Travelling to K'gari (Fraser Island) with Discovery Group was a one of a kind, eye opening experience where everybody learnt about the history, culture, and the science behind Fraser Island all while seeing and doing some of the best things the biggest sand island in the world has to offer.
An early morning start on the 3rd of May is how this adventure began, my bags were packed with all the bare necessities; 3 sets of casual clothes, a jumper, some swimmers, a beach towel, my hat, a book, my phone charger and my trusty tooth brush. I was ready to go to Fraser Island. When the tour bus arrived I was impressed with how awesome it looked, it had the perfect name to match it's style, "Gladiator".
Our first tour destination was Tin Can Bay where we had the opportunity to feed Humpback dolphins. I chose not to feed the dolphins as the experience didn't quite jump out at me, however it was nice to see all the families and international tourists having a one of a kind experience that you can't get everywhere. The dolphins had odd, pink patches over their bodies which upon initial thought seemed
unhealthy and unnatural however I learnt that it was regular for Indo-pacific Humpback dolphins to have that pink pigmentation. The Tin Can Bay dolphin feeding was a great way to start off our tour.
Once we were finished feeding the dolphins we moved on through Rainbow Beach and Inskip avenue to arrive at our Ferry departure destination just south of the bottom of Fraser Island. It was nice to get out of the tour bus, feel the sand between your toes and get some fresh air while we watched the ferry pull in before departing to Fraser.
Following our arrival to the southern tip of Fraser Island, we drove along 75 mile beach headed to the rangers' station. Along this drive our tour guide, Jake, was spitting out loads of awesome facts as visual queues popped along and the group was learning a lot about the island on our way to our destination along with all of our other destinations that came along with the tour. Once we reached the rangers' station, we learnt about the safety precautions and learnt quite a bit about some of the important duties that the hard-working rangers get up to. An awesome
thing we got to see that not too many people get the opportunity to see was some of the wildlife surveillance footage where we saw some of the island's wonderful animals getting up to some interesting activities.
After our stop at the rangers' station our next activity was to swim down the stream of Eli Creek, by this time the weather was looking rather grey and cloudy and it started to sprinkle, however didn't ruin the experience at all. The water was invigoratingly cold and no one was tired from getting up so early in the morning after swimming in the creek. Eli is the largest freshwater stream on the east coast of Fraser pumping out more than 4 million waters into the ocean every hour. There is something special about swimming in Eli Creek and you can only understand what I'm talking about if you try it out yourself once you visit Fraser.
The SS Maheno was built in 1905 and regularly traveled between Sydney and Auckland. It was one of the first turbine-driven steamers and its main purpose was as a hospital ship in Europe during WWI. In 1935 the Maheno was sold to Japan for
scrap and as it made its way through Queendsland Waters, a cyclonic storm caused the tow chain to snap leaving the Maheno to drift on to the east side of Fraser. The Maheno is by far the most famous shipwreck on Fraser and provides great photo opportunities.
Fraser Island Retreat at Happy Valley was our first accommodation spot. The nice warm feeling of having a shower and getting settled in after being out in the cool rain was almost as bliss as my experience at Eli Creek. Once all of our things were in our cabins, we head out to play some pool which was great fun. Dinner service at the tavern was perfect and after our meals were finished the whole tour group played Cards Against Humanity which was a funny and odd experience. After playing for roughly 40 minutes people dispersed from playing the card game to their cabins to get a good night's rest to be met by the next day's exciting activities.
The first destination of the second day was Wanggoolba Creek, extremely sacred to the Butchulla people (traditional owners of the island), where no men were allowed. It was regularly used as a
place to give birth as it is one of the most peaceful places on the island and assisted in calming the nerves during the process. The water at Wanggoolba creek was so clear that you couldn't see the its until you got close enough.
It's safe to say that Lake McKenzie is the most popular tourist destination on the island and rightfully so. The silica white sand in addition to the crystal-clear, light blue water makes for one of the most exhilarating swimming experiences of a lifetime. It is a perched lake, meaning it contains explicitly rainwater. The sand and organic matter at the base of the lake form a layer which prevents water from draining through, containing the river to maintain itself. By the eating area the group caught a rare experience of a close dingo encounter that was sure to make the nearby tour guides sweat. Luckily there was no dramas and the dingo was just curiously Following Lake McKenzie was Lake Birabeen which has a lot in common with McKenzie due to the fact that it's also a perched lake with white silica sand and clear blue water. The only the main difference between the two
is the popularity, Lake McKenzie gets a lot more
visitors compared to Birabeen which is a good thing if you like peace and quiet.
Our second night's accommodation was Beach Camp on K'gari which was not the camping I had anticipated but not in a bad way. Upon arrival we were given a brief by two of the staff members about dingo safety and important general rules that needed to be followed. We stayed in rooms with beds, a bathroom and shower which you don't find in most tents so it was cosier than I had expected. The dining/recreational room setup was perfect and had a real family feel where we made and cleaned up after dinner and breakfast as a team and by this time of the trip it felt like everybody knew each other pretty well.
Tourism on K'gari is important but all visitors have a responsibility of their own to preserve and maintain the environment on the Island, including keeping the wildlife safe (emphasis on the dingoes). We were constantly reminded about dingo safety for both us and the dingoes. If we get attacked by a dingo (which is only possible if you do all
the wrong things), not only do we get injured, but the dingo has to get tracked down and killed which is out of the rangers' control. It is safe to say that dingoes are the face of K'gari and each time an incident occurs, the island takes a depressing blow.
After the amazing experience that Fraser Island and the Jake from discovery tour group gave us, we decided to give a little something back to the island by forming an 'emu parade' where the group picked up as much rubbish along the beach as we could on our way back to the mainland where we would explore Rainbow Beach.
Carlo Sand Blow caught me off guard and was a really spectacular experience. It is known as a 'moonscape' sand mass and covers over 15 hectares and gained its form from the wind. Our last grand sight of the tour was the coloured sands along the coast of Rainbow Beach. We stopped the bus to get out to get a closer look of the spectacular wall off sandy red, orange and yellow and it was mesmerizing. Also The coloured sands along rainbow beach have great spiritual significance to the
traditional owners, a dream time legend surrounded by an aqua ocean.
The trip to K'gari was exciting and educational and it couldn't have been any better without learning the importance of the culture, history and environmental science along with it thanks to Discovery Group Tours. To book a 2 day tour with Discovery Group to K'gari costs $345 pp and is all inclusive with meals, accommodation, transportation and your experienced tour guide which is great value.
After learning about the importance of maintaining and preserving the environment on K'gari, I believe it is important to implement something to ensure that everybody knows the dos and don'ts when visiting the island. Perhaps designing an app that you can download on your phone which has all of the important information and rules that visitors can follow which is available in various languages to reduce pollution and unacceptable behaviour around wildlife.
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