Hervey Bay is another beach town up the eastern coast. It and Rainbow Beach are the major launching points to the big attraction in the area – Fraser Island. While Rainbow Beach is said to have superb multicolored sand beaches and hillsides, I opted for Harvey Bay because, in all honesty, it was further north and would make the next leg of the bus trip slightly shorter.
Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world and it is only accessible via tour of guide – no solo adventuring. And there is good reason for it. The island is a UNESCO protected world heritage site and renowned for its beauty as well as ecological significance. It of course rained off and on the entire time I was there.
There is a variety of flora and fauna on the island in environments the span nine types of forests, sand dunes, tide pools, lakes, creeks, and beaches. Most noticeably, since they’re more of a threat, are the 150-200 dingos running in packs. They look like a smaller cross between a wolf and a coyote, aren’t really afraid of people, and will eat ANYTHING. It is not uncommon for dingos to steal bags to chew up of find food in, so very small sections of the island are dingo-proofed. There have also bee two recorded deaths of small children mauled to death by these pack animals, so dingo safety is no laughing matter.
My personal favorite that we unfortunately did not see are an endangered “acid” frog that live in the highly acidic Basin Lake. They are small, cute, and nocturnal like most interesting things around here, so very rare to spot. Same goes with the red tree kangaroo.
The fact that life thrives in such an abundance on effectively a pile of sand is astounding. The vegetation helps prevent, or at least slow, massive erosion. A complex mixture of impregnated sand called “coffee rock” forms from organic materials and sand cementing together to create a relatively impervious base that fresh water collects in. This allows the lakes a creeks to not simply seep through the sand. This includes the brilliant Lake Mackenzie, a white sand beach that reflects the color of the sky so perfectly it has been called one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It is second to a neighboring island to the north, Whitsunday, in having the whitest sand. It is said to be scientifically proven the whitest beach in the world, composed of 95% quartz and silicon as opposed to the average 35%.
The island was enough to even support a small native population for thousands of years, which thrived on the island and have many beautiful “dream stories” about the creation of their island paradise. Logging and commercial interests decimated the local population, though a small community still exists, preserving as much of their culture and lore as possible.
As you can imagine on a sand island, the roads were a bit bumpy. Well, actually many off us nearly flew out of seats more than once. The smoothest part of the ride was the highway – the beach itself which literally closes at high tide. Along the Plath we also explored the colored sands, numerous shipwrecks, walks through forests, swims in beautiful creeks and lakes and tide pooling in the champagne pools. Over all, a lovely couple of days.
I have been seeing a lot of clouds and threats of continuing rain… We will see if the 23.5 hour bus ride north changes any thing.
On to Port Douglas and the eclipse!