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Safari Adventures

Torquay, Australia

After another gruelling all night Greyhound bus journey we arrived in Hervey Bay (aka Torquay) ready for our self drive safari around Fraser Island.

The Safari was due to start at 7am the next day so, as we are such sensible people, we decided to go out and get wasted to celebrate the 2 month point of our trip. Waking up the next day was not the easiest thing to do but we made it to the briefing point on time and were promptly divided into the two groups of 10 people who would live together for the next 3 days: drive the same 4x4; sleep in the same tents; eat the same food; etc. However, the groupings seemed to be oddly chosen - our group of 8 guys and 2 girls, and the other group of 1 guy and 9 girls.

The next two hours were pretty busy: Sean landed the role of supermarket sweep buying food for all 10 of us; and the rest of us got the briefing on how to drive the car, where to go, and what to do when you get stuck in the sand. Finally, we all met up again and loaded up the 4x4 car ready to go.

The first day on the island was pretty smooth, although we did manage to get bogged down within about 30 minutes after following one of Karl's shortcuts. The road we were expecting to take turned out to be one way (the map was definitely wrong - often seems to be the case when Karl is guiding us!) so we had to dig the car out and turn around. Dan managed to have the first clutch episode at this point, albeit a minor one - the smell and the smoke probably gives you an idea. During the day we visited a few sights: freshwater Lake Wabbi where Sean sand-boarded into the lake while the rest bathed; the wreck on the beach; and plenty of creeks. Finally, upon arriving at the campsite, we set up the tents and prepared the evening's barbecue and goon.

The second day was a fairly early start. 'Korea Dangerous' started the driving and proceeded to slam the car over many deep creeks causing the Japan girls in the back to smash their heads on the roof every two minutes. After visiting the Indian Head lookout point, the Swedish 'soon to be dangerous' driver took over to get us around a difficult corner. About a million revs, a cloud of smoke, a dune load of sand and a barbecued clutch later we proceeded to the Champagne Pools frothy bathing area. Next it was Karl's turn to drive the longest leg of the trip back south. After four stalled starts, we eventually got moving and headed back to the difficult corner. Karl decided that it was not worth the risk of getting stuck again so planted the accelerator and flew around the sandy tracks. Despite a few screams from the on-board passengers about trees and rocks, we got round without a problem. However, on the long run south, Karl noticed that the clutch was not behaving between gear changes, signaling problems to come. We eventually arrived at Eli Creek to float down its freezing current.

Sean then had the job of driving back to the campsite. Within about 2 metres it was clear that this car was going nowhere - the torture of earlier had taken its toll. Karl hitched a ride back to base camp woth another 4x4 full of girls (via a ranger briefing on dingos) to ring for help and pick up the other van to collect everyone. Upon Karl's return, everyone except Dan and Karl were loaded into the van - then out of the blue Sean decided to stay too. As we were being picked up within the hour we chilled in the moment. However, time passed and it got darker and emptier. By 7.30pm, three hours after breaking down, it was pitch black with no-one in sight and the tide creeping up. Around 8pm we saw lights only to be disappointed. Finally, at 9.30pm, a whole five hours later (the guy I had rung earlier had quit that night and couldn't be bothered to pass on the message that three Grimsby boys were stuck on the beach 8km from camp!), we were rescued and returned to basecamp to face a huge welcoming party with beers and food. We were mini celebrities for a while and even had a song written for us to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas.

The last day in the new car went smoothly with a final trip to Lake McKenzie before heading back to the mainland. However, the vehicle hire company hit us with an $800 bill that we had to split between everyone. But I think $80 for the experience was decent value.

That night both cars had a huge night to celebrate with drinking games in the giant dorm and plenty of Goon. The on-site bar was so empty that they came to our room at 1am and, in true mafia style, begged us all to go to the bar, gave us some free jugs of snakebite and even allowed us to bring our own drinks. (KC)

permalink written by  Sean, Karl & Dan on December 18, 2007 from Torquay, Australia
from the travel blog: Around the world in 180 days...
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This sounds hilarious!!

permalink written by  Donna on January 5, 2008

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