Saturday, 8 July 2017

Episode 60 Fraser Island and Rural QLD


Episode 59 was a good month of cruising with the best weather we’d had in ages.
We had a great time exploring Great Keppel Island before spending almost 2 weeks in Lady Musgrave Lagoon diving, spearing and kiting and then 10 days in the northern Fraser Island area. Finally finishing in Hervey Bay.

We saw Manta Rays on every dive at Lady Musgrave Island

A glass out at sunrise in Lady Musgrave Lagoon

At the end we gave Lorelei a well-earned break and parked her up in a marina berth at the Great Sandy Straights Marina for a month.


So this Episode is not about sailing as Lorelei enjoys a month of rest and maintenance.
Instead this Episode is about a family 4WD holiday on Fraser Island and Paul spending time with his parents on their farm in Rural Queensland while Lisa (who didn't take a camera) spent time with her family on the NSW Central Coast.

Our Location for this Episode

Our 4WD Route during our stay on Fraser Island

We arrived at the Marina at lunchtime on Monday and had less than 24 hours before Paul’s dad George, brother Rod and his new girlfriend Kelly (who we hadn’t met yet) were arriving for a family holiday 4WDing on Fraser Island.

It was a frantic 24 hours with us getting settled in, hiring the marina car to do some shopping before cleaning Lorelei, washing her from top to bottom and putting all her long term covers on.
We finished well after dark but did enjoy a nice sunset over the marina as we washed and scrubbed.


The next morning the frantic pace continued with a visit from the local refrigeration mechanic.
Lisa defrosted the freezer two days prior, but when she turned it back on, it wasn’t working as it should. Additionally we had a long term issue with the fridge that 3 previous fridge tradies (over the last 2 years) weren’t able to fix.

Ross the owner of Heat Attack turned up on time, fixed both issues in just 4 hours. He was super friendly, very knowledgeable and well-priced so we can highly recommend him.

During that time George, Rod and Kelly had arrived.
They had some wild stories about their 2 day drive from the NSW Central Coast as they drove 16 hours, 9 of those through heavy rain and minor flooding on the first day.
Fortunately the food shopping still had to be done so Lisa took off with them to Hervey Bay to get that done while Paul and Ross finished up.
Paul had just enough time to get Lorelei back to normal and get all the gear for Fraser out before the gang returned and we all lugged it up to the car.
At 2pm we were packed and ready to head to the Barge which was departing at 4pm.
The car was soooo overloaded with all the gear for 5 of us. We even had to pump rear shocks up with the air compressor!

Talk about a crazy 36 hours for everyone!!!!


And we’re all in this together……

We arrived well ahead of time and watched the barge cross back from Fraser Island to pick up its next load of vehicles.


It was interesting to watch the cars unloading off the barge backwards.


Sure enough, we had to reverse on too so was were facing forwards when we departed at the destination.


Because we were first on, we were able to watch the larger buses and truck reverse on after us.


The trip over was great with good views sitting high upstairs.


We arrived at 5pm but because of the low tide, the barge had to land at Kingfisher Resort rather than further south at Woongoolba Creek.
The downside of that was that we had a 1 hour drive from Kingfisher Bay to our accommodation at Eurong.


We departed the barge in daylight but arrived in the dark at Eurong after a bumpy 4WD trip with the well overloaded car.

We were all cold, hungry and tired but fortunately the accommodation was awesome with an amazing 3 story beach house and the girl’s smart forethought to get hot BBQ chickens and salad whilst shopping meant for a quick and stress-free dinner.

The amazing 3 story beach house that was our home for a week





The next morning we took off north along the beach to explore a few areas on the east coast shoreline.
The high tide, strong winds and large seas were pushing water right up onto the flat part of the beaches. That combined with fresh water runoff from the previous rains put sheens of glassy water over the sand that made for excellent reflection photos.



On the larger creek crossings and runoffs, Rod had fun driving the car through the freshwater.


Rod made the most of doing the u-turns as Paul asked him to do the crossing again for more photos


Eli Creek was our first stop and we were amazed to find the popular tourist spot with not a single other person there.


We wandered up the creek in the cool but crystal clear fresh water.





We ventured up to Happy Valley and stopped for morning tea.
Inside the shop was a lot of memorabilia from one of Fraser Island’s most iconic attractions – the Maheno Shipwreck, which went aground on the beach in 1935.

The shop had lots of old photos of the wreck as well as a scale model and a replica ships bell.



We continued on up the beach to the Maheno and we found virtually nobody at the shipwreck site and were able to get some great photos.




