Fraser Island is a sandy paradise in tropical Australia

The mysteries of Australia’s Fraser Island

It was the second week of our journey through Australia. After exploring the Western part of Australia and then getting to know Sydney and its main attractions, we flew north – to the town of Hervey Bay, located almost in the center of the East Coast. From there we took a ferry to the famous Fraser Island and flew over in a helicopter for a first look.

The island is famous for being the largest sand island in the world. We will spend three days there and see how Australians celebrate the New Year. Tourists arriving on the island settle in different ways with overnight accommodations. Some of them, usually those who have rented jeeps on the mainland, prefer to travel in these vehicles and live in campsites. For those who like comfort, there are several different hotels on the island. We stayed at one of the largest and most comfortable, the Kingfisher Bay Resort. It had two pools and that was great, as swimming in the ocean is unpleasant because of the bad muddy shore.

The hotel administration did everything to keep the tourists entertained and offered tourists several excursions. The most worthless – to see the “nocturnal” and “morning” animals. They cost 5 AUD, the duration of an hour and a half. We bought the “nocturnal. The guide walked with us after dinner on the wild territory of the hotel, even without going outside the hotel (the hotel is surrounded by a metal fence from wild dogs Dingo). Showed some bugs and spiders and that’s all gone to bed.

On the morning tour did not go (the money was not returned to us), as we had to get up at 4 am. Yes, and what to watch? How can we be surprised with some spiders? Birds singing and so it was heard in dense foliage from a window of the room. And in general – no special animals on the island. So, one little thing – different mice.

True, there are still famous wild dogs Dingo on the island, but we never got to see them. True, I remember, in my youth, there was a film of the same name by Julius Karasik about pure but bitter first teenage love.

Dingoes are like pet dogs. In fact – they are secondary feral domestic dogs. But they are not tame at all, so you have to be careful when meeting them. We were advised to observe the basic rules of conduct – do not go alone outside the hotel and do not feed anyone (for that a fine of 1500 aud!), Do not run away and do not turn your back to them, and wait until they go away. And in general were advised not to go out alone outside the hotel, neither during the day nor at night.

After the helicopter flight, the other most informative excursion offered a trip on a four-wheel drive 4WD-bus around the most interesting places on the island (70 AUD/person).

Fraser Island land tour

Early in the morning, we gather at the four-wheel-drive buses and spread out into the cars. Each car is driven by two people, a driver and a guide, who take turns taking turns. The guide speaks incessantly, gushing with numbers and facts about the history of the island’s exploration. It turns out that before European colonization of Australia, the island lived on the island of several thousand Aboriginal tribe Butchulla and in their language, it was called K `gari. Which in our language means “Paradise place”.

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Its modern name, however, comes from the name of Captain Fraser, whose ship Stirling Castle was wrecked here in 1836. The captain and his crew were killed and eaten by the natives, and his wife Eliza was taken prisoner. After her rescue by fugitive convicts, from whom she had also suffered, Eliza ended her life in a psychiatric hospital…

This incident created a long-lasting animosity and aggression between Europeans and natives. Such was the sad history of this island.

Regarding the formation of the many lakes on the sandy island, the guide noted that all the lakes are replenished by rainfall, which falls up to 1,500 millimeters a year. Water flowing out of the lakes or seeping through the sand forms streams (called Creek here), which, as they flow, disappear into the ocean.

The bus winds its way along a broken sand road made years ago by logging trucks. Now that road has sunk more than a meter into the sand. Once upon a time the island was used to cut timber and deliver it to the continent. The forest is thick on both sides of the road. If two cars meet on such a road, the drivers see who is more comfortable to crawl away on specially made patches or turn back even 100 meters. Everyone politely disperses and thanks those who give way. The “coolness” of the cars is not taken into account.

After half an hour of such a drive, after about 10 kilometers, we stopped at McKenzie Lake. This is the most famous lake on the island. A big turquoise spot on the background of green jungle. The water is crystal clear! The same clear water I’ve seen only on the famous Shatsk lakes in Ukraine.

And although it is large, people hang out only on one beach. Everyone lies in the coastal area of the water on the white sand and take pleasure. Almost no one swims. It feels like taking a bath. The lake is deep – you can tell by the dark blue of the water about 20 meters from the shore, but there was no one there.

All the women were in bikinis, and men wore knee-length or below-the-knee briefs. No one swims in the swim trunks, as usual in our countries. We had to wear the same pants, otherwise, they say, they can take us wrongly for orientation. Honestly – uncomfortable form of clothing for swimming (completely forgot – they do not swim!). I’m not even talking about going out of the water in such a uniform in cold or windy weather. All sorts of inflammation is 100% guaranteed. Fortunately, it’s hot here, and the water was +30.

