Fraser Island, Photo by Frankie Dixon on Unsplash
Day 1 – Brisbane –Camp in the middle of nowhere.
Well, here we are, my road trip to the east starts today.
We were supposed to be 12 to share a minibus, we will be 3… 3 for a huge minibus, a super big trailer and camping gear for 12! A bit ridiculous, but why not.
A big rig
I’m five minutes late to the appointment: a garage specializing in 4x4s. I pull my huge suitcase, with my big bag on my back. I pass the minibus and its trailer. Oh my god, it’s really big and long… And I have to drive this thing?
Uh and if not, I hope the others can drive too, otherwise we’re in trouble!
I shyly enter the garage office, a super smiling man my age greets me – Chris. He is there to show us how to use the trailer, etc. He is adorable, we joke, I think he is cute… Unfortunately, he does not come with us.
Is this my team?
My two traveling companions arrive about ten minutes after me. Diego immediately asks if the insurance covers the van crash… Uh… That reassures me a lot about his driving skills!!
He looks a little ridiculous with his toddler face and old 80’s mustache. I already feel like communication is going to be difficult with him. In fact, I’m already thinking… We’re going to have to meet other people along the way…
Stephie arrives, she is hyper smiling, she laughs with Chris and me, well she seems downright nicer.
After showing us how to detach and attach the trailer, Chris watches us go with a sly smile. I read in his eyes the same doubts that dance in my mind about this unusual team.
This is not a Twingo…
This is me taking the wheel. Boy, am I long and fat!!! I’ll have to get used to driving this long, super heavy snake. Under Chris’ eyes, I manage to get the thing out of its parking lot, between two trees. I’m proud of it. But now, I’ll have to get out of Brisbane.
The traffic is rather dense, the third gear is complicated to shift, the gear lever on the left does not help !
Well, I’m getting through it! This is despite my co-pilot Stephie’s last minute directions.
Not effective enough for my taste!
We stop at a supermarket, and the shopping begins. There are only three of us and yet we are super disorganized. No list, ideas thrown around in the Woolworths, back and forth in the aisles. We are definitely not the most efficient team of the century.
And then, they have a hard time understanding my accent, and I theirs (they are both Chilean). As a result, my patience takes a hit. Am I that complicated to understand or do they make no effort??!!
We take again the road towards Noosa, we decide to skip the first 2 stages of the route. The only lucky one to look for the free camp for the next night, it is me!
I’m trying to plan over the next few days, but they’re pushing my organizing intentions. We’ll do it tonight at dinner.
Not the camping pros
Finally, we will not make anything this first day. And after a more than late lunch, we join a rest area which will welcome our camp for two evenings. It is really not the big luxury. That does not smell very good, and it is really summary. No neighbors with whom to sympathize, too bad.
Accustomed to Decathlon-style tents that are set up with poles, we are a bit lost when faced with its square tents delivered with only a stake and 4 sardines… Uh… no manual.how do we do it?
Well obviously, I did not leave with the pros of the camping. We take out a first tent of the trailer. It’s a big square bag. There are four of them. Originally, I suppose that we should have slept to 3 in each of her. Finally we decide to put up only two of them. Stephie and me, will sleep in the same.
I submit the idea of fixing the 4 corners and placing the stake in the middle. They look unconvinced. And ask YouTube and the trip organizer for help via message.
Who was right? Well okay, to make it fit better, I had to unfold the stake completely, but I wasn’t far from the truth!
The vacations are starting?
After finally settling in, self-inflating mattresses and sleeping bags in the tents, we clutch some wine (ah finally, we start the vacations), and we start discussing the rest of the trip. No dinner, laziness, some chips and a ham and cheese sandwich, that will make the deal. Stephie and me are globally on the same page. We place the dates and the first 6 stages.
Diego is daydreaming, barely listening. Just enough to make lame jokes, which flop every time.
9:30 pm. The two bottles are finished. The program is done. We go to bed.
I fall asleep within seconds.
Day 2 — Noosa
On the second day, we decide to stay in Noosa. Well I spent 2 months there, but I wouldn’t mind doing the National Park again!
I take some time to pack up and explore the trailer. We have all the gear to camp with a great group of 12. But here’s the thing, there are three of us. Do I want to play ball? Does anyone know how to play guitar? No, and that’s the problem. .
I try to chase away my disappointment, and organize it all. The rest of us get up painfully.
