Day 32:

29 July 2010

Wow!  O.K.  It's really challenging to encapsulate Fraser Island (where we went today) in a simple blog.  I'm going to mostly let the photos tell the story.  We miraculously wolfed down toasted bagels in the campervan at the Palms Caravan Park in Hervey Bay, QLD and were out on the street by 7:25a.m.  Shortly after getting out there, we were met by a large bus about half full of sunscreen slathered tourists - about half who seemed to be from Germany or Switzerland.  Some were English, some Aussie - and then, of course, there's us.

We were transported to a dock where we were shuttled onto a car ferry for our 35 minute cruise over to Fraser Island ("FrAYzer").  Upon our arrival on the island which is entirely made of sand, we were escorted once again to meet our tour guide for the day, Jon.  He loaded about 50 of us onto a four-wheel-drive bus for our tour around the island.

Fraser Island Car Ferry

                                    Jenna                                                                           Devon (wearing his sister's hat for giggles)                                Sydney Rachel (with self-applied lip stick)

For those of you who do not know, Fraser Island wasn't on our itinerary originally because of the sand factor (and the fact that we are not allowed to take our campervan off-road for more than one kilometre at a time).  We researched renting a 4x4 and driving ourselves; but, in the end, we were much happier to be in the grand tour bus, thank you very much.  Most of the people we saw in their own 4x4's were going the wrong way or stuck.

Jon was incredibly informative and entertaining...and prompt with the schedule.  Our first start on the tour was Lake McKenzie, a fresh water lake dead centre of the island about 2/3 of the way down.  It was incredible!  Swimming in the water was like swimming in a pool filled with ice water (remember it is still winter here), but the clearest, purest water you can imagine.  It was invigorating!  Legend has it that it adds 10 years to your life.  You can also use the sand at Lake McKenzie to polish your watch face (assuming it is glass) or your jewellery.  It is silica (quartz) based and over many, many years, the sand has become round. We had about 30 minutes to enjoy the lake.

Scenes from Lake McKenzie

After changing back into dry clothes, we re-boarded the bus and trekked through the very narrow, unpaved, one lane, sand roads to  Central Station where we learned about the vegetation on the island and how the water is nearly the purest in Australia.   Blue-green algae grows at the bottom of the creek, tinging it, well, blue-green (or aqua).  We saw incredibly old trees, some which had parasites on them (like the Strangler Fig) and some had the opposite of parasites and the plants were growing on the trees, but not diminishing the tree's capacity to thrive.

The fern growths are living on the tree, but are the opposite of a parasite

                        A strangler fig vine

                Our guide for the day, Jon

        An incredibly old (500+ years) moss-coated tree stump                The last remaining logger's cottage

        Devon in a hollow tree near Wanggoolba Creek                        Wanggoolba Creek near Central Station

Again, we boarded the bus for a short trip to the Eurong Resort where we stopped for about an hour for a yummy buffet lunch.

The view from the Eurong Resort

We re-boarded the monstrous bus again and drove up "Seventy-Five Mile Beach" to the Coloured Sands/Pinnacles, Maheno Ship Wreck and Eli Creek.  The Seventy-Five Mile Beach is actually only about 59 miles, so no one really knows why they call it that.  The Coloured Sands are colourful because of ore and erosion, but they are fascinating to look at.  Interestingly, there were quite tall fences all around these "pinnacles"; yet, there were no barriers whatsoever at the Great Australian Bight where you could easily plummet to your death.  Natural selection at work?  Who knows?

4x4 Tyre Tracks                                                                                            Seventy-Five Mile Beach

Four at The Pinnacles (Coloured Sand)

The Maheno Ship Wreck  (build in 1905) was once a luxury liner that was used as a floatable hospital during World War I and finally sold to the Japanese for scrapping in 1935.  It was run aground on July 8 1935 and never moved from that spot.  It was three decks tall and only one deck is visible from the beach, the other 2/3 are under the sand.

Rob in front of the 4x4 Explorer Bus

Maheno Ship Wreck

Through a window of the Maheno Ship Wreck                                                Liz and Sydney having a moment

Finally, we had a lovely play in Eli Creek.  The water is so clear, cool and refreshing, it's amazing.  By this time in the day, the sun was out and we all appreciated the cool-down.

Three playing in Eli Creek, a fresh water creek that feeds into the ocean at 75 Mile Beach

We finished with ice creams near the Eurong Resort.  Perfect!

Then, we were transported back to where the car ferry picks up and drops off at Wanggoolba Creek and eventually back to the Palms Caravan Park.  Dinner was Thai Green Curry with Chicken a la Rob again.  Delicious!

Sunset as viewed from the Fraser Island Car Ferry

The perfect end to an incredible day

***