Thu 5 May 2016 06:28
Garrys Anchorage: to the left of the boats you can see the red channel marker (port side usually but as the tide floods down from the North here, through the Great Sandy Strait, the buoyage is reversed, so red marks the right hand side) and beyond it you can just see the two green channel markers. The channel goes between them and the shore. We stayed on anchor back where this picture was taken from, it looked a tad narrow ahead for our liking!
The wooded slopes and sandy tracks were calling out to be explored. Fraser Island is a World Heritage Site and beautifully unspoilt. There’s a track just inland from the anchorage’s small beach which has been closed to 4x4s, due to a weak bridge, but has not yet grown over so is pleasant to walk along. We took the dinghy ashore and left her on the pock marked sandy mud flats, as it was close to low tide. Once ashore we were disconcerted to find a sign that told us there had been reports of crocodiles sighted around about, although none had been captured. We’d been swimming off the boat, enjoying the fast tidal current sweeping around us. Going forward one had to swim hard: it was possible to simply swim on the spot against the current if you kept a steady pace, but coming back down the other side of the boat one raced along, hardly having to kick. Happily, no crocodiles had come out to join in the games.
The creek that the ‘weak bridge’ crosses.
All around us the air was alive with flutterings, chirps and screeches as all sorts of birds fed and flew. A little black and white fan tail dodged in and out of the branches, keeping pace with us a while, rainbow Lorikeet fed in flocks high above us and we glimpsed tantalising flashes of colour as smaller birds broke cover at our approach.
Grey Fantail and feeding Rainbow Lorikeet.
Underfoot were more flashes of colour: fungus growing along the path and on fallen trees.
The cricket on the right hand one seemed to be eating it!
Of course, there were eucalyptus everywhere, but we noticed something unusual on the bark of some: something had been scribbling.
Eucalyptus Haemastoma (Scribbly Gum)
They were the trails left by the larvae of the scribbly gum moth. The eggs are laid between the old surface bark and new bark underneath it. The larvae burrow in the fresh bark and when the old bark falls off they’re revealed. The trails get wider as the larvae grows and abruptly stop where the larvae pupates. It made a very pretty effect and didn’t seem to bother the tree.
Returning to the dinghy we found it was now low tide; the dinghy was sitting about 20 feet from the water on the muddy sand and all around bits of the beach were getting up and walking. There were clusters of tiny moving blobs, maybe 100 in each group, all charging across the flats in a purposeful manner, with seemingly random changes of direction along the way. The occupants of the tiny pock marks had emerged: soldier crabs, formed into fun-sized armies, all falling-in, wheeling and about-turning in unison, like separate brigades practicing their drill.
Moving blobs, mostly about the size of a penny, forming brigades.
Up close the blobs resolved into little blue forward walking crabs, not sideways like most crabs, with purple elbows. They had a distinctly no-nonsense look about them and there were literally thousands on the little beach. Luckily, they only eat the minute organisms found between sand grains and weren’t interested in people. They may have been small but there were lots of them, they’d been training and they looked fierce!