More than just a sand dune – Fraser Island Day 1   6 comments

The furious pace of our first week in Queensland continued. After our fish and chips on the sea front we were off to River Heads to check in, dump the car and head over on the ferry to Fraser Island, the worlds largest sand island and World Heritage Site.

Fraser-Island-Map

We stayed at the Kingfisher Resort, a vast sprawling but sensitively developed complex (as much as these things can be) amongst the dense forest. You can read my review of the resort here. We had a rather splendid timber villa up in the trees but it was dark by the time we checked in. The jet-lag was leaving us tired quite early in the evenings but this suited us as we’re not party animals. Also as it’s winter in Queensland it gets dark around 6pm and light at 6am so early to bed, early to rise was a good plan that we stuck to for most of the holiday

We woke the next morning to a pretty impressive dawn chorus from the local bird life. Bird song in eastern Australia is a real joy, every location offering a different loud tune usually accompanied by the laughing rant of a kookaburra. I heard a few people grumbling about it. I loved it. There were clearly showers in the air but the early morning view from the balcony across the forest was mighty fine.

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

For our first day we were taking the luxury option of a private tour in a 4WD. Just after eight we met our guide for the day, Gary. In typically Queensland style he was knowledgeable charming and good-humoured and he really made the day with his good company. They have recently sealed the resort roads (all of the roads on the island are sand) but as you crest the hill behind the resort you suddenly plunge into the real Fraser Island. A rollercoaster of a sandy track, rutted and quite daunting even as a passenger. I had thought of hiring my own 4WD and taking us around but I bailed on that idea after reading too many stories of getting stuck and worse. A hundred yards down the track and I was so glad I did. It clearly needed a good deal of skill that I don’t have so I settled down for a day of being chauffeured around.

The island doesn’t look that big on the map but of course like all things Australian, its enormous. It’s not only the worlds largest sand island but the largest island on the east coast where large islands are in abundance. 75 miles long and 15 miles wide its size takes some getting used to especially when driving along its bouncy sand tracks. The west coast where the resort is, faces the calm waters of Platypus Bay (where we’d seen the whales the day before), characterised by white sand and mangroves. We were off to the east coast that faces the open Pacific Ocean. Only 15 miles by sand track it took over an hour from the resort

The forest is incredibly dense which is amazing when you consider the island has no topsoil. Everything grows in sand. Every so often a huge expanse of sand is visible called a blow which gives you an idea of what the island would look like if it had no trees. The one below is called the Stone Tool Sand Blow as they found Aboriginal Stone Tools buried there.

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

You can glimpse the ocean in the distance and we were soon down to one of the islands crowning glories, 75-mile beach

Here we picked up speed as when the tide is out the beach becomes the highway and the whole stretch has numerous 4WDs bouncing along. Driving on the beach is great fun and it’s a really novel experience to be driving at 40mph just a few feet from the crashing waves (if you check out the slideshow at the bottom there are some videos within).

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

Inland are cliffs of sand, a myriad of hues and colours and all along people camped out right by the beach. What I wouldn’t have given to be staying here right on the beach rather than a resort hotel

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

For most of Northern Queensland the coast is protected by the Great Barrier Reef but it doesn’t stretch this far south. As a result this is proper ocean, booming, crashing waves and foamy surf with fishermen plying their trade every few hundred yards. It looks pretty good for a swim but that’s not a good idea. Apart from the powerful rips that will drag you away to a watery grave, sharks and rays patrol in near the shore ready to add you to the menu or impale you like the poor unfortunate Steve Irwin

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

Fortunately Gary was taking us on a long drive up the beach to one of the few places on the Island where you can swim in the sea, the Champagne Pools.

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

Even though you pick up speed on the beach it’s a long drive. It had been grey and showery most of the morning but just as we arrived at the pools the sky cleared and the sun burst through. Marvellous

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

The Champagne Pools are huge sandy pools with a rock wall separating them from the booming waves. The waves crash over the walls filling the pools with foaming surf every minute or so, hence the champagne moniker. Time for a swim

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

The water was pleasantly warm for our first dip in the ocean but the strong breeze made it a chilly swim. However it was a truly fantastic swim and sitting on the rock wall with the surf washing over you and into the pool before jumping into its calm depths was fantastic. We were only in the water for about 15 minutes but it was still a stand out moment. The kids loved it although TBF felt it was perhaps a little too chilly to be  swimming in the ocean. I hadn’t travelled halfway around the world to look, I was keen to take everything on and loved every second.

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

Only downside was that TJS cut his foot and bled quite lavishly and I managed to bruise my heel which migrated from a minor inconvenience to severely painful within a few strides. I hoped it would wear off but it plagued me for the rest of the trip.

