Aussie Road Trip 2018 travel blog

4-wheel drive that bounced us around on Fraser Island.

Shipwreck on Fraser Island.

75 mike beach is both a runway and the main road on...

Beautiful white sand beaches. It was a chilly day.

Humpback whales everywhere! What a sight.

Humpback whale going under our boat


Hervey Bay is known for two things - Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand dune island and for whale watching. Humpback whales travel through the bay twice a year as they complete their migration between the Antarctic waters in the summer and the warm tropical northern waters in the winter. For some reason during the migration the whales stop and spend a couple of weeks in Hervey Bay resting, feeding, and fattening up their calves. They claim it is the best place in the entire world for seeing humpback whales. I don’t know if it is the best place or not, but it did not disappoint us. On a four-hour whale watching tour we saw so many whales including two calves. The whales swam right up to the boat and a couple even swam under the boat. The boat captain called it a “whale mugging”. It was the most incredible thing. You had to move away quickly from the boats edge when the whales spouted or else get sprayed with what is really whale snot.

We also took a tour of Fraser Island which is the world’s largest sand island. It is about 75 miles long, up to 12 miles wide, with dunes reaching almost 900 feet. You would think a sand island would be barren but it is covered with all kinds of vegetation. In fact, back in the early 1900’s there was logging on the island. There are no rocks on the island and no top soil. Everything under foot is white, fine-grain sand. The trees and vegetation get their nutrients from a layer of nutrients that run off from decaying vegetation. The vegetation got its original foothold some million years ago from fungi that managed to grow in the sand. The entire island is 4-wheel drive on roads with sand up to a foot or more. The main road on the island is actually the beach which also serves as a runway for small aircraft. While you can travel independently if you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle (and aren’t afraid of getting stuck in the sand) most people tour the island in big 4-wheel drive, off-road buses. What a ride! We got bounced around like crazy as our bus navigated deep sand and narrow roads. We also visited one of the world’s largest dune lakes. The bottom is all white sand (no rocks) and the water is perfectly clear. The water doesn’t drain out because underneath the lake’s sandy bottom there is a layer of leaves and vegetation that have formed a barrier. Perfect place for a swim but too cold for us on the day we visited. Fraser Island is also the only place in Australia that still has pure-bred dingoes. Everywhere else the dingoes now have some feral dog mix. We really wanted to see a dingo but unfortunately we didn’t.

And here is one more story about Australian wildlife that wants to hurt you. We got attacked by swooping magpies while riding our bicycles along the esplanade on the mainland. These crazy birds actually landed on my helmet three different times. A couple times they buzzed around Dick but never actually landed on him. It seems this is a big problem that happens every spring and can sometime cause serious injuries. One solution to deter the birds is to put long zip ties all over the top of your helmet. We look pretty weird with zip ties sticking out but it does seem to work.



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