Fraser Island 2003/2004
Huby and Judy Vink. Bob, Evelyn and Bianca - Mitsubishi L300
David, Melissa, Dana and Ryan Christensen - Nissan Patrol GU
Gary and Pam Broadhurst - Nissan Patrol GU
John and Emma Marshell - Toyota Landcruiser SWB
Day 1 - Saturday the 27th of December
We left home at 7am and met up with Huby and Judy, John and Emma whilst driving along the Bruce Highway near the Big Fish. The Mitsubishi club stickers were a good indication that they were part of the group heading to Rainbow Beach and a quick call on the CB proved us right. We all stopped at Gympie to refuel and again at Rainbow Beach before heading to the Cherry Venture Propeller to meet up with the Broadhurst’s and the Looney’s at 10.15am. With introductions and some gear shuffling (the Looney’s were all jumping in with Huby for the week) we set off to the barge at 11.05am.
The camping areas of Inskip point were packed as usual and it wasn’t long before we were on the sand in sight of the barge. The first to be bogged for the trip was Gary who was towing a camper (he did ask Huby beforehand whether we were stopping to lower tyre pressure) so he emptied air from the tyres and was quickly on his way again.
We were on the island by noon and followed the very rough central road to the beach just south of Dilli Village and on to Lake Boomanjin. After a quick look and some lunch we left at 2.45pm with heavy rain just starting to settle in. Next stop was Lake Birrabeen and despite patchy rain decided to go for a swim in the crystal clear waters. The kids absolutely loved the water and white sand and it was quite a deal to tear them away.
Heading off again we split into a couple of groups with the extremely keen Judy, Bob, Evelyn and Bianca walking in drizzle from Birrabeen to Central Station and the rest of us driving. Soon after arriving at Central Station we found some camp bays that were relatively close together and proceeded to set up in light rain. Central Station had changed so much since our last visit with 6 foot chain link fences to keep the Dingoes at bay now surrounding the camping area. Although a shame as it was an eyesore, it is probably necessary to encourage tourism to the area without fear of Dingo problems.
We retired early after dinner and a lovely hot shower and quickly fell asleep to the sound of rain on our tent wondering if we were to have rain the whole trip.
Day 2 - Sunday the 28th of December
Our group broke camp at 8.30am and again split up into the walkers and drivers. The walkers were trekking to Basin Lake and then onto Lake McKenzie but we decided to take in the displays at Central Station and walk the Wanggoolba creek loop before driving to Lake McKenzie. The drive, although wet, was truly beautiful as we traversed through the rainforest and tall palms of the rainforest part of Fraser.
We arrived at an almost deserted Lake McKenzie at 10.30am and found a great lunch area close to the Lake. The sun had finally come out so with time up our sleeve before the others arrived, we walked down to the lake to enjoy the sunshine and let the little ones have a swim. Expecting the others to arrive soon we made our way back to the picnic area to find the other bays quickly filling up with other travellers. For the last hour before lunch we had to turn many away from sharing our bay with frowns following our explanation that others in our group were arriving soon.
It was with relief when the other 3 vehicles joined us at 12.30pm and we could relax and enjoy lunch. With full bellies we all headed down to a very crowded Lake and enjoyed swims and a chance to get to know each other a bit better. Fully relaxed and hopeful that the sun was here to stay for the rest of the trip, we left McKenzie at 2.30pm and drove to Wanggoolba creek and then on to Ungowa which was to be our camp for the night. Seeing as we arrived early we were all set up in no time and enjoying happy hour before we knew it. The rain came back briefly with everyone huddling under tarps but it was short lived with clear skies following soon after. After dinner we saw a couple of Dingoes sneak into camp looking for food but they didn’t stay long.
Day 3 - Monday the 29th of December
Woke to a clear morning and with chores out of the way were packed up and on the road at 8.30am. Backtracking past Lake McKenzie we made our way to McKenzies Jetty. At one of the track junctions, a very excited Huby asked us to stop and hop out for a photo shot. Puzzled, we did this and soon realised that a very ‘cheeky’ Huby wanted us to all bend over in front of a tree that resembled a Bum. Laughter and photos soon followed before we again set off to our next stop.
McKenzies Jetty was a lovely spot to take photos and go for a bit of exploring. The jetty was quite intriguing with its Roman numeral markings on each pillar. We all wondered as to the significance but left with no further clues. The kids enjoyed playing ‘carefully’ on the bogged tractor and after some sand sculptures of hilarious oversized chicken feet on the kids we left.
Due to some track closures we were unable to get to visit the mission site at Balarrgan so we decided to head to Kingfisher Bay Resort for lunch. We had a great time swimming, flying kites and enjoying ice creams with some managing a quick kip under the jetty. We set off again this time heading to Poyingun forestry camp ruins and spent 2 hours looking through the old huts, machinery sheds and even managing to get a few mangoes from one of the trees. We also found an old Bundaberg Rum truck there that was abandoned many years ago.