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

After a swift change we headed back down to Indian Head, one of the few rocky outcrops on the island. It’s an impressive spot, named by Captain Cook after the Aborigines he saw watching him from the headland as he sailed by. In those days anyone not white was deemed “Indian” hence the name. It was a short brisk hike to the top and the view up and down the beach were breathtaking

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

It was time for lunch and Gary unpacked the picnic. I’m not sure how many people they thought would be in the car but there was enough food to feed ten people not 5!! We made a brave stab, ate about a quarter of it and took the rest home (we never did eat it all). As we ate the sun came out again and the views were again stunning

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

Due to the time it takes to head this far up the beach (around 30 miles I guessed) we had to head back. The tide was coming in fast making the driving much trickier. Rather than the hard-packed wet sand nearer the low tide, we were on the soft stuff near the cliffs. The creeks that drain the forest also create small edges a few centimetres high that give you quite jolt when you don’t see them coming. Hard work for the driver but great fun for his passengers

We passed the famous landmark of the Maheno Shipwreck (more of that in a later post) on our way to one of the eastern coast resorts at Eurong for an ice cream (TBF enjoyed the delights of the superbly named “Golden Gaytime” ice cream)

One of Fraser Islands most intriguing residents are it’s Dingos, Australian wild dogs. They are the purest strain in the country and here roam wild amongst the tourists and campers. All the resorts are surrounded by dingo fences and everywhere you go are warning signs to “Be Dingo Safe”. You get the impression they are everywhere but after most of the day we hadn’t seen one and were giving up hope. Just before we turned inland we saw our first one!

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

They look remarkably like very ordinary dogs, albeit slightly scruffy and lean. They look like the kind of dog you would wander over to and rub his head and tickle him behind the ears. This one in particular seemed especially chilled and just sat calmly as we drove past. Make no mistake they are not puppy-dogs. As a rule they will keep to themselves but they will come into camps and steal food and there have been injuries and deaths from dumb tourists doing all the things the signs tell you not to do, namely approach them and try to pet them (or even feed them!) or run away screaming when you see them (that’s an invitation to a Dingo to chase and hunt you down). Apparently (!) you just hold your hands out to show you have nothing of interest, maintain eye contact, back away (never turn your back) and they will likely ignore you. I found looking at them from inside a car to be much safer

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

Still it was amazing to be up this close to a proper wild animal, even if he did look uncannily like my nans old dog, Sandy.

After a short drive we saw another couple, this time digging for and finding some gutted fish carcasses carelessly left in the sand by a fisherman.

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

Satisfied with a long day of beach and forest driving, swimming and dingo spotting we headed back to the resort on another long, bouncy and stunning drive through the endless forest that is Fraser Island.

Just time for a swim in the very chilly unheated pools at the resort and to wander down to the beach on the other side to watch the sunset.

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

fraser island. kingfisher resort, 75 mile beach, stonetool sandblow, red canyon, rainbow cliffs, maheno shipwreck, indian head, champagne pools, eurong resort, dingo, dingos

My foot was now excruciatingly painful and I could barely walk. I was seriously worried I’d done some major damage that was going to spoil the trip. Walking back up to the villa after the meal nearly had me in tears such was the pain and frustration. The nice people at reception kindly lent me some crutches in the hope that taking the weight off it would help. It certainly made the very painful hobble back up the villa much easier.

 

Another magnificent day but Fraser Island is as I said, huge and there was much more to see. Off to bed early, there was another big day ahead tomorrow

Advertisements

6 responses to “More than just a sand dune – Fraser Island Day 1

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Wonderful photos 🙂 And those Champagne Pools look fantastic – I’m quite envious of a swim in those!
    Hope your foot sorted itself out quickly?

    Like

    • Thanks Chrissie.its a fabulous place but it would be better to camp right on the beach if you have a big 4WD pickup and in amongst the forest. The pools were awesome. Strangely the water was much warmer than it looked but the air temperature was much colder than it looked. Great wild swim though, more to come in the next post!

      Like

  2. Wow, so beautiful! Love the photos.

    Like

  3. Wow.
    A soon as I saw the photos I thought: “TBF looks a bit cold there!”
    What was the cause of all the foot injuries? Clumsiness? Is it better now?
    Quite impressed with you and your early starts. (For ‘impressed’ read ‘shocked’.) The scenery and the champagne pools look stunning. The dingo photos are amazing. Even I think they look cute and approachable and I don’t really like dogs.
    All that was just one day?
    Oh – btw – inflatable canoes for French gorges might be a bit of a non-starter. When packed down they are still pretty huge. You’d have to persuade TBF to leave a few jumpers behind, at the very least!

    Like

    beatingthebounds
    • All one day! I’m writing up the second day now and if anything we did even more. Early starts aren’t really a problem when you go to bed and are asleep at 9pm! Getting up early was a blessing. Being on the east coast meant we got some superb sunrises.
      It was quite a chilly day with the wind and the regular showers but the sea is warm. Just clumsiness for the injuries. I still have no idea how I did it. It just started to hurt as I padded across the sand. I was seriously thinking a trip to A&E was looming but it calmed down to just a dull ache for the rest of the holiday

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: