A Shout Out to Our Friends (That Fish!)

Friends come in all shapes and sizes, from different backgrounds and cultures with differing personalities and differing reasons for being friends. Now we could get bogged down with definitions of friends’ vs acquaintances, you know Facebook or Insta friends and then the people who really mean something to you or you to them, but I would rather celebrate friends for what they are and what they do.

Now I consider myself very lucky I have a few really great friends which I love spending time with. You may start to pick up on a theme with our friends too, they all like fishing! Coincidence you ask? Probably not but what the hell, it works for us.

Let me tell you about a few of our nearest and dearest friends:

 

The Drabbles

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Dave and Di Drabble are our true dinky-di Aussie mates. We first met at a mutual friend’s New Year’s Eve party. We stayed awake and alert (well maybe just awake) to watch the sun dawn on a new year together, having a few drinks, loads of laughs and sharing a sense of achievement (that we were fairly old and could still see the night through to the dawn!). Just a note to say we have not been able to do that since, but hey at least we could say we had done it! That was about 6 years ago now and our friendship has gone from strength to strength (hopefully they agree with this, if not tough you Drabbles are stuck with us Pozzies now!).

Dave is ex-army and has a unique way of approaching things, such as DIY and fixing anything mechanical (dodgy but functional is the phrase we would use). Di is just a beautiful soul who would do anything for anybody. She is also very patient and almost saint like for putting up with Dave and his dodgy fixes!

Now just to explain Dave is my fishing husband. He is as passionate about fishing as I am (maybe more) and has taught me quite a few things over the years. We very often joke about him having two wives, the loving and beautiful wife that he spends most of his time with (yes that is Di) and then his fishing wife who he takes fishing and imparts his fishing wisdom to (that would be me). He is my Mr Miyagi and I am his, not so little, grasshopper!

We have had many a camping and fishing adventure with this pair and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the time spent together. We had the pleasure of going on a 3-week expedition to the cape with them and it was 3 weeks filled with fun, laughter, 4WDriving, fishing and a few arguments (but that was between me and my husband not us and the Drabbles). Di is extremely good company and I love the fact that she and I have a natural friendship (even if some people think I am a posh earthy type!)

I guess we cannot be that bad to be around as we are all going away again next year for a 5-week adventure in the Kimberley’s. I am sure it will be full of exciting events such as breaking things, getting stuck, maybe having to Jump Snatch Winch and Blow (see blog of the same name) the old BT-50 etc. etc.

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Can’t wait for next year and all the adventures to come!

The Deb and Mark Effect

I met Deb and Mark a few years ago, when I joined a boot camp run by a very strange, but very good PT in Townsville. We struck up a friendship and started socialising together outside of boot camp. Now our socialising (involving cheese, wine and generally having a great time), may have conflicted with our training goals (to lose weight and get fit), but we did not let that stop us!

Deb and I built the friendship up and the fellas just kind of followed. Luckily enough (for Deb and I) the fellas get on extremely well, so we spend a lot of time socialising, going to the footy and fishing together.

Deb is my faithful girlfriend, who turns up to my charity fundraisers, even on her own, and we have an annual ritual of going to the races together, for an afternoon of fun, laughter and champagne. She is easy going if a bit disorganised sometimes (i.e. stressing about not having anything to wear for the races on the night before the event!)

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Mark (or as I call him Capt. Mark Phillips) is a very clever fella, builder with an engineer’s head and has helped us out more than a few times with our caravan renos. You can almost guarantee they will be late or “just” on time for anything, but in all honesty, they are truly worth the wait (even if it is just for the laughs the story about why they were late gives us).

Mark and Deb love their fishing as well and we have ventured out in convoy to fish the beautiful waters in and around, Townsville, Hinchinbrook and the reef. There is always some funny story to relate while supping a few beers after we get back from fishing. These stories usually have something to do with things not working for Mark (such as the sounder or electric motor) or having to come back in early due to Deb getting a lure well and truly stuck in her arm!

