Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC have been on Fraser Island for a week, just off the coast of Queensland in Australia. Fraser Island is pretty special, because it’s composed almost entirely of sand. It is 125 km long and 15 km wide, making it the largest sand island in the world.

I’ve written a few blog posts about the island already, describing the island itself, the sand, the swimming, the 4wd adventures and the dangers. Now I’ll show you the creatures I met there.

Travel tip

Don’t hug a dingo.

The book I’m in

Lucifer’s Shadow, by David Hewson.

Intrigue, music and romance in Venice. A clever plot, set simultaneously in the 18th century and the present day. This worm gives the book a mark of approval. High praise indeed from someone of my discerning nature.

The photos

Me and a crab on Seventy-Five Mile Beach:

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

The TC and I were out for one of her habitual early-morning strolls, when we saw this dingo. She was trotting along the beach, minding her own business, as was the TC. Me, I was still recovering from a recent close encounter with the island’s wild life, as pictured above, so I chose to stay in my book in the TC’s bag. The TC and the dingo both stopped and looked at each other, then they both veered off to the left and right and continued more or less in their chosen directions:

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

This eagle cruised over us on the same early morning stroll:

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

Later, we saw more eagles on a couple of occasions. Here is a short video of two taking off from the beach just in front of our vehicle:

This suave dude has a style all of his own. He’s a monitor lizard, who came to investigate us in the Lake McKenzie car park:

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

Wanggoolba Creek is in perpetual rainforest twilight. This little kingfisher seemed to glow in the dark:

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

A truly awesome giant turtle emerged from the surf on Seventy-Five Mile Beach as we were passing:

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

Here it is again, with some people in the shot to give some idea of the turtle’s size:

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

We stood well back and watched the turtle as it hauled itself over the sand. It was obvious that this was hard work for the creature. We think it was coming in to lay its eggs in the dry sand at the top of the beach. Alas, a few other people arrived after the above shots were taken, and went too close. So the turtle turned round. People formed a circle round it, so it panicked and started going round and round. The TC had to put on her “I’m a Greenie” hat and tell people to leave a clear path so that the turtle could go back into the sea.

Here’s a video of the turtle, taken before it turned around:

Want to know more about Fraser Island? Try my YouTube playlist, or my other blog posts about the island.

That’s all for today dudes.

Swimming on Fraser Island

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC have been on Fraser Island for a week. I’ve written one or two blog posts about the island. Actually, I’ve written quite a few. The TC has the nerve to call me garrulous. She can talk. I’m sure you’ll want to read about the lakes, creeks and pools on Fraser Island.

Is it safe to swim? Me, I’m no cardboard cutout but I’ll admit that I’m not constitutionally suited to getting wet. The TC, on the other hand, dips herself into every bit of water that’s on offer. She seems to have survived well enough.

Travel tip

Put sunscreen on the tops of your feet too.

The book I’m in

Cell, by Stephen King.

Not as good as his earlier books, better than his later books. A fitting read for Fraser Island, where mobile phone coverage is patchy to non-existent.

The photos

Me at Lake Wabby:

Swimming on Fraser Island

Swimming on Fraser Island

Lake Wabby — it’s like swimming in warm green tea. Cuddle up to the big black whiskery catfish. As is to be expected on Fraser Island, there’s a lot of sand. In fact, the sand dune is slowly and inexorably engulfing the lake. It’s weird approaching the lake through the surrounding forest and seeing the level of the sand gradually rising until it’s half way up the tree trunks.

Swimming on Fraser Island

Swimming on Fraser Island

Lake McKenzie — toothpaste-blue and -white:

Swimming on Fraser Island

Swimming on Fraser Island

Lake McKenzie is one of the island’s famous perched lakes. That means that it perches above the level of the water table. In contrast, most lakes happen when the land dips below the level of the water table. Fraser Island’s perched lakes are even more special, because they’re perched on sand:

Swimming on Fraser Island

Swimming on Fraser Island

Remember to put sunscreen on the tops of your feet. The TC, bless her soul, went walking in open sandals. Here are the resulting red patches, seen through the crystal-clear water of Lake McKenzie. Oh, she’d want me to assure you that her toes look crooked only because of the water distortion:

Swimming on Fraser Island

Swimming on Fraser Island

Champagne pools — a bit tame, not living up to the expectations conjured by their name. These are rock sea pools at the northern end of island, beyond Indian Head. There was a bit of froth when the sea rolled over the rocks into the pools. This must be where the name “Champagne Pools” comes from. But mostly the water was calm and clear. There was a lot of yucky red stuff floating in it: tiny little red balls which other people thought might be “caviar”. The TC insisted on swimming anyway, and remarked loudly on the beautiful shoals of stripy fish that she found. But I noticed that even she didn’t stay in the water for very long.

