Rainbow Beach & Fraser Island
From Noosa I headed up by bus to Rainbow Beach to check in for the Fraser Island tour; which was possibly THE best thing I did in Australia! The tour itself was three days, two nights and then we had two nights in Rainbow Beach on either side. On arrival in the hostel on the first evening, we got put into our groups for the tour and had safety talks about camping on the island, driving the 4WD cars, and particularly about avoiding the wild dingoes there. That night there was a 90’s/00’s cheesy disco night so everyone could bond in their groups, the music and dancing was so much fun.
The following morning, we were woken up early by the lure of free pancakes, had a few more safety talks and packed the car up, ready to set off. In each car there was eight people and in mine there was five of us with driving licences due to take it in turns, but with only one girl keen to drive first! The day began very slowly, with us being all squashed into the back of the 4×4 with crap weather. However as the day went on, we definitely cheered up; we were driving along the most beautiful beach, the sun started to come out and we were pumping out classic sing-along tunes. Early that afternoon we stopped off at Lake Mackenzie, a lake with water so turquoise it doesn’t look real! It was quite a cloudy sky and the lake still looked amazing; we could only imagine how good it would look in the sun! When we headed to our campsite in the evening we chatted to the tour guides, who were some very laidback, hilarious aussies. The tents remain up permanently in the campsite and there was a large fence built up around the outside to keep the dingoes out. Later we made dinner, had a lot of goon and made our way to ‘da club’ aka a tin can in a field, before making our way to the beach to look at the stars. I have genuinely seen nothing like it- there was no light pollution and the stars were unbelievable!
When we got up the following morning, after breakfast, we drove to a natural creek, and walked up a footpath with some huge rubber rings. Once quite far up the path, we jumped in the FREEZING cold water, sat in the rings and floated all the way downstream back to the beach. After a few games of beach volleyball and also lunch, we drove to a viewpoint where we had to get out and walk up a steep rocky hill- not ideal if you’re wearing flip flops, I lost count of how many times I stubbed my toes! The view was once again unbelievable- just sandy beach for miles. After this I took my turn driving the 4×4! I had two goes, a shorter one and then another longer go driving for 45 minutes, which turned out to be one of the more difficult journeys of the weekend! It was along the beach and the tide was coming in, and the patches of dry sand left to drive on were thick and difficult- we were sliding all over the place! It was amazing though, I loved it. We finally made it back to camp in one piece ready for another night of goon- which turned into a late night party on the beach, dancing under the stars.
On the last day it was our turn for Jabba the tour leader to drive us (which was ideal after two nights and sleeping in a tent) and once back at Dingoes hostel on Rainbow beach we had some down time before the final night out. The last night happened to be karaoke and was one of my best nights out in Australia; everyone was singing and dancing and having the best time. Absolutely loved it the whole tour.
Airlie Beach & Whitsundays
The next stop up the Coast was Airlie Beach which for many backpackers, is the main stop-off point for Whitsundays boat trips. Airlie Beach is actually a really nice town in itself, but I didn’t love it because 1) you couldn’t go in the sea due to loads of box jellyfish and 2) it was one of the worst hit places by the recent cyclone and driving through you could definitely still see so much evidence of it, mostly upturned trees etc.
For my Whitsundays boat trip, I was booked onto the Atlantic Clipper which had a reputation for being ‘the party boat’ but in a bad way- a reputation that sounded worse and worse as I got closer! Luckily I had made friends with a group of people in Fraser Island who were also booked onto the Clipper so that calmed my nerves. After a relaxing(ish) night in in Airlie Beach, we packed and boarded the boat! After a safety briefing, we set sail and started chatting to everyone else on board. After dinner, the drinking progressed and the crew set up some games and played music- it was a lot of fun. The following morning, after a very hungover attempt at breakfast, we arrived at one of the Whitsunday Islands and jumped into a little speedboat towards the shore. We walked up a hill and from the top, had the most incredible view of the Whitehaven beach and Whitsunday island (top photo). The sand banks change with everyday so you could go everyday for a year and the patterns you see will never be the same. We then walked down to and onto the famous Whitehaven beach which had the most incredible white sand- it has such a high silicon content that it is always cold, even when the sun is baking down on it. The colours of the sand and water were amazing- like a paradise island. We got back on the boat and drove round to the other side of the island and spent the rest of the day on a still-pretty-but-not-so-pretty beach. Here you could definitely see the remnants of the cyclone; half the beach was still closed due to fallen trees and debris. We stayed there all day, after a huge buffet lunch, sleeping and playing games. That evening back on the boat, there was an incredible colourful sunset! We had dinner and then had another extremely boozy night, this time with fancy dress and a lot more games. The following morning we cruised slowly back, got off the boat back on Airlie Beach, and went for one last very boozy day and night out in the town as a group.