Mission of Vengeance
Fraser Island, Australia
Only 6 hours before on Fraser Island, Australia, touted as the largest sand island in the world, I had the shock of my life.
Victor Smith and Rhade Rhodes, two of my traveling companions I’d met in Airlie Beach only a few days before, had asked me to come over to a tent owned by some locals. They were from Hervey Bay, a small Aussie coastal town just below the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. Hervey Bay was the starting point for everyone that wanted to hit Fraser; and all of the youth hostels there had many specials where you could rent 4×4 trucks and go freewheeling on the island for a few days.
What we all did, was band together a group of about 18 people from our hostel, rented 3 trucks, and paid for 2 nights of freewheeling on the island. Included in the price of the rental was all the cooking equipment, and utensils. Food and booze were separate. The most precarious piece of equipment though was “The Bomb,” as I named it – a heavy 10-pound steel tank of propane fuel, which scared the hell out of me the whole time I was there. The bone-jarring dirt roads of Fraser don’t lend to the stability of that gas. Especially when the only space you could find in the cramped vehicle was under the seat I sat on. Directly in-between my legs. Every bump and jump of the truck made me think that this rusted can of gas would be the last thing I’d see before I was blown to smithereens.
Being that these locals were from Hervey Bay and seemed pretty friendly towards Raider and Vic, we all thought that perhaps it would be a great experience to get to know them. Besides, why we all really wanted to go, wasn’t the fact that they were locals. No, no. They had a piece of equipment that we all needed that day: a refrigerator, which was powered by a gas-driven generator that they had apparently brought from home. Within that fridge were cold fish that they had caught from fly-fishing on the beach and… cold beer! After drinking the warm, sand-encrusted piss that we had shoved into every nook and cranny of our truck, we were all seeking to get our claws on some ice cold ones for once.
Victor and Raider made plans with the locals to have a bunch of us come over to their tent in the early evening. So by the late afternoon, with just one more day left on the island, we wanted to drink all the beer and eat all the food we’d brought in one go. So, the some 18 of us at our campsite set up a bonfire on the beach and drank ourselves silly. The drinking was a bit wild, and culminated with Declan, the crazy Irishman from Cork, dislocating his shoulder during a drunken sand dune rolling competition. As soon as that guzzler hit the bottom of the dune, he let out a cheap whine – I think maybe it was all the alcohol that stopped him from screaming? Everyone stopped what they were doing and then yelled for me. Being that I had a little bit of medical training in the Army, everybody thought I’d be the miracle worker and fix whatever injury he had.
“Aye, Mo,” he said lying on his back, gritting his teeth and holding back the pain. “I think I broke me shoulder.”
I told him to slowly roll over and expose his back. I felt around his shoulder blade and felt nothing wrong. “You’re okay broÃ¯Â¿Â½now quit being a wuss and get some sleep. You’ve been goin’ mad crazy tonight and need to take a rest.” Of course since I had no idea what to look for anyhow, I would’ve said that to him anyway. For some reason he kept mumbling that he wanted to go freewheeling on the dunes with the 4×4, which would’ve spelled high-speed-rollover-death, making us all cajole him into his tent. We eventually got him to agree.
At about 10pm, a few of us gathered up to swing by the local’s tent. I had never met them before. But if they were as friendly as all the other Aussies I’d met on this sojourn, then I knew that I was in store for a helluva lot of fun. Raider and Vic got only three other people to come along, as everybody else was too wiped out from all the drinking we had done. In the group was a beautiful student from London, Lisa. She had the looks of the typical voluptuous blond model – yet had the brains of a parakeet. Hysterical nonetheless, she always had me in stitches. She wore a bright red single-piece swimsuit, for the whole time we were there. It exposed lots of cleavage, and left her open for our wise-ass remarks – which she would always follow with a “Piss off,” followed by a giggle, thanking us for the attention. With us as well were two backpackers from Holland from another truck, who were surprisingly not as hammered as the rest of their group, after downing 3 cases of beer between themselves.
As we got over the dunes approaching the locals’ tent, I noticed they had a beat-up Ute parked next to it. It was sitting next to a small fire they had started, looking dejectedly worn-out and rusty. The wide racing stripe along the side made me wonder if the better years of the machine had long-gone. The high suspension, though, told me these dudes probably knew a bit or two about cars. Maybe they were young teenage tinkerers who loved autos. Underneath their Ute ran some black power lines, leading to a small, banged-up box fridge. I guess that was where the precious beer sat. Not too far away from their fridge was the generator, roaring like a loud lawn mower. I couldn’t wait to get another cold beer down my throat just then. Drinking sand-encrusted beer just wasn’t for me.
Read Part 3