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Monday, November 29, 2010

Nov 7, 2010 - Touring Fraser Island

Sunday morning was rainy and dreary as we rode to shore with friends
on "Wind Pony" and "Endangered Species". We knew that the 6 of us
would be able to get the dinghy back into the water at the end of the
day with less of a struggle than Frank and I had encountered the
previous day. All of us were heading in for the guided 4WD Bus Tour of
the island. This island is simply amazing. It is the largest sand
island in the world and the fact that we could drive all over it in a
large bus is even more amazing. Special tracks had been inlaid and
then "webbed" to accommodate 4WD vehicles to navigate the island. I
can't begin to describe the beauty of the place. Once upon a time it
was solely inhabited by Aboriginals (Abos), who cohabitated with
dingoes, snakes and other predatory creatures. They called the
island, K'Gari, meaning "paradise". It is an amazing 120 km long pile
of sand, which has given birth to a delicately balanced and lush eco
system. It is full of rich mineral lakes, fresh water pools, crystal
clear rivers that you could actually drink out of and other natural
resources that helped the indigenous people to thrive for thousands of
years. Yet as is typical, the European white man came along and
displaced the Aborigines in the name of commerce. The island is named
after a drunkard sea captain, James Fraser, who shipwrecked on the
island. The Europeans came along and deforested large areas of the
good timber. Logging and sand mining were the big revenue makers
until in the late 20h century the EPA was allowed in, and managed to
get the island registered as a World Heritage area. Now protected it
is still a very dangerous area; the surrounding waters are riddled
with sharks, the land is crawling with poisonous snakes and run amok
with dingoes. If you follow the rules you can enjoy a nice vacation
on Fraser Island.

We were taken up to Lake McKenzie, which is said to be full of rich
anti-aging minerals. The boys swam but it was too cold for us girls.
If the sun had been out we would probably have jumped at the chance
for a swim.

Next we headed into Central Station – the middle of the island – that
is the former station of the logging enterprise in the heart of the
rainforest. From there we hiked a few kilometers down along one of
the most beautiful rivers we have ever seen. The water is so clear
that you can't even see it. You can only see what is in the bottom of
the river. Incredible!

At low tide we were able to drive along the beaches where we saw the
rainbow cliffs, shipwrecks and miles and miles of silky soft white
sand. We were then taken up top to a very large area of sand dunes in
the middle of the island. This is called a sand blow and gives credit
to the fact that the entire island is made of sand, making it nearly
impossible to believe that these rainforests, lakes and rich green
valleys of gigantic trees are all thriving here on a giant sand bar.
There are only 3 rocks on the entire island. The cliffs and other
formations are entirely made of shifting sand.

We toured literally all day and yet saw only about 20% of the island.
If we have time on our way back down the coast we will probably stay a
bit longer and see a lot more of this stunning island.

At the end of the day, after all of the bus riding and hiking, my
ankle was swollen to the size of a tennis ball and was throbbing a
good bit. So I needed to take it easy for a while. We figure it is a
torn ligament because I can walk on it, just have difficulty turning
and rolling it.

We got to bed early and then on the 8th, set sail for the end of
Fraser island to anchor in Pelican Bay for the night.

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