Leaving the ruins we travelled some very overgrown tracks to get to our camp for the night at Bogimbah airstrip. Here we had the luxury of an old hanger, so set up most camps under the roof and settled down to a wonderful night talking and indulging in a few wines.
Day 4 - Tuesday the 30th of December
Woke reasonably early to a glorious morning and with camp nearly packed were refreshed with a light shower. Some set out to try and identify the old airstrip but was made hard by the fact that it was most likely ploughed up and now very overgrown. On the road we drove the long steep climb up Tower Hill with only a couple needing two or three goes to get up. At the top we took in the views of our camp for the previous night as well as the western side of the Island which was spectacular.
Again travelling through overgrown tracks, we made our way to the Valley of the Giants to marvel at the massive Satinay trees that were logged many years ago. Armed with lengths of rope we drove the valley circuit and tried to find the largest diameter tree with the winner being rewarded with a bag of boiled lollies. Unfortunately this was a scam to entice maximum participation and made for some explaining to the kiddies that it was all a joke.
Morning tea was had at the end of the valley circuit and feeling much better after a cuppa and cake, made our way to ‘Z’ force camp. Unfortunately all we could find when we got there was a concrete tank with the unit’s markings and although we searched through the bush failed to find any other signs of the camps existence. Driving further North we pulled into an abandoned camp (possibly Bogimbah mission site) and proceeded to have lunch. A quick explore revealed some old trucks and the remains of a building with a bottle dump next to it. Two huge mango trees shaded the site and made for a nice lunch spot.
With still so much to do for the day we headed to Bogimbah Creek and found the spot where the loggers rolled the timber into the creek to be picked up by the barge. There were three of these log ramps which were in remarkably good condition after such a long time. Walking to the mouth of the creek we came across a large steel barge that had grounded itself on the shallow mudflats. Some ventured out to inspect the rusting hulk before the tide came in.
Heading north we travelled some very soft sections of sand to get to our next destination, Boomerang Lakes. While not as picturesque as other lakes on the island we were soon informed that at 130 metres above sea level it is the highest dune lake in the world.
Back on the track we continued on past Lake Gnaran and onto Awinya Creek. On arrival at Awinya Creek we found it to be over crowded so decided to travel north along the beach until we found a suitable camp. Purely by chance we came across a fantastic campsite, just the right size for all our vehicles and with 5-star views.
With plans to stay in this spot for two nights we decided that we would relax at the campsite the next day while the others planned to travel back to Lake Gnaran and walk to Lake Bowarrady for lunch.
Day 5 - Wednesday the 31st of December
We arose to a slightly overcast day and after breakfast took the kids for a walk along the beach to collect shells. The keen walkers headed off to explore Lakes Gnaran and Bowarrady, leaving ourselves, Emma, Pam and Gary to relax by the beach for the day.
After collecting shells for a couple of hours we returned to camp and decided to head to Wathumba for cold showers. Some ‘navigational’ errors saw us go past the turn off to Wathumba and at the edge of a vast mudflat. Thinking that Wathumba was just around the corner we drove onto the mudflat and after 70 odd metres discovered that we were slowly sinking so we quickly selected reverse and back tracked the way we came. Another 10 metres and we would have been a new home for the Bream at high tide. Thankful that we got out, we eventually found the correct turn off and headed up into the campgrounds.
Surprisingly we found the Wathumba camping grounds to be very quiet despite having amenities and nice camp sites. We believe this was due to the tidal conditions and large population of sand flies.
Feeling clean and refreshed we returned to camp and spent the remainder of the morning swimming, collecting shells and lying about on the beach. After a light lunch we returned to the beach to continue swimming, collecting shells and lying about on the beach.
The walkers returned late in the afternoon and after they had a quick swim we all settled into happy hour. After such a busy day lazing about on the beach we were not feeling very confident about seeing the New Year in. So after dinner we chatted and enjoyed a few drinks until just after 9pm when we decided to pop the bubbly and toast the New Year in early.
Day 6 - Thursday the 01st of December
After packing up camp we headed off before the group so we could have another shower at Wathumba. We were a little too early however and had to wait for the tide to go down before we could cross over Yerrall creek. We parked the car and lay on the beach to wait. This is when we discovered how friendly the sand flies really were!
After about an hour we were able to cross over and enjoy a cold shower (again much to the delight of the kids). We were soon joined by the rest of our convoy and were quickly on our way to Orchid Beach. The track into Orchid Beach was very soft and Huby eventually came to a standstill at the turn off. This created quite a traffic jam however we were soon on our way again and enjoying over priced ice creams at the Orchid Beach Trading post and Servo. After re-fuelling cars and finishing ice creams we returned to the cars for our drive to Sandy Cape.
