11-November 2011

Bundaberg continued.......

There was a nice walk down along the waterfront, under the railway to see the trains go by, to a very small zoo, mostly caged birds, an emu, and a couple of ostrich which leads to a park.

Before our departure we went to the Mid-Town Marina to buy fuel (cheaper here than in Airlie Beach). Bundaberg was hit very badly last year with floods. The whole marina was wiped out - the water rose 7 metres! Their chanderly was ruined, the docks were ruined, all the mooring balls were washed away. There were something like 60 boats washed out to sea during the flood. Currently there is no room for visiting yachts, there isn't even room for the local fishing and shrimp boats. They need to dock by the fuel dock. They are still recovering.

Bundaberg to Burnett Heads - 9.63nm

We motored up the river and anchored just outside the Port Marina at Burnett Heads. We had a fun evening of catching up with our cruising friends who have come here to check into Australia. The kids even went around trick or treating to the Canadian and American boats which I have to say, was pretty funny. Everybody was very nice and found some candy for them. We caught up with Leu Cat, Trim, Boree, Sea Mist and the kids favourite - Tahina.

Burnett Heads to Kingfisher anchorage, Fraser Island - 53.45nm

A beautiful downwind sail with the spinnaker, but the anchorage was not protected from north winds so lots of waves. Not a comfortable night.

We had a good time checking out the Kingfisher resort. The kids used the pools at one of the restaurants, went for a walk on the beach, and did a short hike up to a lookout. We booked a 4x4 for tomorrow morning, we had to complete a plethora of forms, sign our life away and watch a 30 minute video on how to drive on sand and all the treacherously awful things that could happen to us if we don't follow the rules. What am I signing up for?

Dingoes (wild dogs) on Fraser Island

There are all kinds of signs about dingoes on Fraser Island. Everywhere I turned I saw a sign alerting us to the dangers of the dingo.

The Fraser Island dingoes are reputedly some of the last remaining pure dingoes in Eastern Australia and to prevent cross-breeding, dogs are not allowed on the island. As of January 2008, the number of dingoes on the island was estimated to be 120 to 150.

Up until 1995, there were no official records of dingoes attacking humans on Fraser Island. In April 2001, a boy wandered away from his family and was discovered dead, with indications of a dingo mauling. Over 120 dingoes were killed by rangers as a result of the incident, though locals believe the number was much greater. In April of this year a 3 year old girl was attacked by two dingoes. She was sitting on the beach away from her parents and two dingoes ran out of the bush and grabbed her. She had several bites on her legs. This seems like very unusual behaviour for wild animals. Perhaps too many tourists on such a small island is not working out so well. Dingoes around camp sites have learnt to scavenge for food, expecting hand-outs from visitors or stealing from picnic tables and tents. Everywhere there are signs telling people not to feed the dingoes and there are penalties for doing so but still people continue to do it. This leads to dingoes associating people's presence with food and if they get hungry they will demand it and become aggresssive. Please people, do not feed the dingoes and let's hope that the Fraser Island dingoes can co-exist with humans for a little longer.

I was constantly on the look out for these dingoes, however we never saw any. Not even one.

4x4 Maniacs - Fraser Island ***One of our top 10***

Fraser Island was inscribed as a World Heritage site in 1992.The island is considered to be the largest sand island in the world. The island has rainforests, eucalyptus woodland, mangrove forests, wallum and peat swamps, sand dunes and coastal heaths. It is made up of sand that has been accumulating for approximately 750,000 years on volcanic bedrock that provides a natural catchment for the sediment which is carried on a strong offshore current northwards along the coast.

We picked up our land cruiser early in the morning ready to roll. We really had no idea what we were getting into as I happily put in the two cappuchinos into the front seat thinking I was going to be able to sip it contently while I looked out the window at the great landscape. Not. The minute we turned the corner we were into deep sand, going uphill with huge ruts, bumps, tree roots and uneven surfaces. This is going to take some getting used to.

Our first stop was Lake Wabby. We walked to a lookout and it was spectaluar. Lake Wabby is surrounded by tall hills, covered in gum trees. Lake Wabby is an example of a barrage lake. A barrage lake occurs when a sand blow damns off the waters naural spint. Lake Wabby is Fraser Islands only barrage lake and is also the only lake to support several varieties of fish. The sand blow that meets Lake Wabby is moving westward of about one metre a year, thus slowly engulfing the lake.

After we left Lake Wabby, it was back on the road, or you really can't call it that, to head out to the ocean. Chris insisted that he get a manual transmission because it would be funner and he could control the vehicle better but he forgot that he had to shift with his left hand which sometimes shifted us instead of third gear but into first gear! Not good when trying to accelerate through a mini sand dune. Just as we were coming up to the beach, we got stuck. Luckily in no time at all, an experienced Aussie came to our rescue and hauled us onto the beach. He told us that our tires were too full of air, so we took some air out and the tires were better. It was almost surreal, as it felt like we were barreling through snow but it was hot so it must be sand.