In fact, not long ago my husband and I were out fishing, and our electric motor refused to work, then our anchor rope got caught around the electric winch mechanism and then back at the ramp our winch post on our trailer came away from its fixing. We called it the Mark and Deb effect (due to so many things going wrong in a short space of time) and oh how we laughed and laughed (well after we got everything fixed!).

Now Mark is retiring in a couple of weeks and they are moving back down south. We are very sad to see them go but know that we will have more good times and adventures with them even if they do not live down the road.

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Oh, and Mike asks, “Are you OK Mark?” (this is in reference to a very drunken night on International are you OK day, details will not be disclosed!)

Wally and Sharelle

Now these two, beautiful people, are dear friends of ours. We met at a fishing club, surprise, surprise! They have a way of making you feel included and supported in a world that is a bit cruel and spiteful sometimes.

Wally repairs windscreens and has his own mobile business (Wally’s Mobile Windscreens) and Sharelle not only works but ensures the family (grown kids and a gaggle of grandkids) are supported and looked after. Family is everything to this pair.

Sharelle always comes and supports our charity events (which my daughter arranges for Ovarian Cancer) and Wally always answers my silly questions about fishing (and occasionally fixes my chips in my windscreens).

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They have taken me out fishing more than once whilst my husband has been away (working overseas) and we have had a great time even caught some fish! We see each other at the fishing club weigh-ins and it can sometimes be a bit of a standing joke as to whose turn it is to win the ladies prize this time.

We go for dinner with them (and our other friends Garry and Jenny) and they entertain us with tall stories of fishing, “what Wally did” and their wonderful family.

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Garry and Jenny

We first met Garry at a fishing club (again surprise, surprise!) He was single at the time and I remember my first impressions were, nice enough, bit weird! My love for him grew when I found out he knew a lot about fishing and worked at the Fishing Warehouse! Only kidding, that’s not all we loved him for, honest!

The fishing club had arranged a weekend away to Terrible Creek and Mike and I went along with Wally, Sharelle, Garry and a few other members. This was about the same time that Garry got himself a girlfriend so there was much leg pulling and teasing about him being love struck!

We became good friends through our mutual friends Wally and Sharelle and then I met his new girlfriend, Jenny, and we decided we had several things in common, not least a good Sauvignon Blanc! And so, a friendship between two couples was born!

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We like to pay out on Garry a lot (well he has got the nickname of crumpet!), so he gets teased about being short, balding and old! We tell him that we are only friends with him because of Jenny! Although this is not true, it still is fun to pay out on him! We do love you Crumpet!

Jenny works very hard running her own business (JAG MiniMart) and Garry helps out when he is not working at the Fishing Warehouse. In between doing all this we still have time for a catch up at the footy or go out to dinner with our other friends Wally and Sharelle and of course Jenny and I get to drink plenty of Sauv blanc together!

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So, I guess the moral of this story is, you do not have to have thousands of likes on Facebook and Insta to be happy. You just need to have a few genuine friends. Friends who you can do daft stuff with, friends who will support you in your life and friends who you can have a laugh and a few Sauv blancs with, sharing your travels, life and dreams.

So, thank you guys for being our friends, cheers to many more years!

Renovations in Fishing Heaven

Lucinda, the place of my dreams. As you may have gathered I am a passionate and crazy fishing lady. Love the water, love fishing and love the Hinchinbrook area. Ever since moving to Townsville in 2011 I have been in love with the waters, scenery and fishing opportunities around the Hinchinbrook area. Pristine waters giving the avid angler a real choice of creek, river, open water and reef fishing. What more could a girl ask for!

Mike (my husband) and I started going up to Lucinda for fishing not long after finding out about the place. It is only 1 hour 40 minutes from home so easy for a day trip or a quick weekend getaway. The caravan park was easy for overnight stays, pitching the tent and making the most of the time out on the water. I would say it was almost perfect, except for one small tiny inconvenience. Yes you guessed it, pitching a tent, taking up all your camping stuff as well as the boat and hot in the summer months (like dripping humidity hot!)

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We  often looked on enviously at our friends who had a semi permanent caravan at the park. They had comfort, a ready made home away from home and aircon whenever they came home from a hot days fishing. It’s true, I coveted the luxury of having a caravan in one of the best fishing places on earth!

