Holidays on Queensland's Fraser Island honed kaftan queen Camilla Franks' survival skills — and led to remarkable encounters with wildlife.
WHEN I was a kid we went to Fraser Island quite a lot. Getting there was an epic car journey and my parents had to draw an invisible line down the middle of the back seat so my brother Ben and I wouldn't fight. On the island we would go everywhere in a four-wheel drive. Every day brought new experiences that we enjoyed together. Brumbies used to live there and we would clap our hands to make them run off. We'd sit around the campfire and my father would show us how to scale and cook fish.
I learnt to fish at a very young age. We'd also go pipi-ing and that would be our dinner. Literally, whatever we caught, that's what we ate.
There was little by way of development on the island in those days, just those beautiful sand dunes, lakes and red sand. It felt as though we were being kissed by Mother Nature.
We used to get up ridiculously early — before sunrise is the best time to fish, or so Dad told us. One time, there must have been about 100 fishermen gathered and, perhaps because of all the blood and guts everyone was throwing back in the water, sharks suddenly starting beaching — rolling onto the sand and grabbing the leftovers. It was phenomenal.
Fraser Island is one of those fabulous places that everyone should visit. When you're living under the stars you get a feel for how vulnerable you are to the elements and I think that's a really bonding experience. I wish I could rewind to those days when there was more peace and balance in life.
This series of articles produced with support from Tourism Australia.
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