If there was ever a trip I would suggest to other study abroad students, it would be to go on the Fraser Island Trip. I was nervous to go; I didn't know most of the other students signed up, and was doubting how much fun I could have without a bathroom or any electricity for the next 5 days. I thought about the situation-- I would be deserted on a gigantic sand island with no contact with the outer world, two tour guides warning us of dingoes, and toilets made of sand holes. Hmmm...
We left Orion College in the early morning and began our long drive to the tourist destination Noosa, where would visit the beach and shops, later camping overnight. I could see the nerves on everyone's faces as we sat in a circle, eating the food our tour guides had made for us. One thing I learned while traveling was to be more flexible in terms of what I was willing to eat. It was important for me to have healthy options, but when they weren't there, to realize it was just part of the experience. Luckily, the Australian food culture tends to be cleaner than the American, and our tour guides were great cooks! Try something new; it's all part of the experience.
We drove to downtown Noosa, where many tourists walked the beach, went to Happy Hour, ate at outdoor restaurants, and jogged down the footpath. Visiting this town was definitely a bonus to our Fraser trip.
After the night in Noosa, we were up at sunrise to drive the 4WD to the ferry landing. It was such a great shock to see how we would get to the beautiful island. Several cars drove onto what would appear as a huge boat, and parked as we glided along the ocean to the sand island. The other students and I were like kids at Christmas just seeing the crystal waters and white sand of Fraser. It really is a gorgeous sight to see.
We began driving on the sand highway after getting off the ferry; something so foreign and exciting to me. A sand highway?! I didn't even know such a thing existed. Our tour guide explained to us the rules of the sand highway, and how the tide determines your fate as far as driving along the highway went. Everything on our trip would be timed around the rhythm of the water. It was such a slow down from life in America. I loved it.
The next several days were spent exploring the island. As we drove in our own touring car, we watched hundreds of tourists zoom by in large buses, stopping for very brief visits at the tourist spots. We were all so thankful we had our own tour, where we were given options and could stay at beautiful sights for much longer than those tourists. We were given so much information and good care while on the island; it really made the experience special. Our tour guides were very intelligent and good-humored. They were fun to be around and we felt very safe the entire time.
During our time, we saw the Maheno Shipwreck, floated down a beautifully pristine lazy river for hours, watched the sun rise and set, took a bumpy ride through the only rain forest in the world that grows on a sand island, and laid for hours in the refreshing Champagne Pools.
Never have I woken up so many mornings in a row to see the sunrise. It was the most beautiful one I have ever seen, the way the sun reflected on the smooth waters and completely relaxed every stress in me. Other students and I walked the beach for hours as we had downtime around sunrise and sunset. I felt absolutely rejuvenated letting the water hit my feet, not worrying about school, any technology or form of social media. Never have I been to a more relaxing destination than Fraser Island. Just looking back at the photos sparks joy in me.
-- Emily Wolter, Saint Cloud State University, USA, 2014