Popular Hervey Bay is literally just a hop, skip and jump from Woodgate – it’s always been a popular draw, especially for sun-seeking retirees, and remains as busy as ever. This time, for us anyway, it represented the perfect jumping off point for a whale-watching trip to magnificent Fraser Island that Lois had planned for my birthday ( thanks Lo ! ).
The world’s largest pure sand island, Fraser ( or K’gari as it’s now called ) is accessible only to high clearance, high/low range 4×4’s and while our rig technically met all those requirements, we were strongly advised that it was too long and possibly too heavy to properly navigate the soft sand and very narrow, rutted, tracks that cross the island. We’d been extremely lucky on the Gibb and Cape York tracks so decided that an ounce of “prevention” might best thousands of dollars of possible “cure” in the event an on-island extraction ( as they are known ! ) was needed should we get stuck.
Turns out that was probably one of our smartest decisions – the next day we took a full day “Whale watching/Remote Fraser Island” tour that gave us not just a great taste of the island ( and a more remote, less-travelled section of it, no less ) but an absolutely fantastic whale watching experience. Having done them before and only ever seen dorsal fins at a distance and tell-tale “blows” from afar, our expectations were, shall we say, “managed”. Fraser Island was the draw, the whale watching would just be a bonus we thought. The island was certainly impressive in its own right ( we can see why people love going ) but the whale watching just blew our expectations away. Best birthday gift ever ! I’ll let the following pictures/videos tell the story. As people who normally avoid tours like the plague we are pretty discerning when we do them, yet we both felt this experience was absolutely 5 star ( +++ !). Thrilled we did it and, (having seen the sand tracks), were happy to have left our rig behind for the day !
Hard to top that we thought, and even if we don’t ( and probably won’t ! ) it was a great interactive experience and something we welcomed after what had (more or less) been a bit of an extended sightseeing-only couple of weeks beforehand. But, that’s travel, the exciting parts usually get mixed in with the more mundane, and it’s the more mundane parts that help make the more exciting parts, well…….exciting !!
Leaving Hervey Bay after a few days, historic nearby Maryborough was a nice change of pace; this famous river port was at one time a major point of entry for immigrants to Australia and much remains ( often beautifully restored ) of its storied past. A great walking route shows off its touristic charms – the most stunningly ornate toilet you’ll ever see, an abundance of cool murals, and the home where P.L. Travers ( author of “Mary Poppins” ) was born, among them. Who’d have known ?
After a stop in trendy Noosa Heads, we wrapped up the week arriving at another of our favourite stops during any trip to Australia – the home of my brother, Tim ( and his wife, Maree ) in Dicky Beach. Years back they made the wise decision to relocate to this delightful corner of the Sunshine Coast, just a block from the surf ( and surf club ) – the usual warm welcome mat was rolled out and it was great catching up and simply relaxing with them over the next few days.
Speaking of family, we’ll soon be getting back to the excitement of reconnecting with our own children in Canada and pretty soon a much-anticipated new “family” member as well ! Brisbane is just an hour away now ( with a direct flight to Vancouver ) so we are pretty much on standby at this stage, just waiting for “the call” !
Till next week…..