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From Parisian Catwalks To Fraser Island’s Sand Tracks

It’s a long way from the catwalks of Paris to the sand tracks of Fraser Island, but that’s the seachange a 28-year-old French blogger has made to find her dream job in Australia.

It's a long way from Paris to Fraser Island

It’s a long way from Paris to Fraser Island

FRASER ISLAND: Annabelle Payet was one of thousands of young hopefuls who entered Tourism Australia’s Working Holiday Visa competition on Facebook earlier this year, in the hopes of winning a four-week working holiday to Australia and a two-week holiday travelling along Queensland’s east coast. After much pomp and social media fanfare, the winner was announced, but was not able to take the prize so Annabelle – as the competition runner up – stepped up and found herself on a plane to Australia.

“I had been planning to come to Australia and had been working as an Internal Audit Assistant to save money for the trip,” she said. “It was really amazing to get the email and know I had won a plane fare to Australia and the job as a Resort Ranger.”

Kingfisher Bay Resort General Manager, Warwick Kahl, welcomed Annabelle into the resort fold and said he was thrilled to support initiatives like the Tourism Australia-initiated WHV competition – with partners Malaysian Airlines and Tourism Queensland – which he says was an integral part of the resort’s marketing strategy.

“We have been marketing ‘brand Fraser Island’ in France and other European countries for more than twenty years,” he said. “But as competition for the international tourist dollar has increased – not only from other destinations in Australia, but also from other holiday destinations around the world – it’s become increasingly important to seize new channels and opportunities to gain market cut through.”

On the job at Kingfisher Bay Resort

On the job at Kingfisher Bay Resort

“Tourism Australia is a market leader when it comes to social media marketing and it was great to partner with them as their sole Queensland operator,” he said. “There is no doubt this promotion has had a positive impact on the Fraser Coast region and we’re pleased to report we’ve had a 17% increase in visitors from France to Fraser Island this year.”

Whilst Annabelle, who is originally from Réunion Island – France’s outermost territory, which sits east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean – admits it was a steep learning curve mastering the ropes as a Kingfisher Bay Ranger, she says she was surprised at the similarities between the flora and fauna on Fraser and her own island home.

“I’ve spent the past 10 years in Paris, but I really wanted a change – I wanted open spaces, fun and nature… and Fraser Island was exactly what I needed,” she said.

“When I arrived I couldn’t believe that some of the island’s trees and some of the flowers were exactly the same as on Réunion Island – so I’m not too homesick.”

And while she’s a long way from home and the sub-zero temperatures of Paris in December, Annabelle – who finishes her ‘working holiday’ at the resort just days before December 25 – won’t be enjoying a sub-tropical Christmas this year.

These boots are made for travelling!

These boots are made for travelling!

“I’m sad to leave Fraser, but I am headed for Tasmania,” she said. “I’d done a lot of research on blogs and in forums before I came and found that no one talks about Tassie – so I’m off to discover it, then Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road and the Red Centre… and then… who knows!”

You can follow Annabelle’s Australian adventures – past and present – on her blog site.

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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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Gavin Brown’s ‘Turtley’ Awesome Trip To Fraser Island

Gavin Brown is a mad keen turtle fan and the lucky recipient of  Fraser Island prize giveaway run by not-for-profit animal welfare agency –  Australian Freshwater Turtles (AFT) – and Kingfisher Bay Resort to celebrate Australian Freshwater Turtle Day. Gavin and his mate visited us last month and has just sent in some fab pics of his trip.  Here’s his story…

Beautifully spotted carapace of the Fraser Island short-necked turtle

Beautifully spotted carapace of the Fraser Island Short-necked Turtle

I was fortunate enough to win the lucky door prize at AFT’s Australian Freshwater Turtle Day which is celebrated on the third October every year.

A good friend of mine had never been to Fraser Island and seeing how he is a keen turtle enthusiast, I decided to take him along for the experience.

As usual, the clarity of the water in Lake McKenzie was outstanding, allowing visibility of at least 10+ metres, which is comparable with the Maldives.

The October days that we were there holidaying were perfect for finding and photographing the turtles that are endemic to Fraser Island – and nowhere else in the world.

Fraser Fact: Fraser Island is home to a diverse array of native terrestrial and water fauna. The diversity of the island’s natural habitat supports a wide range of animals, many of which are at the northern or southern limit of their distribution or are considered to be rare or vulnerable.

