Monday, 6 April 2015

TOD Tour, Day 55 - Fraser Island

Running up the west coast of Fraser
The world's largest sand island, Fraser Island, off the Qld coast adjacent to Hervey Bay, has always been one of our unfinished pieces of business and to be honest, deliberately so. Images of resorts and backpackers and crowds around pristine lakes and 6WD buses bruising through the sand tracks had never been much of an encouragement for us to visit.

However, an insistent view from my Dad that it shouldn't be missed finally pushed us into booking a tour. After an hour scanning the internet and Trip Advisor reviews, we plumbed for a day tour to the remote areas of Fraser Island off Hervey Bay, Qld, with the Tasman Venture people.

What a great decision.

They offer a range of tours for eco tourists, whale watchers and fishermen. We opted for the one day, Remote Fraser Island Tour and were rewarded with one of the best days we have experienced in Australia or overseas.

Our day started with an accommodation pick up at 7:30pm - including a courtesy call when the bus was running a few minutes late - and ended with a drop off at just on 6:00pm and from go to woe, it was everything we could have hoped for. 

The cruise up the west coast of the island past Moon Point, as far as Wathumba, was in bright sunshine. The sand cliffs rose from the white sand beaches in bands of colour from deep brown dark chocolate rocks through various shades of orange and yellow and topped with vegetation. The water was an aqua blue when we moored off the mouth of Yeerall Creek. Its a fresh water creek which is tidal, so sea water flows in and out. We volunteered to be on the first load ashore and it proved to be a good move, as we donned our PFDs and climbed aboard our big kayak.

Snorkelling at Wathumba
The creek was narrow with very clear water as we paddled quietly among lots of dead mangroves which had fallen victim of being flooded by super high tides several years ago. The water was still and the reflections of the dead mangroves created an eerie scene.

Returning to the mouth of the creek, Sue swapped the kayak for goggles and snorkel and took a float across the low, shallow bay which is the opening of Wathumba. She was nervous after a bad experience a few years ago in Western Australia but soon adapted and after seeing her first few rays, she was loving every moment but when the big sea turtle swam past, she was more than a little amazed.

We were taken across to the front beach, where we swam in the clearest, bluest water across the whitest sand ... for nearly an hour.

Returning to the boat, a BBQ lunch of steaks, chicken kebabs and snags accompanied by four different salads, in quantities that only diminished when we'd had enough, was well received.

After lunch, we moved to another beach to the south, behind which Awinya Creek runs back into the island. This is a pure freshwater creek, which rises as a spring so there is no saltwater in the creek. It is much narrower, barely wide enough for the kayaks but we found out a lots of information about the island from our guide Karl.

Returning to the beach, I'm ashamed to say the highlight of the day was our manic ride on a biscuit behind the Sealegs. This amazing little craft is a high speed boat in the water and a three wheel drive beach vehicle on the sand. In its water configuration, it towed us at high speed on our inflated rubber platform - Sue and myself and another older lady - in great arcs and runs. Anyone who has dragged behind a ski boat on one of these inflatables knows just how much fun it is to jump across the wake and zoom out in giant arcs out beside the tow boat. We spend a lot of our ride laughing, some of our time screaming and absolutely all of our time hanging on for grim death!

The Tasman Venture made another stop late in the afternoon to climb a giant sand dune and another swim in a freshwater creek but we opted to sit out that excursion and experience the bar instead. My shoulders were already screaming from the paddling and the climb up the sand dune would have sidelined Sue's back for days.

All of these activities, the information, the food, open ended tea and coffee were included in the cost. Only items from the bar or merch were extras. At $15 an hour for each of us, it was a remarkably cheap day. 

The last forty five minutes back to Urangan Point at Hervey Bay was a fast run against a setting sun and the views were among the best of the day.

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