We boarded the bus at 8:00 a.m. and began down the road. Yesterday the bus got stuck in the sand, but it rained during the night. This should make the roads firmer, but I could still bury my feet in them very easily. The bus was barreling along blasting songs by Taylor Swift and other artists I will not name. While many of our ears were bleeding, we were also bounced up and down and rocked around. Imagine four-wheeling in a great big bus. Our driver, Lee, is a young fellow who has been working as a tour guide on Fraser for about a month. In this time, he has experienced twelve vehicle breakdowns. Only one, he says, has been his fault. No doubt driving through sand and surf takes its toll.
With our rap-infused soundtrack the bus began to chug, as if the power was dying. Lee hoped out and looked under the bus, but reported that everything, "seem[ed] fine."
The bus's death was long and slow. Finally, at the bottom of a pitifully small hill, the bus could not continue any further. It felt very much like Jurassic Park with the broken down bus surrounded by king ferns, fox gloves, and gum trees. A tyrannosaurus would not have looked out of place descending down upon us. We were in a terrible radio/cell reception area and could not call for aid. Lee brought out a box of snacks and we took all that we could carry which was all of it. We trudged up the soft sand road. After several hundred meters, Lee received cell service and called for rescue.
We continued on our journey in the new bus. At this point I would like to list a series of quotes from our driver:
"That barbeque smell is the clutch fluid burning. This bus has a habit of smelling like barby."
"Yeah that's bouncy. Can't slow down."
"Left-Right-Left-Right-Left-Right." (Instructing us to lean back and forth to rock the bus in order to get more traction)
"Oh Lordy. Huh." (At this point high tide was interfering with the beach behaving as a bus-highway. The speed limit on Fraser's beaches is 80 km/hr).
While waiting out the tide we walked along the beach, avoiding numerous tiny man-of-war jellies. We saw tiny sand plovers and their footprints, masked plovers, and a whistling kite. Using the principle, "waves usually come in sets of 7 or 8," the bus made its dash along the beach. We made stops at the freshwater Eli Creek, 700,000 year old sand formations, and a sunken ship. I also had the new experience of wind plastering sand to all of my exposed skin.
Champagne pools was one of our final stops. It promised tide pools and swimming. It took 6 attempts, with long running starts, to make it over the last hill to the pools. "Can't stop me, Champagne," said Lee. We bobbed in the swells, examined tunicates, spat salt out of our mouths, and experienced skin irritation from red algae. It was excellent.
On our way back home, we stopped off to enjoy a beautiful view of the ocean from Indian Point. Lastly, we saw a young male dingo prowling the beach. The day was long and eventful, as well and a genuine experience including bus failure and wildlife. Our Fraser Island experience will give us numerous stories to retell upon our return.
Junior Biology Major