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NOW YOU’RE TORQUING: TYRE TIPS WITH DAVE D

When it comes to off-roading on islands like Fraser Island, everyone has a different set of expectations from their tyres.  Everyone also has a different set of criteria upon which they base their judgements.

Dave Darmody is the chief trainer at Australian Off-road Academy and an expert on heading off piste on the world’s largest sand island. His sagely advice is to consider everyone’s experience and opinion (including his own expert one below) and then form your own opinion.

Tyred of not getting the best out of your 4WD?

Tyred of not getting the best out of your 4WD? Image: Photography by Reichlyn.

Tyred of picking dud tyres?
Not all tyres are created equal. Your tyre purchasing decision should be based upon your needs and ambition – not what your vehicle manufacturer decides. First up, choose between a ‘passenger’ or a ‘light truck tyre’; then decide upon tread pattern.  Lastly, buy a premium brand that meets your needs.  As Dave says, you’ve just forked out a small fortune for your car – don’t skimp on your tyres.

How Low Can You Go?
There are very limited wheel/tyre options so you need to weigh up the potential rim damage and bogging potential when purchasing. The undeniable truth is that low profile tyres are generally a problem off-road and highly inflated low profile tyres are a bigger problem.

IMG_3495Under Pressure!
We’ve all met the bloke who refuses to let his tyres down. They are nearly as obnoxious as the “pfft, I did it all in 2WD” guy.  Just remember that you gain clearance by reducing pressure because you stay on top of the sand instead of going under it.

So, that dude on social media who recommended 22psi – without asking any basic questions
about your load, your tyre size and construction, the terrain and conditions – should probably not be your only source of info.

TOP TIP: As an aside, if you’re headed to Fraser Island, QPWS put out a fortnightly condition report that’ll let you know what to expect, pre-arrival.

One Gadget To Rule Them All!
Purchase a quality tyre gauge and use it because uneven tyre pressures can result in an inconsistent rolling diameter and can cause havoc with your vehicle’s safety and traction systems. But wait, there’s more… look at your driving style and avoid harsh braking and sudden steering and tight turns on higher traction surfaces.

This abridged content has been reproduced with permission.  To read Dave’s full blog, head to the Australian Offroad Academy website.  Want to know more about Dave’s training courses on Fraser Island?  Click here.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2015 in Guest Bloggers

 

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Getting Down… Under…

Award-winning writer and all-round funster, Thomas Breathnach hails from from Cork in Ireland and loves his travel. His adventures abroad regularly feature in internationally-respected publications such as the Irish Times, Men’s Health, Cape Times and the Mail & Guardian.  

Thomas recently visited Queensland’s boho capital Brisbane before bumping into a neighbour in the middle of nowhere (read: #fraserisland) and heading off in a pink 4×4 called Priscilla. The story was published in The Irish Independent and is re-published here with Thomas’ permission.  Get ready for a wild ride…

Brisbane changed my travelling tune. While newbies to a city might traditionally make a beeline to a tourist office or consult their eBook, I realised that in this age of pop-up urbanism and ever-vacillating culture scenes, there’s truly only one way to procure a city’s insider’s guide: Ask a hipster.

Brisbane's hidden laneway secrets

Brisbane’s hidden laneway secrets

After arriving in Australia’s third-largest metropolis, my first lead was Winn Lane, a hole-in-the wall alleyway in the boho district of Fortitude Valley. Alongside boho bookstores and Alexa Chung boutiques, I began by hitting Flamingo Cafe, a 70s-style kitsch joint fitted with an astro-turf patio and just the antidote to the cookie-cutter CBD I was looking for. A quirky club-sambo of poached chuck and bacon jam and a side order of local tips from my server was the perfect Brissie starter.

Despite its size, A to B-ing it around Brisbane is a breeze. The compact city is wonderfully walker-friendly. It operates a similar bike rental scheme to Dublin, and the city’s water-taxis are a fun way to shuttle up and down the Brisbane River. After grabbing a ferry ride from the Valley, I was soon hovered down to South Bank, the city’s happening cultural precinct and all-round urban utopia.

The district features its own man-made beach, a lush rainforest park home to exotic ibis birds and swooping flying foxes and a magically ambient peace pagoda. Together with a gleaming futuristic skyline, it conjures an almost Asia-Pacific fusion vibe to this sub-tropical city.

