Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A visit to Fraser Island

We have both read and heard a lot about Fraser Island and it was certainly on our bucket list for a visit.  Last year when we were in Hervey Bay we contemplated it, but as we had the caravan it would have required storage and secondly we were running out of time, so had continued travelling south.  This time, we were pretty determined the timing was right but we didn’t take the weather into consideration enough in our planning.  The afternoon before we were booked to cross on the barge the heavens opened and the heavy rain continued well into the evening.  This didn’t bode well for our planned visit.

With a soaking wet tent we hit the internet and decided that tenting on the island may not be such a good idea.  Instead we came up with an option to book into Eurong Beach Resort with buffet breakfasts and dinners included.  This certainly had a didn't price tag attached to it than camping in either of the National Park camps or the private camping ground, but hang why not.  Certainly sounded much more pleasant than camping in the rain.

Fortunately the rain eased overnight and we were able to pack up our still wet tent without getting wet.  Obviously the tent was going to have to come out to be dried, but at least everything else was dry and we were able to put it all in the car to keep it that way.  We drove out to River Head to meet the barge – this takes about half an hour and we were advised to be an hour early which was certainly an exaggeration on time needed.  As it happened there were only four vehicles going on to the barge and we could have arrived at the last minute and still made the trip.  However, by the time we got to River Head the sun was shining and with time on hand we shocked those around us by getting our wet tent out of the bag and erecting it in the car park.  It certainly caused a few people to stare at us.  The tent all but dried in the time we had so we were happy.
As Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world it was time to let those tyres down again – Peter is quite expert at setting the tyres at the right pressure now and this normally means we have no trouble driving in sandy conditions.  There was plenty of signage around the carpark – seemed strange to see that the allowable is 80 kilometres per hour on the beach and 30 on the tracks.  Also there are crocodiles present so we won’t venture into the sea water even if the weather is good. 

After purchasing our permit to drive on the island (another $42.50) we watched the barge arrive from the island and we were soon on board watching as River Head faded into the distance.  Just four vehicles and the passengers.  The return barge cost was $165 including the vehicle and passengers and takes 30-40 minutes each way. 

The barge has room for about twenty vehicles of various sizes and there is upstairs seating for about one hundred passengers both indoor and outdoor.

There are two staff on the barge - the male driver and the female attendant who directed where to park then served the coffee etc from the shop.  It was surprising to see a friendly cat on board - apparently he travels each day and is taken home at the end of the day by one of the staff members.

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