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.

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