South Bank’s most captivating attraction, however, is GOMA, Queensland’s modern art museum which rates as one of Australia’s finest collections. I whiled away a couple of hours inside its mammoth mezzanines, eyeing its exhibits of indigenous contemporary art from watercolour landscapes by Torres Strait Islanders artists to vibrant Roy Lichtenstein-esque cartoon strips.

Paired with its burgeoning arts scene, Brisbane also boasts a well-stockpiled events calendar, with my own visit syncing with both the Regional Flavours Food Festival and the Queensland Music Festival. I began at the former, taste-testing my way through the stalls and food-trucks of Little Stanley Street which were vending all manner of local fare from buffalo halloumi to kombucha blends. At the festival’s Hunting Club (a garden marquee moonlighting as a boutique beer garden), I opted for a tasting paddle of local craft ciders with a delicious batch of wattleseed fried tiger prawns. Queensland tucker at its finest.

Come dusk, my Brisbane swan song led me to the Black Bear Lodge, one of the city’s top music venues, lofted above the heaving clubbing strip of Brunswick Street. Upstairs off the main drag, I was met by a mellowing homage to nostalgic reverie; bearded check-shirted blokes and hillbilly-skirted sheilas lay poised around a retro Rocky Mountain bar, candlelit tables and vintage sofas.

Grabbing a brew and pulling up a pew, I soaked up the awesome scene amid a lounge of merry musos while local singer Ben Salter plucked and chimed his way through an acoustic set. And how did the patrons rate Brissie? “It’s just got that friendly village vibe along with a big city buzz,” said Gwen, a recent transplant from big bad Sydney. “And we’re the only city in the world where drivers have to yield right of way to birds!” piped her mate, Sara, over her vodka-soda-lime. Real-life pelican crossings? Cheers to that.

Fraser Island's famous dingoes

Fraser Island’s famous dingoes

Protected urban fauna and culture vultures behind me, my next Queensland leg took me to the UNESCO-listed wilderness of Fraser Island; the world’s largest sand island, four hours north of Brisbane. After bussing through the Sunshine Coast to Hervey Bay, I made my transit to Fraser via a one-hour ferry hop from River Heads. Joined solely by an elderly Melbourne couple reliving their honeymoon heyday and a curious fur-seal piloting our route off the mainland, we skirted across the Great Sandy Strait towards one of Oz’s easternmost outposts, the air of relaxation lingering more with every passing knot.

Named after the Scottish seafarer Eliza Fraser who was shipwrecked here in 1836, Fraser Island has retained a consistently deserted demographic over the centuries. Today fewer than 200 residents live on the island (which covers an area larger than Leitrim), but it didn’t take long to detect the diaspora.

Checking-in at the Kingfisher Bay Resort, a quick game of accent ping-pong with receptionist Corrina Long revealed, rather extraordinarily, that we were in fact East Cork neighbours, separated by a mere mile of forestry and a parish border. After the initial Irish formalities of establishing mutual acquaintances, Corrina went on to explain that she’s been living offshore for almost three years now. “When I leave the island, it’s just to Hervey Bay to go shopping or stock up on supplies,” she told me. “I’m very lucky to live in such a place!”

Strolling on to my eco lodge, it was easy to appreciate the island’s allure. Known as Kgari — or Paradise, to the

Aborigines — my new demesne was a fantastical lush rainforest chorusing with the calls of kookaburras and cockatoos. Sure, the solemnity was quickly and incongruously interrupted by the blare of Will.i.am from the Dingo Bar’s speakers, but I was in backpacker country, after all.

The Great Sandy Strait, Fraser Island

The Great Sandy Strait, Fraser Island

I’d signed up for a Cool Dingo Tour — a three-day Fraser Island exploration, where I would be joined by a truckload of fellow adventure tourists hailing from Slovakia to Seoul. The next morning, once huddled down and buckled-up aboard our pink 4X4 off-roader (named “Priscilla”), local guide Kirstey was cranking us into Fraser’s almost impenetrable wilds. The tour focuses on outdoorsy surf-and-turf pursuits, and a dip and dive at the screensaver setting of Lake McKenzie was the first invigorating pit stop. Serene hikes followed through the pristine jungles of Wanggoolba Creek and Pile Valley, until we finally navigated our way to where the Coral Sea collides with the island’s eastern shore.

