The car-swallowing beach
"We're coming up to the 'car-eating beach'," the driver said as the Toyota Landcruiser zoomed along the wide thoroughfare. I looked on ahead but could only see clear sand.
"It's a notoriously treacherous spot," the driver continued. "One guy barreled through here in his 4WD and disappeared down a hole. When they tried to pull him out, the wheels got stuck and it wrecked his suspension. Well, the salt water would have probably ruined his 4WD anyway."
We entered the treacherous area and bumped over a few potholes in the sand before zipping on. No 4WD-eating trenches today. Apparently created by wind and tide, they were deeper some days than others.
"This beach is actually a gazetted thoroughfare," the driver said. "It has a speed limit and its own road rules."
We had been driving for about 70km, mainly on wide-open beach, in beautiful Queensland, with blue water on our right and sand hills to our left. The beach was at Wide Bay, just south of Fraser Island or some way north of Noosa, depending on how you looked at it. I was travelling with Fraser Island Adventure Tours and we had set out from Noosa about an hour-and-a-half earlier.
If the beach was a road, then it gave birth to its own motor 'inns': after driving for about 20km we came across campers shacked up under the tall sand hills. And what campsites! The best one had tents set up for living, dining and sleeping quarters, complete with a flagpole.
Further north, the sand had compacted into cliffs with amazing colours. One canyon had horizontal stripes of yellow, orange and red sand, which suddenly aroused in me a craving for candy.
The left-hand side of the beach became more dangerous; from time to time the towering cliffs of compacted sand had collapsed. It didn't bother the casuarina trees, though. They just slithered 70 feet down the embankment and continued to grow even when they were half buried.
I found myself looking out for car-eating potholes and cliffs that could suddenly launch tonnes of sand on top of us. But it was just another one of those ridiculous picture-postcard days with blue sea and blue sky, which you tell everyone about but they just don't believe.
After a hearty buffet lunch, we made it to Inskip Point, overlooking Fraser Island, but due to time constraints we headed back- instead of going over to the island by ferry, as the tour usually does.
Back in Noosa, I returned to my room at the spectacular South Pacific Resort Noosa where the ambience had been inspired by the South Seas. The resort's interior designer said her brief had been to recreate the South Pacific's myths and magic through an eclectic mix of the tropical and the colonial. The resort was the brainchild of long time Noosa developer Jim Tatton, who believed there was a market for upmarket accommodation inspired by dreams of the South Pacific.
The spacious, fully self-contained one, two and three bedroom apartments had a tropical feel with colourful fabrics and prints, ranging from Gaugin to 1950s Pam Am posters. There were polished timber floors, cane furniture filled with soft cushions, oriental and Polynesian trinkets, wide French windows and pleasant vistas over palm fringed paths and the wide lagoon-like pools.
The spacious pitched-roof lobby, Hula Moon restaurant and cocktail bar, plus the health and beauty spa complimented the resort's decidedly South Seas' feel.
After racing about in a 4WD, I definitely decided high tea, or preferably a cocktail, might be just the relaxant I needed to end another day in paradise.
By Shaun O'Dowd