The drive to Sandy Cape was uneventful until we arrived at the South Ngkala Rocks section which was very soft and slow going. Due to cars entering from both ends it is a traffic jam waiting to happen. Our convoy was soon stuck in the middle of a traffic jam and with onlookers galore getting in the way we eventually made it to the other side.
By the time we arrived at Sandy Cape for our sand tobogganing it was decided that we would stay in this spot until late afternoon to wait for the tide to turn and give us enough beach to successfully get back to Orchid.
A brave few climbed the sand dunes to show the rest of us how sand tobogganing was done (and not done). We were entertained by all attempts, however Huby’s slow motion descent complete with glad wrap over the face (don’t try this at home kids) took the prize for the funniest sand tobogganing we had ever seen. He then returned to the top minus the glad wrap and with a new board, sped down the dunes in record time. The only problem with the run was that he landed heavily, hurting his wrist. The dare devil prize went to Judy however who decided to abandon her toboggan at 100km per hour landing very hard on the sand. Fortunately no one was badly hurt in the sand tobogganing championships but a few prides were bruised.
After lunch we spent the remainder of the afternoon under Huby’s tarp lazing about and moving only to save chairs, boxes and kids from floating away with the tide. With the tide finally receding we had a light dinner, packed up and began our journey to Waddy Point campground.
We reached South Ngkala Rocks and it was decided that we would lead the group just in case Huby needed a tow through the soft sand. We reached the end without incident only to hear from Huby minutes later with the news that his engine had seized.
We backed up and attempted to pull him out, as did Gary and Pam but to no avail. In the end the convoy made it out with John in the lead hooked up to Gary who was hooked up to David who was hooked up to Huby. Once out of the soft sand David towed Huby back to Orchid Beach and on to Waddy Point where we arrived at 10pm. We all began to set up camp whilst Gary and Pam returned to Orchid Beach for their camper trailer which had been left there for the day.
With camp set up we placed our sandy kids straight into bed (they had been asleep since we left Sandy Cape) and headed to the showers before retiring to bed after a long night.
Day 7 - Friday the 02nd of December
Arose reluctantly and after breakfast slowly packed up camp. The verdict on Huby’s car was not good and he would have to be towed out. To lighten the load, his gear was relocated from the top of his car to the top of Gary’s camper trailer and the Looney family moved into Pam and Gary’s Patrol.
It was decided that Pam and Gary would tow Huby as they had an auto and we tow their camper trailer to prevent any excess wear and tear on our clutch. It was all smooth sailing as we travelled down the Eastern side of the island stopping briefly at the most famous of the Fraser Island wrecks, the “Maheno” before continuing on to Eli Creek to walk the Boardwalk circuit.
Eli Creek is the largest freshwater creek on the eastern shores and was very pretty but also extremely crowded. It took a lot of ice cream bribery to persuade the kids to get back in the car without having a swim. We had to keep going however as we were hoping to continue on the beach around Hook Point at the southern end of the Island which was only passable at low tide.
One final stop was made at Eurong for John and ourselves to refuel and pick up the promised ice creams for the kids before returning to the beach in our quest to beat high tide. As we passed Dilli Village the possibility of making it past Hook Point was looking doubtful as we past fewer and fewer cars heading North. We continued on until it was made very clear that we had missed our chance and would have to travel the rough inland track to the barge.
We headed back and found that our turn off was also impassable at this stage due to a Patrol having problems towing his caravan off the beach. After several attempts he was able to back up so that we could get through. John strapped onto Gary and Pam’s Patrol to help pull Huby through and after a couple of attempts they all made it on to the inland track. We also took a couple of attempts but were able to get through and make the journey to the barge.
Our next obstacle was when we reached the beach again to board the barge. It took quite an effort in the soft sand to get everyone safely on the barge but in the end it was congratulations all round as we travelled the barge back to Inskip Point.
On arrival at Inskip Point we headed into Rainbow Beach to find an RACQ office. After a rather expensive quote to tow Huby back the same day we offered to take him and Judy to the Narangba train station while his car would remain in Rainbow Beach until mid week. The Looney’s remained in Pam and Gary’s Patrol and after reluctantly giving them their camper trailer back we were all on our way again. We refuelled at Gympie and said our goodbye’s to everyone before making the journey home.
Despite the unfortunate ending to the trip for Huby we all had a great time on Fraser and were able to see some of the less traversed areas of the Island. Huby’s extensive knowledge of Fraser enabled us to learn a great deal about its history and see much more of the Island than we had ever seen before. We would like to thank all who joined us on the trip for their great company and to Huby and Judy for leading a fantastic trip.