I have been living in Queensland for nearly 5 years. The exciting small islands around the Queensland coastal areas are my dream travel destinations. I have marked each of them on my travel bucket list for when I have a holiday and the budget.
I have been to the Great Barrier Reef off Cairns and the Whitsunday islands last year. This mid-term Easter break I wanted to go somewhere close to Brisbane but also somewhere new and exciting like Fraser Island. I’ve heard about the popularity of camping and living in the wild in Australia. I always wanted to try living in a tent and starting a campfire. A few students from my class also decided to embark on this adventurous plan. The problem was that we don’t have a drivers license and none of us are familiar with the road system in Queensland. So we decided to go with the tourists’ choice and find a tour guide to solve the issues of transport and navigation. We could also then enjoy more of the scenery rather than getting lost on the way to Fraser Island.
We met up at 6:45 am at the Transit Centre on Roma Street. It took us nearly 5 hours drive from 7am at Roma Street Brisbane to Fraser Island around 12pm with 2 stopovers at Gympie and Rainbow Beach. The morning in Brisbane was a bit freezing, as we had to be up at 5 am to catch the tour bus at Roma Street at 6:45am. The road trip from Brisbane to Fraser Island was great. Our tour guy was a local resident and he grew up on the Gold Coast but has moved around the country. He was quite familiar with Fraser Island and the wild animals on the island, especially dingoes. I learnt a lot about the habits of dingoes, such as don’t run or wave your arms (if you are unfortunately confronted with one) and try to find something to throw at it to chase it away. Also, it was quite important for us to stay together as a group if going somewhere (rather than going alone) as dingoes are less likely to bother a group.
The class mates that came with me were a group of Chinese international students who are currently studying a joint social work program at Griffith. This was an an eye-opening experience for them to personally sense our sunshine state.
On our way back from Fraser Island, we were lucky to spot dolphins in the ocean. Also, we saw two dingoes that were very close to our vehicle on our way to and from Fraser Island. I was thrilled to see the wild animals but also at the same time, I was afraid of them, especially the dingoes. There were many signs around the island to remind tourists and campers about the dingoes and the importance of conserving the area. The tour guy said if a dingo gets too violent or aggressive, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) ranger may need to kill it. So it is better we keep a safe distance for both humans and dingoes.
One of the most unforgettable memories would be the 4WD tour of 75 Mile Beach and the forward driving skills shown by our bus driver. I never thought driving could happen on sand and the driving was like crazy, as it was bumpy. Also I don’t know why travelling in a car makes me sleepy. I fell asleep as soon as the 4WD started to move. But sometimes, (when I was awake!) and we looked outside the window, the scenery was just like a painting.
For us, the only unpleasant aspect of this trip was the itchy and biting mosquitoes (mozzies) around our tent by the grassland and the lake. I never thought these mozzies could be so itchy and poisonous. My friend and I were bitten by at least 20 mozzies. My feet and arms were swollen. The bites were spreading everywhere on our legs, hands and arms. It felt so itchy everywhere on my body and I couldn’t stop wanting to scratch it. I wanted to hide myself in some indoor place, covered with clothes. It still makes me itchy when I am recalling this experience. So the advice is – remember to bring a long-sleeve shirt for night time to shield off mozzies and to cope with the freezing early mornings. The temperature difference was huge. Also, the insect repellent is a must to bring otherwise you will be easy food for mozzies.
It is important to be alert to the warning signs on the island, as it helps you to keep an eye on dingoes especially if you are alone. I was extremely cautious when we were out of the fenced camping area. It was my first time living so close to wild animals. I could hear the dingoes when I was sleeping. My friend said he was not sure whether it was just a dream or actually a real dingo.
But the tranquillity on the island around the campsite just gave me so much peace. As a result, I fell asleep so easily. Despite the fact we were up early at 6am, I felt re-energised and excited for another full long day trip. So my advice is that this is definitely a good place for you to take your mind off the study and work!