On the 12th of July i lived up to a promise i made myself 19 years ago. One long weekend in 1998 an old partner, Phil, and i took his Toyota Landcruiser to Fraser Island for one of our regular micro adventures camping, bushwalking and exploring Queensland. I look back on that time in my life as one of the best years with a wonderful person (I did a runner when he mentioned marriage and children). Fraser Island was the most memorable trip together and i promised myself to return with more time to explore the forests.
For 19 years i have had an image imbedded in my memory of tall, cool, shaded, lush, green forest. It is exactly as i remember but this time i had 12 days and walked almost 170kms of beach, bush and rainforest, experiencing far more magnificent and fine beauty than i ever dreamed i would find there.
This was more a personal detour than part of walking around Australia. It would not have been posible if i was still pushing Dory the alloy custom barrow. Carrying the pack means freedom to take every opportunity to explore more.
Self care for me means bushwalking, appreciating Nature and solitude. It means some focus is taken away from the cause and less campaigning but the shift to practicing what i know to be important for my mental health will hopefully encourage more people to make their wellbeing a priority.
The Happy Walk, raising awareness about suicide prevention and funds for Lifeline, as a survivor of multiple suicide attempts, has been a passion project to help prevent suffering and promote happiness all around and across Australia.
Moving away from the campaign to just walking and talking is an emotional relief. The walk started on World Suicide Prevention Day 2012 but my campaigning and awareness raising began the year before when i organised the first Port Macquarie Out of the Shadows Lifeline walk and this year i feel i have done as much as i can.
These side trips into Nature and Wilderness help restore strength of mind and spirit. It is important to me.
Fraser Island is the name we most commonly use but before white Australians started using it for logging and whaling the Butchulla people called it K’gari. K’gari means paradise, joy, peace, plenty, utopia, serenity, celebration, contentment, happiness. I was filled with all these feelings.
K’gari is unique, there is no other place like it on Earth. A World Heritage listed sand island approximately 120kms long and 20kms wide with 80% of the world’s perched lakes. 98% of the island is national park, most of that is forested and protects some of our oldest living trees, ancient giants forever protected for many more generations to gaze skyward in awe of their majesty.
Some of the oldest places are sanctuaries for thick rainforest teeming with new life and constant competition for canopy and nutrients. There were moments when the sunlight filtering through the foliage glowed green across the forest floor. The beauty brought me to tears, overwhelmed with gratitute and euphoria. My heart was full.
Hundreds of photos can not portray the magnificence of K’gari. You must try to visit, to stay, walk, feel, immerse yourself into a full sensory experience of true paradise.
The Fraser Island Great Walk is the best way to experience K’gari. The official walk meanders across 70-90 kilometres between Dilli Village and Happy Valley. It is an end to end (through) walk but parts can be day walks or shorter multiday sections accessed via plenty of feeder tracks from both the west and east shores. Every part of the walk is rewarding no matter how much time you have.
If you have enough time i highly recommend exploring the feeder tracks, breaks, lookouts, lakes, all the side trips and throw in some beach walking because it feels good too. If you are a confident hiker you don’t need to stick to the traditional end to end. I walked more of a figure 8.
Avoid holidays and peak tourist season to be certain of booking a peaceful site in the walkers camps, experience a deeper intimate connection with Nature and more pleasant beach walking with fewer 4WDs passing.
Check with other walkers and rangers about track conditions and map inconsistencies. Sometimes there isn’t water, the showers might be disconnected. There are many large fallen trees across the tracks, some need climbing or sliding under and some have new tracks around them. The path is always obvious and ground and gradient is easy. The only slow soft sand is close to the resorts and villages.
Dilli Village is a great place to stay with helpful and informative caretakers, Diane and Bruce. The sites are only $10 and you get free BBQ plates, hot showers with complimentary soap, shampoo and conditioner. I enjoyed their hospitality on the way and returned for 2 more nights with the interim caretakers, Ali and Ian, who allowed me to help out with a few jobs including setting/checking wildlife cameras on the way down to the Inskip Barge. Thank you for looking after me. Ali and Ian were also caretakers at Eyre Bird Observatory a few years after my stint there, small world!
Dingos are an iconic part of K’gari and their populations are the most pure in Australia. Dingos have been in Australia for atleast 20,000 years so you could say they are native and should never be labelled as wild dogs or ferals. Dingos behave differently and are only a threat to humans if provoked, sick or starving. While in K’gari follow the rules posted everywhere to prevent human dingo interactions. Dingos who become too brazen around humans are killed so don’t encourage them. It is always special to see a dingo and i have been very fortunate to see as well as hear them on K’gari and many others in the outback and alps over the years. The dingo has been a significant animal to me since an otherworldly totemic experience in 2009 so i feel very protective of them.
I have been the humble recipient of incredible love and support from the Rainbow Beach community and will share more with you next week as i take 2 days off in Noosa.