Being the novelty home to Australia’s only beach freeway, this coastal leg made for an adrenalin-gushing ride. Speeding along 75 Mile Beach, we diced our way between boulders, driftwood and fellow-off-roaders, occasionally being dramatically gulped by the ebb and flow of the tide. Given the name of the tour, it also wasn’t long before we spotted some of Fraser’s most infamous residents. With the news of a whale-calf washed up at Cathedral Beach, we soon encountered a plucky pair of dingoes (said to be Australia’s purest sub-species) bounding out of the sand-dunes to give chase to our truck.

I chased my own visit with a sightseeing flight with Air Fraser Island, local operators who offer 15-minute flight add-ons for a not too exorbitant €50. Tucked into the shotgun seat of my eight-seater craft’s rickety monocoque, we heaved off the same beach runway to panoramic Robinson Crusoe moments: lush broccoli-floret rainforests, crystal butterfly lakes and the obligatory rusting shipwreck.

Sunset over the Great Sandy Strait from Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island

CASTAWAY: Sunset over the Great Sandy Strait from Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island

As we rumbled out over the squally Pacific, looking for migrating humpbacks breaching beneath us, I could only cross fingers that we wouldn’t meet a Sierra-Oscar-Sierra moment.

Paradise, however, wouldn’t be the worst spot to find myself a castaway.

Getting there

Thomas travelled to Brisbane on Emirates Business Class (01 517 1600; emirates.com) where rates including chauffeur transfers start from €3,550 return. Economy fares are available from €930 return. Bus transfers from Brisbane to Hervey Bay cost from €70 return; Greyhound.com.au or Torystours.com.au are your best bet for a good fare.

Staying there

The Diamant Hotel (+61 7 3009 3400; 8hotels.com; €47pps) in Brisbane’s Sunny Hill district is a bright boutique-style bolthole and a great base for some urban wandering. Free yoga mats are gym passes are also available to help you work off a great brekkie.

On Fraser Island, a three day Cool Dingo Tour (+61 7 4120 3333; cooldingotour.com) including lodge accommodation, meals and ferry transfers costs €280, while a stay at the same resort’s hotel starts from €49pps (+61 7 4120 3333; kingfisherbay.com).

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2014 in Guest Bloggers

 

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Eat Your Heart Out, Bond! Adrenaline-charged Fun On Fraser Island

Journalist Rob McFarland is an accomplished travel writer who divides his time between Sydney, New York, the UK and pretty much everywhere in between.  He, and his brother Luke, visited Fraser Island about 12 months ago on a boy’s adventure weekend and their adrenaline-pumping experiences were recently published in The Malaysian Star.  It’s not quite James Bond… but it’s still pretty world class!

FRASER ISLAND: THIS isn’t quite the James Bond moment I’d imagined. If Daniel Craig had jet-skied from Hervey Bay to Fraser Island, he’d have worn a white tuxedo and been accompanied by a stunning brunette.

I, on the other hand, am wearing swimming goggles and am clinging onto my brother.

When we met Larry from Aquavue Watersports at 6am, the sea was mirror flat and the sun was just poking over the horizon. Now we’re in the middle of the Great Sandy Strait between the mainland and Fraser Island, the wind has picked up and it’s seriously choppy.

Jetski to Fraser Island

A Not-Quite-Bond-Moment

Up until I donned my swimming goggles, this meant a rather uncomfortable ride while being relentlessly splashed in the face. Now that I’m suitably attired, it’s some of the best fun I’ve ever had sitting down.

I’m on Queensland’s Fraser Coast for an action-packed long weekend with my brother.  The aim is to experience as much adrenaline and adventure as we can in three days. Yesterday, we kicked it all off with a stand-up paddle-boarding lesson from Enzo, owner of Enzo’s On The Beach.

After wading out into the warm water of the bay, we paddled over clusters of coral looking for fish and other marine life.  I was just thinking how well we were doing when I realised we’d been paddling downwind. It turns out that paddling into the wind is another matter.

Lie-down paddle-boarding doesn’t have the same glamorous following as its stand-up sibling, but I’d recommend it if you ever have to get back to shore in a strong headwind.

Next up was wakeboarding at Susan River Homestead, a 30-minute drive from Hervey Bay.  I’d never tried it before but owner Paul “Call me Cookey” Cooke reassured me that he’d “never had someone not get up yet”.

