brisbane at Night

After 8 days in Surfers Paradise, we decide it’s time to give Ash back his apartment and head to Brisbane. With one person coming down to visit after another it felt like we might never leave! Not that that would have been a bad thing, since we do plan on returning to work for a few months.  The next stop on our list is visiting another one of Andrew’s university friends, Jo Anna, at her place in Brisbane. Although Brisbane does not have the beauty of the coastline, the city is surrounded by the Brisbane river, that gives you stunning waterfront spaces even without the beach. We arrive there on Saturday night, and even though we are exhausted from the night before, we decide to go out since it’s our only weekend night here.

The place to head out for a night on the town in Brisbane is the Foritude Valley, otherwise known as just the Valley.  For those of you from Hamilton, picture Hess Village on steroids.  The street is crammed with people floating from one bar to another, with loud music filling the street and competing with each of the neighbouring establishments. Most places don’t have a cover charge which makes it inexpensive to club hop from one place to the next.  I think by the end of the night we have been to about 5 different bars, and that is only a small fraction of all the places you could go out. Brisbane may not have the beaches, but they sure know how to party!

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