With the no crowds, a high tide and rough seas pushing water through the wreck, Paul set up a tripod and a dark neutral density filter so he could do some 2-4 second exposures around the wreck. The result made the water look like fog around the ship.
The problem was getting the timing right so the salt water waves didn’t splash up onto the camera and tripod and the added problem of the tripod moving by sinking into the soft sand.
It was a fun challenge…..



Note Rod standing on the deck as the water rushed past underneath him



After lunch, we went down to the beach in front of our house to see if we could find beach worms or pipis to use as bait for fishing.
The film of water over the beach made for more great reflections.




There were loads of birds sitting on the shoreline and flying around.


Further up the beach Paul spied a lone Dingo walking around up in the sand dunes.
At first it was a bit of two and fro as Paul stalked the Dingo before the Dingo started stalking Paul.


Eventually they both became comfortable around each other and the Dingo followed Paul down to the beach and even along the water’s edge.



George brought the car up to the action and the Dingo has happy to walk around the car.



A breakdown tow truck zoomed past at speed and the Dingo wasn’t fazed at all.


Eventually it was happy to sit down as Paul sat down near it.



With the big seas and overcast conditions, we decided to head into the centre of the island and explore the forest areas.
However we still had to drive a little way up the beach before cutting into the islands centre.

As we drove north, we stopped to see 2 planes and a makeshift beach runway as they waited for tourists eager to do a joy flight over the island.


It was pretty cool to not only watch the plane taxi to the beach runway, but to also follow the plane along in the car as it took off.


We took some trails with soft sand and high banks surrounded by huge trees.
It was very picturesque.


First stop was the magnificent Central Station.
The area is stunning and filled with many walks, huge pine and eucalypt forests, creeks and lots of history about the old settlement and timber cutting era.
Paul and George saw some huge Stag Horn Ferns on the tree trunks.


The highlight is the board walk along Woongoolba Creek.



Rod and Lisa found a vine that looped nearly to the ground.
A few heavy tugs confirmed it may hold a person’s weight so it became a swing.
At first it was a few small pushes but in the end they were both pushing out from high up the bank and way out over the path.



Paul took his shoes off and waded down to the shallow but cold creek to get some photos.
It was dark with the overcast conditions and dense canopy but there were no shadows which was perfect for some slow exposure wide angle photography.





We drove to another place called Pile Valley which was filled with huge Hoop Pines.
As we walked along the trail it started to rain and by the end we were all in wet weather jackets and soaked.

Tree Hoggers – opps I mean Tree Huggers!!!!!!

Despite a rainy afternoon and evening (which meant “Cloudy with a chance of Drinking….”), we were determined to go fishing the next day.
With still big seas, we opted to drive over to the islands west coast and try the calmer bay side.

First stop was Woongoolba Creek where it exits to the Bay.
It is a muddy creek but there were lots of nipper (yabby) holes so we pumped for nippers and had a stack in the bucket in under 40 minutes.


We tried fishing in the creek but it was muddy, raining and not very pleasant so we didn’t last long.


So we aborted and after consulting the map, we decided to head to Ungowa instead. It was an area we had visited by boat before but we weren’t sure of the road access.
We gave it a go anyway….

The road into Ungowa was overgrown so it was evident that it had only had little use recently.
However it was beautiful with lots of big trees and some great little timber bridges that we had to cross over.



With just 3km to go all was going well but we came around a corner to find a long tree had fallen down over the road.


It wasn’t too big but it had 2 main trunks and went into the bush either side at least 6m/20ft so there was no chance to move it by hand.

So we cleared away the smaller branches so we could work on the main trunks.


Soon it was out with the 4wd recovery gear. Rod and George turned the car around and hooked up a snatch strap to the car and around the trunks.


It took a lot of grunt from the car in low range 4WD, but eventually the tree moved and Rod was able to pull it straight and drag it down the road to a wider section.

Note the roots of the tree ploughing the sand on the road

We weren’t able to get it off the road but at least now it was just wide enough to pass.

Success!!! Just……

In stark contrast to Woongoolba Creek, Ungowa was awesome with a timber ramp and wharf to fish off and lots of structure in the water which made some great fish habitat.



We all caught undersized fish and 6 or 7 different species, but the catch of the day went to Rod who hooked a decent Flathead off the old jetty.



With finer weather and abating seas, we packed the car for a full day trip the next day and headed north along the east coast beach all the way up to Indian Head.

On the way we stopped at a few place for a look.
First stop was The Pinnacles which is a series of hard packed coloured sand pinnacles just back from the beach.