Kitted out with helmet and lifejacket, I lay in the water with the board out in front and let the cable pull me along.  And blow me if Cookey wasn’t right – I was up the first time.  Making the turn at the end of the course to come back took a little longer to master.

It ends up taking us two hours to jet-ski to Fraser Island, and there waiting for us is Shayla*, a stunning 10m catamaran that offers sightseeing cruises around the bay.  While skipper Brett hoists the sail, we lie in the sun and enjoy a leisurely cruise along Fraser’s coastline.

As we pass Duck Island – one of the other islands in the bay – Brett points out ospreys, herons and two rare Beach Stone-curlews bobbing along the beach. They often see dolphins as well as humpback whales during their annual migration.

After a swim and some morning tea, it’s time to ramp up the action again. Brett unfurls the boom net from the back of the boat and we all jump in and hang on as we’re dragged through the water.  There are only four of us onboard today but Brett reckons he’s had 15 on it in the past.

As we pull into the wharf at Kingfisher Bay Resort, I’m reminded of the last time I visited Fraser Island.  I was backpacking and eight of us hired a 4WD from the mainland, stocked up on supermarket food and camped on the beach each night.

It was good fun, but now being older and wiser, I’m much happier checking into the welcoming arms of the Kingfisher Bay Resort.  This low-rise, eco-friendly property has won a bevy of ecotourism awards for its seamless integration with the natural habitat. Boasting four pools, three restaurants and a nightclub, it manages to provide the full resort experience without really feeling like a resort.

It also has a sensational on-site spa – after taking a pounding on the jet ski, I’m very content to let therapist Robin ease my aching muscles with a coma-inducing hot-stone massage and facial.  After a sensational dinner in Seabelle, Kingfisher’s award-winning restaurant, followed by a sound night’s sleep, we are ready to explore the largest sand island in the world.

And while there are several excellent guided tours available, there’s nothing quite like jumping in a 4WD and doing it yourself.  All day we bound along winding sandy tracks, weave our way through lush, towering rainforest, swim in crystal-clear lakes and speed along the hard, flat sand of Fraser’s wild eastern beach.

Make your own tracks

Take to the tracks and discover the world’s largest sand island

Ideally, you’d want to spend at least two days here but even though we have only a day, we manage to see the rusted wreck of the Maheno, take in the panoramic views from Indian Head and marvel at the incomparable colour of Lake McKenzie.

It’s a privilege to be able to explore this World Heritage-listed icon, and careering around it in a 4WD seems a fitting finale to our action-packed weekend.

There are still plenty of adrenaline-charged activities we haven’t got around to trying – microlighting, skydiving and kite surfing to name a few, so we’ll just have to come back.

And while my chances of persuading a stunning brunette to accompany me are slim, I can at least pack a white tuxedo.

*Shayla Sailing Cruises no longer operate from Kingfisher Bay Resort.  The resort has just introduced several new cruising products with Captain Keith and the team from Freedom III.

 The writer was a guest of Kingfisher Bay Resort and Tourism Queensland.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Guest Bloggers

 

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Sunlover Holidays: The Flavours Of Fraser

GUEST BLOG: Sunlover Holiday’s resident blogger and PR Lady extraordinaire, Donna Kramer, recently visited Fraser Island with her fabulous family and discovered it’s not just a destination for blokes on mancations.  She spills all in her Sunlover Holidays blog, which we’re sharing with you in this forum… (May 2012)

75 Mile Beach Fraser Island

75 Mile Beach Fraser Island

We’d spent the day in the car exploring every inch of the natural island paradise that they call Fraser Island.

For my husband, Fraser Island is the definition of paradise, the beach, natural landscapes, the wildlife oh and the fishing so much so that this question was asked about 501 times as we explored the island

“Are you seeing that gutter DK? It’s beautiful!”

So after seven years of mancations to Fraser Island I decided to finally join him on a trip, I jumped in our 4WD (along with our 15 month-old) and really experienced Fraser Island. The four wheel driving was an adventure within itself the tracks were well maintained and signposted, it was an adrenaline rush within the confines of safety.

Once on the road, well sand, we swam in Lake McKenzie for hours, floated out to the beach in the crystal clear waters of Eli Creek, walked through the stunning rainforest at Central Station and picnicked beside the Champagne Pools at Indian Head.

