Friday, March 7, 2008

Fraser Island - Sand Fly Capital of the World

Lisa was sure to keep the car on 'speed control' so she did not get another speeding ticket, but we finally made our way to Bundaberg where Karin had read about seeing Loggerhead turtles nest and hatch. We made it to Mos Repos Conservation park, just in time after a long days drive and managed to squeeze in one more nature thrill - a night walk on the beach to witness the 'running of the baby turtles'.

We felt really excited to walk out onto this dark beach with only the sound of crashing ocean waves. We were guided by a park ranger by one flashlight to an area where a Loggerhead turtle nest was about to hatch. What a thrill! These little tiny turtle turtles with the strongest little flippers and tenacious will to run to the ocean came bursting out of this hole in the sand. There was a group of about 30 people accompanied by the ranger whose primary concern was the welfare of each of these hatchlings.

We formed a long 'Tunnel of Light' using our flashlights between 2 lines of people and guided the 95 hatchlings from their sand nest to the ocean to begin their life. It took them only 5 minutes to reach the ocean and swim away. Karin aptly renamed this "The Tunnel of Love". What amazed us the most, is that these turtles knew exactly what to do. A Loggerhead Turtle is an endangered species. Only 1 in 500 of these hatchlings will reach sexual maturity at age 30 and find her way back to this same beach to lay eggs for the next generation. The temperature of the sand determines the sex of the turtle and this beach produces mostly females that require warmer temperatures (because women are hotter!).

From Bundaberg, we made our way directly to catch the ferry to the "Land of Sand". Fraser Island may be the largest sand island in the world, but it is also the greatest sand fly capital and every one of those flies has bitten poor Karin. She has the red spotted legs to prove it. And blisters to boot. But even though the flies looked at Karin as the next meal, we still adored Fraser Island.

The 40 minute ferry from Hervey Bay took us the the posh Kingfisher Bay resort. We loved the extravagance of this resort. Heated pools, cabana boys (well, almost) and cold beer by the poolside. Karin went for all the nature walks offered; Lisa slugged by the pool with a beer or slept in.

There are no roads on this island, only sand road tracks and 4WD is the only method of transportation. It was like being on a roller coaster at times and we were amazed at how this 4WD bus (18+ gears) could manoeuvre through these forested sand one track roadways. The coolest feeling was when we exited from the forest into the wide open 75 Mile Beach and cruised at 80 km/hr along the sand beach highway. On one side of the roadway is the ocean and a shipwreck, on the other side was vegetation, coloured sand cliffs, sand blows and freshwater creeks that flow into the ocean. The same road rules apply: drive on the left, pedestrians watch for vehicles before crossing the beach!

We took a joyride 15 minute flight in a 7 seater plane over the island. The runway, of course, was the beach!! A great aerial view of the numerous fresh water lakes, one in the exact shape of a butterfly, the sand blows, the old tropical forest and the sand track roads. We had a smooth landing on the beach and hopped back on the bus.

We had a lovely 1.5 km walk in the tropical rain forest at Wanggoolba Creek where the water is so clear and pure that you cannot even distinguish that it is water. Our last stop was a swim at the crystal blue water and silica sand white beach of Lake McKenzie where our visit was topped off with our first sighting of a dingo. Fraser Island is known as the last place in Australia where the dingo is pure bred and the population is well protected by the rangers. The dingo here has a lifespan of 5-7 years because they ingest so much sand and are unable to absorb nutrients from the food.

Kingfisher Bay Resort was a wonderful place to stay for ecotourism. Anyone interested in this type of holiday, should be sure to include a visit to this resort.

1 comment:

Steven and Michael said...

I'm so jealous that you got to see the baby turtles - unfortunately we were too early to see them in Costa Rica - but I definately want to make a separate trip just for that.

Everything sounds so amazing - I wish I was still away - another MAJOR storm (possibly the largest this season) is bearing down on us - yippee!