Last Chance

The two young Aussie guys in their bright white shirts couldn't hide their disappointment. As the various day trippers had trudged back on to the Fraser Explorer four wheel drive bus, several had looked over to them quizzically. They looked a bit too smart to be on our bus. "We're custom officials" they said, cheerfully. They weren't really. They were trying to flog fifteen minute flights over Fraser Island for seventy five Australian dollars a head. Apparently this was great value, we'd see all the highlights from a bird's eye view - maybe even some dolphins and sting rays - and we wouldn't miss any of the day tour because they'd meet up with the bus again after it had driven on to Eli Creek. The hands of the couple in the first two seats eagerly shot into the air when we were all asked who would like to take advantage of this once in a life time opportunity. Everybody else on the bus just sat there. The pilots struggled to sustain their high spirits as they repeated their kind offer but received no response. Eventually they led the willing couple away to their airplane while the rest of us continued our drive up 75 Mile beach (it's really more of a highway than a beach).

We scampered across the scorching sand from the bus to the wooden walkway that ran along the cool, clear waters of Eli Creek. The deep, dark rain forest filtered out the harsh, unforgiving, Queensland sunlight leaving mottled, flickering reflections on the creeks pure, pristine water. A tall, middle aged tourist, dressed all in grey, casually flicked in his cigarette butt. "I can't believe you just did that!" screeched a stocky Australian, "fucking unbelievable!" The man in grey muttered something that I couldn't hear. "This is a national park - you wouldn't do that in your own country, would you? What if everybody did that?" The two young sons of the increasingly irate Aussie hung back, perhaps fearing an explosion. The offending tourist was turning more red than grey. He mumbled "sorry" and shuffled over to the furthest point on the walkway from the equally red Aussie. "What bus are you on, mate? I'm not just letting this go." The grey/red tourist tried hard to let it all wash over him. Before letting it go and splashing off into the creek with his boys, the offended Aussie struggled for an appropriate condemnation. "You" he stammered, "you pig!"

Racing back down the beach/highway, burning up the slower four wheel drives, I overheard the flying couple being asked if had been worth it. "Definitely" they insisted, "it was a once in a life time experience". They had even seen dolphins and sting rays.


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