I had forgotten how beautiful Noosa was. And how expensive! $4.70 for a small coffee! It’s the only place in Australia I’d compare to the South of France. It really is a ‘lifestyles of the rich and famous’ kind of hangout. And into this immaculately refined resort, fresh from the Glasshouse Mountains drives us, the Beverly Hillbillies.
We turned a corner and there was my mum, sitting outside a restaurant waiting for us. The girls went bananas to see their granny and grandpa, we all had a beer and a bite to eat, then parked the trailer and checked into a lovely apartment. Woo hoo!
We had a nice few days chilling out. Wandered around the shops, went for the odd swim and granny took the kids off our hands for a while. What a change of pace. Erin got our bag of ‘nice’ clothes out, and we almost managed to fit in, well Erin did anyway – I still looked a wee bit ‘rural’, let’s say.
I was starting to look a bit like a hipster. Especially with the bracelet I picked up in the Eumundi markets, and the glasses I was sporting since losing my last pair in Crescent Head. I wasn’t ready to let the beard go just yet though. I was still quite enjoying it.
Nature lover’s paradise
Besides it fitted in very well at our next stop, Fraser Island. A place I was really looking forward to visiting, although I hadn’t expected to be doing so in such salubrious accommodation.
We stayed at the Kingfisher Bay Resort, a beautifully designed eco-resort nestled unobtrusively into a valley on the Eastern side of the island. Camping was out the window for now but the wilderness, most certainly, was not.
Our first night we were walking down for dinner, it was a good distance in the dark so I took a torch to light the way, and we almost walked into a snake!
We all veered to the side, laughing nervously as this skinny little brown thing reared and watched us stumble around it. I suspected immediately what it was, but didn’t say. Later on I confirmed with one of the Rangers that it was, indeed, a Brown Snake, one of the most venomous snakes in the world. Welcome to Fraser Island…
At 120km long and 24km wide, Fraser is the largest sand island in the world, and it’s truly unique. It’s the only place on earth where a rainforest grows on sand, and as you can imagine given those conditions, there’s not a proper road to be seen. You get around by walking, driving on beaches or old tracks that have been there since the logging days.
The logging started in 1863 and continued, I’m disgusted to say, until 1991. The main target of the industry was the enormous, ram rod straight, Satinay and Kauri Pines, and it was timber from Fraser that was used to rebuild London docks after WWII.
Fraser was finally given UNESCO World Heritage listing in 1992, although many of the truly giant trees were gone by then. What a shame.
Apart from the venomous snake on that first evening, there were lots of other encounters to keep us on our toes. Wolf spiders as big as your hand crawling around in bedrooms, for example.
Thousands upon thousands of soldier crabs too. Amazing! There is a large tidal flat stretching out underneath the pier in front of the hotel, that just happens to have a wee bar on it. It’s a lovely spot where everyone congregates to watch the sun set over the ocean. That being quite unusual on the East Coast.
We were having a beer and soaking up the remains of the day, when I noticed the ground shimmering a little. At first I thought it was the sun reflecting off the wet sand, but as I got closer, it looked as if large tracts of the ground were actually moving.
Closer still, and you see it’s thousands of little crabs! And they’re not too keen on your approach, so they sidle away and tumble into the mud on top of each other. How on earth so many of them can jump into the one spot is beyond me, but they seem to manage it, little blighters. I’ve never seen anything like it!
The wildlife on Fraser doesn’t stop there however. There’s also the Dingos that wander the island as they please, eating any food that’s left lying around by tourists, and god knows what else.
Signs said to be careful, be ‘Dingo Safe’. And the result of not being Dingo Safe, was what they referred to as ‘Negative Dingo Interaction’. Like, what the fuck does that mean?! I didn’t even want to know.
If you get chased by a Dingo however, don’t go running into the water. There are large groups of Tiger Sharks patrolling up and down the Western side of the Island, ripping anything of a decent size to shreds. And the only thing they don’t eat, are the pods of fucking Killer Whales that appear now and again! What a place!
In complete contrast however, the opposite side of the island is one of the safest, shallowest regions of ocean in the world. At no more than 8 metres across the entire 15km stretch to the mainland, it houses a very sheltered field of seas grass, providing the perfect habitat for a large colony of Dugongs. There are also Manta rays, Eagle rays, turtles and any number of fish.
Unreal! A true nature lover’s paradise. And the best thing to do in such a place, of course, is to get in your big diesel 4WD, and romp all over it.
To be fair, they do seriously restrict the number of vehicles allowed on the island, and they look after it pretty well now that the logging has been stopped – which is more than you can say for certain other parts of Australia, given the current Government’s disregard for the natural environment, but I digress…
So, to the 4WDs it is
Our plan was to follow the hotel’s impressive 4WD tour bus, which was taking my mum around the Island’s main sights. There wasn’t any room in our car, so this was the only way for granny and grandpa to have a look around.
I thought they would get away from us at some point, but I didn’t expect it to happen quite so quickly…
Leaving the resort we drove to the edge of a forest, crested the hill and headed down onto a sand track. Here we go I thought. Yes! Oh… wait a minute. I stopped, looked down to lock the differential, and when I looked up the bus was gone.
I powered on as fast as I could safely, and arrived at a junction. Which way did they go? No fucking idea. Oh well. Left towards the Eurong Beach Resort and 75 Mile Beach I suppose. Thankfully I spoke to the driver before he left, so I knew their itinerary. Although the right turn had no sign post at all… hmm…
It took us about 45 minutes to get across the island, and it wasn’t as difficult as I was expecting which was quite a relief. I was a wee bit nervous about it before hand. We popped out at the Eurong Beach Resort and didn’t see them, so turned onto the beach and headed north past the ‘Watch out for planes landing’ sign.
Within about three minutes we saw our first Dingo – brilliant. It wasn’t until the end of the day, at Lake Mackenzie, that we finally caught up with them. But we’d had a great trip in the meantime.
We stopped at Eli Creek and floated down the river, we jumped out at the amazing wreck of the Mareno and took lots of photos, and then of course, Lake Mackenzie for a swim in the crystal clear waters.
There was some interesting driving in between these destinations, some rocks and hills to negotiate, creeks running down across the sand into the water, but overall it was quite manageable, and highly enjoyable. Erin even gave it a go later on in the day, and she really got into it too.
Fraser Island, I will definitely be back.
Hervey Bay was the next stop, which I suppose was always going to be a bit of a let-down after Fraser, but it was actually a nice wee place.
Mainly we vegged, watched TV, went for lunch and dinner. Oh, there was a tiny little aquarium we visited where you got to feed the fish. It was pretty cool, and when I say fish, I mean sharks, rays and turtles!
“Skye! Get your hands out the water there’s a shark coming!”
Not words I ever expected to be having to say to my three year old. But there you go. ‘Straya mate 😉