A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about fraser island

Discovering Fraser Island - QLD


Situated off the Queensland coast near Noosa, Fraser Island World Heritage area is the largest sand island in the world.
Measuring 123km (76miles) in length and 25km (16miles) across, the island is a mix of hills, valleys, rainforest and clear lakes.

In 1836, survivors from the shipwreck Stirling Castle, including Captain James Fraser and his wife Elizabeth, landed on Fraser Island and were captured by Aboriginals. Captain Fraser perished, but Eliza was rescued and returned to England.

Very early one morning,
we set off from Noosa for the drive through the Great Sandy Naitonal Park to catch the ferry to Fraser, stopping off at Tin Can Bay to feed the wild dolphins.
It started back in the 1950’s when an injured dolphin beached himself on the sand at Barnacles Cafe. The locals took pity on him and started to feed him. This dolphin was well battle scarred and became known as ‘Old Scarry’. Once he was well enough Old Scarry returned to the wild but regularly returned to the bay to visit the locals and enjoy a free meal.
The second well known dolphin at Tin Can Bay was a female, also called Scarry. In 1991, there was much excitement when Scarry arrived in the bay with a calf. The local school children named this one ‘Mystique’ who continues to visit the bay on a daily basis as the third generation to carry on this tradition.
Mystique is the alpha male of his pod and is also scarred from his many battles, including a battle with a bull shark in December 2007. Once again a dolphin sought refuge in the cove at Barnacles with volunteers feeding and caring for him around the clock for 10 days. Once he was able to hunt for himself, Mystique thanked everyone with an aerial display before heading out with Patch to return to the wild.
Patch is a female member of Mystique’s pod who started to come into the Cove to feed after the disappearance of Scarry. She is thought to be in her mid twenties and weigh just over 200 kg. In comparison to Mystique she has very few battle scars and she is throwing a pink colour as she ages.
Mystique is an 23 year old male dolphin who has been interacting with the locals and visitors his entire life.
Mystique learned this behaviour from his mother Scarry who herself was a regular visitor.
Scarry has not been seen since 2004.
Following the disappearance of his mother Mystique took a break from the dolphin centre but returned after a couple of months accompanied by a female member of his pod Patch. More recently a juvenile from his pod, Harmony, has also been accompanying Mystique on his daily journey.
On the menu for breakfast was a small brim
Holding the fish flat in my hand, I lowered it in to the water and Mystique gently took it.
Of course, where there's fish, there's pelicans, and they don't miss a thing if there's chance of a free breakfast

Continuing on, we boarded the ferry, and arrive on Fraser Island in less than 20 mins.
A short drive partway up 75 mile beach, and it was time for morning tea and cake
with a visit from one of the local Dingos scouting for any scraps
Moving on, we arrived at Indian Head, for a short walk up to the top of the cliff.
This was the view looking south, back down 75 mile beach
and north,
where some fishermen were making the most of the protected waters
Named by Captain James Cook as a result of a number of the natives he saw assembled here on arrival.
Looking down, it was amazing to watch up to 20 sharks of different types, and sting ray hunt in the every shallow waters. There was also a whale pretty close in, migrating north

just before Indian Head, we passed this - part of an old container ship wrecked in a cyclone, that only last year showed the sand level at 4m lower, and much more of the ship visible

Heading back down 75 mile beach,
we passed areas that were being burnt off, though it looked like it had got a little out of control
and stopped for a picnic lunch at Eurong
and then on to cool off at Eli Creek
a large and spectacular creek pouring gallons of water each hour into the surf.
a short walk along the boardwalk
takes you to a point where you can walk, or paddle, back down the creek
Eels lurk under bankside vegetation waiting to ambush prey.

