Fraser Island: Our neighborhood this week

This week, we worked our way up to Bundaberg, lingering a bit in the aptly named Sandy Straits between Fraser Island and the coast of Australia.

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Fraser is believed to be the largest sand island in the world. More than 50 miles long but less than 10 miles wide, it has ribbons of white beaches backed by gum trees.

The shallow depths and tidal swings provided a minor pucker factor as we sailed between the shifting sand shoals. Friends coming south through this area last year had touched bottom; another went hard aground on a sandbar here in June. 24 hours aground and bouncing on the bar did damage to his boat that we’d really like to avoid. Timing our progress, we passed shallows that would have put us aground with two hours of high tide, looking between the different messages from buoys, charts, water color, and depth sounder with our fingers crossed.

The coast of Fraser treated us to a few sweet little anchorages.It’s also home to dingoes. We brought our own wildlife ashore to inspect.

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They’re common on the island, and have enough run-ins with visitors that warning signs (and and a ring fence) were posted around the resort where we beached the dinghy to hike one day.

Since our friends on Ceilydh and Whatcha Gonna Do (plug: the lovely WGD is for sale!) had seen these wild dogs when they passed through, we had high hopes for our own sighting. Our hikes in search took us to beautiful vistas that reminded me of the view from Chuckanut drive back home.

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We wandered the beaches, where fine silica and little traffic sometimes sank us mid-calf into the soft sand.

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But dingo sightings? No such luck! The hikes and nice beach walks had a spectrum of Australian critters, but the closest we got to a dingo were tracks. Lots of tracks. Tracks criss-crossing the beach, mocking us with the message of what we’d missed. We’d been trying to watch that beach through pea-soup fog in the morning to no avail- I have to wonder if we weren’t being watched from the bushes.

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But what we did find was lovely. Pretty oystercatchers, foraging in the tidal flats with their shocking orange beaks. The perfect geometry and castle-like peaks of a beautiful shell. The coarse surface of an old whale bone, broken in the shallows. Beetle larvae tracks carving a twisty path through eucalyptus trees.

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And my personal favorite, the jewel-like egg sacs of jellyfish. Hundreds of them scattered along one beach, where they glistened like crystal balls in the sun.

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We could have lingered to notch “dingo sighting” off our bucket list, but we’re eager to leave. As beautiful as this is, the excitement of what awaits in Papua New Guinea makes it pale by comparison. So we have pulled in near Bundaberg for our last tasks and deliveries before departure.

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11 Responses to Fraser Island: Our neighborhood this week

  1. boatbaby September 21, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    So excited to see what lies ahead for you all! And that dingo sign, I can’t believe that! I guess it’s true about dingoes and babies 🙂

    • Behan Gifford September 21, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

      Cindy, did you know that there had been another inquest into the “dingo took my baby” case this year? The dingo was ruled the culprit.

  2. Dave Benjamin September 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    Looks like one of those wonderful exotic places to work on the boat. Wish I was there!

  3. Charlotte September 21, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    What a gorgeous island. Can’t wait to talk to you!

  4. rockfarmer September 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    Those jellyfish egg sacs are incredible! We’re so excited for your unfolding adventure, looking forward to following along from this island here.

  5. Doug and Carla Scott September 21, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    Beautiful photos of beautiful places we might never see, so grateful you are sharing. Hope your weather window opens soon to PNG!

  6. Anonymous September 21, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    Hi Behan and family!

    We have just started looking at your blog with keen interest – we are about to leave Sydney and do a very similar trip with our little family 🙂 We can’t wait to see how you go in PNG!

    Anyway, just wanted to say you’re very inspirational.

    Oh and not to be pedantic, but I think those jellyfish egg sacs are actually a snail egg sac 🙂

    Happy cruising,
    Jill and family on Blue Bayou

    • Behan Gifford September 21, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

      Jill, so glad you are enjoying the blog. Good luck with your adventure! Thank you for the egg sac correction- I always want to know what I’m looking at. Someone had given us the off info, but we couldn’t find it in our books. Looking up the critter now- I love that it is called a “predatory” sand snail. Doesn’t that sound scary, and just a little comical? The sacs were stunning in the sunlight.

  7. Skipperette September 21, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

    Hi Totem Explorers!
    Dennis and I can’t wait to get there. Thanks for sharing your travels. It has inspired us for the World ARC 2014. We are thinking of taking a year off from the ARC and staying in that area for a year before rejoining. We have to catch up before we leave next October. Your blogs are so informative and we can’t believe how much the kids have grown! When will you see Mom and Dad Fravel next?
    Sherry
    sv-Trillium.blogspot.com

    • Behan Gifford September 22, 2012 at 7:09 am #

      Sherry, that highlights two of the reasons we’ve never been part of a formal rally. It’s someone else’s schedule, and too fast for us. When I’ve gone that far, I want to take the time to enjoy the destination! I have no idea when we will see my parents, we’d spend most of our annual cruising budget just on flights to get back. 🙁

  8. Stephanie September 25, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    Beautiful pictures! Thanks, as always, for being my mental vacation. 🙂

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