We were then on the beach road. How kewl is this? There was surprisingly alot of traffic - locals with fishing rods hanging from the roofs, huge tour buses of every kind, planes landing, other rental cars like ours, and campers.

We drove 26 km to "The Pinnacles". The Pinnacles are giant sand towers and spires respresenting 72 different shades of sand. The colouring of the sand is accounted for as oxides of iron and decayed vegetation.

Wreck of the Maheno

It was very funny to see a road sign on a beach wreck. A major landmark of Fraser Island is the shipwreck of the S.S. Maheno. The S.S. Maheno was originally built in 1905 in Scotland as a luxury passenger ship for trans-Tasman crossings. During the First World War the ship served as a hospital ship in the English Channel, before returning to a luxury liner. In 1935, the ship was declared outdated and on 25 June 1935 the ship was being towed from Melbourne when it was caught in a strong cyclone. A few days later, on 9 July 1935 she drifted ashore and was beached on Fraser Island. During the Second World War the Maheno served as target bombing practice for the RAAF and was used as an explosives demolition target by special forces from the Fraser Commando School. The ship has since become severely rusted, with almost three and a half storeys buried under the sand.

Eli Creek

The kids enjoyed Eli Creek alot but the place was like a parking lot! I couldn't beleive the amount of people. We even had a plane land right beside where we parked the car, I was eating a sandwich in the back and because of the wave noise, I never even saw or heard the plane until I got out of the car!

Eli Creek stretches for kilometres inland. On average Eli Creek pumps an enormous 120 million litres of fresh water into the sea every day. You can walk to the end of the boardwalk and float back down the creek, although it was a tad shallow and cold for me.

We made a stop in Eurong, Central Station then Lake Mackenzie. The freshwater lakes on Fraser Island are some of the cleanest lakes in the world. Lake Mckenzie has beautiful white sand and clear water. Lake McKenzie is one of the islands perched lakes. This type of lake is very rare, it was formed by the wind channelling out large hollows in amongst the dunes. Decaying vegetation was blown onto these depressions by the wind, the rain reacted with sand and over a huge period of time, the sand was compacted into a tight sandstone base capable of holding a large body of water.

After returning the car, we went for a swim at the resort's pool. As we were dingying back to the boat, we saw some cruisers we had met in Tonga on a Leopard cat called "Wishful Thinking" anchored right beside us, they are heading to Brisbane as well. We had them over for an impromptu dinner and had a very enjoyable evening getting caught up.

Kingfisher Bay, Fraser Island to Pelican Bay - 31.53nm

Very very shallow.

We are making a guess here, but With all of the storm and flood activity in Brisbane last year alot of silt has washed up or raised the bottom in some places by 5 or 6 feet. Areas that we went through that should have been 14 feet according to the chart were only 4 feet. We past by one multihull who was stuck on the bottom and they only drew .2 of a foot more than us! This isn't called the Great Sandy Straight for no reason. We went through today on a rising low tide. It would be better to wait a few hours and come through on a middle to high rising tide. We past by one other poor monohull who looked very stuck in the sand. Hopefully as the tide rises they will float off.

One event that made the passage more interesting was all the jellyfish that were floating by. Thousands of these jellyfish were floating by the boat. I have tried to determine which species they are but I can't find it. If anyone is up on this, we would love to know.

By the time we arrived at Pelican Bay, it was too late to go anywhere, so we sufficed ourselves with a bbq of sausages and a salad.

The Great Sandy Straight

Pelican Bay to Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast, Australia - 60.95nm

You can't anchor in the boat harbour, there is a very large unwelcoming sign as you motor through the channel that says so. However you forgive Mooloolaba as soon as you drop the hook around the bend from the marina and yacht club. The anchorage is still large and surrounded by private homes, there are no waves and it is very protected. There is a public dock a ways away that you can tie the dingy to, but there is also a small beach closer to town where you can leave the dink as well.

Right across the road is the most amazing surf beach. This seems like a vacation town and it has a real festive atmosphere. There is the legendary "Surf Club" where alot of the action happens. We saw lots of kids taking surf life saving lessons all along the beach. There are life guards on the beach and if you want them to watch you, you can swim or play between the flags. They are also constantly patrolling for jellies or stingers and will put up a no swim flag if they see any. We have been taking our boogey boards over the beach and it has been really fun. A lovely boardwalk meanders along the waterfront and hundreds of people are jogging, and exercising. We even saw a couple of guys jumping off a cliff with parachute (not sure what this is called) and taking the wind to ride it back and forth. It is easy to hang out here.