Sand Sand Everywhere and Too Much Goon to Drink
I don’t know where to begin. Be ready for a long post.
Part I: What is Fraser Island?
Fraser Island is a large sand island; possibly the largest in the world. In the center is a large rainforest dotted with lush tropical lakes and open expansive sand dunes. Around its edges are many miles of beautiful but deadly beaches. The island is also home to many amazing animals, including but not limited to, tropical birds, deadly snakes and spiders, and most importantly dingos. Dingos are basically wild free roaming dogs.
The island is most famous for its 4×4 tours; especially the tag-along tours where participants can drive a Toyota Land Cruiser. I choose the tag-along tour that consisted of three days and two nights on the island.
So the story that is Fraser Island begins….
I arrived in Rainbow Beach, the take-off point for Fraser Island, on Monday. The tour required that I arrive a day early for an hour safety briefing on the dangers of driving on Fraser Island. They also used this time to split us up into our groups.
In total, there were 3 caravans. Each caravan had 4 cars. Each car held 8 people except the lead car which held 10. Each caravan had one lead car. In our case, the lead car was driven by our tour guide, Mazza Moo – more on him later.
Each day each separate caravan did a different route on the island. At night all the caravans met up at a central campsite. Considering at all times there were two nights of tours going that meant every night at the camp there were approximately 200 people. The average age of these approximate 200 was probably 21.
Anyway back to check in. Ofir and I arrived promptly at 4 pm. Luckily we were booked in the same caravan albeit a different car. Remember how I said the trail gives and takes. Well it definitely gave this time. My car consisted of 6 beautiful German girls, one Dutch guy, and me. Score.
After check in, it was karaoke night at hostel. I watched a couple groups perform and then went to bed. The Dutch guy in my car performed a rendition of Nelly’s “Hot in Here” which was hilarious.
The next morning we had to be up and ready to go by 7 am. Our team was then assigned to our SUV, a late 1990’s Toyota Land-cruiser Turbo Diesel. This thing was a tank. It had a snorkel and big sand tires. Oh and it was also a manual. As if driving on the left side of the road wasn’t difficult enough, now I would be driving a manual on the beach in soft sand.
Because there were 8 people in the car and each person wanted to drive, I wasn’t able to drive until the second and last day of the trip. The first day of the trip was interesting to say the least. Mostly the German girls drove. Since they were in the majority, they also controlled the music selection. For three days I felt like I was in a Disotek in Berlin. I heard on repeat “Bad” or “Shot Me Down” by David Guetta. I liked it initially but by the end, Teun (the Dutch Guy) and I had enough. We managed to stag a coup and play some Zac Brown Band, Eric Church, and Grateful Dead – reasonable driving music or so we thought. To my delight, Teun enjoyed it. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long as we were soon outvoted and forced to play Jason Durelo, yet again, on repeat. The girls’ reasoning was that they needed energy to drive.
The campsite for two nights was an absolute shithole (excuse my language). We were jammed three to a tent. The tents reeked of body odor, sweat, sand, and smelly socks. The zipper on our door didn’t even work. Good thing it didn’t rain. The facilities weren’t great either. There was one toilet for 100 guys and the showers, when they weren’t covered in mud and sand, suffered from a serious lack of shower curtains. The camp was run mostly by volunteers who lived there 3 months at a time. They were responsible for passing out our cookware and cleaning the camp. They all were slightly off balance. That is what extended periods of time does to people on Fraser.
To make it more of an experience, for three days we were responsible for cooking our own meals over a propane burner. Luckily the food was provided. We were also provided coolers for our alcohol. Mostly people drank goon. Because nice alcohol is so expensive in Australia. most people buy goon aka REALLY bad boxed wine. It was $11 for 4 liters. The hangover from it is enough to kill a man.
