01 Jul Fraser Island
Fraser Island was one of the most amazing experiences of our trip so far. The only negative was that Yassie wasn’t with us. We dropped her off at Hervey Bay airport to fly off to a week long business trip down south and the kids and I tore off to River Heads to catch the last barge for the day to Woongoolba Creek.
Now I should explain this trip was going to be sans caravan, the first of our adventure; Fraser Island and 3.5t caravans simply don’t mix, so the Crusader would have to stay on the mainland. Luckily a mate’s parents lived in Hervey Bay and had room to look after the rig for the 4 nights we were going to be on the big island for. On the road we’re always on the lookout to save a buck and this saved us just shy of $100 in storage costs!
So with night falling rapidly we set about driving the 10 or so kms to the first camp site to set up the tent. It actually didn’t go all that badly. We’d set up the ($40 Anaconda) tent a few times before, so how hard could it be right. It went to plan and as it got really dark in the rainforest campsite we committed to for two nights, the tent was up and we were ready for dinner.
This is where things went pear-shaped. I’d researched the campsites and noted there was gas BBQs at each of the dingo-proof-fenced locations we planned to stay overnight at, so I didn’t bother buying a propane stove and bringing cookware. With BBQs we’d survive, except after scouting around for a while we discovered the BBQs that were supposed to be there, simply weren’t! At least we had a decent supply of milk and breakfast cereal, so we proceeded to have breakie-for-dinner, a long-held Grigaliunas traditional, and we’d figure out night two, three and four when it was time.
All in all, we had a great night. We washed our dishes at the camp kitchen, brushed teeth, washed faces, etc at the basic amenities and had an early night listening to the sounds of the rainforest, rain included and had a great first night.
Day two, our first full day was to be that, full, so we set off in earnest fairly early in the day to soak up all that Fraser Island had to offer. First off it was coffee at Eurong Beach Resort (more for Dad than anyone else), followed by a quick zoom over to Wabby Lake. Unfortunately this was closed due to dingo activity, however we did get to the lookout over the lake and another lookout on the way which took in an amazing sandblow.
This was followed by a visit to the famous Lake Mackenzie, which was open and as amazing as we’d been lead to believe by the numerous tourist brochures we’d seen depicting the spectacle. While the weather wasn’t amazing, it was slightly overcast, it was still something else to see with it’s whiter than white sand and crystal clear to deepest blue waters.
While it wasn’t the day we were hoping for, we decided that we’d take a closer look by SUP. After a little setup time inflating the boards, we were out on the water and seemingly the envy of all in attendance based on the looks we were receiving from the land based visitors. The SUPs definitely offered a different and unique perspective on an already beautiful location. After convincing the girls that the only concerns we had were from bunyips, they followed me around the lake taking in all that could be seen.
SUPping is great at the best of times, but this was extra special with virtually no one but us around. It was so quiet and peaceful and serene, you’d want to bottle it to chill out at your leisure in the future; all you could hear with the slight water movement as your paddle dipped into and grabbed at clear water. We made it around most of the lake without actually getting wet, which was great, but then rewarded ourselves with a chilly dip at the end. Again while not the perfect visit to the iconic Lake Mackenzie, it was still pretty special.
We finally made it back to camp at nightfall and slinked off for showers in an attempt to warm up. ANother night of breakfast for dinner or some derivative of that followed, with a movie on the last remaining power from my Macbook as a treat for the girls who were incredibly well behaved for most of the day (never all, just most). We were in bed early again, gearing up for the move to Waddy Point the next morning for the following two nights.
The tides rule at Fraser Island; they rule when seeing the sights, moving camp, fishing, you name it and this morning had to be pinpoint perfect to get to what we wanted to see and to camp for the following few nights. After researching the tides for the eastern beach, I’d deduced we needed to leave by 8, however the girls loved Lake Mackenzie so much they wanted to have breakfast there and another SUP session before heading up the beach to the other sites, so we had to be away, after packing the campsite, by 6ish. Easy done right?
Much to my surprise we pulled out as the sun was starting to filter through the dense canopy of the surrounding rainforest. I’d like to say the girls were a great help, but well they weren’t. I’d packed everything bar the girls and the bare tent by the time I loaded them into their car seats to finalise the pack and leave. it was cute seeing them still dead-to-the-world with the campsite completely disolving around them.
