Three Lessons I Learned on Fraser Island
World Heritage listed Fraser Island is one of the most diverse eco-systems and the world’s largest sand island. Touring around Fraser Island is one of my favorite outdoor adventures in Queensland, yet I didn’t quite realize an authentic 2 night, 3 day camping trip on Fraser Island involved tiger sharks, dingoes, and eating sand.
Once I arrived to the one of a kind island, the first thing I quickly learned is that Fraser Island is known as a Tiger Shark breeding area. This means that there is no swimming in the ocean unless you want to come face to face with one of the most fierce beasts in the sea. I wasn’t willing to take that chance, although I couldn’t resist going into the sea anyway. (I only went in up to my knees even though the waves were almost toppling me over.) Tiger Sharks don’t come in the shallow waters right? At least that is what I kept telling myself. I just love the ocean so much; it is so hard for me to stay out of the sea. I didn’t want to tempt fate so once was enough. The currents and tidal rips surrounding Fraser Island also make the water extremely dangerous. Rule #1: stay out of the sea.
The second thing I learned on Fraser Island is that the dingoes that live on the Island are the purest in Eastern Australia. With an abundance of wild dingoes, our guide kept reiterating the importance of being “dingo safe”, yet the majority of the group felt that the elusive animal was more of a myth then a risk because none of us had seen one. (Other than in a wildlife sanctuary.) We couldn’t have been more wrong. It wasn’t hours later when we were face to face with a dingo. Apparently a family of 5 lives around the area where we were camping just off the beach. The area where we were camping did not have dingo fences (some tourist parks have them), which left us to the mercy of mother nature. Again, this is real camping.
The rare dune vegetation camouflaged them in the brush. Out of sight out of mind? Not exactly! Once we saw one for the first time we realized the need to be dingo safe. They really were everywhere- including surrounding our camp hoping we would accidentally drop scraps of food while cooking, which they could snatch when we went to bed. Not on our watch! We had to be on dingo watch at all times. Locking up our food in our caged trailer, carrying our rubbish with us, exposing of waste miles from camp, locking our clothes and toiletries in the trucks, while keeping nothing but a sleeping bag in our tent. Yet on numerous occasions, we still had to yell and scare the dingoes away. I think they scared me more times than I can count. While walking to my tent in the dark with a buddy to get my flash light we came metres away from one. It startled me so much that I jumped, squealed like a little girl, and flared in the air like I was having a seizure. Needless to say, my freak show scared it away.
On the second night a girl’s tent got ripped open during dinner because a dingo wanted the sunscreen that she left in her tent. All of her stuff was pulled out of the tent and strewn all over the ground. Apparently dingoes like anything that smells like they think they can eat. I was grateful that I followed the guides instructions. With nothing in my tent but a sleeping bag and a dirty camper (that would be me) the dingoes were still heard at dawn sniffing outside of the tents. I am pretty sure one brushed up against my feet because the tents were so small my feet touched the end of the tent. With the risk of attacks, it’s better to be safe then sorry. Leave no trace! It probably didn’t help that our guide told us horror stories of people (who were of course irresponsible) attacked by dingoes. Rule #2: Be dingo safe!
The third and final lesson I learned on Fraser Island is be prepared to eat sand. Camping on the world’s largest sand island means that sand will be everywhere! Sand will get in places where it shouldn’t be-including in the food. Since we washed our dishes in the sea it was inevitable from our first meal that we would be eating sand for 3 days. There was sand on our dishes, in our food, water, tents, clothes, trucks…shall I continue? I think you get the idea. Although we ate great gourmet meals in the bush like scrambled eggs & toast and chicken stir fry on rice, it was all served with a side of sand. The slight crunch and sound of chewing sand became part of the experience. I have to admit this was my least favorite experience. It will be something I will never forget. Rule # 3: come ready for an adventure.
Visiting the fragile environment on Fraser Island is one of my highlights in Queensland. I will never forget the memories I made on the island. I can’t really complain about anything even though I was sleeping on the ground with only a sleeping bag, went in shark infested waters, fought off dingoes, and ate sand for three days. The views were spectacular and out of this world which made it all worth it. I am not bragging when I say this, but rather I am honoured and blessed to be one of the few people in this world to have the opportunity to lay eyes on this turquoise surrounded gem. I am still in awe of all that I saw. I hope you someday venture to Australia and make it to Fraser Island.