Swimming on Fraser Island

Swimming on Fraser Island

Eli Creek — dreamy green. Float down the creek with the current. Trees and plants close in around you and the current nudges you under trees and over rocks. Flowers float past you:

Swimming on Fraser Island

Swimming on Fraser Island

There are many more lakes on the island, but the TC did not have time to see them.

Want to know more about Fraser Island? Try my YouTube playlist, or my other blog posts about the island.

That’s all for today dudes.

Fraser Island – it’s all about sand

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC have been on Fraser Island for a week. You may have already seen my three earlier posts: Fraser Island – prehistoric beauty, Getting about on Fraser Island and Deadly pine cones and other dangers.

But I know you’re on tenterhooks waiting to hear about the sand. That’s what it’s all about, after all. Fraser Island is part of the “Great Sandy Region”, and the island itself is made almost entirely of sand. It is the largest sand island in the world. Its dune systems are 30,000 years old, which makes them among the oldest in the world. The brochures say there are 72 different colours of sand on the island.

This worm sat on most of them. Peg was there too, helping to keep me grounded when I was in danger of getting carried away by the sheer beauty of the scenery and, ah-hem, the wind.

Travel tip

People build sand castles on the beach. This makes for an interesting driving experience.

The book I’m in

Et si c’était vrai…, by Marc Levy.

The photos

Me and Peg and some sand on Fraser Island:

Fraser Island - it's all about sand

Fraser Island - it's all about sand

Even the dark stuff that looks like rock is actually sculpted sand:

Fraser Island - it's all about sand Fraser Island - it's all about sand Fraser Island - it's all about sand

Me examining a crab hole in the sand:

Fraser Island - it's all about sand

Fraser Island - it's all about sand

Patterns made by crabs in the sand:

Fraser Island - it's all about sand Fraser Island - it's all about sand Fraser Island - it's all about sand

A creek opening onto the beach:

Fraser Island - it's all about sand

Fraser Island - it's all about sand

The Pinnacles, on Seventy-Five Mile Beach:

Fraser Island - it's all about sand

Fraser Island - it's all about sand

The Red Canyon, also on Seventy-Five Mile Beach:

Fraser Island - it's all about sand

Fraser Island - it's all about sand

One of the peaks in the Red Canyon:

Fraser Island - it's all about sand

Fraser Island - it's all about sand

Sand, footprints and shadow:

Fraser Island - it's all about sand Fraser Island - it's all about sand Fraser Island - it's all about sand

Want to know more about Fraser Island? Try my YouTube playlist. Stay tuned to this blog for more about the island’s lakes and creeks and creatures.

That’s all for today dudes.

Deadly pine cones and other dangers on Fraser Island

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC have been on Fraser Island for a week. Faithful followers of my blog will have already read my two earlier posts: Fraser Island – prehistoric beauty and Getting about on Fraser Island.

But what about the dangers of travelling to a prehistoric, unwired and 4×4-infested island made entirely of sand?

My impressions? Fraser Island is a softy, provided that you go prepared.

We were warned about snakes and sharks —- didn’t see any. We expected big spiders — saw only one, and dead at that. We did encounter dingoes, a dubious jellyfish, bugs that bite, and ninja pine cones.

Curiouser and curiouser

We also encountered confused people in car parks. Have you ever seen any of the episodes of Lost? If you have, alas poor you, but you’d recognise the feeling of tropical muggy not-quite-reality that pervades the island. Luckily, serendipity reigns there too, so it all works out in the end.

