As a treat to myself for finishing work at Noosa Flashpackers, I booked myself on to the number one tour on K’gari (Fraser Island) with Dropbear Adventures. Having sold their tours to scores of fellow backpackers over the previous four months and hearing incredible stories from everyone on their return, I decided that I needed in on the fun.
After an early start and pick up from the hostel we were whisked away to the Dropbear HQ where we met our tour guide, the rest of the group and I finally introduced myself to Mumma Bear who I had spoken to on the phone and via email many times! Right away our group seemed to be fun, easy to chat to and we all clubbed together – always a good start right? The tides were not in our favour so after watching the safety video and having some much needed coffee we hopped in our cars to start the drive to rainbow beach along the rather bumpy inland road.
Our first glimpse of the island came as we approached the ferry which would take us across to the island, already we had seen a pod of dolphins, our own little welcome party. I opted for the three day camping tour and on arrival to what would be our home for the next two nights, I knew this was a great decision! The tents were already set up and we had a delicious lunch waiting for us on arrival – now that’s what I call service. That day we visited lake Wabby, a beautiful perched dune lake surrounded by tea trees, home to many species of fish, birds, and full of important historical and cultural significance to the native Butchulla people (all the girls had to do an acknowledgment ceremony before entering in order to respect the tradition of the land). Day one ended with a great BBQ cooked by the camp manager Dan and volunteer Nick who were super friendly and happy to answer lots of questions about life on the island (and staying as a volunteer). Dave told us some stories, with the direct permission of the Butchulla people, and even taught us how to play the Didgeridoo – complete with ‘guess the animal noise’. After a few drinks and getting to know the group we headed to our tents ready for a sunrise start.
The sunrise over the island was breathtaking and some of us made the decision to be up for first light on the recommendation of Dave. It was beyond worth it and genuinely became quite an emotional experience for some of us. Our only full day on the island was jam packed with a visit to the crystal clear Eli Creek, the ‘gift’ of the Maheno Shipwreck on her island home, Champagne pools and the incredibly significant Indian Head. The absolute beauty of the tour with Dropbear is not only seeing the sights, often getting there before all the others descended, but truly learning about the history and culture of the island. Our guide was exceptionally knowledgeable and captured us all with the beliefs and traditions of the Butchulla people as well as the unimaginable struggles they have faced on their own land they were put there to protect. That evening we sat truly captivated, after another excellent feed (becoming the first group ever to finish the massive amount of food), by more stories from Dave followed by a star gazing session on the beach. I could hardly bear to think about leaving this place… and again spoke to the volunteers about what they did.
During breakfast the next morning, I was approached by Dan who asked me to speak to Vicky, the eco retreat manager when we visited the next morning. Whilst at Flashpackers I had enquired about volunteering work but timing had not made it possible, or so I thought. To my utter amazement, I found out they desperately needed someone to work with them on the island and I agreed instantly to return two days after my tour ended! My final day on tour was full of excitement, not only at seeing the famed Lake Makenzie and central station but being safe in the knowledge that I would soon be back! We were lucky enough to be on the island during the peak of the whale migration and spotted dozens in our time on the island. Thinking our luck had been fully maxed out we were more than priviledged to spot two dingos as we were heading back towards the ferry, they really were the most beautiful creatures and it made for some great photo opportunities!
Hardly believing my luck I said a goodbye to the brilliant tour group as we left dropbear HQ after a beautiful drive back along Rainbow and Teewah beaches to Noosa. We had truly shared a unique insight to the worlds largest sand island and I could see why everyone has raved about this experience so much. I could not recommend the company any more highly and the absolute passion of the owners, tour guides, managers and volunteers was something that already overwhelmed me… Little did I know how much of an impression they would end up leaving on me by the time I left the island for the last time! Dropbear, all I can say for now is a huge thank you.
Part two is coming…