#14 Visit Fraser Island in Australia

I’m sure most of the people who recommended Fraser Island to me probably experienced it in a very different way. But anyone who read my last post will have noticed that I was very much in need of a ‘holiday’ from my holiday so I was very happy when I managed to organise a press trip to the island and the lovely people at Kingfisher Bay Resort offered me a night’s accommodation and a tour. Before I even arrived on the island I was almost beside myself with excitement at the thought of my own room and the possibility that it may have a bath. (Obviously a sign that I’ve been away for too long…)

Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island so I was hoping for blue skies and palm trees. But of course when I arrived it was raining, which seems to be the standard for my time here in Australia. Honestly the next time I meet an Aussie who complains to me about the weather in the UK, I’m going to have something to say about it…

Anyway, I was too excited to care about the weather and when I arrived in my room with its double bed, bath and enormous TV, I seriously contemplated just spending two days in bed eating chocolate and watching rubbish daytime TV (ANTM how I miss you.) But I decided it might be a bit tricky to write a travel piece about that, so I probably should explore a bit.

All of this for me? I’m in heaven.
Complete with bath tub. Woohoo! (It’s the small things when you’re travelling.)

My first stop was a tour with Ranger Amelia who showed us some of the different bush plants which can be found on the island and told us about their various uses. It is amazing that what is essentially a giant sandpit can support an eco-system of subtropical rainforests, coastal heath and wallum scrub. But what really confused me – and totally contradicted the highly scientific experiments my sister and I used to carry out on the beach when we were kids and we tried to fill holes we’d dug with buckets of sea water – was that there are more than 100 freshwater lakes on the island. Seriously, how doesn’t the water just drain away?

Turns out you can actually cook with paperbark. Who knew?

After lunch, despite the drizzle, I decided I’d go on a bit of a walk. As I left the hotel complex there were signs everywhere warning visitors about the dangers of dingoes which roam the island. They recommended not going anywhere by yourself (which is kind of tricky when you’re travelling alone) and told parents to keep their children close to them – even small teenagers. As I continued on my way the warnings started to freak me out a bit as I started to wonder how big they were considering a ‘small teenager’ to be. At 5ft tall did I fit into the category? It also didn’t help that the advice they gave for if you did happen to come face to face with a dingo was to make yourself look big and aggressive….hmm. Deciding that it probably wouldn’t be great PR if a journalist got mauled on a press trip, I was just getting ready to turn back when I saw a huge snake which sped up the decision-making process considerably.

So how big is a “small teenager”?
Who cares? Looks like it’s time to head back anyway.

Before dinner I’d been invited along to a Bush Tucker Taste session. I went along slightly concerned that I may be required to eat some fairly horrific things a la I’m A Celeb, but luckily it was far tamer than that. Ranger Nick went through some of the various berries, leaves, nuts and herbs found in the bush, while a chef from the hotel’s Seabelle Restaurant showed us how to cook with them. I also tried kangaroo for the first time, which has a steak-like texture and crocodile, which weirdly tasted of chicken (although apparently crocodiles are one of the few animals which take on the flavour of what they eat so, as this one had been chicken-fed, it kind of makes sense.)

I then went to the Seabelle Restaurant and had what is probably one of the best meals of my entire trip.

My starter was paperback smoked duck breast with beetroot, orange and rocket salad and an orange and wattleseed glaze. This was followed by a main course of seared kangaroo loin with pumpkin puree, onion rosella jam, lilly pillies, wilted greens and red wine jus. For dessert I opted for the trio of handcrafted bush tucker ice creams, which perfectly captured the three distinctive bush flavours of wattleseed, rosella and aniseed myrtle. While the rosella was a sweet, fruity ice cream, the wattleseed had a drier, more coffee-like taste and the myrtle provided the faintest flavour of aniseed. After years of eating mostly European seasonings it was so interesting to taste some new flavours and to see how traditional recipes can be given a bush tucker twist. I ate so much they practically had to roll me out of the restaurant afterwards.
Bridesmaid dress?
What bridesmaid dress?
Dessert as well? Oh, go on then.
After dinner there was just time to squeeze in a guided night walk, where we saw bats, toads and spiders, as well as one unfortunate frog becoming a snake’s evening meal. But for me the highlight was looking up into the sky and seeing the millions of stars unaffected by light pollution. Then it was back to my lovely room, where I settled into bed to watch a film with a cup of tea. Bliss.
The next day was an early start for a tour of the island and after saying a sad goodbye to my double bed, I boarded a 4×4 coach which looked like it belonged on a Jurassic Park film set. We set off along the bumpy terrain and our first stop was Lake Mckenzie, a perfectly clear freshwater lake. The water is supposed to be very good for your skin so I jumped in, hoping to save myself a bit of cash on all the lotions and potions I normally use. It was so nice to be swimming in the sun (which had finally decided to make an appearance) in water which was surrounded by white sand and forest.
Let the age-defying process begin.

Then we headed on to Wanggoolba Creek, where we walked through the tropical rainforest, looking at trees which were hundreds of years old. After lunch we drove along 75-Mile Beach, a long sandy highway, to the Maheno Shipwreck – cue everyone trying to take lots of arty photos of the sea through the rusting hulk of the boat.

Yes, I did take some shots in sepia…

Next it was on to The Pinnacles, towering heights of coloured sands of red, orange and yellow, formed from dust blown from the central desert of Australia 800,000 years ago. Our final stop was Eli Creek, where fresh water joins the sea at a rate of 4.2 million litres an hour.

The Pinnacles.
Eli Creek.

The day flew by in a blur of blue skies, white beaches and green rainforests and all too soon it was time to go home. After a much-needed night by myself my travel Zen had been restored and I was ready to face a dorm when I returned to my hostel. In fact, I was so chilled out that I even managed to turn a blind eye to the pile of dirty dishes in the sink.

A perfect way to end the day.
And #14 is complete.
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