Each animal has a place in nature’s ecosystem, be it as a predator or pollinator, soil enricher or seed carrier. Even the smallest animal can cause an environmental imbalance if disturbed and it is for this reason that we should do our best to respect and conserve the native fauna of Fraser Island.

Fraser Island short-necked turtle (Emydura macquarii nigra)

Fraser Island Short-necked Turtle (Emydura macquarii nigra)

For anyone wanting to see freshwater turtles in their natural habitat I couldn’t recommend Lake McKenzie, Fraser Island – situated just 40 minutes drive from Kingfisher Bay Resort – enough. The skin-diving was a great experience.

Did you know that turtles are one of the oldest reptile groups dating back 200 million years ?

We managed to see and photograph one of the rare Fraser Island Broad-shelled turtles (Macrochelodina expansa) and dozens of Fraser Island Short-necked turtles (Emydura macquarii nigra) pictured above. The Fraser Island Short-necked Turtles usually have a very dark black carapace (upper shell), but we also managed to see some spectacular individuals with black spotted brown shells.

Note to our readers: The Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), a large marine turtle, is also present around the island and comes ashore to lay its eggs between October and May.

Other creatures that can be seen when snorkelling include various native fish including Purple-spotted gudgeons, Carp gudgeons, Rainbow fish and Jungle perch as well as Freshwater shrimp and Crayfish.

Rare Fraser Island Broad-shelled Turtle

Rare Fraser Island Broad-shelled Turtle

Overall the bird life and other wildlife are spectacular and are a must see for anyone interested in the natural environment. Kingfisher Bay Resort has fantastic facilities with Ranger-guided tours for all ages to learn about ecosystems and the native wildlife on Fraser Island.

The accommodation was superb and the food was excellent. I couldn’t recommend Fraser Island enough for anyone who is interested in, or has a passion for Australia’s unique wildlife!

Gavin Brown
Australian Freshwater Turtles

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2012 in Guest Bloggers

 

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Celebrating ‘International Observe The Moon Night’ Fraser-style

Noeleen Lowndes is a Gold Coast-based astronomer and Campaign Member for NASA’s Saturn Observation Campaign in Australia. This is her fifth year as a special guest presenter at Kingfisher Bay Resort – where she introduces recreational astronomers to the clear night skies above Fraser Island.  

This year we talked all things LUNAR in celebration of International Observe The Moon Night (InOTMN) – it was great to see you back Noeleen – we’re loving your pics!  September 2012.

My visit to beautiful Kingfisher Bay Resort and Fraser Island this year was in celebration of ‘International Observe the Moon Night’ with the theme ‘Under the Same Moon’. This meant that for 24 hours on Saturday, September 22, people from all over the world including us here on Fraser Island went outside to look at our Moon in the night sky…how exciting is that!!!

On the first evening, when I was setting up my telescope just a short stone’s throw from the resort, I could hear lots of laughter and chit chat coming from children walking down the boardwalk, when all of a sudden I heard… “Wow’…look at that, it’s a telescope!”

Our tribute to astronaut Neil Armstrong

Our tribute to astronaut Neil Armstrong

Ranger Amelia was taking the Junior Eco Rangers on an adventure tour around the Wallum area (in front of the Resort’s Centre Complex) and I could not let the chance go by without offering them all a look at the Moon through my telescope.

It was brilliant to see how excited they all were to see the Moon for the very first time!

You can check out the full album on our Facebook page.

At my presentation to resort guests, a little later that evening, I gave a talk on how everybody can easily learn about the night sky using starcharts, binoculars and telescopes.  I also explained all about the workings of the Solar System to better understand the phases of our Moon and movements of the planets and constellations in the night sky.

DO YOU WANT TO LEARN more about our amazing Moon? Visit the InOMN web site and check out the movie ‘From the Earth to the Moon’ – it is just stunning!

Then it was off to look at the real Moon in the telescope and to point out some of the constellations in the night sky.

Kingfisher Bay’s Ranger Nick joined us after doing a bush walk with his guests and everyone enjoyed viewing all the magnificent craters, lunar seas and mountains through the telescope. My husband Graham took a group photo of us all pointing at the Moon in celebration of the lunar event.

The Moon is simply fascinating!

Noeleen – that pic is out of this world!

