Fraser Island: 3 Wild Days with Dingo Dave
In my last post, I mentioned that there was more to come for my time on Fraser Island. Well, turns out that that was the understatement of the trip. When I said “more”, what I really should have said was “the best, most eventful and funny three days of my trip thus far”, and it’s all thanks to one local tour guide named Davy.
You know how they say that your experience with pretty much anything travel related is directly correlated to the people you have that experience with? I would have agreed before, but now I know that this is nothing short of the truth. You can be on the most beautiful island in the world (i.e. Fraser Island), but if you’re stuck with a group of people you don’t mesh well with, you will come out at the end of that experience with a completely different perspective of the trip, despite what you see along the way.
Looking back at my three day, two night tour on Fraser Island with Cool Dingos, I can only smile (and laugh a little because of all of the slightly inappropriate and unfiltered jokes that were made) at my experience as a whole. Zero expectations and 100% blown away by what I saw, who I talked to, and the things I learned about the island.
Just to provide you with a bit of an introduction, Fraser Island is a World Heritage site and the world’s largest sand island, located along the southern coast of Queensland, Australia. It is 120km in length, and hosts some of the world’s most rare lakes, trees, and animals (including deadly spiders). Eucalyptus woodland, mangrove forests, album and peat swamps, sand dunes, python snakes, wild dingoes, and perched dune lakes are just some of the wild things you can experience on this island.
There are numerous one, two, and three day tour companies you can go to the island with, but I truly believe that there is only one company, with one tour guide that you should spend your $460 or $500 dollars on: Cool Dingos with Dingo Davy.
After you talk to other people about their experience on the island, you may be tempted to go on a self driven 4×4 tour like Dingos (a competitor to Cool Dingos) or Tag Along Tours, but I am about to tell you the exact opposite, and here’s why:
Camping vs. hostels:
On many other tours, you will pay upwards of $500 to camp in tents on the island. Don’t get me wrong, I love to camp too, but when it’s with 200 other people who only came to the island to party, and there’s a very good chance of either freezing or sweating your butt off in the middle of the night (depending if you go during spring or summer), you can count me out. Cool Dingos will put you up in a nice hostel for your two nights, where you will have running water, hot showers, and a comfortable bed to sleep on (many tours make you pay to rent a sleeping bag for the duration of your stay). When you’re doing so much in a day, your body will thank you for the sleep (and the millions of mosquito bites you will avoid).
A tour guide can teach you a whole lot more about the island:
If you’re in it to party, you may have already disagreed with everything I’ve said so far, and that’s okay. But if you’re like me, and appreciate learning local knowledge about the place you’re visiting, then this is the ideal tour for you. You’ll learn heaps (see what I did there?) of cool facts about the island, and you’ll actually leave with a deep appreciation for the island. Side note: when you book your tour with Davy as your tour guide, he’ll also make you laugh until your cry as he teaches you everything you need to know about the island.
You’ll get around the island safely, and in faster time:
Many other tours draw in young people with the fact that you can drive yourself around the island in small 4×4 vehicles. What they don’t tell you is that it will take you 2x as long to get anywhere because any person in your group can take turns driving on the island’s incredibly narrow sand “roads”, and that six other people will be crammed in the back of each car, facing one another in the middle. Not a bad option if you hate busses, but I promise that riding in a pink air conditioned 4×4 bus singing to classics while your tour guide gives you hilarious commentary over the mic is not as bad as it sounds. In fact, you kind of feel like you’re on a roller coaster for much of it and you always have the opportunity to ride shot gun. At one point, our bus got caught behind a tag along group of 5 cars for forty minutes at 10 km/hour. Let’s just say Davy was not a happy camper.
Our tour guide, Davy, is reason enough to convince anyone to go on a Cool Dingos tour. Forget every stereotype you’ve experienced during any tour in the past and do yourself a favour and make sure you get on Davy’s bus. There was not one moment during my trip that I wasn’t smiling or crying from laughing too hard. Picture an island local who hasn’t cut his beard or hair in a while, and add a safari hat and a witty, quick sense of humour. On Davy’s tour, there is literally never a dull moment, and the best part about it all is that he genuinely loves his job. You can tell in the way he speaks about the island that this place isn’t just a part of his job, but it’s his home too, and he wants to share it with as many people as he can. If you’re travelling alone, he will make you feel like a valued part of the group and if you go with a group of friends, he’ll challenge you to get to know everyone else on your tour.
Would my experience with Cool Dingos have been different with another tour guide? Probably. But that’s why I’m telling you to book with Davy and plan your trip accordingly. It sounds crazy, I know, but I can guarantee you will not regret it. Side note: I am not affiliated with Cool Dingos in any way. I’m simply a Canadian backpacker who accidentally booked a different tour than I had intended and had the best weekend of my trip thus far.
So what will you see on Fraser Island?
Eli River (tubes provided by Cool Dingos):
Sand Dunes/”Walk of Death”:
Rain forest walks and much, much more.
As a final note, you can either depart for your tour from Rainbow Beach or Hervey Bay on the East Coast. I really, really liked the hostel that I stayed at in Rainbow Beach (Dingo’s, which is not associated with the Cool Dingos tour) and the town itself was really cute. The hostel has a daily $7 meal that changes every night (vegetarian options always available), a fun bar, great lounge areas, and free vegan pancakes every morning. You can only imagine my level of stoke when I learned about this.
I heard mixed things about staying in Hervey Bay, but I recommend doing your research before you book. It’s advised that you stay in a hostel in either town one night before and after your tour because you will be dead tired after.
Until next time,