Once the gas is installed, we get to work in the kitchen, pasta for the salad and cutting up the vegetables on my side, while Stephie toasts the toast in the pan, and places cheese and ham on top. She takes it seriously. For me, it’s a bit of a waste of time, but hey, if breakfast is that important to her, why not.
Meanwhile, Diego sips his tea, looking elsewhere. Does he offer his help, no. No, he just stands there like a fool (that he is).
Stephie eventually summons him to do the dishes, he complies. Okay he only takes the cups, and we have to remind him that the pots and bowls don’t wash themselves, but he ends up doing all the dishes.
I can already feel my nerves getting the best of me. I’ve been up since 6:20 and we don’t leave until 9… Rotating breaths.
Evidently, neither of them is looking for directions on their phones. And I’m still the one guiding the little group.
Diego drives. He’s a pretty good driver, even though he really drives on the right. However, he’s going to drive me crazy. I tell him “and you will take the left” then when we get closer “on the left” and he still finds a way to ask me for confirmation 3 times before finally turning.
When I think that the day before, in order to find the camp, I had to follow the itinerary alone on my mobile phone sitting on the armrest and none of them even offered to help. And now you’re making me repeat it 10 times, grrr…. I’d let him figure it out on his own, but I’m afraid we’ll never get there.
On the agenda, climbing Mount Column, I will wait for them at the top, this is my moment. The hike is nothing exceptional, it is quite popular, goodbye dream of being alone with myself, but it offers an interesting view on the sunshine coast.
After half an hour of watching the ocean, trying to find a positive in it all and incidentally getting eaten by mosquitoes, my two companions arrive.
Descent from the Mount, waiting, back in the car, back to tensing up (fuck, but yes right… Right, rightiiiiiite… Derechaaaaa), and beach.
Happy I had seen Noosa before….
At the beach, I end up relaxing. I don’t know if I want to do the National Park again with these two.
We go swimming, Diego takes his gopro, he films… I don’t know what he’s filming, everything and nothing… My god, he’s going to have hours of useless video. Good luck with the editing…
We accompany Stephie to the doctor, we wait. Another beach, waiting for my buddy Mereia who won’t come. I would have liked to see her one last time, but maybe it is better, the goodbyes, that was never my thing. Cider on the beach, and discussion about the next program. Diego is completely in the moon, we talk about Fraser Island, and he talks about roasted chicken.
Send me a miracle.
Sunset, Bayley is here and it makes me terribly happy to see her. Too bad we didn’t have more time, we could have had a good laugh. Farewell pretty Californian !
Back to camp. Right right right right.
Start of tensions?
At the camp, Diego true to form doesn’t do much. Stephie and I prepare the meal. He gobbles up the soup alone sitting at the table, while we watch the pasta. As soon as he finishes, he leaves his plate on the table and goes to hide in his tent.
Euh the pasta is ready, dummy boy, you come and eat. He yells at us that he’s not hungry, leaving us bitter that we may have been too hard on him.
Tomorrow we’ll have to get things straight. Dinner, dishes, teeth, and bed, but Stephie keeps criticizing poor Diego, rightly so, but I think that says it all. Yes, we’ll talk to him tomorrow, let me sleep now, little Spanish tyrant.
Day 3 – Rainbow Beach
Returning of Mama Mylene
Raised before everyone else, they get up and everything is already ready. I don’t really mind, it’s kind of my mama side that comes out sometimes.
Diego is allergic to peanuts (hmm, could this be my way out?), so cautious, he refuses the cereal and decides to toast himself in the pan. Great, we’ll lose another half hour. Rotating Breathing
Let me put my foot down. Why did he leave without saying anything last night? He babbles, tired, not hungry, and looks down.
I hate people who are so evasive. Hell, I’m giving you the opportunity to express yourself. Take it, damn it!
In a soft voice, I tell him that we feel he’s not comfortable, that we just want everyone to feel comfortable. He retorts that it’s just that we don’t have an affinity. That’s it. And no, he doesn’t feel comfortable.
At the moment, it pains me. Indeed, I have no affinity, I find you silly, boring, not clueless for a penny, and heavy handed. But we’re going to have to spend two more weeks all together, so we might as well try not to hate each other right away.
Stephie follows up nastily, calls him lazy, tells him to shut up, finishes talking. Wow, at this point, I can’t help but soften my tone, to be a bit of an advocate for Diego. He’s cornered, a mouse facing the voracious teeth of the wolf… Stephie.
Finally, the tone eventually calms down. Diego will have to be more proactive, he will have to listen to our conversations, participate, and do his share of the work.
