03/10 Fraser Island/Brisbane

Ten folk to Fraser Isle forged ahead
Six by van, four by chopper instead
But the bush fire devoured
Trees, plans and sev'ral hours
And a coach bumped two management heads.

On a day with rather mixed weather, the team split up into a number of groups to explore, shop or hike depending on personal inclination.

The largest group of individuals rose at an unholy hour of the morning for the four hour drive to catch the ferry from the mainland to Fraser Island, 120 miles North of Brisbane. Generally thought of as the largest sand island in the world, Fraser Island is a frequent stopover for tourists in Australia, who visit to see the dune systems, wildlife and the 75 mile long beach which runs the whole East side of the island. Only one minor technical hitch prevented the travellers from fully enjoying the experience; the bushlands which are on the island are currently on fire and encroaching on the Kingfisher resort in which they were booked to stay, so their chosen ferry from River Heads was not an option. After phoning around to try and identify what alternatives were available, the group chose to make for Rainbow Head, which would allow them to drive over to Fraser Island in a 4x4. Meanwhile a smaller group had chartered a helicopter to take them across from Brisbane, avoiding all of the stress. Despite the troubles making it across to the island, the magnificent drive up the long beach was reported to be well worth the effort; although one set of bashed heads resulted when one of the 4x4s made an unscheduled flight off the top of a sand dune, and another occurred when a particularly well kicked (but poorly aimed) rugby ball made an impression point first. Warning shout in both cases were made to no avail!

A second, smaller group voted for a brief tour of the shopping and cultural opportunities afforded by the Brisbane’s central business district (CBD) and South Bank. Having taken the City Catamaran into town from nearby Bulimba, the group split into two, with one half visiting the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art, and the other heading over the Victoria Bridge to the Queen Street Shopping Mall. The two groups reunited over lunch, during which it was generally agreed that wine is also culturally significant, at which point the heavens opened for a good half an hour. The Brits were an easy spot on the City Cat back; despite the cold temperatures and rain, they were the only ones sitting on the outside deck wearing shorts and sunnies.

Another group of more intrepid folk – Nick B, Paul, Jane, Erica and DC – decided that something more scenic was required, and headed off to the mountains, where they enjoyed a brisk walk in some fine weather. On the way up the hill, there were several viewing stations of some beauty, despite the lack of visible wildlife; however the highlight was undoubtedly walking underneath and behind a flowing waterfall. Although advertised as a three hour bimble, they dashed it off in just over an hour before finding somewhere to satisfy Jane’s cravings for a cream tea.

A few souls stayed behind to make other arrangements and/or get kit sorted out, before heading to the range to prep a barbecue for the shoppers and hikers. Thanks go to masterchefs Nick Trem and Tom Rylands, who cooked us a superb dinner at the Natives RC hut.