I spent the day on a one-day tour of Fraser Island, just offshore Hervey Bay, where I'm staying. Fraser Island is an incredible place-- basically a 100-mile long sand dune, with temperate rain forest, tropical rainforest, and other habitats mixed in. It has big freshwater lakes-- the biggest collection of dune-top lakes in the world. Saw some dolphins on the way down, and on the way back.
The tour was exactly the kind of bluehairs-on-the-big-bus tourist thing that I usually studiously avoid. This time, it was kind of a bonus day for me-- I only had the one day to check out the island, and the tour seemed like the best way to actually see something. The island is too big to hike around, and it is covered with rutty, soft sand roads, so a car is out of the question, barring renting a 4WD in addition to the little car I've already rented. I swallowed hard and joined the bluehairs. Actually there were quite a few young German tourists and other "traveler" types, so it won't be so bad if someone actually saw me with the grannies.
I was prepared to be underwhelmed. I mean, how cool can a big sand dune be? Very cool, as it turns out. The tropical rain forest was amazing. HUGE trees, with all sorts of clingy vines and strange, parasitic-looking plants. Australia is like the anti-New-Zealand. In NZ, there are no poisonous snakes or spiders, and you can bash through the brush anywhere you like. In Australia, the bush is trying to kill you. There are six of the top 30 most venomous snakes in the world, just on Fraser Island. There was even a sign that said there are a certain variety of pine cone that can wound or kill you. Evidently, Kauri Pines are so tall that a ten-pound pine cone might just bust your noggin if you are unlucky enough to be present when it sheds one. Yikes.
I hopped a plane and did a quick 15-minute flight over the island. Really cool. Another highlight was Lake McKenzie. I gorgeous, fresh-water pond with sugary white sand beaches all around. A dingo came out of the forest and cruised for munchies for a while. Fraser Island has the purest strains of dingoes in existence, due to its isolation from the mainland's dogs. I swam around a bit, and got back on the bus, dripping wet. On a one-day trip of a hundred mile island, we didn't stop anywhere for long. I'll definitely be back here some time.
I'm glad I did the one-day tour, but if I had it to do over again, I would plan on spending a week there. This whole trip has been kind of like that, though-- check out NSW and Queensland in two weeks, with the intention of gathering information for a future trip. In my experience, sometimes that is the best way to travel. Do a quick "blitz-trip", scouting for places to return to.
Speaking of venomous creatures, I was just victimized again. I was standing in line at my backpacker to stock up on Internet time, when I felt a bug land in my hair. I reached up to brush 'im out of there, and the little bugger stung me. A bee. I guess I'm glad it wasn't a Purple-Banded Death Adder. Traumatic, though. Almost as bad as the incident with the Ibis.
Tomorrow: The Glass House Mountains.