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