It was in third grade when my classmates and I learned in-depth about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. From learning about the foods that sustained them to the Native Americans that cared for them, by the end of the year, we third graders were experts. One thing, however, that I feel the teachers didn’t really hit home with the students was exactly how it felt to be an explorer, how it felt to be away from civilization but experience untainted beauty in the meantime. It was when I took a trip to Fraser Island, a sand island off the east coast of Australia, that I finally could relate to this, relate to the many emotions Lewis and Clark and probably the rest of the crew had when they crossed the American West. After eight years, I finally understood what I believe many of my teachers wanted me take away from that third grade project.
During the summer of 2012, a group of ten students (including me) and three teachers took a trip to New Zealand and Australia. It was a two week journey, but out of those 14 days, only two were spent on Fraser. After arriving to the island by ferry, I immediately noticed a long boardwalk. As I walked along it, I arrived to a fence that stretched miles on both sides of me. This was dingo territory and our Kingfisher resort had to keep them out. As I walked onto the other side of the fence, the rest of the wildlife kept going on for many more yards. With a tree canopy constantly over me and lizards and insects scurrying on the road beneath me, I felt different. It was just on this simple walk to my hotel room that I felt significantly smaller to the world. It seemed like I was no longer at the top of the food chain. I was no longer guarded by big buildings or paved roads. For once, I was immersed in a natural habitat not knowing what was out there.
During our stay Fraser Island, one of the activities was taking a swim in Lake McKenzie. Upon arriving to the lake, our tour guide said one thing: “You’ll regret it if you don’t swim in Lake McKenzie for it is a special lake” And indeed it was. A lake in the middle of a rainforest. A lake with the softest sand. A lake with the purest of waters that many species couldn’t even live in it. As I put my toes into the water, a shock went up my body. It was as cold as cold can be. But as others started to wade their bodies into the lake, I couldn’t help but force myself to do the same. It took long time to get my head under but with the tour guide’s advice sounding in the back of my head, I had to eventually succumb to the water’s torture. Even though it cost me several shivers, I’m glad I eventually went swimming. Here I was swimming in a lake surrounded by a rainforest that was teeming with wild animals in the middle of a hardly inhabited island off the coast of Australia. I felt uncharted. I felt unknown. I felt like an explorer. To me, it seemed like I was the first one to swim in this lake, the first one to walk in this rainforest and really the first one to experience Fraser Island. Fraser Island for me is Lewis and Clark’s American West, far away from civilization and immersed in untainted beauty.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.