It began like any other love story, spontaneously and barely thought through.
Since starting my journey up the East Coast, I had longed to be reunited with the sea, at the beginning of my travels in Sydney I had loved each and every beach I visited, and when I finally stood with my feet in the surf at Noosa I was glad to be back on the coast.
After Noosa I headed to Hervey Bay, I had already been bombarded with leaflets and adverts in hostels selling tours to Fraser Island and I hadn’t quite convinced myself I wanted to go. By the time I arrived in Hervey Bay I had just about decided I would consider a day tour to Fraser but no plans had been made.
It was then that a chance meeting with my dormmate Eva would lead to one of the best experiences I’d had on my travels.
As we began with the general backpacker introductory conversation, she asked if I had been to Fraser Island and I told her I had not made up my mind yet.
“How spontaneous are you?” She asked, “I guess I’m quite spontaneous, I did a skydive last week.” I replied casually.
Eva then told me she was going on an overnight camping trip to Fraser Island with a guy staying at the hostel, and why didn’t I come too?
So reader, I did just that. I went on a 2 day 1 night self drive tour of Fraser Island and it has to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
Usually I don’t sell locations, I don’t buy into “you have to go there” travel writing, and I’m not a bucket list traveller. Meaning I don’t arrive in a place with a list of places I have to see, I just explore a place of my own accord.
As a traveller I like to think I am flexible, accidental, I go with the flow, or at least try to when I’m on the road. Some of my greatest experiences have come from spontaneous decisions.
(The Piled Valley Walk)
But Fraser, oh my gosh, Fraser is something to behold my friends.
(A fisherman on the beach)
I didn’t realise I’d always dreamt of camping on a beach on an island until I was there. I hadn’t thought of what it would be like to walk through a rainforest, to swim in a lake of water so clear I could see people swimming underneath. I never thought of how great it would be to gaze up at the stars, to be lulled to sleep by the sound of the sea and to wake up to it in the morning. I did all that and more on Fraser Island and it was just wonderful.
(Our camp on the beach)
Ages ago, before travelling had crossed my mind seriously, I looked up trips to Iceland. I remember reading about whale watching tours and not being entirely sold by them, I wondered why people wanted to watch whales. Then at Fraser as I ate a breakfast of oats, pear, banana and peanut butter with peppermint tea, Eva and I gazed out to sea in comfortable silence, only for it to be broken when we both caught sight of a humpback whale breaching in the distance.
(Camp just past the Mahoe Shipwreck)
We sat in stunned silence transfixed by a couple of whales as they swam across the crystal blue ocean in front of us. The view only interrupted every so often by fishermen setting up for the day.
(View from Indian Head lookout)
Later we drove up to Indian head look out, our car overheated and luckily some friendly Aussies were on hand to help us. We left the car to cool down, and then ventured up to the top of the cliff. The views were spectacular.
It was there, as I looked upon the vast coastline that I realised how lucky I was to have come here by accident. I hadn’t set my heart on coming here, to camp on the beach, to see whales and dolphins. I had come here on a whim, and I was experiencing all this without the weight of expectations.
The beach looked so beautiful, I thought of the people who may have only seen Fraser Island on photos from Google and though I’d never done that, I knew they wouldn’t have been able to experience the true beauty of the Island.
(View from Indian Head)
In that moment I felt so lucky to be there. To use the ultimate cliché, it was the closest I’d come to experiencing paradise. Sometimes on my travels I have seen sights so beautiful that I struggle to take them in, they feel like a dream and I wonder if they’re real. At the same time I often think of my friends at home, who I wish could be there with me, to see what I see. Travelling alone and having these experiences are amazing, but there are some experiences I wish I could share.
We sat there in silent wonder gazing at the turquoise ocean lapping at the fine sand, we watched a pod of dolphins pass by in the distance, two sea turtles leisurely floated to the surface, and a mantra Ray swam deftly past the lookout.
On the ferry back to the mainland, we sat on the top deck, as the sun set over the island and disappeared into the dusky rose sky. It felt too soon to leave, but I suppose the best love affairs are short. This way I would never tire of Fraser’s beauty and perhaps one day I could return.
From now on I will carry on up the coast, encouraging travellers to visit Fraser Island. I mean if the photos aren’t enough, here are a couple of tips:
Do not rush it with a day tour, the island is experienced best by driving around exploring it for yourself.
Drive yourselves and if you can’t, find someone who can, and camp on the beach!
It’s a truly amazing experience, and one I am unlikely to ever forget.
Let me know your best travelling experiences in the com