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Fraser Island - a hidden gem


pomkiwi
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I spent a few days in Australia with my son last month. He lives near Noosa, on the south-east Queensland coast.  We decide to load up his 4 wheel-drive truck and head up to the world's largest sand island for 3 days. Rather surprisingly (for me at least) what we found was a landscape covered in native forest, clear lakes to swim in, deserted beaches and some wildlife.

 

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Fraser Island sits just off the eastern coast of Queensland about 250km north of Brisbane. As such it is about 3 hours drive but nobody seems to notice it.  It is about 120km in length (north-south) and about 25km wide at its widest point. You can reach it by a 5-10 minute ferry crossing from a couple of points on the mainland.  We were entertained by a pelican as we waited to cross.

 

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You do need a four wheel drive vehicle with good clearance just to reach the ferry on the mainland side. On the island it is possible to drive all the way up the east (ocean) coast but driving is not allowed on the west cost beaches.  There are also inland tracks that criss-cross.

 

Beach driving is subject to road rules but generally more fun.

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Inland tracks present more of a challenge:

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I was surprised to see thick forest but this is due to two factors. The first is the presence of a fungus that fixes nitrogen and provides nutrients and the second is that sand and organic matter produes a layer that traps water.  This leads to the formation of saucer lakes that are essentially the biggest puddles on the planet.

 

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This is Lake Mackenzie which is the second biggest lake on the island and is crystal clear - others have more turbidity and staining of the water depending on the organic matter present. All provide opportunities to swim and cool off :)

Edited by pomkiwi
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17 hours ago, pomkiwi said:

As such it is about 3 hours drive but nobody seems to notice it.

We did :D, back in 2001! 

 

17 hours ago, pomkiwi said:

This is Lake Mackenzie which is the second biggest lake on the island and is crystal clear

And in July it was cold like the water from the fridge ... but so clear floating and looking down into the depth feels like being in the midair.

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@xelas I'm glad another ST'er has been. I really don't understand why it is not publicized more. At the moment most of the tourism seems be younger people on adventure themed trips. There is nothing at all wrong with that but I'm sure there could be an opening for some eco-tourism.

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We stayed in a lodge about half way up the east coast of the island. It was described as 'glamping' but turned out to be frame tents with their own bathrooms pitched under a large metal roof. It was comfortable and there was a good sized kitchen/eating and socialising area. We were glad of the metal roof when the rain came one night..

 

We spent most of our time around the beach where there were a few birds that scavenged in the surfline in between the cars coming past.

 

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In the monrning and evening a brahminy kite (also known as the red-backed sea eagle) moved to and from its nesting site.

 

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A pair interacted briefly as the sun set.

 

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Thanks for sharing @pomkiwi, I had researched Fraser Island for our trip in 2014 but couldn’t make it work. It’s nice to see, and have some info for the next time we are down under.

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A bit more about the island and surrounding waters. It sits just off the Queensland coast. The east side of the island faces the south Pacific Ocean and has a typical ocean beach.

 

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The west side of the island is close to the Queensland coast which it nearly joins at the southern end. This side of the island is bordered a calm bay that is estuarine at its lower end (the Mary River opens into it) but spreads into Hervey Bay at the northern end.

 

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Hervey Bay attracts a large variety of marine life.  Australian Humpback Dolphins live in the estuarine areas around the south of Fraser and Duodongs are present. Both can be difficult to spot at the water is generally quite turbid.  Hervey Bay also attracts humpback whales during their migration south following birth of calves further north. A proportion of those heading south divert into the bay at the tip of Fraser Island  and spend several days feeding in the bay before returning around the tip and heading south along the ocean coast (the water is too shallow to exit around the southern end).  Unfortunately the migration had finished before we reached the island.

Other marine life include a variety of large sharks including tiger, bull and great white which make ocean swimming unwise. As do the variety of jellyfish some of which can be dangerous.

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As mentioned earlier, the beach is officially recognised as a highway and during the day can be quite busy with vehicles. It is increasingly difficult to use more than 3 hours either side of low tide and the fact that ferries off the island don't operate late at night means that the beach is often very quiet.

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Observant readers will notice the carefully arranged stick.

 

The reason is here:

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More dingoes to follow.

Edited by pomkiwi
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As promised, a few more dingo images.

 

Just outside where we were stsying there were 2 pups who had not been seen with an adult for several days. The fear was that their mother had suffered some accident and unfortunately mortality due to vehicles is relatively common.  The pup was searching on the beach and kept attempting to approach people.

 

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As we were heading for the ferry home we came across a young adult male. He was scavenging in the surf but showed no fear of a vehicle or its occupants.

 

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Anyway a good end to a very pleasant short-break. If you have access to a good 4 wheel drive car with high clearance it is worth a short diversion.

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Holy dingo dog!  Fraser Island is an exciting destination.

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@Atravelynn I'm not sure I would describe it as exciting in the same way an African safari is. It is however very interesting with lots to see - with more time and patience I think there would be good opportunities for birding. Avisit in the winter months would provide lots of opportunities for whale watching as well.

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So many fascinating places in the world to see, so little time!  Thanks for sharing this with us. 

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Good stuff @pomkiwi I haven't been to Fraser Island for a few years. Some magical locations on that little sand isle.

 

You learn something everyday. ...I didn't know a Brahminy Kite was also known as a Red-backed Sea Eagle.

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@Alexander33 Thank-you. I will say that going on safari in general (and Safaritalk particularly) has made me much more aware of the natural world around me and as a result I see opportunities to observe wildlife and habitat in circumstances that I would not have done previously.

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@Geoff I will treaure the moment I could find a fact about birds that was new to you :) I claim no special credit as i was on the verge of describing it as a sea eagle but a google search put me right as well as giving me a little comfort for my mistake!  I hope to get back to Fraser and spend more time in the nortern half - maybe next year.

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On 12/2/2017 at 5:56 AM, pomkiwi said:

@Atravelynn I'm not sure I would describe it as exciting in the same way an African safari is. It is however very interesting with lots to see - with more time and patience I think there would be good opportunities for birding. Avisit in the winter months would provide lots of opportunities for whale watching as well.

Excitement of its own "nature."  I'd be pretty excited over a dingo dog.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Very interesting little report thank you @pomkiwi

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