Bluedog Photography teamed with Kingfisher Bay Resort to release a three-day photographic retreat on World Heritage-listed Fraser Island – mixing Fraser’s natural attractions with lessons in wildlife photography, framing landscapes and seashores, using natural lighting and camera techniques. Bluedog’s Danielle Lancaster shares her time on Fraser Island in a series of insightful posts – 27 August 2011.
What a day! The forest is looking fabulous, the lakes pristine and the weather has been well can I say it, near perfect!
Fraser Island's rainforest is full of surprises
The unique rainforest on Fraser Island I have always thought to be one of its best hidden secrets. The crystal clear waters silently running along Wanggoolba Creek’s sandy floor once again astonished our group with one telling me it was ‘way cool’ at Central Station.
Ancient Angiopteris ferns, boasting the largest single frond in the world, edge the creek interspersed with palms and rainforest timbers.
The Gods of Fraser once again smiled on us. We had a day of fun with wonderful light.
The giant rainforest timbers caused quite a controversy on Fraser for many years after being discovered in 1842 by Andrew Petrie, a former superintendent of public works in the Brisbane penal colony, when he explored Fraser Island and returned with glowing reports of the abundance and quality of timber that Fraser Island had to offer. Timber as an industry in Queensland was just beginning with massive building ventures planned good supplies were keenly sought.
Most don’t know that in 1860 Fraser Island was gazetted as an Aboriginal reserve only to revoked two years later when the value of its timber was realised. Logging operations started on the island near Wanggoolba Creek in 1863 when John Yankee Jack Piggot, a brash, red-haired American timber cutter, harvested kauri pines. These pines were rafted up the Mary River to the Maryborough mill.
As you could imagine timber getting and European settlement caused many conflicts with the Aboriginal people. A significant turn came with the tragic clubbing to death of John Piggot in 1864. Logging was halted on the island until 1868 when the first bullocks were brought in to haul logs. These timbers were far too valuable to leave alone and logging soon spread across the rainforest of the island.
Interestingly enough while we are on a little history, the first reafforestation scheme in Queensland occurred on Fraser Island during 1883-84 with the planting of 28,000 kauri pine seedlings among heavy scrub. Unfortunately the planting was not successful as kauri pines are not shade tolerant.
The timber industry grew and grew. Tramways were laid, camps set up, villages appeared, even schools were built. Thousands and thousands of acres were purchased for the right to log.
Tallowwood and blackbutt were the most highly sought after timber species. Denser hardwoods were also harvested and as these could not be floated to the mainland, the logs were punted on barges to the mills.
The magnificent satinay trees, prior to 1925, had not been popular as they were regarded as too soft for hardwood and too hard for softwood; however the timber was found to be resistant to white ant, borer and fire and the close texture of the wood and beautiful lustre when polished made it became popular for cabinet making. Fraser’s satinay timber even made its way to the lining of the Suez Canal and the London Docks.
During the 1980s the State Government came under increasing pressure from conservation groups to halt logging on Fraser Island. Logging finally ceased after recommendations from a Commission of Inquiry with Mr Gerald E.(Tony)Fitzgerald as Chairman in 1991. Thankfully not everything was felled.
Today we visited Pile Valley which has the tallest of the Satinay and brush box on the island. Pretty Wanggoolba Creek and Central Station where there are still remnants left over from the heady timber getting days.
Of course Lake McKenzie was on the list, where sadly the best tree to photograph has been placed behind a wire fence to protect it from human impact. We still had fun playing with the light reflecting in its clear waters, the colourful reeds and tiny sun dews.
McKenzie's Jetty - Fraser Island
And to finish off it was to McKenzie’s Jetty – well what remains of it. Mr H. McKenzie was a big timber merchant who invested a lot of money and time in Fraser’s timber industry and this jetty is an absolute gem at sunset.
White Balance was one of the many tools we played with here. To this day I just don’t understand why more don’t use it. Acquiring the image colour balanced or fairly close in camera has to be a bonus.
The graduated filters also came out and then a little light painting. All in all a fun filled day. Thank you to the Gods of Fraser Island!
Did you Know:
There are stands of Kauri Pines dating to more than 200 years old that call the Yidney Scrub, to the north and inland of Happy Valley, home.
To view Danielle’s photos or find out about the next photographic retreat on Fraser Island visit the Bluedog Photography official Facebook page.