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The Vision

I Want One

Now these semi permanent caravans are as rare as hens teeth, the park is only allowed to have a certain amount. My goal was to score us one. One morning, whilst browsing through Facebook I happened upon a post about a semi permanent for sale at the park! I could not believe my luck. So after very quick negotiations with my husband and a promise that it would be extremely beneficial for us to snag this van I contacted the person through a DM and told them we were very, very interested. After a bit of too-ing and fro-ing in the message department I was then informed that it was sold and we had missed out …………. gutted is too mild a word!!

But, as fate would have it, our friends (who have a semi permanent at the park) phoned and told us that the park owners (Shane and Genevieve) had a caravan that they would be happy to sell us!!!!!!!! Woohoo happy again. So, we promptly contacted Shane at the park and told him we would come up to look at it on the weekend. Excited much? You betcha!

We turned up on the Saturday and Shane showed us around and told us to think about it. So we did, it took all of about 5 minutes and I was in his office asking who I made the payment to!!!! Our very own bolt hole, fishing shack! Ok so it needed a fair bit of work, but still our very own fishing shack, how lucky was I!!!!!!!

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Our little piece of heaven

Now the only minus, in a world of positives, about owning your own semi permanent in your fishing mecca, is the husbands need to get everything done now! For those that do not know my husband is particular. He has to have everything done just so (ocd tendencies) and in a timely manner. He does not like to leave a job unfinished even if only for a short period of time. If he starts something he will go full pelt on it to the exclusion of everything else until it is finished! How to balance renovations (with a very impatient and task focussed husband) with the need to just go fishing? Now I am not sure how other people deal with this, but, I used bribery, coercion, compromise and a few other techniques (which I will not go in to here!) to ensure that every weekend was not devoted to the caravan renovations.

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Before reno’s

Renovations

Where to start? Well we started with the inside of the caravan, it still had the shower cubicle and old units (which had to go for aesthetics sake at the very least!). Mike started ripping out the shower cubicle, as we decided we really did not need it due to the park having very nice modern amenities, and it would give us more space around the bed. This in itself was a learning curve! YouTube is awesome for learning about plumbing, electrical work and general renovating tips! We had plenty advice and assistance from our friends; David Drabble (Drabble Inc.) and Mark Phillips, (who we call Capt. Mark Phillips although he has no royal connections). So the boys had fun demolishing and generally making a mess! Hammers, mallets and screw drivers were flying everywhere with a few “whoops”, “oh balderdash” and other words that I will not type here (children don’t need to be exposed to that kind of language!)

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Demo time

Just as a sidleine I guess I had better explain the difference between our friends in terms of construction and building styles. Capt. Mark Philips is very particular (having done construction as a full time job for most of his life) and like my husband he measures everything a minimum of 3 times so he only has to cut once. Drabble Inc. on the other hand is a cut 3 times without measuring (why bother with that time consuming activity) kind of guy. However we love them both and they both have skills which are extremely useful, especially when you have little or no idea how to do it yourself.

We spent more than a few weekends sleeping on a mattress in the annexe, which was a compromise because it meant that we did not need to spend every weekend working, we could enjoy some fishing too even if it meant the work got done a little more slowly than my husband was comfortable with. But we still had aircon, ah heaven!

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Our bedroom for a while

We modified the bed somewhat to ensure that the two of us had enough space to roll over without giving each other a black eye. Mike laid carpet tiles in the bedroom area and then it was time to get the bed back in. How exciting! Roxy and Lucas came for a visit and Lucas was drafted in to help Mike put the bed frame and mattress back in. Roxy and I gave them our full support and encouragement from the patio (with a glass of wine in hand), as our favourite Czech (Lucas) and my favourite pozzie (Mike) did a great impression of the Chuckle Brothers “To me, to you”! (I guess only pommies will get this reference).

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Our new bedroom

Well bed was in and walls were painted now time to relax and enjoy the fishing, before the next stage of renovations.

