Day 172 to 174 – (22nd – 24th Feb) Gold Coast to Airlie Beach

13 03 2011

Fraser Island – Fraser Island is a 120km long sand island almost entirely covered by lush rainforest. This therefore makes it the largest sand island in the world and the only one to support its own rainforest. The waters surrounding the island can only be described as treacherous, with strong undertows and shark infested. Any swimming is strictly restricted to the islands many beautiful fresh water lakes.

I don’t know if it was the slightly disappointing weather or the cyclone churned sea, but Fraser Island didn’t meet our expectations, or at least the picture on the front of the brochure I had in my back pocket. We choose to go on the 4×4 day tour from Rainbow beach as the Green Goddess (our car) wouldn’t cope with the miles of beach and rough forest track driving.

The tour, like many others covered most of Fraser Island’s highlights. A 70km 4×4 drive up the east beach, a guided walk and drive through the rain forest, a dip in a couple of safe swimming spots and a bit of time at an old ship wreck. Short and sweet, but not the stand out trip we had been hoping for.

Rainbow Beach to Airlie BeachThe plan was to wake up early and drive up to the town 1770, imaginatively named so, as this is the date a fleet of British sailors first stopped ashore on this headland. Visited in isolation it’s a lovely coastal town nicely off the beaten track, offering miles of golden beaches, great places to eat and many coastal walks. Unfortunately we have spent the last month hugging the East Australian coastline, and a nice beach with the odd nice place to eat just doesn’t cut it any more……

Without wanting to sound unappreciative, the route we have chosen to take thus far has proven to be a little samey and only shown Australia in two lights – cosmopolitan city or beach. After a couple of hours in town, we chose not to spend the night in 1770 and pressed on to the wholly unimpressive Rockhampton. From what we could see out of the car window at night travelling at 80kph, Rockhampton had nothing going for it other than the Tropic of Capricorn passing through its southern suburbs.

Only stopping to sleep in Rockhampton, the next day we were soon in Airlie beach. Airlie beach is our stepping off point to the world renowned Whitsunday Islands.  The Whitsundays comprises of ninety or so mostly uninhabited islands scattered off the eastern coast of Australia and nestled amongst the truly stunning, the truly beautiful Great Barrier Reef.

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