This shows how really fine the sand is at Lake Mackenzie on Frazer Island.
Our flight from Hamilton Island to Brisbane was uneventful, and since we were flying JetStar, there was no fear about proper identification this time!
We arrived in Brisbane in the late afternoon, and we took the SkyTrain from the airport. It was easy, and a good walk from Central Station brought us to our hotel - the Chifley. Considering we booked the hotel online, and got quite a good deal for right in the CBD, we weren’t sure what we were getting - but it was perfect! A hotel which caters to business travellers within walking distance to everything!
When we arrived at the hotel, there was a message from our Fraser Island tour operator… after calling, I found that they were cancelling the 3-day Fraser Island trip, but had saved us two seats on the 2-day leaving a day later. Since we didn’t really have any choice, we booked into the Chifley for the extra day and planned to spend an extra day in Brisbane! This evening, we met up with a family friend for dinner - Scott Losee and his family. Scott moved to Australia 16 years ago and has a delightful family. It was so nice
The Australia Zoo
Although it took a lot to get there and get home, it was well worth the trip.
to sit and chat with friends for the evening (even though we don’t really know each other). For one night, we weren’t tourists, just relaxing with friends.
Our first full day in Brisbane was devoted to seeing Steve Irwin’s (the Crocodile Hunter) Australia Zoo. Whoever said getting there was half of the adventure, certainly could have been speaking about this day. Instead of joining a tour company, we decided to get out to the zoo on our own. The trains and busses are very convenient… we didn’t think it would be a problem! We walked to Central Station, and found that we would need to take a train, then a bus. No problem! So… we took the train to Caboolture (about an hour or so), then we had to wait 40 minutes for the bus. The bus ride was to take another 40 minutes, but part way, it was discovered that we were leaking fuel, and the bus was smoking up a storm! We all got off and waited another 30 minutes for a replacement.
We eventually arrived at the zoo around noon. After leaving the hotel at 9:15, we had hoped to be there around 10:30! Because
Harriet was a Giant Galapagos Land Tortoise that was reportedly collected by Charles Darwin. She was approximately 175 years old when she died on June 23rd this year. This memorial was set up in her enclosure at the Australian Zoo.
we were late, we felt a little rushed. The park was only open until 4:30, and we didn’t want to miss any of it! It was a good zoo - we saw a croc feeding as well as a tiger show. There were all sorts of Australian animals as well as more international exhibits. We rushed through the last few exhibits, and just happened to catch the last bus to the train station… they almost left us behind! The trip home was less eventful that the trip out in the morning, but took just as long (we left the park at 4:30 and got into Central Station at 7:00.) For dinner, we ate at an open-air restaurant. Kind of strange eating outside in the middle of winter - what a place!
Our extra day in Brisbane was very well spent. We first explored South Bank - a beautiful area filled with parklands and walking areas bordering the south bank of the Brisbane River. This area caters well to university students and we enjoyed the area thoroughly. Following Scott and Kerrie’s advice, we decided to head out of downtown Brisbane for the afternoon. We caught the City Cat ferry and
What a Smile
This was the biggest croc we saw... and he seemed quite friendly.
travelled about 30 minutes north to the small suburb of Bulimba. We found the theatre and enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean. The theatre was beautiful - ornate woodwork and decoration as well as a restaurant right inside the theatre’s public areas. After the movie we headed back to South Bank and explored a small craft market set up for the weekend. We walked back to our hotel through the Queensland University of Technology campus and saw several possums in a tree and along the walkways.
Our safari to Fraser Island did not start well. I was told that we would be picked up at our hotel at 6:45am. By 7:15, we were still standing outside. After a call to the tour operator, I was assured that the driver must have picked up the other people first and he would be there momentarily. When he did arrive at 7:20, there was no one else in his van - we still had to go to the transit centre to pick up the remaining passengers.
Our vehicle was a Toyota 4x4 equipped with 8 seats - but the back 3 seats are really too small for adults. However, they were loading
Brisbane Skyline at Night
The Brisbane skyline at night was spectacular. This shot was taken from a pedestrian bridge between the South Bank and the CBD
the truck to capacity! We picked up 3 elderly tourists at the Brisbane transit centre - Crazy Lynn was already very upset with the late departure and the fact that we got a hotel pickup and she didn’t. The other two gentlemen were from Canada (John and Lincoln). We loaded up and started the first leg of the trip - to Noosa Heads. During this 1 hour, 30 minute drive, most of us fell asleep… and Tom ended up with Crazy Lynn sleeping all over him. The day had not started well.
Noosa looked like a very nice little spot, and it provided a very much needed rest stop. When we started on the road again, we had gained two more passengers - Patrick and Pauline from France. The truck was now totally full and very uncomfortable for the three people in the far back. Our next stop was Rainbow Beach. We grabbed a quick lunch, then caught the 5-minute ferry over to Fraser Island. The French couple was very nice, and the others were turning out to be somewhat interesting company.
Once on the island, our adventure in 4 wheel drive began. We started by driving up
These cute little guys didn't spin around at all!
a very rough, sandy track, but quickly got back to the beach and drove very quickly (up to 120 kph) straight up the sandy shores. Our hotel was right on the beach and we checked in to drop off our things. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to stay at the really nice resort on the island because we were only doing the 2-day tour. This hotel was a little rough - no phone, no TV, no radio… and to add it it, we had a dead cockroach greet us in the kitchen when we arrived.
After dropping off our things, we piled back into the truck and drove further along the beach. We stopped and walked in to Lake Wabby. We had to walk over a kilometre across sand dunes to get there! We walked across a moving desert - it first consumed a small creek, creating Lake Wabby. Now, it moves 1 metre more into the lake each year. It was a very steep decline from the sand dunes straight into the lake. After walking back out to the beach, we were taken to the Maheno Shipwreck. This boat was originally a luxury passenger ship, and was then used
What Does This Mean
Is this sign meant to tell the crocs not to eat the swimmers?
as a hospital ship for WWI. Once it was deemed unseaworthy, it was towed north to Japan for scrap metal. During the tow, a cyclone came in and broke the tow line. The ship was stuck in the Fraser Island sand from that day on. It’s now just a real pile of rusted metal - but it’s still cool.
Our next stop was Eli Creek - a good-sized, clear, fresh-water creek flowing straight out into the ocean. We walked up a boardwalk, and then we decided to wade back in the water. It was cool, but refreshing. On our return to the resort, we saw three dingos - two chasing a third away. The dingos just look like small, healthy dogs.
Our second day on Fraser Island started with some very rough-road driving. We checked out Lake Mackenzie - a very large lake surrounded by beautiful white sand. It was quite overcast and raining at times, so we didn’t see it at its best. After a short trip along further rough roads, we were dropped off in Pile Valley for a short trek into the island’s rainforest. We took our time taking pictures and ended up being far
A deceptive smile
Since crocs can't sweat, they open their mouths to release excess heat when basking in the sun. It does look kind of cute... if that's possible.
behind the rest of the group. We ended up at Central Station for our picnic lunch where we had about half the time as everyone else (but we enjoyed our nice, quiet walk!).
We headed back to the beach for the long ride back to the ferry. The beach driving was much smoother than the interior roads! The ferry ride was easy, and then we continued driving along the beach - nearly all the way back to Noosa! Overall, the two-day tour was fine - our company was entertaining and we did get to see some incredible things on the island.
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