Aus Update 36 - Australia Zoo, Hinterland & Fraser Island

<Paula> 10th April 2007 to 15th April.  We left the coast and headed north via what the brochure called the 'Hinterland Tour'.  It was a very beautiful drive.  Our camera doesn't take very good landscape shots so we didn't bother with lots of photos.  The one below is of the Glasshouse Mountains.  The lookout for the mountains was right in the middle and we took this photo of them further down the road and liked it better because you can get the overall impression.   They are called volcanic plugs, I am not sure of all the details.

The following day we spent at Australia Zoo.  It is something we thought we should just do, it being so famous and all.  First mistake we made was to go during school holidays.  The place was packed!  They used what we considered an obsolete queuing system which didn't do us any favours anytime we were required to use it.  The negative part of the experience out of the way, overall it is a very good zoo.  We thought the entry price was a little on the high side, but we could definitely see where it went to.  The animal enclosures were very spacious and there were keepers for the animals in attendance for each enclosure all the time.  They played games with the animals, took them for walks throughout the entire zoo, we were very impressed.

The highlight would have to have been the show they put on in the crocoseum.  The crocoseum is a massive auditoruim with  an enclosed pond that has a canal system to the croc enclosures.  Apparently this was one of  Steve Irwin's visions that everyone said wouldn't work, because you can't train crocs to go where you want them to.  But it works.  The show started off with Bindi (Irwin) &  The Croc Men.  They have a kids show on animal planet.  They were really good, lots of really fun songs with great actions, all about animals (the photo below they were being eagles).  It was for this show that Steve Irwin was filming for when he was killed last year.  Then we had a good intoduction to lots of different animals like the elephants below, snakes and lots of different kinds of birds.  The finale was the crocodiles, and Terry Irwin  was one of the people to present this part of the show, the photos below show only a small part of it, Terry is getting the croc to jump out of the water.  Apart from showing us all what the animals can do they explained their habits, habitat, and safety for us and the animal.  It was a very informative and interesting hour and half.   

We came out on the coast at the top of the sunshine coast at Noosa Heads.  I guess the school holidays was the reason for it being so packed that you couldn't find a park anywhere.  We didn't really stop, only long enough to take a picture and use the restrooms.  It appeared to be a very beautiful place though.

We drove north to Rainbow Beach where we purchased our driving and camping permits and we got on the ferry at Inskip Point and headed to Fraiser Island for 3 days.  This was a very different part of our trip and I was a little nervous, because everything is sand on the island.  That is all roads are either beach or sandy tracks.  

Ferry from Inskip Point to Fraiser Island

Driving from the Ferry to  our first campsite. Thankfully the tide was on the way out.

Photo of the Pacific Ocean from our campsite, a very peaceful place.

The following day we drove the rest of the length of the eastern beach. There were lots of things for you to stop and take photos of along the way, The Pinnacles, Red Canyon, Maheno Wreck, and the nicest was Eli Creek.  Eli Creek was one of many fresh water streams that flowed out onto the beach, this one was deep though and you could go upstream and float down, it was quite beautiful upstream.  It is also one of a couple of streams that you need to be careful of when driving along the beach as it forms deep sand banks (more like drop offs) that you can't see until you nose dive off it (more on that for the next day).

Not really indicative of driving along the beach, there is usually lots of other 4x4's around.

Eli Creek.

The beach is not only the main highway it has multiple possible airstrips as well.

The Maheno Wreck, which will one day no longer exist and therefore no longer be a tourist attraction.

Here comes the fun part.  Getting off the beach proved to be a challenge, not for the car, or for Chris's driving, but rather our tyres were not up to the task.  Chris knew that we needed some new tyres but hadn't found what he wanted yet,  and when we lost momentum usually due to other vehicles, our sweet Marverick sank till it was sitting on it's underbelly.   The first photo here was some other people that were stuck and we waited for the way to clear, but everyone that went through got stuck.  I don't have pictures of us stuck here but some nice European guys helped dig out the tyres and push.  The second photo was the next beach we were exiting, that is Chris digging some sand out from the back wheel.  I was outside the car and watched this happen and it was really quite interesting to see the car once it lost momentum it just stopped going forward and literally just sank!  We got ourselves out of this one, correction, Chris got himself out of this one, I am afraid I wasn't much help, neither was I enjoying the experience that much.  Chris on the other hand, was having a ball!

