Friday, January 16, 2009

Fraser Island - A guide to misadventure. Part 1

In the first place I must make it absolutely clear. Fraser Island is absolutely stunning. It has vistas that are amazing, stupendous waterways and sand so clean and smooth you can almost see your face in it. The hard part is that the promise of all this is fulfilled as long as you can get through terrain that make Mountain Goats quail in their boots.

Fraser Island has a wonderful capability of being almost entirely inaccessible to all vehicles indicated as 2WD, AWD and almost all but the hardiest of 4WD.These roads are not designed for the Sunday driver with his black SUV and alloy wheels at all and the smoothest one of all is really a picturesque beach on the east side with stupendous views between the diesel swilling hulks that glide across the waterfront and the occasional plane landing.
So you won't see any sub height four wheel drives tentatively worrying about rolling over gravel here unless they're dropping in and out at the resort carpark to the waiting ferry and the closest you'll get to an urban wax and wash is a hose on a stand wating to fill an overheated radiator.
If you have something that hasn't seen anything worse than dust on the AWD badge I'd steer it clear of the whole place let alone the local grocery markets curb.

Like bulls in a china shop these actual all terrain overblown vehicle look like they could take on a herd of wilderbeast and win. If you're really lucky, you get to see a miniturized version in a Suzuki Jimny, that is about a quarter the size and tenth the power, and is used to transit an extra one or two passengers behind a whale of metal, like an elephant calf trailing it's mother revving that much extra just to keep up. I can only think that if it did break down it could just sit on the roofrack back to the nearest resort.

But I do recommend you go there. It's definitely worth the fun but get a chiropractor to check you're neck beforehand especially if you're heading in as a passenger, as will need to know how good your back was before it was twisted into knots. The roads make the travel bumpy and moving at a rate of about ten kilometers an hour seems even worse when you're travelling for a good eighteen across the island sitting in the center back seat.

And the views here are stunning. You can't take a step without wanting to whip out your camera and record the days lunch with everyone still eating and a goanna eyeing off your meal. My own face now has tan lines indicating how long I pressed the eyepiece to my eye and burnt the skin off. And the best part of having a digital camera is that the place looks great behind the screen. Just remember to look occasionally without the camera as some of the most dangerous creatures do exist in the region and in no way does it help to limit yourself to tunnel vision.

So the real four wheel drives are the way to go for this haven of tourists and the sights are truly worthy of two panoramic office like photographs at once. The one real eyeopener for the whole trip was that on the drive back, the workhorse vehicle we'd been pushing through the island decided that it's clutch would give out, and though it wasn't the best time, I'm just glad we weren't in a region where the locals recommend you defend yourself aggressively(which could mean something like carpet bombing) against the local fauna as they are proudly on the top ten most dangerous shows regularily. Thankfully out there the only dangerous things are the locals, the tourists and the ants.

As well as this we were all within phoning distance that made it a whole lot easier.
So the driving was enjoyable, the stopping was not so dangerous and the chiropractor is now happy he's back on my quick-dial register.
Now please excuse me while I disinfect a bite on my arm, I'm still looking for a german tourist anti-venom.

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