Back in the Warrior, we continued down Seventy Five Mile Beach, which is notable as the home of the Maheno shipwreck.
The Maheno is one of Fraser Island's key tourist sites with an estimated 260,000 people visiting each year.
1935: Maheno was declared outdated and removed from service. The heady days had lasted 30 years - not bad for a steamer at that time.
Abandoned and sold for scrap to Amaksa Company, Japan for £15,000, Maheno was under tow from Sydney when the ship met its final fate.
"send immediate assistance, towline to Maheno parted in bad weather".
Drifting overnight in rough seas, Maheno found land here, where the ship is now, rusted and broken.
Saturday 28th March 1936, the Sydney Morning Herald broadcast the news: trans-Tasman record holder the Maheno will never be moved from its final resting place on Fraser Island.
During Salvage operations, Maheno provided extraordinary setting for the wedding of customs office Dudley Weatherly and Miss Beatrice McLean of Townsville. On a deck pitched at 16 degrees, the nuptials were sealed to the sound of crashing waves and the ship's organ played by customs office Cyril Gregan.
Z Special Unit (forerunners to Australia's special services) used Maheno for training purposes during the war. Limpet mines, plastic explosives and matchbox bombs were used. Veteran Ron exclaimed "it's about blown to pieces! It was reasonably in tact when we started using It for practice".

As we drove back down 75 mile beach, we stopped to investigate a sea snake that had been washed up on the sand

and passed the scenic tour flights taking off from the beach

That evening, after settling in at Happy Valley it was great to walk down to the beach and watch the sunset... followed by the Blue Moon rise.
This happens when there are two full moons in a month. The next one is in May 2016.

After a day of exploring, and investigating the ghostly Maheno ship wreck, there was only one thing left to do - enjoy a bottle of appropriate wine on the beach with good company.

The following morning was another early start in time to watch the sun rise.
Great to watch the fishermen too

First stop of the day was Pine Valley for a 40min walk through the rain forest.
Home to this rather large spider and beautiful web
And this tree, with a hole over 6ft high at the entrance, most likely created many years ago by aboriginals creating a fire inside
Some interesting fungus
And the progression of how Bromeliads start off like this
and soon grow to this
I love to see Strangler Figs, I think they make amazing patterns up the tree. So it was good to see how they go from this
to this
It was great to see these tall, straight Satinay trees, also known as a Syncarpia hillii or Fraser Island Turpentine. They only grow on Fraser Island, and the surrounding Cooloola area.
Satinay grows to 40m in height and can have a girth of more than 4m.
It was an attractive timber for floors and furniture. The trade name, Red Satinay, can be stained to produce a blood-red brilliance.
These massive trunks were ideal for heavy construction such as beams and wharf decking, and made strong telegraph poles. After discovering the bark was resistant to marine borer attacks, the trunks were also used for marine piles.
Also on Fraser Island are Kauri Pines. Loggers first came to the island in 1863 for this timber and for white beech., as they are light enough to float. The timber was rafter to the mainland, and highly sought after for building boats, the main transport in the new colony. Supplies were depleted in 1882. Today nearly all of Fraser Island is national park, ensuring long-term protection.

The next stop for the day is possibly one of the most beautiful places I have seen in Australia - Lake McKenzie.
It is 1,200 metres long and up to 930 metres wide. It is approximately 150 hectares in area.
The sands around the lake are composed of pure, white silica and the water in the lake is also so pure it is unsuitable for many species
The underlying lake bed acts like a mirror, reflecting the colour of the sky.
The water appears a lighter blue, even clear in parts, where the lake bed has been worn away by people paddling close to shore.
Time for a swim
and some ball games
and some last minute photos
and obligatory selfie at my favourite spot so far

As we made our way back to the ferry, we saw some interesting island sights, like this jelly fish egg

and another Dingo running along the sand

Final stop on the way home was Rainbow Beach
The town's name derives from the rainbow-coloured sand dunes surrounding the settlement; according to the legends of the Kabi people, the dunes were coloured when Yiningie, a spirit represented by a rainbow, plunged into the cliffs after doing battle with an evil tribesman.
Much of the sand colors stem from the rich content of minerals in the sand, such as rutile, ilmenite, zircon, and monazite. A black dune of ilmenite sands, overgrown by dune vegetation can be found north west of the main town. This is currently being removed for sale in China with complete removal expected to take two years

An awesome couple of days, with some great people, driven and looked after by Darren

and if you haven't already seen it, here's a brief summary the two days in video format....

Posted by charlystyles 13:30 Archived in Australia Tagged fraser_island discovery_tours Comments (1)