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Renovations then started on the living area end of the caravan so demolition time again! One part of the seating area was ripped out and the flooring was pulled up. This was to give us more worktop space in the kitchen, plus we were going to have a living area in annexe so did not need all the seating in the caravan. My husband worked about 5 weekends solid on getting everything demolished and prepped ready for a refit.

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Now it just so happened that I had to go Italy for 2 weeks (yes I can hear you say “Shame”, “oh you have a hard life” etc.). So, it was agreed that while I was away Mike would finish off the inside of the caravan (and yes I can hear you say “spoilt much?”). I had already painted the cupboard doors and the inside of the caravan (my contribution when not fishing), so all he had to do was put some cupboards in! Not too taxing (says she who is swanning around Italy!).

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Doing a bit of swanning at the Colosseum

Capt. Mark Phillips came to help Mike put the cupboards in and got the inside of the caravan finished whilst I was away. I popped in on my way back from a fishing competition (yes I was fishing 1 day immediatley after coming back from Italy, dedicated or what!). It was amazing coming back to a fresh, bright  and modern fishing shack (and the aircon still worked). All we had to do now was to enjoy the serenity and fishing for a while without any more renovating!

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Inside done

That sentiment did not last long! Just after Christmas we started planning the annexe renovations.

Again just as a sideline and to set the scene I guess I should define the term “we” used throughout this blog. There are varying levels of “we”, as most of you ladies will recognise. “We” renovated may mean that husband and wife or husband, wife and friends, had an equal part to play in the renovations. “We” could also mean that I did a lot of swanning around and fishing whilst “they” did the renovations. Just thought I would clear that up before proceeding.

Annexe Renovations

Now the annexe on the caravan was a soft annexe with a hardwood floor. It was very old and the canvas was torn in a few places. I dreamed of a good (lockable) and comfy room to compliment the caravan space. A room in which to sit on a sofa and watch telly (comfortably), store some fishing gear (securely) and have somewhere for guests to stay. Now I know what you are thinking, “gosh she wants a lot for a fishing shack!” but there is no point going through life uncomfortable! Our friends have a cold room panelled annexe and we thought yes, that is a fantastic idea. Our favourite Czech had told us in broken English that “when I was 14 I help father put up big room with panels for cold”, so we knew we could call on his experience if required. Mike went and spoke to the fabulous guys (and gals) at Norfoam in Townsville and worked out the plan to get a hard annexe put on the caravan.

Before we could get the annexe up we had to paint the outside of the caravan as it was looking very old and tired. So, we had to spend a weekend painting (I did take my fishing rods with me and sneaked off to the beach for a fish in between coats!). Mike also had to take the old annexe down, out with the old in with the new!

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Before and after

These panels come in a kit that is easy to erect and can be done by people with no building experience (apparently!). So, we hired a trailer and picked the kit up with a view to spending the whole weekend getting the annexe up. Mike was fully prepared with the plans, parts and tools with which to get this structure up. We got to the caravan bright and early ready to go. Capt. Mark Phillips (our construction engineer) was not available that weekend and our usual tool (Drabble Inc.) was fishing, so would not be able to assist until later that morning.

Now the caravan park is absolutely chock full of grey nomads and we just so happened to have a couple across the way from us who were not only very friendly but extremely useful too. John volunteered to lend a hand (well truth be told his wife volunteerred him, but same thing), and he came over to start the construction. Now we have found out that having a John trumps having a Drabble (sorry Dave and we still love you!). John has a wealth of experience, he is a welder and has a tool for just about every job!

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Men at work

Construction began. It was not long before the natural order of things emerged. John was the foreman, Drabble (who had arrived back from fishing) was the worker and Mike was the apprentice. I was cleaning lady and on tea duties, with the help of Di, Drabbles better half. Now us girls did not mind leaving the physical labour to the men although we did our fair share of propping up, passing tools, cleaning the worksite and generally encouraging the troops!

