|Fraser Island Crew
We were pretty stoked about finishing work on September 25 and were just in time to join the "FRASER ISLAND SURVIVOR SERIES". Everyone has to join on an individual/independent basis but you are allowed to bring a signficant other to assist in the voting process!!! For most this is a good thing but after 1 year traveling with just the two of us, it was more like two indepenent entries than joining as a team!! Ahh, we were just happy there was someone else to tell our stories to!
Now, since its inception we have always wanted to be on the survivor series and were jacked about making the 3 hour trek north to Hervey Bay. Our 3 day survivor series held on Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island (approx. 180km long), began with us being raced down the high way and dropped off at the meeting ground by a radical "1.6L - White Ford Lasor Wagon".
Rushing in, only 1 hr late (keys locked in the car - that damn Sherry!) we were the last on the team of 9 contestants plus 2 other wild-card entries! Our crew comprised of 3 Canadians, 3 Americans, 3 Germans, 1 English bloke and 1 Irish girl.
I trust you agree that even by just entering a group event Sean was on the top of list for being voted off the island first!!! In addition to this we showed up 1 hour late and the alliances had already started to form with out us! Sean sat silently nervous trying to observe where the alliances lay!
"Sherry, I am a goner! They hate me already and I haven't even started to boss them around or bore with them by talking about money!"
"Dont worry, they already like me, just stick close to me and I'll get you in the group???"
"Hey, was that a question or a promise?"
"Noooo...... Really??? you can trust me I won't vote for you!!!"
Day one involved many trials, tribulations and decisions to be made. It was make or break time - one minute you think you know who you will vote for and the next it is a different person - one minute you think it is your last and then the next thing you know you might be saved!!!
Sherry knew that her new formed alliance with Sean was headed for disaster immediately when he thought he would be the "Richard" in the group and signed on to be a driver.
"No one else can drive this big Ute here, they can't vote me off they need me!"
"Mabey... but dont even think about strutting around naked!!!"
Even though there were no other drivers with any 4WD experience - no one could have known that Sean's experience is limited to snow not sand. Get ready to push folks!!!
Within 2 hours of being on the island we were stuck - not surprisingly only 8 of the 9 passengers pushed and pushed while Sean (the driver) got just as sweaty from his super nervous hot flashes. (Yes Joe the windows did fog up on an Island that was 32 deg C)
You can imagine the scene - we are half way round the corner of a steep sandy hill. The trucks keep coming behind are stacking up at the bottom of the hill waiting for our Land Rover to make it up and over.
The driver is giving that engine hell, the passengers are pushing, the tires are spinning, the passengers are getting sprayed with sand from head to toe and we are getting no where. There are 8 people plus 4-5 other drivers from down the hill asking our driver "what gear are you in?"..... " maybe you should try letting air out of the tyres"...... " maybe you should try putting logs in the holes on the road" ........and our driver keeps sweating because after 7 attempts he knows that he is quickly declining in the polls!!
Finally we are free - Sean feels an instant surge in his status in the group - he kept his cool and everyone is very happy to be back on the road. The roads are so bumpy, the truck is spitting out some nasty exhaust fumes and the sand is flying everywhere --- where are the beaches and the fun??
We eventually arrived at an isolated, pristine, white sand ,clear blue water beach (I know that we say that about every beach - but seriously Australia has so many of these beaches). This was a true bonding beach because our group was happy to have gotten this far and out of that damn truck !
As we said before the day continued to be full of decisions and ranking of the players - where do we go?, where do we stop for lunch?, where do we camp for the night? Our group consisted of some strong leaders, some leaders trying not to be leaders, some that were content to sit back and watch, some that needed to get their way and some that knew that they would never get their way.
Some of you may understand Sherry's need to be organized (tending a bit on the anal side?) but when it came time for lunch we were driving on the beach right beside the ocean. No one could make a decision where to stop - it was too windy, not a nice area to stop - she finally put her foot down yelled "STOP NOW".
"Sherry quit yelling, with out you I am gone!"
She then pulled everything out of the back of the truck and cut all of the needed ingredients for lunch......hmmmm did this help the alliance or hinder it????
The island is full of beautiful sights every direction you look - blue sea, different colours of sand in the mountains, lush green forest. We spent the rest of the day driving along the beach and taking in some of the sights. We were advised not to swim in this area of the sea because of the sharks - but that doesn't mean that Sean couldn't try fishing along with all of the other hopefuls and maybe secure his position in the rankings as driver/fisherman??
Where to camp? Hmmm... This was one of the biggest decisions of the day - original plan was to meet the wild card entries from America - Dave and Marissa - and camp at Indian Head. It was decided that we would camp about 10 minutes up the beach at Dundubara which wasn't such a bad idea except we felt pretty shitty about ditching our friends so we drove up the beach alone to tell them of the new plans.
