Entering Jurassic Park Fraser Island
“Do not carry food. Do not store food. Do not leave backpacks unattended. Do not drop rubbish. Do not carry rubbish. Do not walk alone to the rubbish bin. Do not leave shoes and socks unattended. Do not run. Do not leave children unattended. Do not feed children to the wildlife. Do not feed the wildlife at all. Do not camp in unfenced areas without armed guards. Do not camp in fenced areas without a 4WD tank for your belongings. Always carry weapons. Do no harm.”
We alighted the boat with trepidation, uncertain what we might find. Our few sailing compatriots quickly dispersed into the undergrowth and we were left alone, surrounded by forest. We quickly found a spot to gobble down our breakfast, aiming to minimise the amount of food we had to carry. Seeing the warning signs all around, we transferred our sandwich meat into a plastic bottle, hoping to minimise the smell that might attract the native predators. Then, intrepidly, we ventured on to The Fence.
With the music from Jurassic Park playing in our heads, we looked quickly in all directions, listened out for signs of movement, and then opened the heavy wire gate and entered the dangerous terrain. As instructed, we picked up man-sized sticks that would be our best line of defence in case of attack. All senses alert, we walked up the sandy track, knowing that thick rainforest on either side would obscure our view of any potential threat until it was right upon us. A rustle in the distance stopped us dead in our tracks, our hearts pounding. Phew, it was just a bird fluttering the leaves. This time.
After 10km, the sun was hot and the sticks heavy in our arms. Having seen no danger so far, we decided to risk our picnic, though regretted the choice of very smelly chorizo as we munched quickly on our rolls, back to back, scanning the horizon. The final mouthful brought a sense of relief, as the risky manoeuvre was completed.
Soon, the track opened up into a beautiful paradise lake – crystal clear blue water set against pure white sand. We had made it to world famous Lake MacKenzie – one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Against all advice, we left our backpacks, boots and socks unattended on the sand as we went for a dip in the cool water, keeping one eye out for any sign of imminent attack. The coast was clear. Rejuvenated, we returned to the track and carried our sticks the long 10km trek home until we saw the glinting fence in the distance and picked up our pace to safety. The gate clinked shut behind us, we had made it back to safety!
Our experience of Fraser Island was ridiculous. Planning to go on foot rather than hire a 4WD as most tourists do, we could not get any straight advice from tourist information about the real do’s and don’ts. All we got were a series of warnings about the acute threat from dingoes, hyped in all the literature, on all signposts and in every conversation about a possible visit. We had expected to be immediately surrounded by the wild dogs, and ravaged if we made one foul move. The reality was rather more benign. We saw no dingoes at all and it turns out there are only 80 of them on an island 120km long, and it seems they’re mostly quite friendly.
In fact, we were probably in greatest danger on our night walk that evening, guided by a park ranger. After showing us a range of frogs and bugs, she started poking into a small spider’s hole. “Is it harmless?” I asked, nonchalantly. “No” she replied, as the spider jumped out of its hole at lightning speed to see what all the poking was about. We stepped back.
Disappointed by our lack of dingo sightings, we tried to find out more about the real level of risk. “How often do you get actual incidents of dingo attacks?” “I heard that one gave a little growl at someone last month, but no attacks that I’m aware of.”
I can’t help but feel the danger is overhyped. Beautiful island though.