Our third World Heritage listed area in as many weeks. And each of them has been so different – the Great Barrier Reef; the Wet Tropics and now Fraser Island. At Fraser you have a sense of endless beach and endless sky. The weather is gloriously sunny and we are making the most of it.
It has been about 12 years since I was last here, which seems rather strange as it was something we did fairly regularly when we lived in Brisbane. Andrew would come every year with his mates for a boys fishing week in August (a very common Brisbane thing to do). But I guess kids and other things came along and the fishing trips got abandoned. The kids were very keen to see Fraser so we decided that we would spend most of our final week of the holiday at Fraser. We had to do two days of driving to get that far south again. I felt like I should be in a decompression chamber or something to recover from the difference of far north tropical Queensland to the outskirts of Brisbane. Tara summed it up nicely when she said on exiting the car “I feel like I have jet lag or car lag or something”. So true. Still, it is nice to think that we will stay put here for a few days and just relax before we have to head back into the real world. And a big chunk of our driving has now been done.
The day we arrived (at the crack of dawn ofcourse, on the very first ferry at 6.30am) I was resentfully thinking that we could have easily fitted in a quick stop at a cafe first for a coffee and some breakfast for me. Three hours later as we were just about at the place we had planned to camp, and running out of beach to drive on with the tide coming in, I was glad that I was not in charge of planning our departure time! We saw hundreds of dead birds that had been washed up on the beach on the previous nights tide. It was a really disturbing sight that went on and on, for about two-thirds of the drive up 75 mile beach. I silently hoped that they were seagulls or pigeons or some sort of ‘expendable’ (in my mind) bird and not some important migratory species. After speaking to the ranger we found out that they were mutton birds, migrating south for our summer. Those poor birds, so far from home. Over a massive sea they encountered a storm, had no energy left to fight and fell from the sky with no one to observe or mourn their fate.
We heard stories from other families we met that Fraser was no longer as good as it used to be – too crowded, etc. And certainly it is still (more of) a big destination for back packers and other tourists. It has definitely changed in the decade or so since we were last here. The changes have been good though, and they were needed. With so many people visiting the island they needed to manage where people stayed, how waste was managed etc. Sure, it is not as much of a “wilderness” experience as it once was. But all signs of the management of the island we can see appear to have been well done. Camping areas have been fenced off and electric grates put at the entrance (to keep dingoes away) which provides safety for people as well as keeping temptation (of food not people!) away from the dingoes. They were getting to be a major problem a few years ago with people being attacked and one young child killed. No matter how many warning signs used to be put up, tourists kept feeding the animals which ofcourse made the humans look like big food signs to the dingoes. Now there are big fines for leaving food out, as well as for actively feeding any wild animal. There are tons of tour operators bringing car after car of (mostly young) visitors to the island. We see them arriving in the morning and departing late afternoon. It makes me wish I had been more adventurous when I was their age.
Sam in particular has been really enjoying some serious father-son fishing time! Can you see the two of them – tiny figures in matching red shirts?