Fraser Island – Sandblows, Beaches & 4 Wheeldriving!!

Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world and it was given world heritage listing in 1992 for its natural diversity.  It sits at the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef and boasts more marine and fish diversity than the reef itself.

After we drove off the barge onto Fraser Island, we charged up the beach for about 40 kms and found a nice camping spot with great beach views. The rain is still with us so we had a relaxing afternoon in the van. We saw a few dingoes on the way along the beach but were in a hurry so didn’t do any photos. In the end those were the only ones we saw. Dingoes are wild, predatory animals and a key wildlife feature of this island. Their conservation is of national significance as they may become one of the purest strains of wild dingo (since they have rarely interbred with domestic or feral dogs). Visitors are encouraged to read an 8 page brochure on how to be dingo-safe and reminded that a 9 yr old boy was killed here by dingoes in 2001. In 2010 a photographer was fined $40,000 and given a 9 month suspended sentence for feeding and attracting dingoes. Those dingoes became aggressive (savaged a child and cornered adults) so they had to be put down. Some campgrounds have dingo proof fences to keep them out. Visitors are advised to never feed them, lock away food and rubbish, walk in groups and carry a stick. Not a good place for a solitary beach jog (or any running). Of course bush walking is a key feature of the Island – should be interesting!

Our time on Fraser Island was intermittently sunny and rainy, lots of rain; but in spite of that we managed some nice walks, mostly on ‘sandblows’ – this means sand blown inland from the coast that engulfs vegetation in its path. The largest is called Knifeblade Sandblow and it stretches 3.5kms inland and advances >1meter each year.  They are interesting and impressive areas. We did a 4 km walk on Kirrar Sandblow and later a 6.5 km walk through Wan’gul Sandblow – it was huge and one could easily imagine being lost in the Simpson or Sahara deserts.

The island features over 100 freshwater lakes and we did some nice walks around a few of them.  Seeing the lakes requires driving inland on what I would call “challenging” 4 WD tracks.  Dick seems to enjoy those drives and does them well.  Even as a passenger I struggled with them!

Managed to find lots of lovely beach campsites and had them to ourselves. Lots of beach driving with our days planned to suit the tide. Some interesting history was learned at the Maheno Wreck – a luxury 420 person passenger liner built in 1905 in Scotland that sailed between NZ & Australia, then became a NZ government hospital ship from 1915-19 (operating in the Med, the English Channel and Australasia caring for >20,000 men), before returning to civilian cross-Tasman passenger services.  It was retired and sold to the Japanese for scrap in 1935.  On the journey to Japan the Maheno broke her tow in a winter cyclone and marooned on Fraser Island.  There is not much left of her now but it is still one of the most popular sights on the island.

Also learned how the island got its name when we visited Central Station, which was once the site of a 16 house village during the timber days, and is now a tourist spot with lots of stories about the history of the island including the story of the shipwreck of the Stirling Castle, which was captained by James Fraser and made famous by his wife, Eliza Fraser, who toured the world telling tales of her survival and his death whilst in the captivity of local aboriginals.

We visited Champagne Pools on a low tide, cloudy day and then on a  high tide, sunny day – looks like two different places.  Enjoyed a nice walk to Indian Head (named by captain Cook because he saw aboriginals there) which features magnificent views up and down the beach.

Some of my impressions from being here are: stunning beach scenery, great walks over the sandblows, and picturesque, private beach camps,  as well as difficult 4 Wheeldriving inland and around some of the beach rocks, and a constant concern about being attacked by dingoes (every toilet door has a new warning sign about dingo-safety).

As we left the island and before we took the barge back to the mainland, we visited Kingfisher Resort which seems to offer a non-camping alternative for people who want to see the island in style.

 

First beach camp on Fraser Island
Kirra Sandblow
Dick checking his heart rate as we hike Kirra sandblow
Footsteps in the sand blow

 

The wreck of The Maheno
The beach was like a car park for utes and planes in front of the Maheno wreck

 

Trying to watch for planes was not easy in the van

 

Driving inland on narrow trails with two way traffic

 

Lake Allom, on a rainy day
Colored sands and rock formations

 

Wan’gul Sandblow looking inland at the forest (see Dick in the distance)

 

Wan’gul sandblow looking towards the ocean
Met one other couple so we got a photo taken
The dingo fence around the campground
Ocean Lake at sunset (another campsite)
Champagne pools at low tide on a rainy day
Champagne pools at high tide on a sunny day
Indian headland (named by Captain Cook)
Lake Wabby

 

 

Lake MacKenzie

 

Another private beach camping site with great ocean views

 

The 2017 Adventure-from Sydney to Fraser Island

This year’s adventure started off very socially.  In fact, the first week was all about visiting friends as we jouneyed up to Queensland. On night one we enjoyed a good catchup over dinner with Anne and Mick in Port Macquarie.  The next day was lunch with Sue Jamieson near Coffs Harbor and an overnight stop at Black Rocks campground on the northern NSW coast.  Being creatures of habit we stayed in exactly the same campsite we had a year ago when we drove the van home from Brisbane.  We spent a night in Pamela and Rod’s driveway in Noosa before enjoying a lovely lunch with them in one of Noosa’s top restaurants. That night we slept in Alan’s driveway in Mooloolaba and enjoyed dinner out with Alan and Barbara.  We journeyed back to Brisbane to get the van serviced and managed a catchup dinner with Fiona in Brisbane.  Then we got to Noosa Shores campground north of Noosa and spent two nights in the campground we had also visited in 2016 when we first got the van.  By this time we needed a break and a catchup on unfinished jobs from Sydney; and we were so engrossed that we forgot it was our anniversary until FB and Amy and later Esther congratulated us on our five year anniversary.

Our first beach driving was a trip up the Cooloola coast, a 60 k stretch of beach from Noosa to Rainbow Beach.  I was a bit apprehensive about the sand driving but Dick assures me he knows what he’s doing, so we’ll see.  We camped right on the beach, explored Red Canyon and then had a restful afternoon in the van as it was raining.  I finished a book that I’d picked up the day before.  We woke to sunshine but it was short lived and we had a squally, rainy day as we drove up the beach and then did 15 k’s on a single lane 4WD track through the rainforest.   I started driving up the beach and my best decision of the day was to swap drivers before we left the beach. We couldn’t do any of this without a 4WD vehicle.  We got supplies in Rainbow Beach and took the barge/ferry over to Fraser Island for the next leg of our jouney.

 

On the road again—–30 April 2017

 

The proposed route for 2017- heading up the coast north from Sydney

 

 

Dinner with Anne and Mick in Port Macquarie

 

Camping at Black Rocks, the first of many beach camps
Lunch in Noosa with Pamela & Rod

 

Camping in Alan’s driveway (AGAIN!)

 

Celebrating our 5th Anniversay with a beach walk at Noosa North Shore campground
Some sand driving coming up

 

Exploring Red Canyon at Cooloola, Great Sandy NP
Real beach camping, Teewah Beach, Great Sandy NP

 

The view from our window in the van-looks like a picture

 

Driving up the beach
Driving thru the rainforest on a one lane 4WD track
On the barge to Fraser Island- we were first on.

 

The queue waiting for the barge as we approach Fraser Island