Published: October 19th 2011September 1st 2011
My bus drove through the night and sped me away from the nightmare that was Mackay. And when I say sped, I meant it! At points the bus was going so fast that everything started to shake.....not fun when you are trying to sleep. I eventually managed to fall into an exhausted sleep, and woke in Agnes Waters and the Town of 1770. What a gem after Mackay!!!!
Everyone was friendly and helpful. My hostel was lovely, and I was all booked on to scooteroo tour that was definitely going to happen. Scooteroo is a tour that involves chopper style motorbikes/scooters (not sure which as they looked like motorbike, but were only 49.9 CCs) and you drive them around the area looking for kangeroos, and going to see all the sights.
It was nerve-racking at first, as I'd never ever driven any sort of motor powered bike, and until recently, had never even sat on the back of one. I was convinced I was going to crash, but in all honesty, it was very simple. Twist your hand down to accelerate, and let off and press the break to stop. Steering involved turning the handlebars (surprise, surprise!).....so the only
challenging thing was putting it all together.
Still, I must have looked confident/have been doing it right, as a few people didn't believe it was my first time (or perhaps that is what they say to everyone to make them feel better?).
Once we set off and I got into it, it was great. I just enjoyed the ride and took in the scenery. We didn't go all that fast; I think the maximum speed I hit was 70-80 km/h, but that was perfect as it meant we could actually see and appreciate what we were driving past.
We saw plenty of kangeroos munching away on the grass, and there was even a cheeky walalby, who calmly just looked back at me, as it stood right by the side of the road, when I slowed down to talk to it.
Next we drove to the beach, one of the few places on the East Coast where you can watch the sun set over the sea. It was lovely. We sat eating potato wedges with sweet chili dip and just took it all in. We had to leave before the sun had completely set, so make it back
in time before it was dark (I don't like driving in the dark at the best of times, let alone in a foreign country, on something I've never driven before!). I fell in to bed satisfied with my day.
The next morning, my 24 hours in 1770 were over and it was time to catch the exact same bus I'd got off the day before. There was a brief hiccup where I managed to miss the courtesy bus to the greyhound stop, even though I was sitting there waiting with all my stuff. Thankfully a really nice member of staff drove me there, otherwise I don't know what I would have done. Then I was on the bus, and on my way to Hervey Bay.
I arrived at Hervey Bay just around lunchtime, dumped my stuff at the hostel and prepared to relax for the afternoon. I wanted to have an early night that night, as I knew I had to be up at 5.30am for my trip to Fraser Island. The only problem with this plan was that the other girls in my room made this impossible. Two german girls came in, turned on all the lights
and then proceeded to eat and talk noisily for about 40minutes. One of them then fell asleep but the other one continued to munch and read, keeping the main dorm light on. Eventually, she turned the light off but then her friend started to snore loudly, shortly followed by her......
I couldn't put my earplugs in as I was paranoid about sleeping through my alarm and missing my pick-up. So all in all I got very little sleep.
The next morning I was up before the sun. But that was because I was off to Fraser Island, and I only had a day to fit everything in to.
Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world and was first sighted by Captain Cooke in 1770. He called it 'Great Sandy Peninsula' as he thought it was connected to the mainland. It was 29 years later that Matthew Flinders discovered that it was in fact an island.
Europeans named the Island after Captain Fraser and his wife, Eliza, who were wrecked just north of Fraser Island, at Swain's Reef. Of all the survivors marooned on Fraser Island, Eliza Fraser was the only one to survive to
make it off the island.
I had to get a barge from Hervey Bay over to Fraser Island, and once there, I was shown on to a huge bus, with massive wheels and tinted, strengthened windows. This would be my transportation over the sand dunes.
I knew before I went there, that Fraser Island consisted completely of sand, but I hadn't registered the consequences of that. The 'roads' were sandy paths, usually just wide enough for one vehicle, with huge sandy banks on each side, and deep sandy groves from where numerous 4WDs have gone before.
As the bus drove along, it was wobbling over the many sand moguls in the road, and because the moguls were generally only on one side of the road/path, the bus would tip until I was convinced it was going to fall over.
Thankfully it didn't, but I could never quite relax the whole time we used the inland island 'roads', as they were awful and nerve-racking to a first timer like me.
Our first destination was Lake Mckenzie, a fresh water lake, and just about the most visited lake on the island. Tourists flock to it as it has sparkling, clear water that is completely made up of rainfall, and it has white sandy 'beaches' (although they weren't a patch on whitehaven beach).
When we got there, the sun was shining and it looked absolutely beautiful. A few people stripped off for a swim, but as the water was very fresh, I contented myself with a paddle. While paddling away, what should appear but a dingo!!!!!
The cheeky thing lay down really close to us, and sat, grinning away in the sun. The perfect photo opportunity.....except my camera decided to have a hissy fit and deleted the pictures I was taking. By the time I got my camera sorted, the dingo had got bored and decided to wander off. I was so gutted!
I was lucky enough to spot him briefly as I was walking back towards the bus, and managed to snap a quick photo of him trotting away, but it was a rubbish picture in comparison to the ones my camera had deleted. Still, if I didn't see any more dingoes, at least I had the one picture of one.
From Lake Mckenzie we went to Central Station, a former logging camp. Logging was started on Fraser in 1863 by 'Yankee Jack' Piggott and continued until 1991, when the island was nominated for World Heritage Listing. Some of the old logger's houses are still there and there are several walks that start from Central. We did one of the board walks down by the river, it's water unbelievably clear. We were surrounded by all sorts of trees, ferns and other bush scrub, and it was really peaceful. The most exciting things we saw was a kookaburra and a tree that was around 1,000 years old.