This was our campsite at Waddy Point, it was raining which was a surprise, hence why we put up the shade.  It was a really nice campsite that was fenced to keep out dingos, although we had only seen one since arriving  on the island. The campsite also had showers which was very welcome. The second photo was taken the next day on our return along the beach. It is of Indian Head,  the site of the first time we were stuck and shortly to be the third time we got stuck.

Here it is, the third time we got stuck.  Which only happened because a vehicle coming the other way caused us to move over into the soft stuff.  Some nice Aussie guys helped dig some meticulous shaped sloping trenches for the wheels and then helped push to get us going.  The second picture is of Chris just re-inflating his tyres after letting them down heaps to get us though the soft stuff.

We then did an inland track, the central lakes scenic drive.  This drive is 3okm long and is recommended to take 2 hours.  It took that long exactly, plus some time to stop off and look at Lake McKenzie.  When you see pictures of  Fraser Island I am sure that it is this lake that you see.  It is very beautiful, with white sand and crystal clear waters.  The lakes on Fraser are the fresh water source for the locals and visitors.  This lake and others on the Island are called Perched Lakes.  I never did find out the definition of a perched lake but Fraser has half of the perched lakes in the world.  It has something to do with the por0us sand and the water table.  You will have to look that one up in Wikipedia for me.  You can see by the picture of Chris at Lake McKenzie that they are really spectacular.  Fraser also has the largest Perched lake in the world, Lake Boomajin.  It was amazing that I was  able to get a photo of Chris with no one else in the photo because the place was very popular for swimming and general laying around in the sun.  The water was surprisingly warm too.  We finished this track and headed south along the eastern beach. 

We were going to camp at a lake on the southern lakes scenic track and we needed to get to the turn off before the tide came in too much.  The beach is impassible 2 hours either side of high tide and our experience with soft sand didn't bode well for us if we were caught out.  So we drove faster than we should have along the beach for how high the tide was.  The speed limit is 80km/hr, though we were only doing 60.  We noticed as time moved on and the tide got higher that there were no vehicles left on the beach, just us and that is when we were very shocked as we dropped off into a creek that we didn't see until it was too late. Water covered the car and we couldn't see a thing, one good point was that it was fresh water and the car needed a rinse.  The creek was deeper than we had anticipated and we honestly thought we were going to  nose plant into the sand, but thankfully the Mightly Maverick just kept right on going.  These cars are really something else.  We made it off the beach and it was quite an experience.

We camped at Lake Boomajin for the night and the following photos are just a small sample of the wildlife we encountered.  I will start with the spider, for those that are spider phobic like myself you may want to skip this bit.  The toilet block was quite a distance away so after dark I really didn't want to go over there by myself with dingos around and stuff so Chris came too.  I went into the cubicle and closed and locked the door as you do. Sat down, then I looked up and saw this massive spider, which looked much bigger than in this picture because with all the attention Chris was giving it, it got shy and scrunched up.  Apparently I started to sound like I was hyper-ventilating, but all I was thinking was I have to get out of here and the spider wouldn't be covered by the door when I opened it and I had to pass by.  That brick it is on is not a regular sized brick but rather a cement block, that will give you an idea of the size. I ran out of the toilet block and Chris was there very worried about what was happening.  He had his phone in his pocket so true to form he had to take a photo.  It was the ugliest spider I have ever seen, it's eyes were on the end of stalks you could see moving!  I ended up using the mens seeing we were two of only four people staying at the campsite. That is I used the mens only after Chris had chased off the cane toad and flushed the giant cricket.  I am starting to really appreciate the toilet that you dig with a spade.

The second photo  is much nicer, it was weird to see, while we were eating breakfast across the carpark came 94 hairy caterpillars  nose to tail in one big line.  Soon after came another 25, they were the late risers, they had somewhere to go and they weren't going to stop for anything.

We finished the rest of the Southern drive stopping to look at the sights along the way. The forest was very different than the day before and very beautiful.  Then headed out to the ferry that was going to take us to Hervey bay, and we waited for it's departure.  It was a really low tide and they left loading the ferry till really late, we ended up leaving half an hour late.  When the captain was giving his safety talk he was saying that if we ran aground that he will be asking everyone on board to move to one side of the vessel, apparently this works to get us afloat and out of the creek, of course we all thought he was joking, thankfully we didn't have to find out.   On Fraser I really enjoyed the scenery of the inland tracks more than the beaches, the lakes were amazing.