Sunday, 30 April 2017

Fraser Island and Lady Elliot Island too!

Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world and a treat to visit with long drivable beaches, pristine lakes, crystal clear creeks, rainforest, sandblows and even a shipwreck. Thus, it's one of Australia's top tourist destinations. 

When a European friend wrote to me and said that she planned to visit Queensland I asked what she wanted to see, and she said Fraser Island. First I recommended tours to her... 2-3 days. But then I decided it might be a good chance for H and I to visit Fraser Island too. I had been there a couple of times in my life but H was also wanting to explore it. 

So it was decided we'd go to Fraser Island with her, and invite a Brisbane based friend along too. 

Fraser Island, being of sand, is for high clearance 4wd vehicles only. So taking Blu wasn't an option. Fortunately my brother was able to lend us his '6 wheeler 4wd Mazda BT50'. I didn't want to drive but H did, so it was settled that on the island he'd do all the driving. However, I was a little nervous, H doesn't have a lot of experience driving a Six wheeler or driving in Fraser-like conditions (the beach is easy, getting on and off the beach is usually most troublesome, and inland tracks can be harsh), but we never got stuck!
The 6 wheeler 4wd Mazda BT50 we took to Fraser Island. For more info: 

The 6 wheeler 4wd Mazda BT50 we took to Fraser Island. For more info:

We spent 4 nights on the island: 2 on the beach with the first and last nights at Central Station. It rained our first nights there which made it quite miserable and although beach camping is a great Fraser Island experience we all preferred the camp at Central Station. 

We drove North as far as Orchard Beach, visiting Eli creek, Maheno shipwreck, Indian head and the Champagne pools. And while we camped on the beach some Dingoes (Australias wild dog) stopped by to see if anything was on offer (it wasn't). 

The view from Indian Head, Fraser Island.  

The view from Indian Head, Fraser Island. 

Maheno shipwreck, Fraser Island  

Maheno shipwreck, Fraser Island 

Fraser Island is a wonderful destination to visit but I think you're better off doing a tour and letting someone else clean up. Camping on sand in rain isn't much fun. 

Prior to Fraser Island we did a few other things with our friends. 

Due to cyclone Debbie hitting the North coast of Queensland it was a rather rainy at the start of my friends stay in Queensland. So we first went inland to try and avoid the wet coastal weather. 

We visited the Bunya Mountains, it's not far from where I grew up and is a great place for seeing wild wallabies and parrots. I've taken many international visitors there over the years and the young joeys in their mothers (wallabies) pouches is a typical treat that visitors delight in. 

We also visited the Dalby Cattle Sales (which is the largest same-day prime and store cattle sale in the country), and an elderly friend kindly explained the goings on to us all. 

On the way to the coast we also visited an interesting museum at Cherbourg: The Ration Shed. Cherbourg was one of the places in Australia that Aboriginal people were taken to/ accommodated at when they were removed from their tribal lands and this museum is about the facility there. It's interesting, it's a sad part of Australia's history and worth a visit, but I think some of it needs to be put into comparible context of of times that it happened in. 

In Hervey Bay we went out for dinner and I had the best meal I'd had in a long time. Thank you to The Vinyard, that Chowder was superb and H's Moreton Bay bugs looked great too. Two days latter, before crossing to Fraser Island, we bought a feed of (cooked) prawns and bugs and ate them in the park. People rate eating like this expensive but it's actually less expensive than getting take-away,  delicious and healthier, and the girlfriends enjoyed it. 

We also went to Lady Elliot Island on a day trip. To get to Lady Elliot Island they fly you out and back and so it's not the cheapest Great Barrier Reef island experience. But, for a long time I had thought that if you were willing to spend the money it might be the best GBR experience available. So, we did it!

We were not disappointed, in fact we loved it! On the flight out we saw Fraser Island from the air, and, of course, Lady Elliot Island too. We did the glass bottom boat trip and ate the wonderful lunch, but best of all was the snorkelling. I just kick along the surface in wonderment of all the things I can see. H is an amazing free diver (well I think so) and so he keeps going down for a closer look. Not that closer looks we're needed - the visibility was amazing. 

We saw many turtles (loggerhead and green sea), sting rays, and so many fish of different types and colours and corals too. H saw an octopus too. 

Green Sea turtle, Lady Elliot Island.  

Green Sea turtle, Lady Elliot Island. (Note H snapped this photo with an iPhone 5S with a cheap underwater case from eBay. Pretty good, heh?)

Lady Elliot is a splurge, but we want to go back one day. Maybe even to stay overnight, and next time in Manta Ray season. 

We hope that the girls loved this trip. We visited islands, mountains, some rural culture and aboriginal history. 

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