Best part of this process was that after a painful voting session Sean was officailly not in last place!! You see there was one person that had to go for a hike, (NOW!!!) and thought it was better to abandon our friends in Indian head so they could go hiking! No need to form alliances that part took care of its self!!
Don't get us wrong we did find a great campsite at Dundubarra, two tiered camp lots - more than enough room... actually we were so lucky to find this spot in a busy campsite??? However we were quite shocked when the ranger came by to notify us that our campsite was the gateway the dingos use every night. Ahhhh!!! Although some of the group were looking forward to seeing these rare Assie critters, some of us were very afraid that the "dingos would steal our babies".
Now what do we do about supper? In the original meeting back in the studio, one person promptly volenteered to do the grocery shopping for the group, Great!! It wasn't till some time later that it was anounced that this person was a vegetarian!! Yikes!!
Our first secret revealed:
"Hey Matt, Sherry and I promise not to vote you off the island if you sneak into the grocery store and smuggle some real food into the grocery cart!"
Our Pommie friend didn't let us down either, he hooked us up with a true Aussie/English BBQ - we had a crazy amount of chicken, steak, and the sausages, Sorry I mean "BRAAAAAAATTTS"! All meat - some cooked on the grill plate and some cooked on the open flame, Yummy! So much for our Survivor diet !!
In true "Survivor Series" fashion our night ended with the compulsory campfire and voting. There were many comments from the group about group dynamics - who was/was not doing the chores (this is where some of the girls tried to teach Sean how to swear in German!! - Oh Oh, vote one and two of nine were decided!) who was bossing others around (three), who was good at directing and not following(four and five), and near the end...who was drunk (Holy shit which way was Sherry going to vote?)
Actually the whole voting thing had to be postponed due to the latter part, you see some how the game had changed from Survivor to Risk? The new world council was now meeting, 3 drunks - 1 Canadian, 1 German and 1 Pommie cat - were discussing world politics. Fine on its own merits until discussions quickly diverted into world domination. The rest of us waited for dingos......
From what we could tell they had convinced themselves they could make a diference in the world, that was until they were scared to bed by Aussie critters scurring in the bushes!
|Views from Indian Head
We all agreed to wake up early and get on the beach. Sean was up at around 5:00, early fishing in the sea for Taylor but he was only successful at feeding bait to the sea eagles.
Our favourite thing on the island by far was Indian Head. It is a short hike about 200-300 meters up to a cliff over looking the ocean. At the cliffs edge you look over into the clear blue water and view the sealife below. It was one of the most spectactular wild life scenes you could ever see.
With out having to move our head, we saw a Tiger Shark feeding on a large school of fish, dolphins surfing and jumping the waves, 2 turtles surfacing every now and then and 2 stingrays flying gracefully amoungst it all, And if that wasn't enough the whales added both sight and sound as they continually breached in the waves out in the deeper waters. Their large black bodies hurled out of the water followed by an enormous white splash and then the sound of the worlds biggest belly flop echoed of the face of the cliff.
There was absolutely no need for binoculars - all of this was happening right below us in plain sight. It was the most amazing experience - we could have stayed there all day but as we were driving on the beach the tides figured in on our time schedule. The advice from the experts indicate that you need to be off the beaches 2 hours before and after high tides.
However this wouldn't be a true Survivor adventure without some Challenges. Our reward challenge came right after Indian Head. We were warned that the timing in this challenge was down to the minute - for two reasons we had exactly 30 minutes to get to our next destination and get off the beach. Primarily there was alot to see and if you didn't plan it out you would miss the best things, the other was more of a tidal issue.
It was explained that there is a large change in the water level from low tide to high tide. As the tide comes in we would lose more and more of the beach (ie: lose the road). If we failed our challenge it was bad! We would have to pay all the damages and desalanation required from any salt water as well we would spend the next few hours in the worst spot on the island.
Our reward - lunch and a relaxing day at Eli Creek!!
If you can picture it we leave Indian Head and are driving in the absolute worst spot on the island. As the waves got higher it got worse so you couldn't stop if you wanted to. Trying to drive along without getting bogged down in the sand, the tide forcing the traffic to drive closer and closer to each other. Swerving and sliding in the sand dunes. It was mostly luck that you didn't crash into the "Utes" they had coming in the other direction.
Smiling earnestly trying to conseal the horrible panic sweats from over taking him Sean thought..."I hope I don't get us stuck, if I don't meet this challenge I am definitely getting the sixth and deciding vote off this island!"
But no problems so far. We switch from second to third to make sure there is enough speed for the fan and to avoid the fatal stall in the dunes.
"Hmmm...That's strange these panic sweats are making the air outside seem hotter, particularly on my gear shifting hand???"
"Wait a minute my smell has never been affected before...there is no reason for the clutch to be burning???"
"Oa'lly chit, Vat iz it?" Carsten echoed.
