Arch Cliff, Platypus Bay, Fraser Island

Fri 20 May 2016 11:20
25:06.539S 153:07.334E

Heading through the Great Sandy Strait.

If you go back to the map (click the [back to index/map] link up in the top right hand corner of this page) and zoom in you’ll see that Garrys Anchorage (the last pin before this one) is next to an amazing labyrinth of channels and sand banks alongside Fraser Island: the Great Sandy Strait. The Strait opens into Hervey Bay to the North and Wide Bay Bar, where we came in, to the South. The tide flows in and out though both ends of the Strait and numerous rivers and creeks drain into it, which means the sand banks are constantly shifting and reforming with the waxing and waning of the moon and the coming of the rains. Those were the channels we had to navigate. 

Sunrise gave a luminous, slightly surreal light as we wound our way between the channel markers, keeping a close eye on the depth finder. We timed our arrival at the shallowest point for high tide, giving us about a meter of water under the keel, but we were very aware that if the sand banks had moved much since they last placed the channel markers, or if we strayed out of the channel by just a few meters, we might well run aground. Apart from having enough water there were other advantages to arriving at the shallowest point at high tide: If we had ran aground the rising tide might have lifted us off; we had the tide pushing us forwards as we approached, then, once we were past the shallowest point, the tide changed, starting to flow out and taking us with it. We flew along, with the engine not much more than ticking over, watching the mist rising over the mangrove covered islands and admiring the wrecks left by previous explorers that hadn’t made it through.

Feeling exhilarated (we didn’t run aground!), we made our way into the wide expanse of Hervey Bay and followed the curve of Fraser Island into Platypus Bay. Dropping the hook, we took stock of our new surrounding: no more green water, no mangroves and drying mud flats; instead we could see through clear blue water to the anchor chain on the sandy bottom and ahead of us the curve of a perfect white sand beach spread as far as we could see to the North and South. This was more like what Nathalie and Isabella had imagined when they planned to come and stay on board!

Just crying out for a sandcastle!

We wasted no time before going ashore, bringing along a yoghurt pot and a serving spoon to serve as a makeshift bucket and spade, and quickly realised that there was much more to this anchorage than the marvellous beach: a river meandered through the sands to run into the sea begging to be explored; fresh water ponds on the edge of the bush poppled with fish and the shallows swarmed with tadpoles; best of all, birds, both sea birds and land birds, were everywhere. Indeed, looking up as we walked up the slope of the sand, we saw two Sea Eagles perched in eucalyptus right on the edge of the beach. 

Nathalie got this lovely shot of this magnificent pair of Sea Eagles.