After dinner was cooked (which took some time due to some serious ‘lost in translation’ syndrome) the party began. What was once an inquisitive group of young adults taking a 4×4 tour of Fraser Island now turned into a goon infused ‘rager’ where these young adults transformed themselves into adolescents displaying behaviors characterized by loud screaming and dancing on tables.
Being the grandpa I am, I decided to take it easy and only have a couple of drinks. Quiet time was supposed to be at midnight so my plan was to be in bed around 12. Much to my brain’s demise, our caravan’s tents were literally right next to the dance floor. The music was so loud that I knew I would not be able to sleep. But at 12 the music would stop right?- no big deal. Why was I so naive?
Come 3:30 am, I had had enough! There were maybe 3 morons left dancing but these 3 felt it was appropriate and acceptable to keep the music on as loud as possible. Luckily I wasnt the only one who felt the same way. Led by an angry French Canadian, 5 of stormed up to the dance floor and demanded the music be turned off. What started off as a ‘civil conversation’ soon turned into a heated exchange mostly between the angry French Canadian girl and some drunk British bloke. Realizing the ridiculousness of trying to argue with drunk people, I jumped in reached a compromise by having the music turned down. Thirty minutes later the music was shut off. We won.
The morning was brutal but I pulled myself out of bed and got on with my day. Unfortunately we had to switch cars. Mazza Moo, our group leader, had people in his car that wanted to drive. Since he was the only one would could drive the lead car that meant we had to ride with him for the morning while his passengers drove our car.
Before I begin, I want everyone to the Facebook group “Short Shorts and Dingos.” This Mazza’s Facebook group page for his tours. The page is littered with beautiful pictures of Fraser and half naked girls. Don’t worry…. it is safe for work.
Mazza himself is a hard man to describe. He proclaims himself as a ‘true blue’ Ozzie which is equivalent to a “Red Blooded American.” His skin is weathered and leathery from years of over exposure to the sun. His teeth are brown and his voice harsh from years of smoking too many cigarettes. While I didn’t ask, I would expect that he was in late forties to early fifties. He has three children and his wife died some ten years ago. He was once a dairy farmer but now spends his time giving tours around Fraser Island. His sense of humor is quite perverted to say the least. But while his humor on the surface is quite repulsive, if this is even possible, he managed to deliver it with tact. People liked him despite his awkward advances and questionable comments towards women. Apparently on Fraser he is somewhat of a legend. He basically wants people to have fun and go wild and tries his best to partake… in everything that happens… literally everything.
He loved having the 6 German girls in his car. He made one sit in the front and for the entire morning he blasted one dance hit after another. I have some hilarious GoPro video of it. While driving he tried desperately to dance with the girl sitting in the front of the seat. It was both awesome and too much both at the same time.
We spent the majority of the second day visiting sites around the island. We walked up a steep bluff where in the ocean I saw the outline of both sharks and whales. We went to crystal clear blue lakes and floated down crystal clear rivers. We also drove by a cool old wreck from the 1930’s.
That night we had yet another party. This time I decided to join the goon train and walk around to various other campsites chitchatting my way from station to station. Of course I met no Americans but had a pleasant time chatting to an Irish couple, flirting with some German girls using my impressive German vocabulary, dancing with all my random Dutch friends, or talking to various Canadians about being Canadian.. Eh.
The next morning we awoke at 6 am. It was pouring throughout the day and I spent the morning driving across muddy flooded roads. I wish I would have mounted the GoPro on the hood. At some points I splashed through so much water I couldn’t see anything and could barely keep the wheel straight. The day also dragged on. Our ignition system broke and another car’s fuel pump busted. This is what happens when you have 500,000 km on each car.
We ended the trip at 330 pm. I was exhausted. I called my parents and my friend Alia. I was so delirious I don’t remember much of what I said. Sorry about that guys!
Overall it was a positive experience. If I did it again I would have chosen a tour that catered to an older crowd. I never was comfortable during the trip but then again I wasn’t looking to relax. I was looking for an adventure. And an adventure, though of somewhat of a different nature, is what I found.