Sadly the National Parks have fenced it off and only built a tiny little fenced walk that basically goes to nowhere and you can’t see anything.
Very disappointing considering you can see the walking tracks going around the fences to access them. You’d think with miles of the coloured and packed dunes, they’d allow access to some of it……

The second stop at Red Canyon was much better.

We walked up a small but lush green valley filled with Pandanus Palms.



We found some small but colourful red sand blazes.




Paul climbed further up the ridge to get a view over the valley and beach.


Along the beach were some serious wash outs from the excess runoff from the rain so we had to be careful and not drive along too fast.


The view from the top of Indian Head was excellent looking back south.


The other side of Indian Head made for a great lunch stop as it was protected from the wind.


A little way past Indian Head is Waddy Point and the home to the popular Champagne Pools.

The walkway to the pool goes over the headland and gives amazing views out over the ocean and to the whales that were frolicking just off the coast.
We were excited to find the place uncrowded.



Looking north, the next bay looked very rough and unforgiving.


Paul had his underwater camera with him (without the strobes) and was able to get into the pools to photograph the waves that come over the rocks and into the pools.
Lisa and George also came for a swim and with a mask, were able to see loads of big Whiting and Bream.



Paul was also able to get half and half photos in between the waves crashing in, roughing up the surface and clouding the viz.



Finally the weather was getting better and better.
Paul and George were able to do a second trip up to the Maheno Wreck for a sunset photo session.
Sadly it wasn’t one of those super red sunsets but still the low light and varied colours meant for some fun time exposure photos on the tripod.







Paul was able to do some editing to one of the photos to create this mix of black and white/colour photo.


We woke the next morning to a beautiful day which was the type of day we were waiting for to visit the inland lakes.
Fraser Island has over a dozen perched lakes scattered throughout its interior but the most popular (and accessible) is Lake McKenzie.
So we planned to visit a few starting in the south and finishing at the famous Lake McKenzie.

The drive in through the forest was stunning with massive trees lining the road.



There were big gullies with narrow sides we had to drive through.


The roads looked smooth and fast and we assumed they had been recently graded.
Sure enough, 5 minutes later we pulled up behind the grader.
It was going very slow but the driver kindly pulled over only a few minutes later to let us past.


When we were driving along, Rod spied a series of trees that had the bark strip off and engraving on the tree.  They looked really old and we wondered just how long ago the engravings were done.


The first lake we visited was Lake Boomamjin.
It had a fantastic foreshore but the water had a very strong tannin colour from the surrounding tea trees.
Its claim to fame is it’s the world’s largest perched lake.



The second lake, Lake Birrabeen had much clearer water with no discolouration.



Around the edge of the lake were some very unusual red plants that were growing in the wet sand.


The last stop was Lake McKenzie.
This lake is famous for its crystal clear fresh water.
Looking down from the walking trail, the water looked clear in the shallows but a dark blue in the deeper parts.


George took a great panoramic of the foreshore.


Whilst the rest of the group stayed dry, we both went for a swim and took the underwater camera. It was crystal clear but really cold.


We found a spot in a little side bay that was out of the wind for the photos.
The lack of wind was for 2 reasons – to keep the water surface smooth and to stop the wind chill on our skin.


It took a bit of coaxing to get Lisa to dive under but she did – finally…



Whilst we were in the water doing the photos, George walked around the edge of the lake and took some photos of us in the little bay.


While Lisa relaxed back on the beach trying to warm up in the sun,
Paul took the camera around the little bays foreshore and had fun in the reeds doing some under/over and underwater photos looking up.


Rod got up early to go fishing the next morning and Paul took the car up the beach to capture a sunrise along the beach.
The best results were down close to the water’s edge to get the water sheen reflections and the waves.
The problem was the waves washing under the tripod and moving the camera around and even the occasional splash of saltwater over the camera.
The results were great but it took a while to break down the tripod and freshwater wash it when he got home.





Being alone and so early, Paul had a couple of local animals come to visit.
Two Dingos decided to come and have a look and tried to get into the car when Paul was a little silly and left the back door open.
When he moved the car down closer he realised the car would make a great subject with the reflections and the dingos followed which also created a reflection shot of them.



On our last full day on the Island, we took the 4WD over to Kingfisher Bay Resort.
The first thing to do was to have a walk along the resort’s pier.
You are allowed to fish off it and we took fishing gear, but the tide was too low.




For lunch we had a look at the resort’s day visitor facility and brought some hot food to go with our picnic.



The main resort is quite luxurious and we checked out the main building and its various restaurants.



