Sand and Dingoes

Trip Start Nov 06, 2003
Trip End Jan 24, 2004

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Flag of Australia  ,
Friday, November 21, 2003

Bronwyn's glowing tales of Fraser Island convince us to detour there for a night, so we ambitiously take off at five-thirty in the morning to make the 8:00 a.m. ferry from Hervey Bay. We retrace our route beside ant hills and flame trees, across the tracks of the Cane Railway and its silly crossing signs, past Childers and Bundaberg, over the tilled, red-earth hills.

Thanks to Bronwyn's driving and our early start, we get on the ferry minutes before it departs. Protected by the 120 km length of the huge sand bar that is Fraser Island, the boat slides over the electric blue waters with nary a bump, dropping us at the long jetty of Kingfisher Bay Resort. A tram transports us through lovely vegetation, past pools and bars, to the clam-shell-like central compound, where we descend to comfy chairs and a waiting cocktail.

After dropping off our stuff in a bungalow suspended over the forest, Emma and I bounce a 4x4 rental across the island's sand lanes and roar up the sun-plastered eastern beach. The exhilarating drive weaves between incoming surf and the small canyons that appear suddenly from the fresh water washouts. Despite the left-hand gear shift, we make great time and beat the tides to the wreck of the Mareno. Its rusted carcass seems to erode before the eye, and attracts tourists and backpackers moth-like. We pop a few photos then zing back further south and get on another inland trampoline-like road to Lake Mackenzie.

On an island of sand, the idea of a lake seems a bit of a wash, but Fraser Island has many. If the signs are to be believed, these lakes parch on an impervious layer of rotten bottom gunk, which keeps the water from seeping out through the sand. The result is a lake so clear that the steep incline underwater shows as gradations of blue. Emma and I amuse ourselves trying to guess the depth beneath our tredding feet.

Meanwhile, Julie and Bronwyn have been lazing about one of the resort pools swilling girlie drinks. This place caters to expensive tastes -- Prince Charles has stayed -- so they're well looked after. We rendezvous back at the bungalow, then have another quick dip before our bushtucker dinner, where we snarffle crocodile, emu and kangaroo alongside delicious, seemingly incongruous dishes like garlic mashed potatoes.

Kingfisher Bay Resort is renowned for its ranger-guided nature walks, but we manage to miss them all, being too tuckered for the Thursday night walk and too disorganized for the 6:30 am bird walk. As a result, Bronwyn spots the only Dingo -- a renegade lazing around the central complex -- in our 24-hour stay.
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