Written by Mr CPR Kids, Paul Hunstead.
We arrived at Rainbow Beach after 1200kms of asphalt weary and (nearly) broken.
After our first night of camping we woke to realise one of our many fears. The electrical system we had installed in the car to charge the batteries in the camper in order to run the fridge freezer was not cutting the mustard and the fridge was no longer powered. With neither of us experts in auto electrics let alone knowing the difference between BC/DC chargers, amps and isolators (although Sarah thinks she is much more knowledgeable after a few YouTube videos) we came to the conclusion we were not in a position to fix it ourselves and would require a change of plans. We were able to swap over to a camping site on Fraser where we could access AC power and located an auto-electrician in Gladstone who could do some diagnostics while we were on Heron Island.
We arrived at Inskip point with the images of the YouTube videos of people getting bogged at this very spot (Click here for the "I got bogged at Inskip Point" FB page) in the back of our minds. We survived the 300-metre dash over the very soft sand to the barge which took us over to the island. The 90 min drive up the east coast of the island was relatively incident free however was quite some introduction to sand 4WD’ing.
We visited the main attractions on the island including Eli creek and lake McKenzie. It took approx. 2 hrs to drive to lake Mackenzie from our campsite however the drive was spectacular. After leaving the beach we drove inland through some spectacular scenery. One minute we would be driving through bushland the next through dense rainforest and then through kauri forest. Lake Mackenzie is a freshwater lake with spectacular shades of blue with the sort of sand one would expect to measure time in an hour glass. The visibility was an extraordinary - clear to the bottom over 8 metres.
We also made the trek south along the eastern coast to Eli creek, a narrow fresh water creek running through dense vegetation on either side. If you pick your time well you can enjoy this with a handful of others. Unfortunately, when we arrived there were at least 70 other 4WD and multiple 4WD tour companies. It was a mix of 20 something year old Europeans and bogan Australian 4WD enthusiasts most of whom were smashing tins in the back of their pick up trays with their southern cross proudly splayd across their chest.
We spent one morning trekking up to one of the largest sand blows on the island formed over thousands of years. The dune was creeping further inland at a rate of one metre each year. It resembled a ski field and from some aspects all you could see was golden sand. Another day was spent heading inland through numerous ecosystems until we arrived at Allom lake famous for its turtles and 1000-year-old Kauries nestled around its perimeter. Unlike McKenzie it was coloured by the surrounding tea trees and was completely pitch black even as one metre down.
After making it back to the mainland with a few extra kilos of sand in places it should never be found, we were up for the challenge of making a mad 400+km km dash to Gladstone to get our electrics sorted before they closed at 15:30 on the Friday as we were departing for Heron island the next day. We made it with 20 mins to spare after just under 7 hrs non-stop driving!
A huge thanks and shout out to AK electrics at Gladstone - Kym and Tony - customer service beyond anything we've experienced - thanks so much!
And thanks to the Jonses for sharing the first part of our adventure with us x