We endured another long tedious journey in order to afford us a couple of nights in our next destination, Hervey Bay. It wasn’t the driving that was becoming a chore, but it was eating into our most valuable commodity, time. With the days seeping away, wishes of a longer stay crept into our minds on an hourly basis. An incredibly friendly and genial man called Peter ran our campsite. At every encounter he would wax lyrical about whatever was on his mind, be it his old hamstring injury he is overcoming, or the way that people from New Zealand speak, along with impressions. Peter helped us book a tour for the following day to see Frasier Island, the main reason for our stop at Hervey. Today was a public holiday. If you’re picturing a busy high street, a jam packed beach and the whole town in the streets enjoying their break, you would be wrong. Everything was closed, even the huge supermarket chains that we have taken in and came to love more than the Tesco’s of home. We wandered to the beach to admire another sunset, this becoming a nightly occurrence and one I certainly could not get sick of. After the snappy happy pair of us finished our shoot, we headed to find a snack amongst the deserted streets. Shop after shop was closed, save for two takeaway style shops. We settled for a prawn sandwich and a bacon and egg roll.
The streets were only slightly illuminated by the sparse street lighting, which to us came as a blessing. Looking up at the night sky, we were once again reminded that we had free tickets to a spectacular show. The stars were out in force and the silver cloud of the Milky Way helped us find our way home. A slow stroll, heads tilted back, reminding us of our fondness of the night sky. Used to our early starts, the 6.30 alarm didn’t bother us as we routinely ate breakfast and locked away our home. Hoping that this island was different to Whitsundays, not because I thought that was crap, but it’s nice to see different stuff. The ferry was slow and steady and fortunately Holly was not struck down with sea sickness. Our tour bus was a bit different to those we were used to. With the island entirely made of sand, that means, yes you guessed it, the roads are made of sand too. The 4×4 bus made light work of the undulating roads and the driver expertly handled the tracks, throwing all of us passengers to the roof on occasion. Our first stop on the tour was the forests of the island. With a tour guide, we had a chance to catch up and learn about some of the flora we had previously encountered in Kuranda and Paronella. Trees dating back almost 200 years with trunks bigger than any I’ve seen strike you as quite phenomenal. A crystal clear creek trickled through, rising from a natural spring, giving us a delectable taste of what we were to expect when we visited Eli Creek.
With heads full of island knowledge, we were off again thundering down the sand streets. The first break from the rally course came in the way of a highway. But this was no ordinary highway. This was a beach, complete with road signs and a speed limit. Hurtling down the beach, it was clear this driver had a heavy foot, but we never felt out of control. At the end of the beach a fantastic 70 year old shipwreck submerged the sand at the shore. With the frame still standing it was haunting to think that this was once occupied.
Back down the beach we arrived at a creek and headed to the top to start our decent. As we slowly dipped ourselves into the seemingly icy water, we acclimatised almost instantly and a freshness from the water invigorated us. Our slow meander didn’t just give us time to enjoy our wade down the creek, but handed us a very rare opportunity. As those around us didn’t follow and those ahead steamed forward we were left, for what felt like the first time on any tour, alone. We shared a entirely peaceful moment and that 5 minutes felt like a lifetime.
Lunch was next on the menu, and being a happy camper, our usual diet was pretty basic. At the buffet it was a relief to be able to stuff my face, even giving the mediocrity of the food, helping myself to thirds and fourths. Not a great idea when the bus journey is up and down more than Holly’s emotions at the wrong time of the month. Success at keeping my lunch well inside, we arrived at Lake McKenzie and in an attempt to achieve the liberty we felt in the creek, Holly and I escaped from the bus quickly and trotted down the path to get there before everyone else arrived and started polluting the moment. We managed to find a little cove a bit further along from the opening where we froze in wonder. The deep blue lake stretched for miles, with trees standing to attention lining the perimeter. We prepared for our submersion and stripped off down to our swimmers. The usual method for entering water one toe at a time didn’t feel right. All my water fears drifted from me, and without warning to Holly I ran and dived in the lake. As I started to surface, I wasn’t scared that I was out of my depth or a weak swimmer, I was just free. The coolness injected life into me, the soft water lapping gently against the side of my face as I lay on my back. Peaceful and tranquil, Holly looking on in silent shock. “What’s wrong with you?” She shouted as she came into the water. I don’t even know came over me. We paddled and floated about in the water and I reenacted my dive for the camera. I didn’t want to leave this place, ever.
Back at the bus we perused an information sign, shedding some light on the Aborigines that occupied the island, when we heard gasps from the crowd. We turned to see a Dingo, slowly and nonchalantly plodding through the car park. Taking glances around, totally un-phased by the humans, we could just about see the wild animal and the Dingo warning signs in the same view. The night was cool and I sat outside the van, jotting in my diary while Holly had a film on inside playing on the laptop. A woman from the van next to us approached for a chat. As she get closer, with the van door wide open, the film Holly was watching screamed the following line as she frantically searched for the volume button, “YOU BETTER NOT TITTY FUCK ME” Screamed Seth Rogan from his film “This is the End”. As I tried not to laugh, I greeted our neighbour trying to talk over the barrage of swear words and sex jokes leaking from the van door, gradually decreasing in volume as holly switched it off. Each place we visit, doesn’t just have its unique experiences and sights, but also it’s own feel and character. I wondered if seeing a mass of beautiful scenery and a number of beaches would start to take the shine off every new encounter, but I’m pleased to report it doesn’t. Noosa next, with a number of people recommending a river camp site, the next stop looked as promising as ever.