Out the front is one of the anchors from the Maheno Shipwreck


On the way home we drove along a road we had travelled a few times over the course of the week.
Paul had seen a large felled tree that was covered in moss and had a split down the centre and this time we were able to pull over and have a look at it.




Sadly that night we packed up the house and loaded the car ready for an early departure the next morning.
Fortunately with a lot of the food eaten and drinks gone, the packing was slightly easier than the trip across and the car a bit lighter – thankfully!!!

We arrived at Woongoolba Creek in time to pump up the tyres and watch the ferry arrive in the glassy protected waters of the creek.


The ferry staff told us that in the afternoon the wind was due to exceed 50 knots (100km per hour) so they were prepping for a long day of overtime as the barges at the southern end of the island (Inskip Point) were closing due to the super strong wind and many campers were recommended to leave or move into the centre of the island.

Our trip back to the mainland was a little windy and cold but not too bad.



When Rod and Kelly flew home from Hervey Bay, George stayed for an extra few days with us on board Lorelei.

We were wondering what to do and reading a few tourist brochures when we noticed that the town of Maryborough had markets on a Thursday and additionally the heritage steam train operated and the time canon was fired at 1pm at the town hall.
 It was perfect – the weather was great, Thursday was the next day and of all the options of towns to visit, Maryborough was one of the closest being only 30 minutes’ drive away.
Dad loves steam trains and when he first visited us on board Lorelei, we did the steam train ride at Port Douglas along with family friend Keith.


So it was cool to be able to have another ride on another of our travel adventures together.
It’s only a short trip around the town edge and along past the Mary River but it is a lot of fun on the immaculate replica of the first steam powered train in the area.
In reality it is more like a flatbed carriage with an exposed steam engine rather than the traditional looking train at Port Douglas but it’s very photogenic and a bit of local history replicated.







Despite Maryborough being over 24nm/50km from the Mary River’s mouth near Fraser Island, there is a small marina and the area is popular for cruising yachts and power boats that are prepared to motor the distance up the river.


The Mary River is notorious for flooding and the old heritage listed Bond Store on the water’s edge has a gauge on the side of the building indicating the flood water levels for the last 150 years.
Some of the heights are shocking and the local museum has some great photos from previous floods.
One photo of boats tied to the 3rd story balcony of the local pub is wild.


The old area of town along the foreshore has some beautifully restored buildings that are either museums, shops or still in use like the restored courthouse.


The “Street Library” is interesting……

The entryway to the old bond store.

The Thursday Markets are in the main street that is closed off for the day.


At 1pm we went and watched the firing of the time canon.
It all started for the World Expo in 1988 and was so popular that it is still conducted every Thursday and on other special occasions.

The staff wear period costumes and tell the story of the canon.
Despite its size, it’s damn loud and tends to make all the tourists jump.



Before leaving we had a look at the Town Hall. Inside looked great with the light coming through the old windows and reflecting off the polished timber floor.



The next day we went separate ways for 10 days as George and Lisa drove back to the NSW Central Coast.
Lisa was heading home to spend time with the family.

Meanwhile, Paul with an empty boat, took advantage of the situation and did a major service on Lorelei’s John Deere main engine.
With many jobs going on at once, the surrounds of the engine room was a mess.
Fortunately there were no hiccups and by 6pm the engine was once again intact, the engine room cleaned, washed and detailed and the 20 litres of old oils and filters all disposed of.
It was a looooong day but he was super stoked to have it completed and ready for the next leg of our sailing adventure.

The next day Paul’s other parents, Diann and Ron arrived in Hervey Bay with their motorhome so they could pick Paul up and bring him back out to their farm in rural Queensland which is about 200km from the coast.
For the next 10 days they did a mixture of working on the farm, exploring the surrounding region and taking photos.
Paul’s mum Diann is also an avid photographer so armed with some new camera accessories they spent hours each day experimenting with the new gear and taking lots of photos from dawn to well into the night.

On the way back to the farm from the coast, they stopped in at the Ned Kelly Roadhouse for a look.


Paul hadn’t been to the farm for over 18 month with the last time being around Christmas and in the summer.
This time it was winter and the trees looked very different.
Some had shed the summer leaves whilst other like the fruit trees were full of flowers and fruit.
With over 40 species of fruit trees, 35 species of vegetables and 25 species of herbs, there’s lots of options for both summer and winter home grown food all over the farm.
The citrus and chilli trees were full of fruit.






The property was full of Butterflies and Bees so hours were spent in the garden areas photographing them.



The first few days were overcast but it was so warm for winter and across the state, temperatures were well above average.
We used the warmer weather and cloud formations to get out to the surrounding rural areas and shoot the fields and sunsets.