Now something which I learnt through the construction phase was there are varying different types of spirit levels. Now not being familiar with the tool myself I was startled to find out that you could get spirit levels with a small gap for the bubble to sit in (apparently that is the norm) or you could get spirit levels with a large gap for the bubble to sit in (that is a Drabble Inc. level). John preffered the small gap type (something to do with being more accurate) and Drabble Inc. preffered the large gap type (something to do with “she’ll be right mate”). I found the robust discussion that was had over the two types very interesting!

Us two girls (DI and myself) were given the very important task (by John the foreman) of holding the panels up until they were riveted and secured into place (we felt very important). So, all was going well at a cracking pace until ……… crash! The panels fell over and we had to start all over again.

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Hold it girls

One job girls, just one job!!!!!!!

It is a bit like building a house of cards. Until you get the full structure up it is not too strong. So the day was spent generally riveting, screwing, holding, leaning and manoeuvring the panels into place.

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Still holding it

So the value of John you will ask? It seemed that the apprentice (Mike), although well prepared for the construction with half his shed of tools, did not have the right tools amongst his hoard, but John did! Very often during the day you would hear John say “have you got such and such tool” and then you would hear him say “never mind I have one”. Luckily he was only across the way so did not have to go very far for to get them.

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Still holding it

Eventually the structure was up and all that was left was the filling, cleaning and finishing off. Oh, and the sealing strip on the outside of the roof. Which meant someone getting up there, preferably the smallest, lightest person. Why was everyone looking at me? So bravely I said I would. Now I am not a great lover of heights and I still was not a great believer in the strength of the panels. But bravely I climbed the ladder and got onto the roof. And that is as far as I got. I sat on the roof telling myself to take deep breaths when around the corner our friendly Drabble came. Saviour! He got up there instead (true chivalry) and proceeded to put the flashing on the roof. I was still having kittens due to the roof panels flexing and my imagination that told me the whole thing could come down at any moment, but he did it.

So all that had to happen now was to lay the internal floor, build the furniture and decorate with some nicknacks. So, in true Tracey fashion, the following weekend I went to the Townsville Cup with friends and Mike went and finished the caravan.

 

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Townsville Cup

After another weekend of fixing up little things and painting the caravan is almost unrecognisable from when we first purchased it. Remember the vision ……….?

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The vision

Woohoo, caravan is finished and although it may not resemble the vision picture above it is now a comfortable little bolt hole for us to enjoy fishing and relaxing in the beautiful paradise of the Hinchinbrook area.

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The finished product

And yes I am 2SPOILT!

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Thats me!

“Go to the Beach”, they said – “It Will be Fun”, they said.

Fraser Island.

Fraser is a beautifully unique island off the south-east coast of Queensland. It is the world’s largest sand island, stretching over 120km, with rainforest growing out of the sand. The island is World Heritage listed and is a camping and 4 wheel driving mecca for many Australians and international tourists.

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Fraser Island

So, for our first real adventure since moving to Townsville my husband and I decided to venture forth and make the trip. We had booked just over two weeks off and travelled down from Townsville stopping at the beautiful Smalleys beach, in the beautiful Cape Hillsborough National Park, on the way.

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Smalleys Beach

We had booked in at the Waddy Point beachfront camping area to the north for 7 days and as we made our way over on the ferry we were very excited.

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Waiting for the Ferry

We had been told by many of our friends that Fraser can be a bit difficult to drive on with lots of soft sand, soft coffee rock, dingoes and plenty of traffic (especially during school holidays). We were also told to ensure we check the tides as getting up Seventy-Five Mile beach could be a bit tricky if you got your timings wrong.

Being excited (and a little bit naive) we trundled off the ferry at Wanggoolba Creek along with a few other tourists and hit our first sand trap about 10 minutes later. To be fair it wasn’t completely our fault. We were following a car full of Japanese tourists who decided to stop in the middle of the track for a photo opportunity! So, we pulled up and immediately sank in the sand! We did realise, after being dragged out by some very accommodating people, that our tyre pressures were not low enough, first schoolboy error! We had them somewhere around 25psi and were told they should be somewhere around 16, oops! Lesson learnt, and we were off again, travelling through the sandy roads to get onto Seventy-Five Mile Beach.