I was impressed ten times over, and I now wished I’d done it years earlier. Fraser Island is a beautiful place on all levels and trust me when I say that it is a destination that you have to experience and if you have overseas friends visiting get out their to-do list and put Fraser Island at the top.

It will be the highlight of their trip, I promise.

A room with a view

A room with a view

We stayed at Kingfisher Bay Resort and I instantly felt at home.  Our spacious room looked straight out to the ocean and with ramps everywhere it made getting around with a pram super easy.

While I loved the room and its view, the heated pool and stunning common areas at Kingfisher Bay Resort I’m not deep when it comes to accommodation, if it’s clean and the staff are friendly then I’m happy (I do love camping you see) so I tend to measure a resort by its food and Kingfisher Bay Resort received a shiny big gold star in my books.

We ate like KINGS at the buffet breakfast both mornings and the overflowing fresh seafood buffet dinner was so good I literally could not move for 15 minutes afterwards, I’m having flash backs to the Moreton Bay Bug induced food coma writing this!

On our final night we had wines and a cheese platter on the jetty followed by wood-fire pizza.  And they say that the secret to a man s happiness is through his stomach?  I was in love.

But a firm highlight of our trip for me aside from the amazing fishing gutters (between you and I, I have no idea what I was looking at other than the ocean) was the Kingfisher Bay Resort Bush Tucker experience.

Hosted by Kingfisher Bay’s chefs from their signature restaurant Seabelle (which sadly was undergoing renovations when we were there) and a ranger Jermaine who’s indigenous ancestors used to call Fraser Island home, the bush tucker experience is intimate, we were one of five couples. Not only did we taste an array of native seeds, herbs and plants but we left full of knowledge about what native plants the indigenous Australians used each day in their cooking.

It was fascinating.

Seabelle Chefs blend bush tucker with modern Australia cuisine

Seabelle Chefs blend bush tucker with modern Australia cuisine

Kingfisher’s Seabelle restaurant incorporates many local native ingredients into each of their dishes; the thought process behind producing basic foods with a native food twist was impressive. Clear highlights were – jam infused with quandong or ‘desert peach’, panna cotta with lemon myrtle picked straight from a small native garden and herb farm on the Island, relish with bush tomatoes and lillypilly and my all time favorite pesto with bunya nuts was divine.

Now as a vegetarian (pescitarian to be precise) the low-fat meats such as kangaroo, emu and crocodile steaks that were offered were wasted on me, not so my husband who happily snapped up my share with rave reviews, but the fresh prawns covered in aniseed myrtle and the barramundi baked in paperbark was swoon-worthy.

Aside from being a tutorial into native deliciousness the hour-long Bush Tucker class is fun and entertaining with the banter between the ranger and chefs keeping us in constant hysterics. I left feeling full of good food and interesting facts.

Next trip I’m adding the Seabelle’s bush tucker-inspired degustation menu, which I’m told contains countless delights including the freshest of Queensland’s famous seafood and Australian wines, to the top of my to-do list… oh along with finding amazing fishing gutters.

You can see Donna’s pics and read about her other adventures on the Sunlover Holidays’ official blog site… http://sunloverhols.blogspot.com.au/

“FOODIE FACT: Seabelle has taken out the top gong of ‘Best Restaurant’ at the Fraser Coast Tourism Awards for the past two years”

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Guest Bloggers

 

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Fraser Island – Paradise For Nature Lovers

Dr Errol Stock conducted his first talk at Kingfisher in 1998 and returns regularly to enjoy Fraser Island and to share his knowledge with staff and guests alike (April 2012).  Here Dr Errol shares his most recent experience on the world’s largest sand island.

I’ve been coming to Fraser Island for over 30 years and I still look forward to each visit. Over the last few years I’ve enjoy coming back about every six months to give talks to Kingfisher Resort Bay guests and assist in updating geo-science materials for Resort rangers and guides.

Image

Last month I was with a Japanese film crew filming on the island for a documentary to be shown in Japan in June. We shot footage along the east coast from Indian Head, at sites in the coloured sand cliffs and on to Lake Wabby. I provided some of the geological commentary for those places and other experts at different locations, including Peter Meyer known to all who visit Kingfisher Bay Resort (he is a Ranger Guide and takes the beautiful pictures displayed in and around the hotel). I was also on board the helicopter to provide commentary as the crew collected some special aerial footage at the northern end of Fraser Island. Although constrained a little by showers they got some great shots and I saw locations I’d never seen on previous flights. I look forward to seeing the completed documentary.

