Noosa Heads and Fraser Island

Trip Start Jun 13, 2006
Trip End Jun 12, 2007

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Alex: Noosa is actually about 5 villages that have merged into one low rise, sprawling town on a beautiful, white sand beach. We were staying in Noosa Junction about a 10 minute walk from Noosa Heads and the beach and after we got settled into our hostel that is where we headed to sort out a Fraser Island tour.

Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, which causes all kinds of dubious claims to be spouted about it, mainly that it has more sand than the Sahara and all the sand from eastern Australia ends up there. Whether you believe that or not it is a pretty impressive, 120km of sand, which supports snakes, spiders, dingoes, fresh water lakes, not to mention a rain-forest. The tour was one long day but I think we saw a fair bit and after the many types of bus we have traveled on in our trip we got to ride in our first 4x4 bus, definitely more comfortable than the chicken bus in Belize which traveled over similar roads. After getting the ferry at Rainbow Beach we drove a little way along 75 mile beach which run most of the eastern side of the island before heading inland through the rain forest to Lake McKenzie. There are no roads on the island only sand tracks and we soon realised that the wet sand by the tide line gives a far smoother ride than the inland tracks. Lake McKenzie is stunning, there is no other way to describe it, crystal clear waters ranging from white at the lake shore to blue black in the deep centre of the lake, soft white sand beach, all edged by rain-forest. After a bit of persuading I managed to get Dean to come for a swim with me, the water is really soft (and apparently good for your skin) and it is very strange for it not to be salty. I never really got used to the idea that everything below me was sand, up to 200 meters below sea level, rising to about 240m above sea level at the highest point. After a proper Aussie BBQ & beer we headed to Central Station to take a walk through the rain-forest, which up to that point we had only seen from the coach. Before being classified as a world heritage site Fraser Island was mined for minerals in sand and the forests were logged, Central Station was the central point for the logging industry. Now it has a far more green use and is the starting point for a number of walks around the island. Once again it was difficult to get used to the idea that all these massive tress were just growing in sand, apparently their roots just grow straight down in order to support them sufficiently and the nutrients come from the levels of brown sand, that were previously the forest floor. The pathway followed a creek, which was very odd. Firstly the bottom of the creek is white sand, so it looks wrong running through a rain-forest, but because it is running on sand it is completely silent, basically it doesn't fit with any kind of river or creek you have ever come across so it take a good while to actually work out what it actually is, even though you know you are on a sand island...bizarre. The other unusually thing about the creek is the water level doesn't change at all even after rain, and hasn't done for over 2500 years, because it is actually the water table so the water has to be filtered through the sand to enter the creek. They know the water table hasn't changed in that long because of a King Fern growing at its edge. King Ferns are very picky about where they grow and one thing they cannot tolerate is a change in water level, and this King Fern is estimate to be over 2500 years old so the water level can't have changed in that time. The crazy thing is if you didn't know you wouldn't look at this fern twice - and it is older than Christianity! It was good being shown around by a guide because we picked up on these things that we would otherwise have missed out on, that and the Funnel Web spider burrows he liked to point out, scary. After taking in the beautiful rain-forest we headed out again along the beach and back onto the mainland. Before getting onto the ferry we saw our first (and last) dingo, which Fraser Island is famed for as they are the most pure-blooded dingoes in Australia, it just looked like a small, skinny, yellow German Shepard to me though. We drove back to Noosa through the main land rain-forest and along the beach stopping at Teewah Coloured Sands in Cooloola National Park. The sands we really spectacular, not just slight colour variations but really bright reds fading in really bright yellows and a few other colours in between, contrasted with the green of the eucalyptus and the blue of the sea it was really gorgeous. We got home after spending a long time on a bus, feeling pretty exhausted but it was definitely enjoyable.

The following day we had reserved for heading into Noosa Heads National Park and chilling on the beach but on our way to the park we came across the most beautiful, deserted beach that we stopped and never quite made it any further, maybe this Aussie lifestyle is rubbing off and I am turning into a beach bum! After that the most energetic we got was finding somewhere for lunch, buying ice-cream and moving beaches. That evening as we headed towards the beach to find ourselves something to eat we had an impromptu David Attenborough moment. There on the pavement was a snake attempting to eat a possum, really interesting to watch. It's eyes we obviously bigger than it's belly though (or jaws anyway), when we walked past again about 15 minutes later (we decided the place next door to the hostel was the place for us to eat) it had given up and was slithering away, either that or it didn't like eating with an audience.
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