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Maheno shipwreck on Seventy-Five Mile Beach

Now driving Seventy-Five Mile beach is a bit of an experience! Not only do you have to dodge other cars, the sea, tour buses and people but airplanes too! Tourist flights land on every shifting airstrips on the beach and it can be quite unnerving to see an airplane coming in to land in front of you!

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Airstrip

On our way up to our campsite we came across another couple who were stuck half way up Indian Heads. They were towing a camper trailer and drove a Patrol (yep Toyota’s are forever pulling Patrol’s out of trouble). We stopped to assist (with our limited Pozzie knowledge) and got them out and on their way up. It just so happened that they ended up camping next door to us and thus a friendship was born.

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Fun in the Sand

With our new-found friends we explored the northern end of Fraser, enjoying the sun, sea and sand. We also explored a few tins of xxxx and the odd wine bottle, (well it would be rude not to!). We thought it would be a good idea to travel over to the other side of the island and visit Wathumba Creek.

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Beautiful Wathumba

Wathumba Creek is a beautiful place, just picture perfect with white sands and turquoise water, good fishing and abundant marine life. We spent the best part of the day exploring this area and swimming in the beautiful pristine waters. On our way back, our new-found friends told us of another beach which was, if possible, even more beautiful than Wathumba.

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More Wathumba

They pulled over and directed us to the track that led to this said beach in Platypus Bay. They told us that there was a small water crossing with a log in it then we would see the entrance to the beach. They told us we would need to gun it over the rise as the sand was soft, but it was ok there was plenty of room on the other side to slow down and get onto the beach. They would wait for us in the pub and we could catch them up there.

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The Pub

So, like good Pozzies off we trundled, got through the water crossing (no drama really) and over the sand track. We did as instructed and gunned it over the rise and then ……. thump! Straight onto the beach in soft sand with the sea directly in front of us! Bringing to mind the saying “Go to the Beach”, they said – “It Will be Fun”, they said!!! Yeah right!

We were well and truly stuck! Right up to the axle! With water in front of us and soft sand behind. After a while of trying to drive the car out (backwards and forwards) and trying to hail our new-found friends on the UHF (who were probably having too much fun in the pub), we clambered out and started to dig. And dig. And dig. And dig! This car was well and truly bogged!!!!!

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Stuck

All the while we were keeping an eye on the tide, pretty sure it was coming in!

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Keep Smiling

So, we dug and dug and moved the car about 25 metres!!! We were both absolutely exhausted, but knew we had to try and get out of there, so we dug some more. As a side note I must admit my husband and I worked as a team that afternoon, no arguing, no blame game just one focussed goal of getting out and getting on track (very unusual I know but we obviously function better together under stress!).

We were desperate and ready to give up and walk, we had both been digging, hauling and generally trying to retrieve the car for over two hours in the hot sun. Enough was enough! I was that hot and tired I thought I was hallucinating as I saw people coming over the sand dune! I have never been so happy to see complete strangers in my life! So, after some hysterical relief and hugs for the rescuers the guys tried to haul our Prado out of the sand dune backwards. It took several attempts and two other cars, but we got there eventually.

There are no photos of this great rescue, due to the fact that I was just so bloody knackered and stressed I did not have presence of mind to take any! But I will say we are eternally grateful to the guys and gals that got us out of that mess, they were awesome!

We headed back to camp (not the pub, we were too dirty, sweaty and knackered). As we pulled up to our camp our new-found friends came out to greet us, with a beer, dinner and platitudes of “we were just thinking about coming to look for you”, “oh my what happened”, “are you ok, we have made you dinner”, “here have a stiff drink everything will be alright”!!!!!! We had a much-needed hot shower and ate dinner, drank lot’s, laughed about our adventure, (sometimes hysterically!) and slept like little babies.

We really enjoyed our time on Fraser and enjoyed the company of the people we met there, so much so we took my parents the year after (without any mishaps). It really is a beautiful place and one I would encourage everyone to see at least once in their lifetime. We will be going back again sometime soon, hopefully armed with a little bit more experience!

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Fraser Island