So you should expect strangers making weird requests. Here are some of the things people asked us:

  • In the car park at Lake McKenzie, in the middle of the forest in the middle of the island in the middle of nowhere: “Do you have a recharger I can borrow?” (She didn’t say what type of recharger she wanted, or where she would plug it in, or how long we would need to wait until whatever it was was recharged. The TC shook her head regretfully and backed away.)
  • On the beach at Eli Creek: “Can we borrow your car keys to start our car? We’ve lost our keys.” (Without much hope of success, the TC lent them the keys from our Land Rover Defender to start their Toyota. Guess what – it worked. What’s more, they then removed the keys and gave them back to the TC, and their Toyota kept on going. Everything keeps going right… Oops, nearly got trapped in a jingle there.)
  • In the car park at Lake McKenzie: “Can we have a lift to Kingfisher Bay?” The TC said that alas, we were going to Eurong, which is in exactly the opposite direction and on the east coast rather than the west coast. “OK. We go to Eurong.” (They were Swiss backpackers and had walked 40km the preceding day and night. They wound up at Central Station, expecting food and comfort, and found just a logging museum. So we took them to Eurong. They sat in the back of the Land Rover, everyone had a fun journey misunderstanding each other’s English, and they seemed quite happy to arrive in Eurong rather than Kingfisher Bay.)

Travel tip

Bug repellent is a wonderful thing. Roll-on works best.

The book I’m in

Et si c’était vrai…, by Marc Levy.

The photos

Me, Peg, a book and some sand (yes, it’s all sand) on Fraser Island:

Deadly pine cones and other dangers on Fraser Island

Deadly pine cones and other dangers on Fraser Island

The TC and this dingo met up on Seventy-Five Mile Beach early one morning. They eyed each other and kept their distance as each went their own way. Typically, the TC is over the moon about this experience of wild life in the wild:

Deadly pine cones and other dangers on Fraser Island

Deadly pine cones and other dangers on Fraser Island

The TC had to hop around a bit on the beach near Indian Head, to avoid standing on this jelly fish. Is it the deadly Irukandji jellyfish? Who knows. It was about the right size:

Deadly pine cones and other dangers on Fraser Island

Deadly pine cones and other dangers on Fraser Island

The tide is a hazard for the unwary. The only feasible way to travel up and down the length of the island is on Seventy-Five Mile Beach. But parts of the beach are impassable for two hours either side of high tide. The TC had booked a ferry for 9 a.m. on the day of our departure, not realising that high tide was at 7:15 a.m. that day. Oops. So we were up at 4 a.m. and driving by 4:30.

Oh and, btw and fyi, you can’t drive in the dark either, for fear of running over sleeping campers or diving off a sand dune. It’s light at 4:30 a.m. I didn’t want ever to know that.

By 5 a.m. the TC knew we’d make it off the beach in time, so she stopped the car to take this photo. :

Deadly pine cones and other dangers on Fraser Island

Deadly pine cones and other dangers on Fraser Island

Beware the tiny biting insects. They’re so small you hardly see them. They can sting you through your clothing, and the mark they leave is many times the size of the biter.

Deadly pine cones and other dangers on Fraser Island

Deadly pine cones and other dangers on Fraser Island

Most deadly of all , beware the ninja pine cones:

Deadly pine cones and other dangers on Fraser Island

Deadly pine cones and other dangers on Fraser Island

All good island stories have a ninja or two. While we were there, I heard four or five of the cones hit the ground with a resounding THUD. Don’t walk under a kauri pine, or a falling pine cone might render you a modern-day Rip Van Winkle. See the cones littering the ground:

Deadly pine cones and other dangers on Fraser Island

Deadly pine cones and other dangers on Fraser Island

Here’s the culprit, fearsome indeed:

Deadly pine cones and other dangers on Fraser Island

Deadly pine cones and other dangers on Fraser Island

You have been warned!

Want to know more about Fraser Island? Try my YouTube playlist. Stay tuned to this blog for more about the island’s lakes and creeks and creatures. And don’t forget, it’s all about the sand.

That’s all for today dudes.

Getting about on Fraser Island

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC have been on Fraser Island for a week. I told you about it in my last post: Fraser Island – prehistoric beauty. One of the fun things about a holiday on an island is getting there, and getting about once you’re there.

Fraser Island is a bit rough and ready. To get there, you must first find your way to Hervey Bay on the mainland, in Queensland, Australia. There’s a small airport, so we flew in by Virgin Blue Airlines from Sydney.

Next you need to hire a 4wd vehicle and put it on a barge for the short crossing to the island’s west coast. Then you start driving.

My impressions? 4wd travel is fun and gets you to places you’d not see otherwise.

Travel tip

Take your comfort zone with you, be it chocolate, coffee or a friend.

Recommended 4wd rental

Aussie Trax in Hervey Bay on the mainland.