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After an hour relaxation on the lake and tea-coffee with traditional for the Australians buns and cookies, made by our attendants, we went further inland. In a few kilometers we approached Central station – the former loggers’ base. Now it’s a scientific station for research of flora and fauna of the island.

A short excursion with a story about these places. Usually the forest doesn’t grow very well on the sand. But here, thanks to the abundance of moisture, there is a lot of greenery. Fraser Island is one of the few places on earth where lush forests have sprouted among the sand.

Indeed, the forest was once so thick that for 100 years, loggers managed the place. Some trees, such as syncarpia, were even harvested for the construction of the Suez Canal.

We pass through the dense forest with its prehistoric ferns and huge silk trees along the clear-cut Ouangulba Creek.

Here we saw how much they love tourists in Australia. And not only healthy people, but also people with so-called “disabilities”. There are no disabled people in Australia – just people whose physical abilities are limited in some way – some cannot see, some cannot hear, or cannot walk themselves. Big deal! Everyone is only glad to see such a person and to help him!

Here, in the forest, there were signs and descriptions of trees everywhere!, made in Braille for the blind! That’s the kind of care for people the Australians have!

The guide showed us the eucalyptus trees and told us a lot of interesting things about them. Then everyone was interested in a huge beautiful flower that was growing right on the tree. Alas – this “flower” turned out to be a very insidious parasite like our mistletoe, which affects poplars. But – beautiful, bastard!

After a few kilometers we stopped again. We crossed the island and arrived on its Pacific side – at Eurong Beach Resort. There is a hotel, a store, a car repair shop and a small airstrip for small planes to connect with the mainland. They, by the way, can also land on the surf lane.

After lunch, we get back in our cars and drive out to the ocean surf lane. There is a barrier at the exit, and on the ground is a grid with strings of wire strung over it under electric current – this is from wild Dingo dogs. The entire area of this hotel, as well as ours, is surrounded by a high mesh fence.

The shore of the ocean is impressive! Terrific view! A strong wind picks up swirls of sand, and they mix with the foam coming off the lapping waves. The water dust of the ocean surf hangs in the air. And beyond that are thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean! Along the strip of surf you can see the cars leaving. A veritable range for thrill-seekers! In both sides – to the left and to the right goes a sandy strip 70-80 meters wide and disappears far beyond the horizon.

But fans of high speeds too early to rejoice – on the coast regularly, especially at low tide, there are police with radar guns and catch all for exceeding the limit of 80 km / h. And they measure the alcohol mileage at the same time. Fines are the same as on the mainland – for exceeding the limit, even 1 km – penalty $ 133 + 1 penalty point! For exceeding the limit by 20 km – penalty $333 + 4 penalty points, for exceeding the limit by 40 km – $933 + 8 penalty points. Each penalty is entered into the computer and the policeman can see exactly how many times the driver has broken the rules.

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Exceeding 40 km/h is considered to be “excessive” and the driver’s license (including foreign) is taken away right in the middle of the Bush. And the unpleasant thing is that if there is no companion, or he has no license – the car is arrested and taken to the rental office in a truck, which is paid by you. Maybe that’s why, after traveling hundreds of miles on the roads of Australia, we did not see a single, even the smallest, accident!

We were lucky – the weather was gorgeous. Our route was toward the northern tip of the island. On the right the ocean rolled its long turquoise waves, but almost all the way, and we drove about 50 kilometers, there was not a soul on its shore.

Only occasional campsites with tents and jeeps in the shade of trees were to be found by small streams flowing out of the forest. The occasional daredevil who wanted to take a dip in the ocean did not go deeper than knee-deep. Everywhere along the shore, left-hand traffic was observed.

Toward us, right in the surf, the jeeps were dashing away from the crashing waves, as if they were playing with them. On the way back, our driver did the same thing. After an hour, after about 50-60 km, we stopped in the middle of the island at the Colored Sands and turned back.

On the way the beach line was crossed by rocky ridges in two places. These were rock formations-weathered Pinnacles like the ones we had seen in Western Australia. Of course, they weren’t as interesting and similar to the phalluses of the Pinnacle Desert. But they were interesting in their own way. We drove around them from above, and on the way back – when the ocean receded – we drove quietly along the very strip of sandy surf.

While we were standing, a small airplane flew over us, barely touching the roof of the bus, and deftly landed on the strip of sandy surf.

There were a couple of similar planes here and their handsome pilots in snow-white shorts and shirts with ornate shoulder straps offered everybody to fly over the island. Well, we flew yesterday and saw everything.

On the way back we stopped to look at the remains of the ship Maheno, sunk in 1936. The hulk of the ship is rusted to the max. Spars stick out of the sand like the ribs of a beached whale. Everyone wants to be photographed against this background.

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This place is very photogenic – the blue ocean, yellow sand, red shipwrecks and us lovers! And with photos like this you have to hurry – time and the ocean do their thing. In another hundred years only a rusty stain will remain on the shore.

