I am back on the blog to report shortly about the last part of my trip in Australia.
After the short stop in Mooloolaba, the Greyhound bus takes me now to Hervey Bay, where I spend the night before taking the ferry to Fraser Island.
I was a bit reluctant to book an organised tour there as I basically hate organised tour and because in my opinion, the single think I could enjoy on a big sand island is one or 2 nights camping to enjoy tranquility, a sunrise and a sunset.
As the only way to move on the island is with a 4WD vehicle, which was not an option for me because too expensive for me alone, I give a chance to an organised tour found via Google. However, I start worrying about it after the check in in my hostel. The owner asks me which operator I chose and insists in selling me an “upgrade” of the tour, which is actually the same tour but with a more expensive tour operator.
After discussing with other guests in the hostel, I find out that all operators actually belong to one single company that has the monopoly on the island. Another way to take advantage of the poor backpackers…
In the next morning, I am being picked up by a 4WD bus (first time I’ve ever seen that) and after a short round to pick up the other guests, we embark on a small ferry to cross the sea to Fraser island.
I spend 2D/1N touring the island in the 4WD bus. The island itself has actually some interesting spots to see like Lake McKenzy, which is a closed fresh water lake:
or the cool SS Maheno Wreck:
However I’m not at ease with the higly commercial exploitation of the island. All tours (6-7 busses) are more or less going to the same places at the same time. First it ruins the experience of enjoying the tranquility of the natural spots, as we are sharing the moment with hundreds of other tourists. Second, I am not really sure that having some many diesel busses and 4WD cars on the island is really good for the environment.
One guest asked the bus driver what he thought about this, and his answer was more or less: well it can’t be so bad, as those tours make a lot of money…
Nonetheless, I have to say that not everything was bad in this tour. I met some really nice people, with whom I spent a nice evening playing snooker and drinking beer.
After Fraser Island, the next classic stop for a northbound trip is Airlie Beach, which is the starting point for cruises in the Whitsunday islands.
This time I booked a 3D/2N trip on a sailing boat to cruise in what is said to be one of the most beautiful places on the East coast in term of beaches and snorkeling spots.
I am lucky with the people on board. The crew and the guests are all very cool. Unfortunately, we are less lucky with the weather. It rained during almost the whole trip and the wind was very strong, which prevented us from opening the sails most of the time for safety reasons.
As the boat was shaking a lot, most of the people had difficulties to sleep. I, on the other hand, felt asleep as usual after something like 5s, to wake up only the next morning. I have fun hearing from the other guests that the boat sometimes leaned to 45° and the toilet door was slamming so hard in front of my nose that the captain had to stand up many times to close it 🙂
Due to the bad conditions, we couldn’t reach the most famous beach on the island. However, we went snorkeling 2 times and I was surprised by the colorful corals and the fish diversity, which gave me a very nice first taste of the Great Barrier Reef.
At the end of the trip, I am a bit sad to come back to land. Despite the bad weather, i really enjoyed the time on the boat, especially the short time where we could use the sails. Setting up the sails correctly and filling the wind pushing the boat represents for me a nice moment of harmony with the nature and hearing only the sound of the wind and the waves is a pure moment of pleasure for me.
The next stop after this cruise is Townsville where I booked a diving day trip on a famous shipwreck, the SS Yongala. However, due to the bad weather also in this area, the trip won’t take place.
That’s also good for me, as it gives me some time to work a bit on my next trip in Indonesia and to think a bit about the trip after in USA.
The city of Cairns is my last stop in Australia. From here, I take a 3D/2N scuba diving trip on the Great Barrier Reef.
The cruise is really excellent. I meet some nice people on board and the dives are amazing.
The underwater life is really colorful and we saw a lot of “bigger stuff” like reef sharks, turtles or stinger rays.
The Great Barrier Reef is now my favorite place I’ve been scuba diving so far.
My next destination is Indonesia. After a short day recovering from the diving cruise, I take off early in the morning to Bali. I feel so excited to go back to Asia!