Yesterday was spent travelling north via two planes and a ferry to get us from Canberra to Fraser Island. Whenever we’ve mentioned to Australians that Fraser Island was on our itinerary they’ve usually said something along the lines of “Oooo! Nice!”, so we were expecting something pretty special. Couldn’t see much when we arrived as it was pitch black, but as I pulled back the screen doors of my hotel room balcony at 5am this morning I was greeted by something resembling paradise.
It’s the largest sand island in the world. The whole place is one massive sand dune, covered in plants and trees that have evolved to survive on only sand, water and sunshine. It’s a national park, so development on the island has been limited, but our hotel (one of the only ones on the island) was pretty stunning. Shame we only got to spend 8 hours in it!
It’s impossible to get around the place without a 4×4, and we set off along the sand tracks in 3 Landrovers with Iain and I singing a song to camera about the place as we went along. Got thrown about a bit as the tracks are literally just bare paths of sand chopped through the trees, so the vehicles slip and slide along. You can see gashes in the bark of trees where previous drivers have come a cropper. First stop was Lake Mackenzie, a lake formed from rainwater, which has a beach that feels like you’ve walked through the front cover of a travel brochure. Then we stopped off at a rainforest before making our way to the sand highway. It’s a 75km stretch of beach that cars and lorries are allowed to drive up and down much as you would on a motorway. Bit bonkers really.
Amazingly our researcher Mark had been given this shoot, possibly the hardest of the series, as a chance to direct his first item for the show, so as we boarded the ferry at lunchtime I was pretty impressed he hadn’t cracked under the strain of getting an entire pop video shot in just over 6 hours in such challenging terrain.
Once we’d swapped our 4x4s for people carriers at the airport we had a 5 hour drive south ahead of us through Queensland to Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. All of us at some point on the motorway felt a sensation that the car was slipping through sand, as our subconscious struggled to get to grips with what we’d just put it through.