On Sunday evening, I gave another presentation on the many beautiful stellar objects that you can view in the night sky and showed many of my deep sky images taken from my ‘Stardust Observatory’ at Leyburn. I also gave an update on the many NASA space missions that are currently exploring the planets in our Solar System, especially the new Curiosity Rover mission to Mars and the Cassini mission to Saturn.
You can find out all about these incredible missions at: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov

After the talk we all went outside and had a wonderful time looking at the Moon through the telescope, where we saw some incredible features all along the terminator line of the eight-day-old Moon.

The sky was just perfect (as Fraser Island’s sky often is) and the Moon’s surface was so clear it was like we were in our own spacecraft looking down upon the surface. In fact, that is the beauty of using a telescope – you can change the eyepieces and use higher magnification to view all the features on the lunar surface.

Ranger Jermaine is a keen astronomer

Ranger Jermaine is a keen astronomer

Kingfisher’s Ranger Jermaine showed us his excellent astronomy app of the night sky and I also held up my Apple iPad to show the beautiful constellations in the night sky. These applications are another fun way for armchair astronomers to learn the night sky and many of them are free to download from iTunes.

For everybody that participated in the weekend for InOMN click here to download and print your certificate at:
and don’t forget to check out my album on Kingfisher Bay Resort’s Facebook page.

Thank you to all the guests and Rangers for making ‘International Observe the Moon Night’ 2012 such a wonderful event and I wish everybody happy Moon and Stargazing until I see you all again.

Noeleen Lowndes
NASA’s Saturn Observation Campaign Member – Australia

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2012 in Guest Bloggers

 

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What Lies Beneath – Ocean Life Education Returns To Fraser Island

Marine expert Richard Coward (from Ocean Life Education) returned to Kingfisher Bay Resort this month with his unique take on the marine life that flourishes in and around the Great Sandy Strait, Fraser Island and the Coral Sea.  Richard was the ‘star’ attraction on our What’s On Guide last week with some fabulous marine facts, figures and fun for our guests – young and old. (September 2012).

A squid beak on Fraser Island

A squid beak on Fraser Island

What a great weekend we had on Fraser Island in early September, the weather was fantastic and the water was a beautiful colour around the island!  It was the inhabitants that live in these pristine waters that I was only too happy to discuss with the boys from St Joseph’s Catholic School (from Brisbane) on Friday night (who were at the resort as part of an educational tour), hotel guests on the Saturday night and to the Junior Eco Rangers on Saturday afternoon.

My presentations highlighted the important marine habitat areas that harbour a mosaic of different aquatic animals. Explaining that Mangroves, Rocky shores, beach and Sea Grass areas are vital in providing breeding, nursery, feeding stations, and protective zones for a great number of animals.

Most of us don’t comprehend or realise just how many living things are found in the sand, and that a beach isn’t just a lifeless band between the sea and the bush, beaches are in fact a highway of food and nutrients flowing between the two, thanks to massive numbers of invertebrate fauna!

Emphasis was given on the ever increasing devastation of human impact on the marine environment today, just how plastic pollution is pushing whole species of animals to the brink of extinction. Similarly Coral bleaching was discussed, what bleaching is and how human activity has brought about this widespread destruction of our coral reef habitat and in turn how this adversely effects a huge number of species that call the reef home!

Did you know?  Website CNNGo has recently named Hervey Bay (Fraser Island) as the NUMBER ONE place to watch Humpback Whales in the world!

Hervey Bay's NUMBER ONE to watch whales!

Hervey Bay’s NUMBER ONE to watch whales!

September being Humpback Whale Watch season (the whales wallow in the calm waters off Fraser Island from August till the end of October) also brought about discussion as to why the whales are here at this time of year, what all their frolicking antics are about and again the impact humans are having upon them.

I enjoyed my stay on Fraser Island and at Kingfisher Bay Resort; my passion is sharing knowledge about the marine environment, explaining why animals are the way they are and why they do the things they do, what their role is in the environment and why we need to look after them!

My audiences were enthusiastic and grateful; the St Joseph’s boys were a credit to themselves and their school and to the teachers who were with them.  I would also like to thank Joe and his team of Rangers for making us welcome and look forward to my next visit to the island!  Keep up the good ‘environmental’ work!

Richard Coward – Director of Education
Ocean Life Education

Kingfisher Bay Resort is a proud supporter and business partner of The Australian Marine Conservation Society.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in Guest Bloggers

 

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Happy Birthday Kingfisher Bay Resort: 20 years!