In June I’ll be making another visit for talks at the resort. Reflecting on the experience of making the documentary reminded me of what a great range of things guests can see when they holiday on Fraser Island – even if they only make short trips near the resort.

  • A walk to and along Dundonga Creek gives access to one of the water courses developed in the old terrain on the west side of Fraser Island.
  • Mangroves are developed at the mouth of the creek where the dark coloured waters mix with the sea.
  • The beach area north from the jetty has an abundance of beach structures and animals, typical of the low-energy west coast environments.
  • In the cliffs above this beach guests can catch views of a mature profile of one of the siliceous podzol soils that geoscientists use to make estimates of relative ages of the vegetated dunes.
  • South of the jetty, depending on the amount of beach sand at the time, guests can see good outcrops of so-called ‘coffee rock’ or black/brown beachrock. These exposures, on the beach and in the lower parts of the cliffs to McKenzies Jetty, indicate where brown tannin-stained groundwater waters in the past have cemented the loose sands that can be crushed with finger pressure.

Of course, all around the resort guests can explore tracks though the vegetated dune. Those who have the time and want to venture further afield to see what the more active environments of the east coast will have to find some transport, preferably with a guide (and Kingfisher Bay Resort can help with that) to help provide essential background about this fascinating environment.

Until next time.

Errol Stock
Geoscientist Presenter

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Guest Bloggers

 

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Laid Back Luxury On Fraser Island

Self-confessed greenie Samantha Solomon travels on her first ecotourism adventure to the beautiful Kingfisher Bay Resort on precious Fraser Island to see how eco-friendly, while essential, can also be laid-back. Samantha’s story was published in Profile Magazine (13 Feb 2012)

Laid Back Luxury

Laid Back Luxury

It is said that people will only protect what they understand and understand what they take the time to experience. With the boom of the environmentally-friendly trend, the ecotourism bandwagon has taken off and everyone is scrambling to get on. But this isn’t simply a hot-this-minute trend, gone-tomorrow along with acid wash jeans and roller blades. Ecotourism has been around for decades, which is exactly the way it is supposed to be.

Our lovely state offers any number of destinations to the eco traveller, but none is more alluring than the iconic K’gari (meaning paradise), better known as Fraser Island.

Kingfisher Bay Resort, on the western side of Fraser, is a beautiful merging of comfortable elegance and sustainability. As my [then] partner Will and I would discover on our first trip to Fraser, the combination of education, adventure and tropical paradise makes it impossible for anyone who visits not to instantly want to protect this truly unique island.

As we drove the three hours up the coastline, I wondered what was in store for us. Having never been on an eco holiday, my mind conjured up images of a non-air-conditioned hotel room, a muddy, chemical-free pool, and rough recycled toilet paper … ah! However, as we walked up to the check-in desk for the ferry at River Heads, my fears were quelled slightly. Check-in was a cinch as the resort conveniently has its own desk at the boat harbour for its own ferry. Our bags were whisked away with the promise that they would be delivered directly to our room, and we grabbed a cup of coffee and looked out over the Mary River as we waited to board the ferry.

The 50-minute ride over the azure Great Sandy Straits gave us spectacular views of the western coast of Fraser, with sights of sparkling white beaches, dense jungle and freshwater creeks flowing into the ocean. Docking at the jetty, we were greeted by a little train to take us up to the main resort. Travelling through paved streets, we caught glimpses of saltwater pools and private villas through the thick bush of eucalyptus trees and bushland. As we stopped at an elegant archway of dark wood that was the main entrance to the resort, We jumped out using our speed walking skills, determined not to be last in a long line of guests waiting to check in

Sidling up to the desk, smugly first, we were directed down the stairs to a group of comfortable leather seats where trays of cold tangerine and pink fruit juices were waiting. The resort had planned for people like us. As we sat enjoying our cold drinks, we were greeted by Ranger Kat who had our keys ready and waiting, avoiding any sort of line … genius.

It was here we experienced the full impact of the resort. Dark woods, blue metals and glass were intricately worked together forming the walls and ceiling that gave the illusion we were neither inside nor out. Lush creepers climbed their way along beams, leading the eye to the outside where expansive decks were greeted by beautiful flora and a turquoise pool beyond.

