Friday, 1 September 2017

A Magical Place for a Wedding: Fraser Island

About ten years ago we took our daughter and her English boyfriend to Fraser Island for a week. Little did we know back then, that ten years later we would all be on Fraser Island again to celebrate their wedding.
Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world.
But this trip was all about the wedding.
It was wonderful to finally meet the 'new to us' English family, and everyone got on so very well.
December 2007, on a walk up to the lookout at Kingfisher Resort, Martin said "This would be a great place for a wedding"
... and here we are ten years later, at the Lookout.

Known officially as White Cliffs Lookout, it is 1.2km from the Sand Bar. It is located on top of a hill surrounded by eucalyptus trees. Days before the wedding Beth and Martin walked up the track and down the other side to Dundonga Creek, and Martin saw a dingo - the only dingo anyone saw this week.
So, here we go...our pictorial story.
We all arrived by car, or plane and bus to River Heads to board the car ferry that would take us the 45-50mins to Kingfisher Bay Resort. 
Kingfisher Bay Resort was started in 1989 and opened in 1992. Peter remembers watching the clearing and the construction of the resort during those years, when he was there on fishing trips.
Some guests arrived the next day, so we spent the morning at Lake McKenzie.
Lake McKenzie or Boorangoora, is a perched lake, which means it is situated above the water table. This means that the water is mostly rain water. Fraser has many perched lakes. The sand is so fine and the water so pure one can clean their jewellery in the lake, and we did.
After catching up with family and having a lovely dinner (and cocktails) at the jetty and the Sand Bar, the following day was the day of the wedding.
We had a wonderful time. The food was great and had an Australian theme. Dessert was wonderful and I went back for seconds. Well done to the resort staff for the setting up and running of the wedding and wedding party. Everything was wonderful.
It has been four years since we have been to Fraser, and although it is still one of the most beautiful places on earth, it just got too expensive. When we were both working we would go once or twice a year, and a couple of years we went three times. We would usually stay at Eurong Resort and then Kingfisher Bay, although sometimes we hired a house and stayed only on the Eastern Beach side.

So on the last day we did a road trip to Eastern Beach.
First stop of Eurong Resort to get lunch at the bakery - still has great pies. We saw so many pods of whales and they were close to the beach too. We have often been to Fraser this time of year and have always seen whales, but so many and so close it was great to watch.
After stopping to watch the whales a couple of times, we then headed north up to the Maheno wreck.
The S.S. Maheno was wrecked on Fraser Island by a cyclone in 1935. She was built and launched in Scotland in 1905 and made regular voyages between Sydney and Brisbane. It also sailed around different Eastern Australian ports and New Zealand. It also made regular sailings between Sydney and Vancouver. During WWI it became a hospital ship and played a part in the Gallipoli campaign loading casualties off ANZAC Cove on 26 August 1915. She carried many Australian and New Zealand patients from the battle fields back to Australia and New Zealand. After the war she went back to passenger service. In 1935, while under tow to Japan to be converted into an ice breaker, the tow ropes broke under the strain of the cyclonic winds. The S.S. Maheno is protected under the Commonwealth's Historic Shipwreck Act of 1976. A lot of the ship is now under the sand and it would be too difficult the remove.
We then headed further north to the Pinnacles, a natural sculpture of coloured sands formed over thousands of years, and then retraced our tracks back to Eli Creek. 
For the end of winter the weather has been exceptionally warm, which was great for the wedding, but it was too hot to walk through the sands to the Pinnacles, so I stayed in the car whale watching.  
Eli Creek was crowded when we arrived as there were three bus loads of people already there. It was a great place to cool off and the kids loved playing with the frizz-bee.

 When driving along the Eastern Beach Highway - SAND - there are many washes or little creeks of fresh water running from the hills to the ocean. Eli Creek is the largest of these creeks and changes course regularly. When driving one must be careful not to fall into the deep sections of the creeks course. There is a board walk that takes one to a section of the creek that is passable and one can then float down the creek in the fast flowing water. Great fun in Summer.
 It has been four years since we have been to Fraser, and although it is still one of the most beautiful places on earth, it just got too expensive. When we were both working we would go once or twice a year, and a couple of years we went three times. We would usually stay at Eurong Resort and then Kingfisher Bay, depending on the tide, although sometimes we hired a house and stayed on the Eastern Beach side.
What has changed? 
Not a lot. More Dingo fences, less dingoes sighted.
There are a lot of historical sites, as well as natural sites. The sandblows are continually moving. Eli Creek continues to amaze. Noticably missing is the large Satinay tree in the top photo. We stopped at Pile Valley and could not see any trace of the big tree.

Everything is expensive on Fraser, 4wd car hire, petrol, bus tours, accommodation - well motel rooms are reasonably priced, but if you want a kitchenette to prepare food - expensive. Food is mostly good and reasonably priced meals can be found. At Kingfisher we usually get  motel room when it is three of us, when there is more we like the Satinay Villas. We have stayed in the Cooloola villas which were fine, just s little too far to walk up the hill from the resort. This time we stayed in a Banksia Loft Villa, which again although an easy walk down hill to the resort, was a long up hill back. It was also very dated with broken furniture. With 6 of us, we would have rather stayed in a Satinay, which we have stayed in with 5 or 6 people many times before. Although they are further from the resort it is all flat walking, and much preferred - not to mention $100 cheaper per night.
It was a little sad that all the guests were so spread out around the resort. So we often missed each other.
P.S. We would NEVER take the van there - too much sand!!

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