Fraser Island via Noosa

Trip Start Nov 12, 2007
Trip End Aug 01, 2008

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

We transferred back to Cairns Airport, on Friday (30 Nov), without any hassle and then flew down to Brisbane before picking up our hire car (a Toyota Camry- Dan) and starting the driving part of our holiday. We left Brisbane and headed North along the coast to Noosaville. Thats sounds easier than it was. We hit Brisbane during the rush hour, so had a baptism by fire in the automatic car on the OZ Freeways/ motorways with me navigating! Not the best combination, but somehow we managed to get there just before dark.

Saturday was spent exploring Noosa and Noosa National park. You will be pleased to hear that we had some rain. Quite a prolonged downpour whilst walking in the National Park. it brought back memories of some of our Lake District holidays. Fortunately, it dried up in the afternoon and we spent the afternoon walking along the river front. There is a lot of water round Noosa, the Ocean, the river and the lakes. It was a busy holiday resort, a bit of a culture shock after quiet Port Douglas.

On Sunday, we set off, at what felt like the crack of dawn, to avoid the traffic, as we drove Northwards again, to Hervey Bay to go across to Fraser Island. The Motorway / highway was very quiet and we ended up making very good time. The motorways here are what we would describe as dual carriageways and the highways are sometimes just single lane carriageways. However, they have frequent overtaking lanes, so that the locals can overtake the speed conscious tourists.

We caught the catamaran across to the island. The island is the worlds biggest sand island and is 123 km long and 22 km wide (see I did listen to the tour guide). It is made completely of sand and the rainforest vegetation grows despite the complete lack of soil. It is now a World Heritage Site.

On our first evening at the resort, we went on the ranger's guided night walk. The forest is very noisy and I'm glad the walk was with the ranger who had an exceptionally large spotlight that she was using to peer into the treetops with to find the nocturnal animals. Rob and I were both kitted out in walking boots, long trousers and long sleeved shirts and dripping with insect repellent. I only wished, I had remembered to pack some elastic bands to put around my wrists and ankles! One woman turned up in a short summer dress, ballerina pumps and reeking of expensive perfume. My tactic was to stick with her, as my theory was that if the mosquitoes were going to target anyone it would hopefully, be her and they would then not take any interest in me.

The walk was a little disappointing, as the monsters of the night, we were told we might see, were not interested in coming out to meet us. The ranger was a little frustrated. We were especially disappointed (or pleased?) that the trapdoor spider only poked it's leg out of the nest and would not come out to play when the ranger poked around with the stick. However, we did get to see some micro bats, an owl and some striped tree frogs that were tiny but were making a deafening noise all around the resort.

There are about 150 dingoes on the island and are the purest strain there is. We were warned that they should not be approached and advised what to do if we came across one. There was a family of four with a den on the resort beach which were a main attraction for the guests.

The next day (Mon) was our only full day on the island. As all the vehicles on the island are 4WD we decided not to hire one ourselves but go out on a guided tour. At 8 am we climbed onto the 4WD coach with all rest of the party. The coach had carpet on the roof. Our guide explained that was necessary in case the coach turned over and we had to crawl out. As we found out during the course of the day, the guide had a very mischievous sense of humour.

So we set off down this sandy, rutted, deep track, being thrown all over the place. We thought this was just the track to leave the resort, but then discovered, the "roads" on the island were all like this. The guide hurtled along these uneven tracks, with great skill, with all 4 wheels of the bus leaving the ground whilst negotiating some dips in the track and with all the passengers rising from their seats in an abrupt vertical fashion. The strange thing was, that by the end of the day, it felt perfectly normal to be driving around like that.

We headed across to the other side of the island and after a short stop to look at a sandblow (moving sand dune) we hit 75 Mile Long beach and then turned left. It was a surreal experience to be speeding along a beautiful beach with the ocean waves lapping the wheels, whilst the guide dodged other 4wd vehicles coming the other way. the beach is actually a designated highway on the island and has a speed limit and rules of the "road".

As we raced along the beach, the guide informed us that apart from being a highway, the beach was also a landing strip for light planes that offered scenic flights over the island. As it was such a sunny day, he said it would be a great day to go up. Next thing I knew, we were agreeing to go up in a 8 seater plane with just one other couple. I was slightly perturbed when the pilot (who looked about 12) started the engine and it cut out, but on the second attempt, it started and there we were about to take off on the beach. The pilot casually mentioned there was a safety card in the front pocket, but we were already airborne at that point and there probably wasn't much we could do if the engine cut out. The flight only lasted 15 minutes but we got fantastic views of the rainforest, the coastline, the length of the beach, the lakes and the sandblows. The landing was remarkably smooth and then we taxied back to our coach party who had stopped further along the beach for tea and biscuits at a freshwater creek running into the Ocean. Who said that Rob doesn't like buses and Emma doesn't like flying?!

From then on we travelled further along the beach to see a shipwreck in the sands and The Pinnacles, a sand formation showing the layering of different coloured sand, created over many years.

After lunch, there was still a lot to come. We taken into the rainforest for a guided walk along side another crystal clear creek that ran through untouched rainforest ( ie there had been no commercial logging in the area). Then to finish the day he took us to a "perched sand dune" lake filled with pure rainwater. This was called lake McKensie and was beautifully blue.The white sands and the water contain sillica which soften the skin, so we were advised to do an exfoliate with the sand then swim in the water. The guide joked that it would make us look 10 years younger, so I came out with the skin of an 8 year old!!

On arrival back at the resort, we walked down to the jetty and caught the beautiful sunset over the Ocean. To top the day, we then had dinner at the hotel. Rob thought he had died and gone to heaven when he found out it was an all you could eat buffet and there were close on 20 desserts to choose from. He stopped after 6.

Our best day of the holiday so far.

Now we are driving South back towards Brisbane and down eventually to Sydney............
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