Indoors flows outdoors and vice versa

Indoors flows outdoors and vice versa

I learned from my trip that good sustainability is all in the subtleties, and Kingfisher Bay Resort is a beautiful example of this. As we walked to our room in the Boomanjin Wing, named after the island’s largest perched lake, I was again amazed at how seamlessly the outdoors flowed indoors. Our hallway was completely open, with birds swooping in and out and leafy palms growing up beside hotel room doors. The rooms are stacked in little clusters among the vegetation in a way that made me think of tree houses. A theme of green, burgundy and gold reflected the flora and fauna around the resort, and the curved tin roof over our veranda mirrored the rolling sand dunes of the island.

Our room looked out over a black tea tree lake  with the sparkling straight beyond. With air-conditioner, a collection of ‘green’ products in the bathroom and our luggage arriving just a few minutes later, I had completely lost any prejudices I had about holidaying eco-style.
The resort is built to strict environmental guidelines, but you would never know this as it offers all the amenities of a modern resort, boasting four pools, three restaurants, two cafes, two bars, private villas and a natural therapies salon. Most of the materials used to build the resort were harvested from the island itself, utilising wood left over from the island’s logging days (it is now completely illegal to cut down any sort of vegetation, or take anything off the island, for that matter).

Vegetation used for landscaping was removed from the resort’s location during construction and then replaced, and even the jetty we arrived at was built from mixed eucalypt piles with satinay tree planks and beams. The resort recycles everything and an onsite worm farm turns sewage sludge, waste paper and kitchen preparation scraps into compost for a herb garden, which supplies the resort’s kitchens.

Now that the guilty greenie inside of me was satisfied, it was on to the good stuff. A quick lunch at Maheno, one of the two restaurants in the Centre Complex, renowned for its all-you-can-eat seafood buffet, and a dip in the calm Great Sandy Strait waters of the resort beach and we were ready for dinner.

The Seabelle Restaurant is home to the resort’s finest dining and offers a beautiful array of local fare, artfully combined with bush foods found on the island. The restaurant offers a fabulous bush tucker tasting as an introduction to some of the treats on the island. We were wary at first, but should have known this would be bush tucker with elegance. A knowledgeable guide took us through a delightful tasting of fruits, leaves, nuts and flowers while one of Seabelle’s chefs prepared combinations used on the restaurant menu. It was all delectable and thoroughly whet our appetites for dinner.

Naturally, dinner was exceptional – we were certainly overwhelmed by the innovative and somewhat ‘green’ options available. Yum! We ended the day as everyone should, with a sweet treat of bush tucker!

Dessert was another adventure into sophisticated bush tucker, with a macadamia nut and chocolate tart with mascarpone and a raspberry reduction, and a wattle seed and chocolate parfait – both the perfect cap to our meal.

Lake McKenzie is the jewel in Fraser's crown

Lake McKenzie is the jewel in Fraser's crown

The next morning we had an early start for the resort’s most popular activity, the all-day beauty spots tour. It is truly the best and easiest way to see the highlights of Fraser. The fully-equipped 4WD buses come with experienced drivers who double as knowledgeable tour guides able to answer any question you may have – from flora to fauna to the history of the island.

The morning included a trip to the Stonetool Sandblow, a dip in the crystal clear Eli Creek with an option to take a short flight to see some of the island’s more secluded sights, a stop at the famous Maheno shipwreck and a view of the mystical painted sands. Lunch was a fresh buffet at Kingfisher’s sister accommodation, Eurong Beach Resort.

Onto the second part of the trip and we headed out to Central Station. Once the base for the booming logging industry on the island, it is now a beautiful rainforest walk through a thick palm forest overlooking one of the many freshwater creeks, which is fed from the island’s massive freshwater store deep in the sand.

Now for the highlight of the trip, the beautiful Lake McKenzie with its deep sapphire waters fading to cerulean, lapping gently against a beach of soft white sand so fine it feels like liquid running through your fingers. The lake is a beautiful retreat in itself and was a prized resource to the Aboriginal people who once lived on the island. Being a perched lake, rainwater has filled it over thousands of years. Swimming in the lake gives you the softest skin and hair, and on top of that, the super fine sand works as the perfect exfoliant for your skin and cleans your teeth and jewellery. What could be greener? I am thoroughly convinced that I came back from that tour looking better than when I left.