Then it was back onto the bus. We stopped briefly for lunch, and then it was on to seventy-five mile beach (can't remember how long it was......). I much preferred the bus driving on the beach, as there was a lot less wobbling and feelings of imminent death! Still, the bus had to avoid the other cars driving on the beach 'road', and it also had to avoid the waves from the out-going tide. At one point the tide hadn't receded enough,so we had a detour on to a path that involved driving over rocks. Very interesting indeed....
We fairly flew along the beach, and drove up to the coloured sands of the Pinnacles, all the while looking our for dingoes and whales (which come in very close to Fraser in the right season). We managed to see a couple of whales quite close to the beach, but it wasn't all the exciting as all you can really see is the spray from their blow-holes.
The Pinnacles consists of 72 different colours (no idea who look the time to work that out) mostly of various reds and yellows. It was pretty to see and interesting to learn that the banding effect was caused by the leeching of oxides that coat each grain of sand.
Next we went to the Maheno shipwreck, a Scottish made ship that was wrecked on July 8th 1935, while being towed to Japan for scrapping. She was hit by an out-of-season cyclone and washed ashore. During WWII the wreck was used for air force target practice but only one direct hit was ever scored. She is now being slowly rusted away by the sea and covered by the sand that is being constantly blown up on Fraser Island.
Lastly we went to Eli Creek, a creek that flows on to seventy-five mile beach at a rate of 4.2 million litres of water an hour. We had the option of walking a little way up the creek, and then floating back down it to the sea.
That was all we had time for, so we had to hop back in the bus to head back. But we were desperate to see more dingoes, as a few people had missed the one at Lake Mckenzie.We kept our eyes peeled on the way back along the beach, and success! We saw one!
The driver swung the bus along side the dingo and he wasn't at all bothered. He even pricked up his ears and came to say hello when the driver spoke to him out of the window.
Looking at them it is so hard to remember they aren't dogs and that they can actually be quite dangerous. They are more like the Asian wolf than a domestic dog, and they even howl instead of barking. Also, just like wolves, they only have one litter of pups a year.
There are estimated to be between 150-300 dingoes on Fraser, and they are considered the most genetically pure dingoes in Australia at 85% pure. What happened to the other 15%, I don't know......I mean, there are no dogs or wolves on Fraser for them to breed with!
On the way back to our drop off point, we stopped at a look-out point to look at Stonetool sandblow. Sandblows are developed over thousands of years, where strong onshore winds erode and transport sand at weak points in the shoreline. Dunes develop into blow-outs and grain by grain the sand engulfs the vegetation in its path.
It looked like a random desert in the middle of a forest. Very bizarre! By the time I got the barge back to Hervey Bay, I was shattered but it was lovely watching the sun set over the sea and I was lucky enough to see some more whales and even a few dolphins enjoying the last of the daylight. What an amazing day!!!
It was on to Rainbow Beach the next day. I was sad to leave Hervey Bay as I'd had such a fantastic time there. Still, I'd seen all I wanted to see so it was time to move on.
I arrived in Rainbow Beach at around lunch time and wasted no time getting down to the beach which the town got it's name from.
Much like the Pinnacles on Fraser, the cliffs that line Rainbow Beach are made up of beautiful, banded layers of colour. And the colour range was much more than that of Fraser's Pinnacles. I really enjoyed taking it in, especially with the sea raging away, creating big swells.
As the sky darkened I retreated back to my hostel to wait out the rain (by having a nap). By the time I was feeling more refreshed, the rain had cleared away, and I had just enough time to get to Carlo's sandblow for sunset.
The sandblow was far more impressive that I was expecting. Truly a slice of desert where you'd think no desert could exist.
The wind whistling through was strong, and it began to cover the footprints I made almost as soon as I had made them.
There was a number of us up there, watching the day end and what lovely scenery it was to sit there surrounded by, enjoying the sunset.
I had to head back before the sun had completely set or risk getting lost as I made my way back through the national park to the road that led to town. I then just spent the evening unwinding watching a couple of dvds.
It was then another early morning for me the next day, as I was off to go feed some wild Indo-pacific humpbacked dolphins. The dolphins were the whole reason I had decided to stop in Rainbow, as the nearby Tin Can Bay had a resident pod, with it's two alphas Mystique and Patch.
The morning feeding tradition started when Mystique's grandfather was mauled by bull shark. Desperately injured, he retreated to the shallow waters of the bay. The locals noticed the injured dolphins and began to feed it to help it recover. One day, once it had recovered, it swam off, back out to sea, and the locals thought that was the last they would see of it. But low and behold, a week later he was back, and this time he had brought his whole pod with him.
Nowadays, it is usually just Patch and Mystique that come in to be hand-fed, but sometimes they allow other members of their pod to come in too, including their son, Harmony.
It was so great to feed them, especially as they are the rarer and shyer breed of dolphin. Usually you don't get a chance to see them as they are so timid of humans.
They are such gentle creatures, and it was sad to see the evidence of dominance fighting and mauling by bull sharks on their bodies. White scratch like marks were all over their bodies.
The feeding didn't last long, and as soon as the last fish was gone, Patch and Mystique swam back out to join their pod.
I then went back to the hostel, where I had a couple of hours to kill before catching my greyhound bus to Noosa.
Noosa is a fantastic place, a bit up-market and expensive for backpackers, but with a great surf beach and national Park, which were thankfully free.
I spent the afternoon getting my bearings around Noosa, which wasn't hard as the area I was in, Noosa Head, was pretty small, and just about consisted of one main street.
I planned my next couple of days in Noosa, and then decided to call it a day.
And that is the end of this blog! I am about.......2 months behind on my blog writing (go me) and am actually now in New Zealand. But I will plod on with them. Hope you enjoyed it, let me know what you thought. xxxxxxx