Hiking on Fraser Island – Day 1

In early July 2011, I spent 5 days hiking on Fraser Island accompanied by two of my three daughters.  Laura (15) and Claire (11) donned their backpacks and camping gear for our first major hiking trip together. In April, we hiked two sections of the Larapinta Trail near Alice Springs as a warm-up, but this was our first big hike.  Getting to Fraser Island proved a bit of an adventure in itself – see my blog ‘Transport troubles on holiday’ for details.  However, once we arrived it was worth the effort, and then some!
Day 1.  We arrived on the island at 0945 on the Kingfisher Bay barge, to be picked up by the Fraser Island Taxi as arranged.  The taxi took us across the island to Eli Creek, which we has selected as our starting point.  The plan was to spend the 5 days hiking back to Kingfisher Bay to catch the barge back to Hervey Bay.  On the way in the taxi, we heard a rumour that the northern section of our planned route was closed to walkers due to flooding.  As it turned out, the track was flooded in places, but there were no signs advising closure of the walking trail, so we went ahead.  Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself a little.
Eli Creek
Hiking along the beach towards Happy Valley
The northern end of the Fraser Island Great Walk is at Happy Valley village, and our starting point was 6km up the beach at Eli Creek.  This is a beautiful crystal clear freshwater creek flowing out of the sand dunes and across the beach.  Claire had a short swim and said the water was fine, but I thought it a bit chilly so settled for wading in for some photos.  We then loaded up and walked along the beach to Happy Valley to start the Great Walk.  Just on dark, we arrived at Lake Garawongera, but due to flooding we had difficulty finding the walkers’ camp.  Not that it was actually hard to find, but the signs were oriented to the trail that was in the lake, and we deviated around the flooded section so missed the turn-off.  After 2 hours with torches heading up the wrong track, we finally found the campsite and set up for the night.  Dinner was rice flavoured with peas, vegetable soup mix, and bacon stock cubes.  After our troubles getting to the island, and then 8 hours of hiking, we were soon out to it in our sleeping bags.  Unfortunately I managed to leave my hiking mat at home, but I found that scooping a small hollow in the sand for my hip enabled me to get comfortable.
Campsite at Lake Garawongera Walkers’ Camp

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