Hervey Bay, the Whale Watch Capital of the World; the launch point to Fraser Island; the possessor of warm winter sun, soft sand and calm waters.
Having towed our caravan more than 1,500 kilometers from Sydney (in five “hops” over 3 weeks) we decided this was as far north as we would go.
Travel a mere 2,451 kilometers further (mostly on poor to very poor roads) and one can reach the most northern “Tip” of Australia (Cape York Peninsula). Four of our friends were already on their way to the “Tip”. Two other friends were wending their way back home.
So it was just us….two intrepid explorers in Hervey Bay (plus a few million other tourists). See Kristy, I don’t “over exaggerate”!
Hervey Bay is both the name of the city and the body of water between the coast and Fraser Island (north of the Great Sandy Straight).
We set up camp in the suburb of Torquay, on the beach of the bay. And while there are no “docks” on this bay, there are plenty of piers (one every couple of kilometers it would seem).
Bikes paths extend all the way across Hervey Bay, from Boat Harbour (eastern end) to Point Vernon (western end). This day we were riding west, from the Torquay van park to Point Vernon and back – about 17 kilometers.
It was beautiful riding in the sun, but not warm enough to entice these beach goers to immerse themselves.
After lunch we rode east, from Torquay to Boat Harbour and met this happy chappy on the way.
Bazz loves to engage. He offers lollies to everyone, which he uses as his “license” to talk about “The Pier” and about raising money for the local primary school. He’s very enthusiastic about everything. Good onya’ Bazz, you’re doing a great job, mate.
At Boat Harbour we saw what we thought was the launching point for the following day’s visit to Fraser Island.
It turned out that River Heads (a 20 minute drive south) is currently the place to catch a ferry to Fraser Island.
We booked a bus tour, but fortunately scored two of seven seats in a comfy Toyota LandCruiser 200 4WD.
Vehicles reverse onto the the ferry at River Heads, as it is not safe to reverse off at the Fraser Island pier. Buses do not “board”, so those travelling by bus, walk on and catch their designated AWD bus on the island.
Our first destination on Fraser Island was Lake McKenzie, 100 meters above sea level.
Remembering that Fraser Island is made entirely of sand, I was puzzled as to why a large body of water, sitting on a bed of fine white sand above sea level, did not drain away. But apparently leaves, bark and other organic matter have built up in the sand depression over time, to form an impervious barrier. There are 40 such “perched” lakes on Fraser Island.
Logging was a significant activity on the Island from 1863 until 1991. To transport logs from forest to jetty, a rail system was built. Only a few small relics of that railway remain. However a new light rail for tourism is being considered, in the belief it would be less destructive to the island than current motor transport (buses and 4WDs).
Lunch was on the east coast beach, a 120 kilometer stretch of sand, aka “the Fraser Island Highway”. Top speed on “the highway” has been reduced from 100 to 80 k/h, but for some reason that still seemed very fast to me, for the conditions.
Outcrops of so-called “Coffee Rock” (a soft conglomeration of sand and organic matter) appear along this shore. While its soft in small pieces, a large outcrop would cause damage to any vehicle that made contact traveling at speed.
During lunch up to six humpback whales displayed their seemingly effortless motion, continually breaching within our view (although not close enough for me to photograph). We didn’t see a lot of other wild life, which surprised me; no Dingos, snakes, lizards and not many birds. These two visited our lunch table however.
Finding the beach crowded from Eli creek to the shipwreck, our tour guide Brett, took us further north to see the coloured sands.
Then it was back south to see the shipwreck.
It certainly was still busy here.
Straight ahead and through the gate to the right for access to the ferry. Veer left at the end for fishing and small boat access.
With the sun sneaking behind a cloud the light completely changed.
Wow, what a day, what a stay. We’d gone even further north than Hervey Bay; we’d reached The Pinnacles.
Well, Caloundra (QLD), Byron Bay (NSW) and Port Macquarie (NSW) are now calling. Time to make a move.