Fraser Island Experience and the Steve Irwin Zoo
05.01.2014 - 08.01.2014 90 °F
Well- It has been quite a few days since we were able to properly update the blog- such was the isolation and remote-ness of our last stop, Fraser Island.
We arrived on Fraser Island on Sunday night and immediately made full use of the multiple pool facilities that were available. The Kingfisher Bay Resort was a very interesting place to stay- it was our first Eco-Lodge, and as such they were required to have an assortment of guided walks and talks that helped guests appreciate the natural wonder of the Island. And Fraser Island was beautiful! It is the largest all sand island in the world, over 75 miles in length, and supports a full tropical rainforest that literally grows out of the sand! There is plenty of wildlife (and lots of warnings about roaming Dingoes and how to handle an encounter….) Our room was a tree-house style simple 3 roomed dorm with a small kitchen and 1 bath- all environmentally friendly. One great highlight of the trip was on the second day, after we have taken a long 4WD tour of the Island, when I was reading a book about Australia on our front porch. A Laughing Kookaburra bird flew into a tree about 5 feet from me and began to make its crazy, are-you-sure-that-is-not-a-monkey, sounds! He let us get right up to him, inches, and we checked each other out.
On our first day, we were not able to rent canoes because of the wind (and actually, throughout the course of our stay, we were unable to do many of the water activities, which felt limiting…) so we relaxed by the pool and had ourselves a slower day than we are used to. We did go on a nice guided tour in the afternoon, learning about the Aboriginal Tribe that had lived on the Island (K’Gari, meaning paradise) and some of the history behind Fraser. That night, the kids went out and did an Eco-Tour specifically for kids- they ended up doing this for each of the three nights we stayed because they had so much fun! They learned about many of the wild creatures that were roaming around co-existing with us-like poisonous toads, soldier crabs, 3 foot long lizards and venomous snakes! It was a highlight for them- and Lisa and I got to go to dinner and hang out. It was memorable because we tried crocodile, Kangaroo and Emu for the first time (not bad!).
Tuesday was our biggest, most adventurous day on Fraser: We were off on an all day 4WD tour of the “beauty spots” of the island. Now this was truly something different: We got on a bus for what looked like a pretty pedestrian adventure… we sat in the very back row, five Butz’s across… and we were promptly introduced to the concept of driving on all sand roads, up and down large mountains! Personally, I have never been thrown around so much in my life! Immediately, I was making plans to rent a very expensive 4WD taxi to get Lisa (nearly vomiting) back to the main town… Eventually, we all got used to being thrown around and made the best of the day.
We saw many beautiful spots on Fraser Island. Colorful sands, sand blows, a fresh water creek you could tube down that ended in the shark infested ocean (which we did venture into up to our knees!!) and the highlight of the day was swimming in fresh water Lake McKenzie in the middle of the Island with its perfect super small white grained sand beaches and crystal clear water. The sand was so soft it was used by the aboriginals to scrub their skin. Sara and Mommy promptly sat in the sand and exfoliated from their foreheads to between their toes!! Free body facial!! Another highlight was the 30 minute hike Lisa, Max and I took through a tropical rainforest along a creek (Sam and Sara skipped this and stayed on the bus.) The tour guide, Peter Myers let Sara & Sam sit in the front of the bus and told them all sorts of fun facts like what wombat poop looks like- great fun! This Peter is a Fraser island native and a National Geographic photographer who knew everything about the island and really taught us a lot! I have never seen a creek with a perfect sandy bed and it was picturesque. We all ended up having a great time on this drive, but by the end of the day we were definitely ready to get off that bus.
Our last day on Fraser included a couple of hikes (along the beach, up to the Northern Bluffs lookout) and more swimming for the kids and relaxation for Mom and Dad. It was kind of disappointing being this close to the Great Barrier Reef and not getting up there but Fraser Island was remote in every sense of the word (including Internet Access). I was definitely ready to get back on the ferry and into our rental car on Thursday.
Our final day in Australia ended in grand style: We went to the Steve Irwin Zoo on the way back from Fraser Island to Brisbane. The zoo was incredible and absolutely lived up to our big expectations! The very first thing we saw, a 6’ by 4’ turtle which was at least 4 feet tall was amazing. Eventually, we found our way into “Kangaroo Heaven” where they simply let the Kangaroos run wild and you are free to feed them and pet them- it was pretty cool. We listened to a presentation on Koala Bears and then Sara and Sam got to actually cuddle the bears! I was most impressed with the birds- all of which came in a wide variety of colors. The coolest was a velociraptor-looking thing called a “Cassowary,” a bird which doesn’t appear to ever fly but can attack with razor sharp claws by jumping towards you- native only to Australia.
And so we ended our last day in the country in a Marriott close to the airport in Brisbane. We did not get a good chance to explore the city (coming in the evening hungry and tired with an early flight the next morning to Christchurch) but it looked fabulous on our drive through.