I arrived in Sydney on February 20, vaguely aware that my first country was already over with. Stayed at the Rooftop Traveler’s Lodge for three nights game planning before moving up the east coast.
My last night in Sydney before leaving on an epic 13-day adventure tour was really a microcosm of this trip around the world. I started out having a couple of cocktails with two guys from England who I’d met earlier in my hostel, met another English guy, two guys from Scotland, a German guy, a Swedish gal, two more English guys and a guy from Italy, and also talked for a good bit each individually with each of my dorm-mates, two from Germany and one from England. Let’s try that in order: Joe, Charlie, Mike (England), Jordan, Alan (Scotland), Henrick (Germany), Ana (Sweden), Matt, Neil (England), Simon (Italy), Callum (England), Lucas and Frank (Germany). Suppose I could have made those all up, but I didn’t.
The conversations, perspectives, experiences, realizations, laughs and learning moments, and friendships that are made, long-lasting or just for that moment, are each experiences in themselves.
I left early morning to start my journey north along the east coast on the Greyhound bus line, from Sydney eventually arriving in Cairns. I booked my flight back from Cairns to Sydney for two weeks later, which I realized was about a three-hour flight….hmmm. How long are these bus rides? I would find out. With about four bus rides each between 12-16 hours, Sydney to Cairns is like driving from Miami to Boston. Australia is huge (I just looked it up and it’s 32 hours by the route we took. Add a stop at every small town along the way and it’s about 1,000).
After basically two days on the bus, my first real stop was Rainbow Beach (I stopped the night before in Byron Bay, but was only there for about eight hours before getting back on the bus). After meeting a new friend Arend-Jan from Holland (call him AJ), he and I check into Dingo’s Hostel, where we arrive just toward the end of our briefing for Fraser Island. In my room I meet Matt from England and my soon-to-be four favorite Canadian chicks, Candice, Kelsey, Lisa and Chelsea.
Fraser Island is the largest sand beach in the world, just off the east coast of Rainbow Beach, surrounded by shark-infested waters (I didn’t believe it at first, but really) and constantly pulverized by crushing surf all day every day. The miles of sand beaches give way to inland rainforest throughout the island, with hundreds of lakes, creeks, streams and freshwater outlets feeding into the ocean. Dingos, a species of wild dogs, inhabit and run free on the island.
Here is the gig on Fraser Island. You are put into a group of eight people, who comprise your vehicle for the trip (a manual transmission 4X4 Toyota Land Cruiser, driver-side right). We are group A, shortly thereafter known as A-TEEAMM, which includes Josefine, Madeleine, Linnea and Joachim from Sweden, Ali and Dani from England, AJ and myself. We rep the A-Team hard.
We are provided with camping gear, food, supplies and instructions for three days and two nights on the island. Our convoy consists of three Land Cruisers, each with eight passengers, along with a fourth cruiser driven by our guide with another eight passengers, for a total in our group of about 32. There is another group of about the same size on the island as well; we don’t necessarily convoy with them during the day, but we all stay at the same campsite in the evening.
Choosing our alcohol for the trip, I thought we might have a little variety, maybe a case of beer, some cocktails, etc. Up to this point I was unaware of GOON. Goon is the most inexpensive boxed wine that can be purchased, and is a total craze in Australia. So much for variety; we opt for eight boxes of goon. Only the good stuff.
We drive about ten minutes from Dingo’s out to the beach, everyone drops into 4X4, and we pull onto the ferry. The ferry ride crossing the channel is about ten minutes, then we hit Fraser at high tide. All the vehicles pull onto the island and we are off.
The next three days and two nights were just bad-ass. At all times we are doing one of the following:
Smashing down the beach at 80 KPH, sun shining, surf pounding, iPod rocking and the A-TEAM in full effect. AHHH YEAHHH!!! Raise your hand if you know what that sounds like.
Pulling onto an inland 4X4 trail, mudding it up, hauling ass, sliding corners, vehicle bouncing, blasting through water, over roots, tree branches, ditches, sand, ruts (did I mention mud?), passengers screaming and mud flying.
Swimming in the sea, one four lakes, floating a creek, brushing my teeth with sand. Seriously.
Making, eating, or cleaning up breakfast, lunch or dinner, pulling the coolers out and putting them back in the trailer.
Drinking GOON, walking to the beach, walking back from the beach, helping people walk back from the beach.
Watching dingos stalk camp.
Sleeping in a hot, wet, sandy tent.
Meeting awesome people and living life.