While the weather was brilliant today and Lake Mackenzie shone much brighter than the day before, it was bloody freezing to put it mildly and SUPing was out of the question. The sand was so cold it was difficult to keep your feet in for long as we walked down from the carpark to the lakefront. It was a spectacle though, with the first rays of light peeking over the ridge, it was nearly a religious experience being there to witness.
With the SUPing off the list, we headed off to Orchid Beach Resort (for more coffee for Dad) and then on to Eli Creek for a play. Eli is truly amazing. I’d doubt there was clearer water on the planet, which is a minor miracle given how many people trudge through the creek on the creek on a daily basis. It was a treat as the day warmed up to walk the short boardwalk up to the source and then wander at times waist deep in water you could have seen the bottom in if with was 10x deeper.
We stayed and played for a bit before I shooed the kids back into the car to beat the tides on the remaining 50km journey up the eastern beach. By the time we reached the cutting across the dangerous area, we’d beaten the tides by an mere hour or so. The beach after the cutting toward Indian Head was beautiful. It was popular with plenty of fisherman/woman about. We logged it as a place to revisit once we’d set up camp about 20kms north at Waddy Point.
We headed up over the Indian Head headland and through some bush tracks to the secluded Waddy Point campground. Again we chose to stay in the dingo fence, not willing to risk the kid’s safety as they both like to wander about. To my surprise the kids offered to set up camp while I cooked up lunch on the BBQs which thankfully were present at this campsite. I was a little sceptical, but as I returned with a plate full of sausages in 30 minutes of so, I was presented with a fully erect tent with all the trimmings. I’ll admit to be pretty surprised given they’d only seen it done a few times before.
After a delicious lunch we made it as far as Orchid Beach for some bait, before returning to Waddy Point for some much deserved beach play and fishing time for dad. I parked on the waterline an hour or so before sunset and the kids had a blast playing around the water and sand with the very expensive bucket and spade set we’d purchased at the Orchid Beach store beforehand. Based on the fun level though, it was worth every cent. I tried my hand at snaring a famous Fraser Island tailor, but failed unfortunately. I’ll admit to be pretty happy though, given I had a beer in hand and a rod in the other in a pretty amazing location.
The next day we checked out the nearby sandblow wandering for over an hour to take it all in. The kids tried their hands at sand surfing, but it didn’t work all that well. They finally decided rolling, jumping and leaping to be far more effective and stuck with those methods for the remainder of our time up there. While it was free, my prescription sunnies managed to wriggle off my person and were consumed by the ever shifting sands never to be seen again. Bye bye $200.
We then checked out Champagne Pools which were gorgeous and on most days probably worth a dip, however the 25 knot southerly put a stop to that. More beach and sand play (and fishing) ensued with a visit to the beach between Champagne Pools and Indian Head and the day was rounded out with a walk up to the top of Waddy Point in the hope that we’d see whales. No whales were sighted, but it was fun and challenging walk nonetheless. We (I) through a line in for a last ditch attempt at catching something on our visit and at last I was rewarded with a whiting. It was well legal, but thought it was a tailor and undersized, so I put it back anyway. After catching a number of bream and snapper in my days, I was a little disappointed at the fight of this fish, but happy to get something/anything while there.
The next day was home time and we needed to be at the barge, some 3 hours drive away, by 10am, plus we had the tides to contend with. This meant another early start and for me to pack up around the girls again. We got away before 6 to ensure that we’d have plenty of time before the water of the high tide would lap at our wheels. We were blessed with seeing the sun peak above the horizon on Eastern Beach a little after 6. It was pretty special and we all snapped a few shots with our cameras.
We whizzed past Eli Creek, the Maheno and all the sights we’d visited a few days before at breakneck speed to ensure we were on time for the barge. To my surprise we arrived at Kingfisher Bay, the departure point, with tonnes of time to spare. After grabbing a coffee, we headed out on to the wharf to wait for the boat, but after seeing the abundance of fish life in the water, it was clear we had to try just one more attempt at catching a big one on Fraser Island.
After using the recently purchased cast net to procure some free bait, we baited up some hooks and soon had a few bream to our names. it was a great fishing spot and a good lesson to learn in terms of getting our own fresh, live bait and what it was capable of. Soon we were loaded on to the barge and were on our way back to River Heads complete with some great memories of a daddy-daughter date with a serious twist to remember (well hopefully anyway).
NB: See the full photo gallery here