The Nectarine Trees were just starting to flower and looked like Cherry Blossom.

Note Paul’s shadow on the bail of stock feed


The closest main town is Kingaroy – the Peanut capital of Australia.
We went in and out of Kingaroy about 5 times over the course of the 10 days Paul was there.

The land between the farm and Kingaroy has amazing red soil with huge fields of Peanuts, Debozia Trees, stock feed and Cattle crazing areas.
It was great to see the fields in various states of growth and harvest.



We saw loads of cattle and even got up close with a few friendly horses.



At one field we were really excited to see a Bustard Bird.
They are a large bird and Diann had never seen one in the area before.


Some of the old farmhouse are very photogenic.


Close to Kingaroy is the Wooroolin Wetlands.
On the side of the wetland area is a bird hide for photographing and viewing the diverse amount of birds that visit the wetlands.

With the super glassy water and perfect reflections, Paul spent much more time using the wide angle lenses rather than concentrating on the birds with the large zoom lens.

The bird hide on the side of the wetlands




The wetlands had 1000’s of ducks both in the water and
perched on the fallen timber.

There is a small mountain overlooking Kingaroy that has great views over the town and the surrounding fields.


We had booked in at the Kingaroy Observatory to do a night of star viewing but unfortunately with the overcast conditions, it was cancelled.
But we still wanted to have a look at the observatory which was near the airport.
What we found opposite was a large collection of old farming equipment on display that Diann and Ron didn’t know was there.



Their house faces west which means you can see the sunsets from the front balcony while looking down over property and out to the Bunya Mountains.
We walked over the road to the neighbour’s property one arvo to view the sunset light rays which were shining through the heavy cloud.




But it wasn’t all play and the property requires regular maintenance and work.

One job is to repair the fences which takes time, particularly when you are looking along a 250+m stretch…..

Paul driving in star stakes for a new piece of fencing

We did a day trip out to the Pottique Lavender Farm as the fields were full of the purple lavender buds and ready for harvesting.
The lavender fields aren’t huge but produce a lot for their size.
After asking permission, we spent ages in the fields with a variety of lenses photographing them.



The buds were popular with the Bees and Butterflies.




Paul was happy to score a Bee and
a Lady-beetle on this Lavender bud

The Farm has a café and the largest lavender Shop in Australia.
The café and shop surrounds are beautiful.








The next day the skies cleared to beautiful days with not a cloud in the sky.
But it was cold – really, really cold.
The mornings were really foggy with visibility around 100m/330ft and the ground was wet from the heavy frost.


Overnight it was getting as low as -2 celsius and we were rugging up and putting the fire on.
That meant splitting wood into smaller pieces for the slow combustion stove.


It was so cold at night that even the Possums were seeking shelter.
They were in the laundry and also on the back deck.
We were even able to feed them some apples.




But during the day the cool clear conditions made the gardens come alive with colour, flowers and insects.


Even at dusk the Bees where still busy collecting Pollen.




Diann taking photos of the cactus and agave at dusk





At night with the clear skies, we rugged up and took the cameras out in the cold night air and did long time exposures of the Milky Way and Star Trail photos.




On the weekend, we went to the Nanango Markets before heading out to Cooyar.
Cooyar is a very small town with only a few buildings.


The Cooyar Pub

Not far from the town is a great place called Palm Valley which is within the National Park.
The walks are awesome with huge palms and gum trees standing beside massive Bunya and Hoop Pines.







On Paul’s last day at the farm, we went and had a look at the fields of small Duboisia Trees. These are not grown in many locations but are popular around the Kingaroy area as they flourish in the red soil. The leaves are exported to France for processing and used during eye surgery.
Due to the potent leaves, the fields are well fenced with barbed wire.


After 10 days we returned to the coast to pick Lisa up from the Hervey Bay airport and to have a few days together before Diann and Ron headed back to the farm.

We spent time exploring the Hervey Bay foreshore.




 The last thing we did was a HUGE reprovision of food, fuel and spares which took over 2 days…..


So that’s it for another Episode.
It’s been a little different as there’s no sailing but now Lorelei is fully serviced, minor issues fixed and reprovisioned for a full 3 months of travel on the next leg of our sailing adventure.

The whales have just shown up in Hervey Bay so that’s the first stop.
We keep saying it but hopefully this time we will have some half-decent weather to enable us to get out to the Swains Reef and hopefully areas like Saumarez Reef in the Coral Sea over the next few months.

Time will tell……

Cheers
Paul and Lisa Hogger.








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