I simply point at the guage as I try and find a spot to park where we wont get swallowed by the waves, crashed into by the traffic or worse stuck! After only 10 minutes of driving in the soft sand the temperature gauge on the ute was way off the scale.
"Brat??? You are Ungry dat a time like dis??"
"No, it sounds like a curse, and its the only German I could remember from last night."
We opened the bonnet, (ignoring the discussions from the group about possible solutions) and the engine was smokin'. Sean proceed to use all of our drinking water to cool it off - he even went so far as to ask each of us to empty our personal water bottles. In Australia, on an island, no drinking water, hostile group ----sound familiar to anyone!!!!
Once again we were in a scary situation - the tides are coming in fast and we need to get off the beach soon. Sean seems to be the only one that at least pretends to know what to do???? Another dodgy voting predicament we are in.
Sherry is trying to vouch for him - telling the group that he knows what he is doing and to trust him, plus what other options do we have. Now the group is starting to look at her with distrust also - oh oh they know about our alliance.....hmmm ya think!
The truck took over 10 litres of water and we could only drive short distances at first with frequent stops for more water. Eventually we survived the Challenge, the tides did not swallow us in (as some of the group thought they would) and we made it to our next destination - "Eli Creek" a fresh water creek and beach area. We spent the 'tide time' floating in the creek, "sunbaking" and eating.
Unsure of what the votes would be tonight our group dynamics started to improve at this point. We all agreed on a campsite on the beach with no amenities - no toilet, no running water and amongst all of the critters. Also we ALL agreed to hike to Lake Wabby (approximately 45 minute easy hike). Well at least the discussion and driving around time was less after this discussion? Come on you can't please everyone all the time.....
|The Sean and Matt Slide
Lake Wabby turned out to be another group bonding adventure. It is another fresh water lake surrounded by the most amazing sand dunes. Our travel info told us that you could slide down the steep dunes into the water. But after many hilarious attempts it seemed like this challenge would not lead to the ultimate reward of the cool water. Sean once again tried to persuade the English bloke, Matt to join our alliance but they just couldn't get the slide thing figured out.
As if the views were not enough we were entertained by a grand pre-dinner show. A pod of three whales were heading north and breaching on the horizon with the sun setting in the distance. This is truly paradise. It turned out that having no amenities was more difficult for some than others the rest of us enjoyed gazing at the stars, drinking wine beer and enjoyed discussing the day.
Sherry was desperately trying to convince the 2 Americans, Dave and Marissa (their own group and own car) to let her join their alliance. She envied their freedom and lack of 'group dynamics'. Sean overheard the conversation and frantically tried to get her to hang on to her position - which mind you - pretty well determined his position.
A fantastic Italian diner of pasta and more booze brought us all to the dreaded campfire for the final vote! Sean went out of his way to tell everyone he loved them so they wouldn't vote him off as they discussed their own defence.
To everyones surprise, Sean was not the one voted off the island! No he did not have to pay people not to vote him out! And its not like he didn't get any votes but it is apperrent that the selfishness of certain people definetly was not accepted by the group and she was voted off accordingly.
She was allowed to sleep in the tent they set up way outside of the group and was told that she had to walk back to the ferry. She was acompanied on Fraser by a friend from Canada but he wasn't voted off. We would have allowed him to drive back to the ferry with us but after one look from her he handed us his spine and aggreed to hike the 4 hrs across the island with her!
In celebration we enjoyed the desert of fire baked ognions and the rest of the booze as the three drunkards tried to convince the rest of the group to join in on the politics of world domination.
Being second in the voting Sean had to get up early and drive the banished group members, to the start of their hiking trail as the rest of us enjoyed breakfast and pack up to travel on.
Phew!!! We survived till the last day on Survivor Island - we are absolutely filthy and have sand in any crevice and crack that you could imagine! Even everything we eat is covered in sand! Our time here has been full of laughs, challenges, amazing sights and fantastic beaches.
With this remaining day we are anxious to see the beaches and sites we flew past as we tried to get North to Indian Head on the first day. There was many spots to see and today it was surprisingly easy to agree to where the group would go next, Hmmm....?
First stop is the bakery for pies and croissants then off to the extremely isolated Lake Boomanjin. This is a tea coloured lake stained by the nearby tea trees - but it does not taste like tea - SEAN !
We stopped and checked out a few of the small lakes along the way but our primary goal was to get to Lake McKenzie. And we were so glad we allowed a long time at this beach. Lake McKenzie turned out to be the perfect ending to our Fraser Island experience. Fresh water lake but all the colours you find along the reef. The beach was so clean and white, we just relaxed and enjoyed being alive!!
As we completed our Australia Survivor Challenge we reflected on the group members who recieved the most votes and the ones left behind. What a great experience. We did not see any dingos! But we saw so many other sights that we were not disappointed. Even though it was for different reasons, I trust everyone would agree that this was a fantastic adventure and we were all glad we toured the memorable Fraser Island.