A day on Fraser Island
Wednesday 17th May 2017
It was an early start to the day as we had to get ashore, secure the dinghy and be at the pick-up point by the General Store by 07:45. Bob very kindly came across in his dinghy to help us haul ours up the beach, before rowing back to Mawari (and probably back to bed!). With the dinghy tied to a pile and up beyond the high water mark we could forget about it and enjoy the day.
We piled into the huge 4WD coach and set off soon after 08:00, having been “strongly urged” by Martin, our driver and guide, to make use of the facilities first. We then had a long and very bumpy ride through the rainforest to the other side of the island with Martin telling us about it along the way. Apparently it is the largest sand island in the world, being 123 km long and 22 km wide at its widest point. Its highest dune is 244 metres, but most rise between 100 and 200 metres above sea level. Fraser Island is unique in having diverse vegetation which grows in sand.
Named the Great Sandy Peninsula by James Cook who believed it to be part of the mainland, renamed Great Sandy Island in 1799 by Matthew Flinders and eventually given its present name of Fraser Island after the wife of Captain James Fraser, shipwrecked there in the 1830’s. It had been the home of aboriginal people for thousands of years before, and they continued to live there until the logging industry began in the 1860’s. Logging was discontinued in 1991 after it was established that the rate of deforestation was not sustainable. Today Fraser Island has World Heritage listing.
During the day we visited fresh water creeks with crystal clear water that bubbles up from an underground aquifer, saw huge sandblows that were encroaching on the forest from the coast, walked through the rainforest, drove at speed along many kilometres of beach on the eastern shore, saw the coloured sands of The Pinnacles and the wreck of the Maheno, flew over the island to see the hidden lakes and swam in freshwater Lake McKenzie. It was a very full but very interesting and enjoyable day.
Stonetool sandblow. Coffee rocks – not actual rocks but a peat-like hardened sand.
Eli Creek, fresh water from underground aquifer. Eli Creek running out to the sea.
We walked through the rainforest alongside another freshwater creek.
A tree with a Halowe’en mask. Couldn’t resist hugging this Satinay tree.
Ready for take-off along the beach runway. We went in separate planes and both had the co-pilot seat.
Looking north to Sandy Cape. The sandblow they call “Bigfoot” for obvious reasons.
The butterfly lake. Looking down on the wreck of the Maheno and the bus.
The Pinnacles coloured sands from the air... and from the ground.
Safely back on terra firma. We paid for the flights at “the office”.
The wreck of the Maheno, which was being towed for scrap, and had no propellers to make way when it broke its tow line in a late cyclone.
Always a sad sight, but at least it did not have passengers when it was wrecked.
A cooling dip in Lake McKenzie to finish off the day. Then back to the coach for the trip back across the island.