With so many more things to do at the resort, like ranger-guided walks, canoe paddless, fishing clinics and guided trips, private 4WD tours, and whale watching in the winter months, it definitely begs for more than a weekend away. A weekend was all I needed though, to fall in love with this precious slice of paradise … and now I too desperately want to protect it.

Profile Magazine – http://www.profilemag.com.au/cms/news/news.aspx?id=807&fid=136

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Guest Bloggers

 

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A Stay On Memory Lane At Kingfisher Bay

One of Kingfisher Bay Resort’s pioneering architects, Ralph Bailey, returns to the resort and to Fraser Island as a special guest presenter and for a little R&R – January 2012.

Kingfisher Bay Resort's foyer

As Jenny (my wife) and I sat on our hotel balcony (the afternoon we arrived at Kingfisher Bay Resort) enjoying a cold drink, a Lewin’s Honeyeater flew down and perched on the railing in front of us. These bids love sugar and given half the chance will steal a sip of your beverage!

Over the years we’ve visited, we’ve chatted to the resort rangers, who lead the bird watching tours, believe there are actually more birds around the resort than elsewhere on the entire island – “so the birds must love the resort as much as we do!” we exclaimed.

That night we indulged in bush tucker-infused cuisine at Kingfisher’s Seabelle restaurant. We had the lamb with a wattleseed jus (for those that don’t know, wattleseed is actually the crushed seed of an Acacia plant which has a mild coffee- like flavour) and the stuffed chicken breast with a lemon myrtle dressing. I have written various articles on Australian Bush Tucker, so to see restaurants utilising local native produce in such creative and delicious ways is a real treat for us.

The next morning I enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the Wallum and up around and through the villa areas and even around the hotel itself.  There is always a different plant in flower and this visit I found two  special plants in full flower including Meliocope elleryana ( Pink Euodia) – all the branches covered in large clusters of pink flowers are which are highly attractive to honeyeaters and a wide range of spectacular butterflies.

Later with Peter, the Landscape Manager, and Ivor Davies (the resort’s General Manager) we took a tour together to look at landscape maintenance with the idea of maintaining our vigilance against any weeds taking hold on the site. Weeds can be brought in by birds or under mudguards or on tyres of vehicles visiting the island. If weeds are not kept in check they form seeds and spread and could change the ecology of the site and increase the cost of landscape maintenance. – so our stroll was actually vitally important to the eco-system.

That afternoon, Tim Guymer, the principal architect of the Resort (and partner at Guymer Bailey) announced to us his plans to visit the resort during our stay and assist me with Saturday night’s presentation to guests. The presentation went well with a few guests and plenty of staff showing up, eager to learn more about the sustainable design of Kingfisher Bay Resort.

We spoke together on our architectural design inspiration for the Resort and our desire to design buildings that reflect Australian lifestyle and culture.

Villas are set in natural bushland

Villas are set in natural bushland

“Queenslanders love their verandas and outdoor living areas” proclaimed Tim as we reminisced about the design process. Tim who has been travelling around the world in his yacht with his partner Karen, also gave a powerpoint presentation on his “Reflections on Architecture” showing examples of architecture he has seen on his travels through the Pacific over the last three years.

On Sunday, I took three of the Resort Rangers on a walk around the resort grounds to discuss landscaping and why particular species of plants were used in certain areas. Ferns and palms are more suited to low lying areas around the main complex that are moist and well shaded, while Eucalypt species are suited to more exposed areas. I hope I have added a few more botanical plant names to their every expanding repertoire!

That evening myself, Ranger Jermaine and Chef Toby held a Bush Tucker Talk and Taste session which allows guests to learn about and taste some of Australia’s amazing native food plants. Ranger Jermaine, a Butchalla descendent explained to guests about his ancestors usage of bush foods, while I talked a bit about where they grow and the best way to grow them at home. Chef Toby then made our mouths water with explanations of how they use bush tucker in Seabelle restaurant.

On Sunday night I delivered a presentation on the topic of “Native Flora and Landscape Design” to staff and guests. This presentation is based on my book “Gardening with Australian Rainforest Plants”. I am passionate about using Australian plants in Australian gardens. This was also my aim at Kingfisher, to keep it “pure”, as in eradicating exotics and only planting native plants from the island, so as to keep it a true eco experience unlike other resorts.

We look forward to returning again in the not-too-distant future.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in Guest Bloggers

 

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