Bright and early on a Monday morning, 27 eager Year 11 students set off on what would be their last adventure together as Somerset Students, to the incredible Fraser Island. With the company of our bubbly tour operator, Keith (Kiki), and our equally excited teachers, Mr Goodburn, Mr Wrigley, Ms Ward and Ms Scandrett, we began the long journey up the coast to the largest sand island in the world.
Our island adventure officially began as the huge four-wheel drive bus first hit the sandy roads on the mainland of Rainbow Beach, heading to the Fraser Island Ferry. After a quick crossing over the crystal blue bay water, we were back on the orange bus and continuing on our way to the first campsite at Cathedral Beach.
We were then met with our first dingo sighting of the week as it was curiously approaching some fellow campers. Thankfully it was scared off. The long drive was shortened by the lighthearted chats, catchy tunes and the occasional bumps in the sand keeping us all entertained and before we all knew it, we were setting up our tents in the soft island sand. Topping off the excitement of the first day, there was a short hike to the top of the sand dunes near our campsite. We all felt like we were on top of the world, with nothing in sight but the breathtaking rolling hills of sand surrounding us. After cooking a hearty meal and playing many amusing games, we all settled down in our tents ready for the activities of the next day.
Waking up to the fresh sea air and sweet pancakes for breakfast was the perfect start to the action-filled day ahead of us. Jumping back onto the bus, we headed north to the momentous Indian Head. Acquiring its name from Captain James Cook in the 1770’s, Indian Head, is as historical as it is stunning, giving us a 360 degree view of the island after we climbed to the top. After learning of the historical background and soaking up the incredible view, we then trekked back down to where the bus was waiting for us on the beach and made our way to our next destination.
It took talented four-wheel driving skills and the slight deflation of the bus tires to get there, but we eventually made it to one of my favorite destinations, the Champagne Rock Pools. As the clear sea water spilled over the rock wall barrier, the fresh sea-foam flooded into the natural pools making us feel like we were swimming in champagne bubbles. We splashed and smiled in the water, playing catch and making memories I’m sure will not be forgotten. The chilly ocean water couldn’t keep us out. After finally getting out of the water, we all took a moment to regain some body heat by sunbathing on the volcanic rocks that protected the pools from the harsh waves.
Excited and exhausted for the final activity of the day, some spent the drive to Lake Wabby singing and joking while others miraculously slept through the loud chatter and bumpy beach drive. A brisk hike led us to the beautiful, Wabby Lake. The deep green pigment of the water was perfectly framed with fluffy yellow sand dunes and none of us spared a moment before jumping in to cool off (well, except for Callum). The busy day was topped off with our daily heated volleyball games back at our campsite on Cathedrals and some warm showers. After another night full of games and laughter, we again retired back to our tents, shattered, yet ecstatic for our final day on the island.
Waking again, bright and early, we swiftly headed off to my favorite destination on Fraser, Eli Creek. Nothing could stop me from immediately diving into the glassy freshwater creek. The water flowed silently through the forestry vegetation, heading down to the salty beach. Many of us couldn’t help but swim down it multiple times, especially Katrina, who put her inflatable watermelon to good use. As we walked back up the wooden path for the final time, a wild dingo was caught spying on us from the hills. To my relief it didn’t try anything. However, no one was worrying, as we had Kiki to protect us with the four-feet stick he found in the sand to keep the predator at a safe distance.
The former floating war hospital, the SS. Maheno, now a historic gathering of rust, was an interesting stop on the way to Lake Makenzie. We stopped to appreciate the history and backstory of the vessel, took some memorable pictures and were on our way to the longest hike of the week. After 90 long minutes of walking through the sandy rainforest, we were rewarded with a swim at the most visited natural site on the island, Lake McKenzie. The deep blue center of the water body was perfectly surrounded by a bright blue water bank, and there was no hesitation for anyone to immerse themselves in the natural beauty. Even Mr Goodburn came in for a dip!
Reluctantly, we all departed from the lake and had a beautiful lunch with each other, and to our surprise, a dingo wanted to join us for a bite... luckily we were behind a fence! After the three memorable days on the island, we finally had to make our way back to the mainland for our final night on Rainbow Beach. As the bright sun fell from the open sky, we played beach soccer and ‘catch’ on the sand as we watched the vibrant pigments drip from the clouds in the sky. As night fell, we sat on the beach and stargazed with Kiki, who showed us the Scorpio star constellation right above our heads. After a long week and lots of sand, we all settled back in our tents for the last night and made the long drive back to Mudgeeraba the next morning. Although we left Fraser and its natural beauty behind, we have brought with us priceless moments to remember, that I know I could never forget.
Fraser Island Camp this year,
A getaway with such good cheer.
Scandrett, Wrigley, Ward and Goodburn,
Plus twenty-nine to teach and learn.
We also had along with us,
Keith, who drove his magic bus.
He towed behind a kitchen too,
To cook up pancakes, steaks and stew.
Four-Wheel driving on the beach,
No phone signal; out of reach,
To learn a new appreciation,
Of the art of conversation.
Now health and safety does make sense,
We camped inside the dingo fence.
But getting bogged and digging out,
Is what the camp is all about.
We saw the sights, we swam, we hiked,
Activities that were well-liked.
The camaraderie was clear,
When we reached our new frontier.
And as we left our island base,
A sadness fell across each face.
Our camping goals had all been met,
A week that we will not forget.
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Dingo the Dog