The TC hired a Land Rover Defender. A good, sturdy, feel-the-ground, low-comfort but no-nonsense vehicle. Just what the TC ordered.

Aussie Trax also supplied useful information about driving on Fraser Island, maps and a suggested itinerary. The vehicle gave no trouble whatsoever, which indicates that it is well maintained. A great 4wd experience.

The book I’m in

Creation in Death, by J.D. Robb aka Nora Roberts.

Lieutenant Eve Dallas, New York cop, investigates a series of murders. A good read.

The photos

Me at the Maheno shipwreck, on the east coast of Fraser Island:

Getting about on Fraser Island

Getting about on Fraser Island

The Maheno got into trouble during a cyclone in 1935 and was beached a couple of days later. Luckily there were very few people on board, since the ship was on its way to being scrapped:

Getting about on Fraser Island

Getting about on Fraser Island

This is the Land Rover Defender we hired, on the barge crossing from River Heads to the island:

Getting about on Fraser Island

Getting about on Fraser Island

Here’s a rare shot of the TC, not too steady on her pins in this one. This is just because the ferry ride is a bit bumpy, she’d hasten to assure me:

Getting about on Fraser Island

Getting about on Fraser Island

Driving on a sand road through the forest on Fraser Island. I have to take my hat off to the TC. She got right into the four-by-four driving thing. But I also have to add that it takes more guts to be a passenger than the driver:

Getting about on Fraser Island

Getting about on Fraser Island

We did get stuck a few times. But getting unstuck was quite easy, with some reversing and putting the vehicle into low range for the very soft sand.

On the east coast of the island is Seventy-Five Mile Beach, also called the 4wd highway:

Getting about on Fraser Island

Getting about on Fraser Island

You’re apt to be chased by a small aeroplane, landing on or taking off from the same stretch of hard sand you’re driving on. Take a closer look at the shot above. Can’t see it? Here’s a zoomed-in section of the same photo:

Getting about on Fraser Island

Getting about on Fraser Island

Bus, plane and another 4×4 all comin’ at ya. That’s a mighty narrow strip of hard sand. Take a look through our windscreen:

Getting about on Fraser Island

Getting about on Fraser Island

Yup, sometimes I was glad I was cosily tucked into my book in the TC’s travel bag, along with Peg and the Trail Bars. But it all turned out well in the end:

Getting about on Fraser Island

Getting about on Fraser Island

Here’s a movie so that you can have a full-on virtual experience of driving a Land Rover Defender on Fraser Island. We’re heading east along Cornwells Break Road and driving onto the soft sand of Seventy-Five Mile Beach. You can hear the revs rise when the vehicle starts driving through the soft sand at the top of the beach:

The TC says that driving along Seventy Five Mile Beach is fun, beautiful and just a bit scary. The soft white sand squeals as you drive over it. The darker sand looks hard, but it may just be wet and slushy. The normal rules of the road apply, but not everyone follows them. You have to be aware of the tide and cannot drive on the beach at high tide or for two hours either side of it. There’s a movie of driving along the beach itself on my YouTube playlist.

Here’s a short movie of us driving over a washout on the beach. A washout is where a creek runs down over the beach into the sea:

Driving through the forest is different and even more fun. It really is all sand:

When the TC got back home and drove her little Holden Barina again, she described it as “freaky. I can’t feel the engine rumbling. Is it even running? The clutch is too smooth. And where’s the ground? I can’t feel it at all. It’s just wrong.” That’s the TC for you. Effusive at times, but at least you know where she’s at.

Want to know more about Fraser Island? Try my YouTube playlist for more videos. And stay tuned to this blog for more posts about the island’s lakes and creeks, its creatures and the deadly dangers you are sure to encounter. And, of course, it’s all about the sand.

That’s all for today dudes.

Fraser Island – prehistoric beauty

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion, and then follow my blog posts to share my experiences as bookmark and travelling worm.

I’ll keep it meaningful. Like a t-shirt.

Today’s travel notes

I have spent the last week on Fraser Island, off the coast of Queensland in Australia. Fraser Island is composed almost entirely of sand. At 125 km long and on average 15 kilometres wide, it is the largest sand island in the world. That is but one of the “I’m the xxx-est” claims this bit of land can make. It’s a destination worthy of a traveller of my calibre.