Ok your positives Diego, you’re pretty good-natured, and you’re good at parking the car and maneuvering the trailer in reverse. Anyway, we still need you…
Can we go now?
Finally the tuning was successful, and the road is going pretty well. Okay I’m still the only one looking for the route, the gas station and so on. But I think that’s a battle I’ve already lost.
Ah and yes, I also do music.
Arrived at Rainbow Beach. It’s a pretty, deserted beach facing Noosa. Beautiful, but not breathtaking.
And it’s hot as hell, beach, swimming and lunch in the shade. Tomorrow we want to do Fraser Island. It’s time to find out where and how to rent a 4×4. Stephie calls the agency, she ends up finding the best deal.
2h of papers and instructions later, a 1500 euro deposit, and lightened each of 220 dollars, our 4×4 is reserved for the next day.
It’s 4 p.m., the sun is slowly cooling. Stephie is whining, she wants to go to the beach. I suggest we find the camp first. No free camp this time. We have to pay 15 dollars. Both of them are a little sulky. If you’re not happy, find your camp yourself!
I suggest we go set up camp, while they are at the beach. When I join them, we’ll go watch the sunset on the dune. Nope. Stephie doesn’t accept my offer, and with bad grace we go to the camp. Installation (super fast this time).
When we leave, no time for the beach. Stephie’s smile has faded. I’m tense, and their conversation in Spanish doesn’t help calm my nerves.
A path of about ten minutes separates us from the dune, I climb it alone.
A great sunset
The view is gorgeous. Ah well, that’s why I’m here! Finally! I’m breathing, I’m finding a bit of positivity.
The bully and the idiot arrive and get busy with a photo shoot for about ten minutes. Please don’t spoil my fun. My beer, this view, and some newfound serenity.
Come on, I’m coming to the last picture with them.
The evening, the tensions disappeared with the glow of the sun. Hot shower, small Italian restaurant (which I do not recommend …), glasses of wine and good mood. That’s it.
Mosquitoes 8 – Mylene 0
Sandflies 20 – Mylene 0
Day 5 – Fraser Island
Go away one day…
Wake up at 5:40 am. I want to see the sunrise. But the fog decided otherwise. Too bad, I take my time then, hot shower, music. Then I go shopping for Fraser, bread, ham, in order not to starve on the island. Just before leaving, Stephie waves to me, I take it for a Hello, I smile to her, and I start.
Oups, actually, she wanted to come with me.
When I come back, nothing has progressed. I’m annoyed about it. We’ll never make it to the car rental by 8:00 a.m.
Stephie decided to make eggs this morning. Not exactly the day. But let’s move on. I’m eating cold after making salads and vegetables for dinner.
Ouch, my good mood is a bit tainted.
Finally we got the 4×4 at 8:30 am, we load of what to camp and eat, and let’s go for the ferry!!
After 30 minutes of waiting, we cross the small inlet that separates us from Fraser Island.
Diego is behind the wheel. The first few meters on the beach are hesitant. He’s going to have to go a little faster on the soft sand, otherwise we’ll get stuck.
At this point, I’m thinking, damn, it would have been cool to go with one or more guys or gals who were very comfortable and confident behind the wheel. Of course we’ll all be driving, but being able to rely on someone is nice too. We have the team we deserve?
We go along the beach a long time, we yell at Diego when he takes too quickly a hollow filled with salt water. The pearls of sands and water sprinkle the windshield. 150 dollars for any trace of salt water on the car… Oops. And… We realize that Diego has not listened to anything from the 30 minutes driving course of the day before. Nothing listened, nothing understood. In the moon… Rotating breath.
Stephie gives him the main directions in Spanish. Diego nods, obediently. We leave the beach for the interior of the island. The way is made of paths of fine sand alternating with harder parts, but sown with roots, branches and holes. I can tell you that that shakes, it is funny at the beginning, but stressing also… The 1500 dollars, it is on my account that they were taken from…
Lakes… Yes it’s lakes, what…
We stop at a first lake. Yes, it’s peaceful, it’s a lake. I don’t find anything dazzling there. I take a picture for form’s sake. Stephie looks at me strangely, and asks me if I’m ok. Yes, better than yesterday, I’m less grumpy.
I share my thoughts with her. Honestly, it’s beautiful, but I’ve lost my ability to rave about every landscape. But that’s just the way it is, it’s okay, I’ll just try not to be too negative…
The turn of Stephie, now to try the 4×4. After a first fright (we almost ate a tree!), she is doing pretty well.
