Today we had to rise at silly o’clock to enable us to catch the 4 wheel drive bus to Fraser Island at 6.15am. Uncannily, I awoke at exactly the right time to the sound of a bird which truly sounded just like an alarm clock – perhaps a parrot copying what it had heard?
The vehicles are quite extraordinary – they are former Australian Army trucks which are then sold to the tour company and used for just 3 years after which they have to be more or less scrapped. They have huge tyres and are capable of crossing most terrains wet or dry and believe me some of the tracks we drive over are seriously bumpy and a challenge for any springs
We need to leave early in order to travel about 1.5 hours to the ferry, cross to the island and then drive on the beach at the right time for the tides, of which more shortly. Before going on to the island the driver has to reduce the tyre pressure from 80 to 40 psi to avoid getting bogged down on the beach. The early start is well and truly worth-while!!
Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. The aboriginal name for it is K’gari, which means Paradise and it is well named. Early explorers like Cook and Flinders were convinced that it was a peninsula. It was named after Eliza Fraser who was with her husband the captain of the Sterling Castle which sank way north on the Barrier reef. In short they managed to get several hundreds of miles south to Fraser island on a lifeboat, whereupon he was killed by Aborigines and Eliza was held captive for 7 weeks or so, before being rescued. They made a film about it starring Susannah York.
We crossed the ferry and started down the beach. This beach is an official highway with a speed limit and the island has many rules to protect the environment. It has the only pure dingoes in Australia and it is forbidden to feed them and the fine for doing so is no less than $10444. They probably throw in some double demerits for good luck. We drove down 75 mile beach which is 59 miles long!! Whoops. We were lucky enough to see a Dingo on the beach. We then headed inland to Central Station which is where the old logging train station was based for 30 years until they got fed up with the embers from the steam trains setting fire to the woods and shut the train in 1935.
The Fraser Island Saternay tree was found to be perfect for use in water and was used to build the Suez Canal and to rebuild the whole of London Docks after the war which is why Prince Harry came to visit recently. Most of the really ancient trees were cut down but we saw one of about 600 years old during our walk in the rain-forest. We also saw a fern monitor lizard and the Squiggly Gum tree which has squiggly marks made on it by the so-called Graffiti Grub.
We drove on to Lake McKenzie which is a Perch lake. This means that it is sitting on a sand dune. About 2000 years ago there was a crater and the branches etc off the surrounding vegetation started falling in and rotting until eventually it formed a type of seal and the water collected and formed the lake. The water is all fresh and quite acidic due to the vegetation and it makes the human skin and hair very soft. We had a long swim and enjoyed the wonderful views of the lake reflecting the sun and blue sky. It is an incredibly beautiful place.  Our president and trip organiser found it all too much and collapsed on the beach!
After a good picnic lunch we headed back. En route along the beach the tide was now well in, but fine for this truck. We saw a number of Sea Eagles including one which had an injured tern in its talons and was then forced to drop it by 2 larger wedge-tailed eagles which are the biggest eagles here The Sea Eagle (also known as the White-bellied eagle) is only 2nd and this time lost out.
All in all this was a great trip to a unique place followed by a relaxing evening in the apartment

Pommie Pete
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