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YTravelBlog: When You Can’t Go Camping On Fraser Island, Stay At Kingfisher Bay Resort

GUEST BLOGGERS:  Caz and Craig Makepeace aren’t your ordinary married couple.  They come from the Central Coast of Australia, but thanks to their nomadic nature, now call the world home.  These serial travel addicts have lived in 5 countries and travelled to more than 52 countries.

We first stumbled across them online with their YTravelBlog, Pinterest and Facebook pages and quickly became fans… so you can imagine our delight when the Makepeaces found themselves on the Fraser Coast and we were able to invite them and their two gorgeous daughters across to explore the world’s largest sand island.

From humble beginnings, YTravelBlog has grown to be one of the world’s leading travel blog sites and Caz, Craig and their girls have millions of global followers – across a range of social platforms. We hope you enjoy their Fraser Island adventures with us as much as we did hosting.

Kingfisher Bay Resort

Kingfisher Bay Resort is set in a natural amphitheatre on Fraser Island’s western side

When you think of exploring Fraser Island in Queensland, the world’s largest sand island, you’re mostly thinking adventure off-road 4-wheel driving and a bit of beach camping with wild dingoes – the ultimate adventure.

I was a little bummed we didn’t have the high-clearance 4WD vehicle needed to do it. Driving around Fraser was high on the bucket list of things we wanted to do on our year-long road trip around Australia.

But my disappointment vanished quickly when I arrived at my alternative. Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island – It’s on the quieter western side of Fraser, right where the car ferry from River Head drops you off ($50 return adult $25 child for passengers).

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This blog was originally published by the Makepeaces on YTravelBlog in December 2014 and has been reproduced with their permission.  All rights are reserved by YTravelBlog.

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Posted by on January 19, 2015 in Guest Bloggers

 

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Chef Extraordinaire, Al McLeod, serves up Five Fab Days On Fraser Island

Celebrity Chef, Alastair McLeod may have rubbed shoulders with the world’s best chefs in the Michelin-listed restaurants he’s worked in… but being an ace in the kitchen doesn’t necessarily mean he can ‘cut’ it on the sand tracks of World Heritage-listed Fraser Island… or does it?  This month Al ‘dishes’ up the dirt… erm, we mean sand… about his five fabulous days on Fraser Island and he’s taken us along for the ride.

Al McLeod takes to Fraser like a fish to batter!

Al McLeod takes to Fraser like a fish to batter!

“Use 4 High,” the guy said. “Take a good run at it,” he encouraged.  “Did you drop your tyres to 18 psi?,” he went on.

It’s a whole new world this 4 wheel driving pursuit.  Gee, I thought Psi was the chap who sang Gangnam style!

Gen Y remembers where they were on September 11; my Mum’s generation remember where they were when man landed on the moon.  Me, I will remember forever where I first got bogged deep in the sand in my brand new 4 wheel drive.

My mum was with us that day and I’m sure she will remember the one small step I took back before kicking the car in frustration.

It was a tricky wee bit of the track between Lake McKenzie and Kingfisher Bay Resort where I came unstuck.  Luckily a passing 4WD – well he wasn’t actually passing as he was stuck behind us – came to our aid and offered the aforementioned tips to staying on track so to speak.

Unbelievably, I first set foot on Fraser Island 16½ years after I first landed in Australia. I had seen it across the channel when camping at Inskip Point and from afar on the foreshore in Hervey Bay.  My recent trip there in my one-day-old car was a trip I will never forget.  We careened over the soft sand at Inskip point to catch the barge over to the southern tip of the island.

When our turn came to get off the barge I felt the same nerves experienced at the top of the ski lift. Desperate not to collapse upon disembarkation I confidently selected 4-High and gunned the engine. Once safely on the hard packed sand we were able to relax, lower the windows and take in the extraordinary beauty of this island. There are no paved roads, just sand tracks, making the entire Island one huge 4WD, off-roading adventure.

Maheno Shipwreck Fraser Island © D. LEAL 056

There’s many a picture opp to be had at The Maheno

The next day we headed up to see the spectacular wreck of the ocean liner The SS Maheno which beached on Fraser almost 80 years ago during a severe cyclone. As we pulled up to the wreckage we heard the hum of a twin engine plane flying low overhead and landing just ahead of us using the beach as an airstrip! What a thrilling and easy way to see the 100 plus lakes on the island.

Our visit to one of the jewels, lake Wabby, was a wee bit more strenuous than taking a flight with Air Fraser Island but well worth the effort.  To reach the lake I recommend trekking over the Hammerstone Sandblow, which is essentially a massive sand dune which plunges down to the lake.

Each year the huge sand dune engulfs a little bit more of the lake – as much as 3 metres a year. Swim there with the catfish and turtles in pristine water and walk back to the ocean through a eucalypt forest. You will remember this impossibly beautiful experience forever.

Al made quite an impression on Fraser!

Al made quite an impression on Fraser!

This was my first visit to Fraser and also my first time fishing in the foam. The experience of baiting a huge rod and casting out (what seemed like) a hundred metres with a cold beer in hand, a few curious dingo pups peering from the edge of the scrub, the sun setting, surrounded by family and loved ones… just too perfect.

No, I didn’t catch anything.

I have got to say that with five full days on Fraser, we still only managed to visit a handful of the lakes and covered a fraction of the island’s tracks.

There is just so much to do. I am converted to this style of holiday. I love being at one with nature, getting away from it all, feeling the sand between my toes and …, ahem, retiring for the night at Kingfisher Bay Resort.

But, that’s another story…

Stay tuned for Alastair’s PG-rated (we hope) next installment.  You’ll find him Facebook and Twitter.  And, if you’ve liked what you’ve read, check out his experiences on the surf side of Fraser – it’s published on our Life on Fraser sister site.

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2013 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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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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