The gang from Bluedog photography return to Lake McKenzie

The gang from Bluedog photography return to Lake McKenzie

Danielle Lancaster and the team from Bluedog Photography have a long association with Fraser Island and Kingfisher Bay Resort.  Danielle and her pups recently returned for a spot of island touring – all peppered with brilliant photographs. Here’s Danielle’s blog (September 2012).

We are back on Fraser Island! One of my favourite places on Earth and to Kingfisher Bay Resort, this year celebrating 20 years on the World Heritage-listed island.

This world recognised eco-island resort, designed by Queensland architects, constructed from local materials and built by local builders and artisans, was first conceived at a time when ecotourism wasn’t even a word.  The first part constructed was the jetty, still a favourite location of ours for photographing sunset. At 250 metres long it is built from mixed eucalypt piles, mainly spotted gum, with satinay planks and beams.
During construction of the resort two tropical cyclones hit in 1991 causing major water damage, however they rallied on. More than 600 workers were employed on the site at the peak of construction which was completed on time with the resort welcoming its first guests on the 16th July 1992.
Much research went into the design of the resort, and the dedication shows. All buildings are below the tree line and hidden in the natural bush land. You don’t even see the resort until you actually arrive at the front door. Even the curving tin roofs of the buildings mimic the rolling sand dunes of the island.
Hervey Bay - #1 spot to whale watch according to CNNGo

Hervey Bay – #1 spot to whale watch according to CNNGo

So to celebrate they have been busy upgrading. One innovative item we are keen to try out is the new trendy menu by Chef Kenneth Clapham and his team in the kitchen. Tonight for us it’s the seafood buffet!

For us, as photographers,  one of the biggest assets of the resort is its affiliation with nature – whale watch tours and eco island tours leave daily from the resort.  Almost around every corner is a wonderful glimpse into the natural environment of Fraser Island: the largest sand island on the planet Earth.
Whale wallow (see left); birds are abundant, frogs croak filling the night air, wildflowers bloom alongside tall eucalypt trees and dragon flies busily buzz over the lagoons.  Yes, we do love Fraser and Kingfisher Bay Resort. Well done and happy birthday to all those that have made this available for all of us to enjoy.
Check out the birthday specials on offer and enjoy Fraser and Kingfisher Bay Resort!  And for avid photographers, click here to read the original Bluedog blog and WATCH this space for upcoming events, tours and retreats on gorgeous Fraser Island.
 
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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in Guest Bloggers

 

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Fraser Island – A Freak Of Nature

Journalist Ian Neubauer  refers to travel as the ‘university of life’. This is a university campus that has taken him from exotic Cambodia to the world’s largest sand island, Fraser Island.  Ian recounts his adventures on his website and Balinese-based FRV Travel recently published his Fraser Island story, which we’d like to share with you in this forum. Buckle up, it’s one heck of a ride.

In 1991, my father took the family to Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world.

Stonetool Sandblow looking east over Lake Wabby to the Coral Sea

Stonetool Sandblow looking east over Lake Wabby to the Coral Sea

Twenty years later I’m heading to Fraser again, this time with my eight-year-old nephew on his very first visit to the 123km-long stretch of land sculptured by wind, waves and rain into what scientists describe as an ecological freak of nature.

It’s a 300km drive to Hervey Bay, where a motorised catamaran takes us across the Great Sandy Strait, a nursing ground for dugong, dolphins and humpback whales, and a resting place for an estimated 40,000 trans-equatorial shorebirds that migrate up and down the coastline every year.

Half an hour later we arrive at Kingfisher Bay Resort, an eco-property nestled behind a maze of salt-water ponds with three pools and all the trappings of a four-star resort, an ideal place to unwind after a long day on the road, and after checking into our room, we make a beeline for the beach.

“There is a natural gravitation that brings people back,” says Kingfisher Bay Resort’s General Manger. “And the delightful thing is that the island hasn’t changed. We get 400,000 visitors a year, more than Kakadu but less than the Great Barrier Reef. I don’t mean to belittle it, but you can see coral reefs in many parts of the world. There’s no other island in the world like this.”

There are virtually no paved roads on Fraser Island, so a four-wheel drive vehicle is the only way to get around and for those on limited budgets or averse to difficult driving conditions, organised tours present a suitable alternative. We set out from Kingfisher in an all-terrain minibus with a crew of 24 Australian and European holidaymakers and in a minute we’re crawling up a steep sandy track, immersed in sunlit woodlands spotted with bristling banksia pods.