Next stop is Eli Creek, the largest river on the island. This place is very popular with tourists. There are always dozens of cars at its mouth. Most tourists go to the upper reaches of the creek by a specially laid bridge and from there go downstream by swimming or wading (knee-deep water) in the clear and cool water.

They wander, lie in the shade of bushes, sipping cold beer. Tried it myself – very nice, however, cramped. Nearby often swim dressed from head to toe aunt – afraid of all sorts of infection. Or the sun.

They say there are fish in the creek, but I guess they went upstream when I was scared. No one swims in the ocean. On the shore you can see jellyfish “sea wasp” with long poisonous tentacles thrown out by the waves. Their touch to the naked body can sometimes be lethal.

This jellyfish, which has 24 eyes, is approximately 40-45 cm in diameter. It has up to 60 tentacles, the length of which in a quiet state does not exceed 20 cm. But during the hunt, the Australian wasp apparently has a strong erection and they elongate to 3 meters. In this elongated state, they are very thin and difficult to see. On the tentacles are very sensitive stinging cells, which “sting” at the slightest touch of a person or a passing sea animal.

Fraser Island

Fraser Island, also known as Great Sandy Island, is the world’s largest sand island, off the east coast of Australia. The island has an elongated shape along the coast, its length is about 120 km, width – from 7 to 23 km. The area of the island is 1840 km². From ancient times, the Aborigines called this picturesque corner of nature “K’gari”, which means “paradise” in Butchulla language.

In 1992, the Paradise Island of Fraser was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a unique natural monument. The dunes that make up the island were formed about 400,000 years ago and are 240 meters high. The island has more than 40 freshwater lakes, the so-called Hanging Lakes. The largest of them, and the largest hanging lake in the world, Boemingen covers an area of 200 hectares.

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Video: Fraser Island

Flora and fauna.

The west coast of the island is occupied by mangrove forests and swamps, while the east, facing the ocean, is a white sandy beach about 100 kilometers long. In the northern part of Fraser there are pristine rainforests of the equator. The animal world of the island is also interesting. In small well-warmed lakes there are freshwater turtles, on land you can find a wild dog Dingo. And this is not all the flora and fauna of Fraser Island.

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Led by a ranger, visitors can watch raptors and stingrays on a canoe trip, and on the island itself there are more than 354 species of birds. Rare bird species like the ground parrot, great eagle owl, and 18 species of birds of prey are found here. Walking under the sail, you can see dugongs, turtles, dolphins and sharks. On a walk along the beaches and along Cape Indian Head, from August to October, you can witness the migration of humpback whales. And on a night trip, you’ll encounter a bat, a flying fox, a sugar-flying possum, and a frog. The island is also a must-see for kangaroos, wallabies, possums and echidnas.

Island Name

This charming island gets its name from a married couple, James and Eliza Fraser. In 1836 the ship Stirling Castle, captained by James Fraser, was wrecked off the island and surviving sailors came ashore. The relationship between the natives and the Europeans was hostile and even aggressive. Even today, travelers listen with interest to the moving story of a strong woman, Eliza, who survived the loss of her husband and newborn baby and was captured by the Aborigines.

Tourists

On Fraser Island, history is literally in the air. You can trace 700,000 years of evolution through the wildflowers and centuries of climate change through the huge sand dunes. Travelers will be interested to see with their own eyes the hills formed by the domestic waste of primitive people, fishing gear, notches on trees and camp sites that are at least 5 thousand years old.

Visiting the colored Arched Rocks, you will see the place where Aboriginal male ancestors played the didgeridoo to migrating humpback whales, and Moon’s Heel, a sacred place for women where they gave birth to their children. Real explorers in Happy Valley will find the wreckage of the steamboat Mahino, built in 1905 and serving as a luxury trans-Tasman passenger ship, later a floating hospital during World War I, and then washed ashore during a cyclone. Visit the abandoned McKenzie Wharf, originally used to connect loggers to the mainland, and during World War II used by the famous Z Force assault force. Thus, step by step, the rich history of the island will be revealed.

After all the amazing discoveries, you can stay in an eco-friendly boarding house and treat yourself to a wellness massage, exotic cocktails and gourmet meals, or enjoy the privacy of a house overlooking the coast. There are many hotels and individual cottages on the island with luxurious views of the ocean and surroundings. And for a complete reconnection with nature, you can pitch your tent at one of the following locations: the campground at Central Park, Bumangin, McKenzie, Dundubara, Waddy Point, Wathumba, Dilley Township, Cathedral Beach, or East Beach.

Once you’ve been to Fraser Island for at least a day, no one has any doubt why it’s called “paradise. Hundreds of freshwater lakes with turquoise and clear waters, ancient rainforests, snow-white quartz beaches – all this creates a unique magical landscape, looking at which you can forget about everything.

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