The road trails are lined with trees, it’s a beautiful environment… But it would be so much better walking 😅.
Second lake, same topo as the first. The sky is cloudy, and that does not help. With Stephie, we decide to grant ourselves after lunch a “me time”, each one on its side. One hour of deliverance for me.
A salad gobbled up standing in front of the car trunk (food forbidden near lakes so as not to attract dingoes… Australia what 😅), and a little disagreement on the rest of the program, I leave pissed off writing at the beach.
After more than one hour, we take again the roads all a little relaxed… Finally as relaxed as possible considering the jumps and the swirls of the 4×4.
We finally arrive at the main lake. The edge of the lake is turquoise blue. Too bad the sun has decided to hide behind the clouds. Finally, I swim, the water always has so much this power to make me softer, more appeased. We have a little fun in the water.
It starts to rain, we join the 4×4 quickly, and we head towards the camp.
I was hoping to make friends with some young neighbors. Missed.
Still night or so
Tents set up, and I start to prepare dinner when Stephie questions me. Am I okay?
Yeah, there I was relaxed, I even pretended to laugh at a joke Diego made… But I have a feeling that the conversation that’s about to follow will put me in a bad mood.
Here we are, half an hour blaming myself for being grumpy and less smiley for the past two days. I tell her, I have to deal with my disappointment, get used to their rhythm. She attacks me a little too much, I retort to her that she is not Miss Smile either. One takes the spout, but one ends up appeasing itself. Diego sits down then leaves at once when the voices begin to rise. He carefully avoids to join the conversation.
This discussion is futile. Yes I will take it upon myself, yes I will make efforts, mostly for myself, and a little for you. But her bossy Mrs. Wisdom tone will soon start to annoy me.
I smile, dinner gobbled up at 6pm, bottle of wine consumed, a squirrel friend for company, some rather interesting discussions, and the rain puts us to bed.
If dinner is over for me, the mosquito and sandfly dinner is starting! No I don’t have chicken pox… Sandflies 100 – Mylene 0
Day 6 — Fraser Island
My turn to drive
Rise at dawn, breakfast, good mood for me, cake face for Stephie, and hop we take the road again.
I’m driving!!! And it’s… hard!! The fine sand makes the rear wheels skid, you have to have both hands on the wheel to not end up in the scenery. I feel like I’m in V-Rally, but this time, I’m in control !
I’m having more fun than I did in the co-driver’s seat. My abs clench several times, as if they alone could hold the SUV back.
End of the trails and start crossing the island on the beach. It is a completely different sport, the path is not made, and the fine and powdery sand makes the back of the car skid badly. It’s funny though, we cross little streams, little dunes.
At the end of two hours, it’s good, I’ve had my fill. I hand over the wheel to Stephie and we head back in the opposite direction.
A long beach…
This time, we stop for the different attractions, a formation made of sand and rock (2 minutes, a photo), a remnant of a beached ship (5 minutes, a photo), a stream that joins the sea. Only a few centimeters deep, the creek sees children but also adults stranded on buoys trying as best they can to float on 5 cm of water, and to let themselves be carried. The spectacle is quite comical to watch.
Beach Break. Time for a swim in the beautiful turquoise water of Fraser. Ahhhh the mermaid lives again. Only downside, when getting out of the water, look well to the right and well to the left, because here it is the 4×4 highway!!
We jump in the car, 40 minutes of shaking and almost a speeding ticket (Stephie is not shy on the gas!). Hey yes, yes, there are police officers and speed limits on the island 😅 !
Wabby Lake and the dune
And we find ourselves at the foot of a footpath to discover Lake Wabby, which will disappear in a few years, eaten by the dune.35 minutes of climbing, to arrive on a sublime dune of white sand, it is beautiful.
We stay a while contemplating the lake, but also the ocean. It was worth it. It’s time to go back down.
Lunch on the go, and it is already necessary to head for the ferry. 45 minutes of sportive driving on the sand and we leave the island. Farewell Fraser Island.
Was it worth the detour? Yes, plus we saw several wild dingoes while driving along the beach. Only regret is that the sun was not out on the day of Lake Mackenzie.
It’s a typically Australian experience, the 4WD madness, this kind of dissonance between preserving the environment and making motorized vehicles roar there.
Would I have been more lenient with Fraser with another team? Probably.
4×4 rendered, spat with Stephie (cunt), peace ice cream, and night driving to the next camp.
We arrive on an uninteresting area, it’s dark. Hard to pitch the tent in the rocky ground, but mission accomplished.