The island was named after a shipwreck victim, Eliza Fraser. That nugget of knowledge sets the scene for an eery and atmospheric journey. It’s a prehistoric place, with ancient plants and unearthly sand formations that have lasted for thousands of years. They seem to be standing up to the latest invasion of humans and 4wd vehicles remarkably well.

To get to the island, you need to fly to Hervey Bay on the mainland, hire a 4wd vehicle and put it on a ferry for the short crossing to the island’s west coast. Then you start driving.

My impressions? Remote enough to be away from the daily grind; not so remote that creature comforts are totally unobtainable. The TC does like her creature comforts.

This blog post is an introduction. Rest assured, I’ll write more about the dangers and delights of Fraser Island in upcoming posts.

Travel tip

Time and tide wait for no worm.

Recommended 4wd rental

Aussie Trax in Hervey Bay on the mainland.

The TC hired a Land Rover Defender. A good, sturdy, feel-the-ground, low-comfort but no-nonsense vehicle. Just what the TC ordered.

Recommended restaurant

Happy Valley restaurant. (That’s not its actual name.)

It’s the only eating place in Happy Valley. The food is reasonable and there’s a good variety. It’s a life saver for weary travellers who haven’t brought enough of their own food to the island.

Recommended accommodation

Sailfish on Fraser apartments in Happy Valley. Not cheap, but excellent value for money.

The book I’m in

The Tenth Circle, by Jodi Picoult.

A troubled book, its straight prose interspersed with comic-book passages which complement the story in the main text.

The photos

Me lurking with a fungus at Wanggoolba Creek, in the middle of the rainforest in the middle of the island in the middle of nowhere:

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Here’s the west coast of Fraser Island, seen from the aeroplane. In the middle you can just make out the pier and the ferry mooring point at Kingfisher Bay:

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

This is Seventy-Five Mile Beach on the east coast of the island, also known as 4wd highway. Happy Valley is about half way up the beach, though you can’t see it in this view:

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

This is one of the weird swamp trees in Dundonga Creek, which opens up into the Great Sandy Strait between the island and the mainland:

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Roots at Dundonga Creek offer a comfortable place to sit. Or perhaps they are reaching out to drag you into the quicksand:

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Since the island is entirely of sand, you wouldn’t expect a dense rainforest or large trees. You’d be wrong. The interior is thickly wooded:

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

The forest feels decidedly prehistoric. Twilight rules. Lianas loom. You wouldn’t be surprised to see an Allosaurus eye peering down at you, or at least a young Harrison Ford:

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

The trees at Central Station are host to a number of large elkhorns and staghorns. These are epiphytes which grow on the trees. Central Station is, you guessed it, in the middle of the island. It was originally a logging station. Now it is a museum with a lot of information and no food for humans. The loggers introduced the elkhorns and staghorns into the area (they were not there originally) and now they happily reproduce themselves. They’re the big green fan-shaped things:

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Here’s the centre of a staghorn (Platycerium superbum):

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

This dude (below) is a King Fern (Angiopteris evecta), an ancient and primitive giant fern. It has the largest fronds in the world. There’s another of those “I’m the best-est” claims which abound on the island. The branches and fronds are supported by the water that the plant has sucked up, not by the plant’s fibre. I overheard a guide saying that this particular plant is 1200 to 1500 years old. So that implies that Wanggoolba Creek has not dried up in all that time. Wanggoolba Creek is one of but a few locations where you can see one of these plants. The creek water is crystal clear below the fern, with white sand and faint green markings:

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Now we’ve crossed over to the east coast of the island. You may think these trees are on rocks, but you’d be wrong again. That’s dark brown, sculpted sand:

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Here are some tracks leading onto Seventy-Five Mile Beach:

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

The sand on Seventy-Five Mile Beach squeaks as you walk on it and squeals as you drive on it. This is an early morning view of the beach before the tide washes away the tyre marks:

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

The whole island, all sand, is anchored on two or three rocky outcrops. The main one is Indian Head, a looming promontory at the northern end of the island. Here is Indian Head, as seen from Middle Rocks (the other main anchor point for the island):

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Indian Head itself offers toe-curling heights:

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Now you’re looking northwards from Indian Head towards Middle Rocks:

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

Fraser Island - prehistoric beauty

This worm has a lot more to say about Fraser Island: the lakes and creeks, the creatures, the deadly dangers and the driving. And of course, it’s all about the sand. Make sure you’re sitting comfortably, and I’ll tell you more tomorrow.

That’s all for today dudes.