03 – 09.02.2009
Another must see adventure on the Australia Tour was Fraser Island, essentially Fraser Island is a world Heritage Listed Island and the largest sand dune in the world. Fraser Island stretches over 123 kilometers in length and 22 kilometers at its widest point. With an area of 184 000 hectares. Fraser Island`s World Heritage listing ranks it with Australia’s Uluru, Kakadu and the Great Barrier Reef. Fraser Island is a precious part of Australia`s natural and cultural heritage, it is protected for all to appreciate and enjoy. Fraser island is a place of exceptional beauty, with its long uninterrupted white beaches flanked by strikingly coloured sand cliffs, and over 100 freshwater lakes, some tea-coloured and others clear and blue all ringed by white sandy beaches. Ancient rainforest’s grow in sand along the banks of fast-flowing, crystal-clear creeks. Fraser Island is the only place in the world where tall rainforest’s are found growing on sand dunes at elevations of over 200 metres. The low “wallum” heaths on the island are of particular evolutionary and ecological significance, and provide magnificent wildflower displays in spring and summer.
I went on the tour with Bryan (another surf camp student) and as we booked late we could only book onto a tour bus with Cool Dingos which can accommodate up to 40 people but lukily on this tour there were only around 20 of us in total. The group consisted of a variety of nations once again ranging this time from 4 Austrians (who never stopped drinking beer the whole way round, they were even drinking beer for breakfast), a German, 2 Koreans, a South African, a Norwegian, and then the rest was made up of us Brits. There were even 2 guys on the the tour Mark and Adam who were also from Hull so the trip was made even better as we reminisced about home and the mighty Tigers! Fraser Island has immense sand blows and cliffs of coloured sands are part of the longest and most complete age sequence of coastal dune systems in the world and they are still evolving. They are a continuous record of climatic and sea level changes over the last 700 000 years. The highest dunes on the island reach up to 240 metres above sea level. The Great Sandy Strait, separating Fraser Island from the mainland, is listed by the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention). The wetlands include: rare patterned ferns; mangrove colonies; sea-grass beds; and up to 40,000 migratory shorebirds, Rare, vulnerable or endangered species include dugongs, turtles, Illidge`s ant-blue butterflies and eastern curlews. We had a park ranger that was our tour guide so we probably learnt more about the island than if we were to do a self guided 4×4 tour.Fabian our guide greeted us at Kingfisher Bay as we arrived by boat from the mainland. The weather was not looking good for the next 3 days of our trip so we were actually glad to be shown to our accommodation (rather than the tents you would get on the self drive excursion) which were small self contained huts about 5 mins walk from the bar!! When we dropped of our luggage we hooped on the bus for the start of our informative island tour.
Fraser Island was inhabited by the indigenous Butchulla people (they are actually believed to be on the island for at least 20,000 years before the arrival of white settlers) when Captain Cook first sighted the islands in in 1770. Captain Matthew Flinders was one of the first white men to have contact with the islanders and had peaceful meetings with them in 1799 and 1802.Colonization by Europeans caused great conflicts with the Aboriginal people as the European settlers did not understand or respect their tribal boundaries, their social structure or the importance to them of their environment. Today only a handful of Aboriginal tribesmen remain on the island. Land was cleared and agricultural practices established which in turn disturbed the natural supply of food cycles of the native people. Traditions and hunting methods had to be altered for survival. Logging was started on Fraser Island in 1863 by ‘Yankee Jack` Piggott and continued until December 1991 when the island was nominated for World Heritage Listing.Essentially over the 3 days our tour plan was as follows – Central Station – the center of the logging industry on the island until its demise, Lake Mackenzie – a beautiful fresh water lake surrounded by pristine white sands – Seventy Five Mile Beach – yep a beach 75 miles long that stretches down most of the east side of the island and probably one of the most bizarre highways I have been on! – Coloured Sands – a vibrant rack feature that displays up to 70 different colours of sand – Indian Head – which was the most northerly point we went to where we climbed up to the point to spot sharks, rays and turtles – Champagne Pools – the only place you can swim near the sea (as it is a break pool of the rocks) as Fraser Island is breeding ground for sharks and you don`t want to be swimming in the sea there!! – Lake Wabby – another fresh water lake surrounded by the most amazing sand dunes – Maheno Shipwreck – the most famous of the shipwrecks on Fraser (a ship that ran aground during a cyclone and then left to rust on the beach) Eli Creek – a fast flowing creek that pours out around 80 mega litres of water a day.Each day started early and each day also finished quite late (normally around the time the bar closed at 1 am) so each day was both informative as well as energetic and tiring!! The weather was the only real downer on the whole event as it rained most days with caused our bus to get stuck a few times but the group we had was a great laugh and we all got on really well. Fraser Island is a must do adventure in Australia not only for the interesting facts about the largest sand dune in the world but also for the adventure and excitement of roughing it and driving on sand each and every day!!