Our driver and guide, Hervey Bay resident Allan Souter, explains how Fraser Island’s rich vegetation came to be. “There is no soil on this island, it’s 100% sand, so none of these plants should be able to grow here. Mother Nature is very kind to these plants,” he says, revealing a deep-seated environmental consciousness that is omnipresent on the island. “But when we try to change her, things tend to go pear-shaped.”

Our first stop is Lake McKenzie, the jewel of Fraser’s network of 100-plus freshwater lakes. Fed by a massive underground water table, Fraser’s lakes are amongst the cleanest in the world. Some are honey- and tea-coloured, others emerald green or red-brown, all of them ringed by sandy white beaches. The water coalesces into a dozen shades of blue and is warm enough to swim in all year around.

Wading in the clean waters. A 1,000-year-old satinay tree: 4W Driving at Eurong Beach.

An island of contradictions and contrasts - where rainforest grows in sand!

An island of contradictions and contrasts – where rainforest grows in sand!

The tour continues and our guide regales us again, this time with the history of logging on the island. Trees were felled on Fraser until 1991 — the year it was nominated for World Heritage listing. The most sought-after species was the satinay tree, prized for its striped bark that’s resistant to corrosion. Satinay was used to rebuild the London Docks after the Blitz and 20,000 were shipped to Egypt to prop up the Suez Canal.

“Mother nature is very kind to these plants, but when we try to change her, things tend to go pear-shaped.”

Our next stop is Central Station, a former logging camp now occupied by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. A walking track leads into a gully called Wanggoolba Creek, home to some of the oldest rainforests on the face of the planet. We see prehistoric ten-metre-wide king ferns and a 1,000-year-old satinay that reaches 60 metres into the sky. Broccoli-like epiphytes cling to towering hoop pines next to brush box trees being strangled by parasitic fig vines. The next leg of the trip takes us along Seventy-Five Mile Beach, identified on state maps as a bona fide highway. Police have been known to lay speed traps here and subject drivers to random breath tests during peak periods. Vehicles must also give way to small aeroplanes that land on the beach, like the propeller-powered eight-seater that takes us on a short joyflight.

Fraser’s freakish geography is best appreciated from the air — a patchwork of jungle, shifting sand dunes and multi-coloured lakes that would have left Charles Darwin scratching his head. But the highlight of the day is yet to come, when we career over the ocean to spot some whales. In no time we catch sight of a majestic humpback that looks up curiously as we swoop overhead. “This job never gets boring because the shape of the beach is constantly changing,” says our pilot. “Last week I took a group up and we didn’t see any whales, but on the way back we flew over the biggest hammerhead shark you’ve ever seen.”

By the time we return to Kingfisher Bay Resort I’m feeling wrecked, head buzzing from sensory overload. Our guide bids us a cheery farewell, though not before leaving us with this little pearl. “When Fraser began opening to tourism, we asked the descendents of the Butchalla people, the Aboriginals who once lived here, what they called the island. They said it was called K’gari, paradise.”

Sunset on the Great Sandy Strait looking west to Hervey Bay

Sunset on the Great Sandy Strait looking west to Hervey Bay

It’s our last day at Fraser and we’ve been invited to sail the Great Sandy Strait on a 10-metre catamaran. The Shayla is a purpose-built whale-watching boat that can drift within an arm’s length of frolicking humpbacks. Skipper Brent Milne guarantees whale sightings between August and November, when humpbacks stop for a break on the way back to Antarctica. It’s unlikely we’ll see the mammals today, though conditions are perfect for a leisurely sail. It’s the middle of winter but a pleasant 22 degrees, the sun is shining and there’s but a touch of wind. There is nothing to do but sit back and chill as the vessel cuts along water still as a lagoon.

We bypass Little Woody Island, where a quarantine station and little-known leper colony once stood. White-bellied sea eagles kite around tiny Duck Island as a pelican lands on its stony beach. Fraser and surrounds boast 354 species of birds, including honeyeaters, osprey and noisy cockatoos.

We drop anchor at Big Woody Island, where Brent sets out morning tea. He talks about what it’s like growing up in the area, and what a great place it is to bring up his kids. “When I was young I was always keen to travel and see the world. But take a look around,” he says, casting his eyes seaward. “There’s nowhere else I’d rather live.”

This story was originally published by RFV Travel.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2012 in Guest Bloggers

 

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