Lap of Australia - Summary: Fraser Island Part 2
If you haven’t already, check out Part 1 of our Fraser Island adventure!
Saturday 4th May 2013: The Sandy Cape Beckons
We woke up at 6am (the alarm was set for 6.30am) and watched the sunrise over the water on Marloo Bay.
We took our time packing up camp and left at 8.45am, 15 minutes later than we had planned.
Almost immediately we were stopped at South Ngkala Rocks due to a bogged Mitsubishi Triton. We had been told the track was soft and powdery, but were mildly concerned when we found a lightweight 4WD ute bogged! There were already people helping with his recovery, so we rolled through the entrance and parked behind a Jeep and the owners Brad and Vesna. They were on their way to the Sandy Cape Lighthouse for a day trip. They were also mildly concerned at having seen the Triton get stuck, and asked for some advice. I suggested they could drop their tyre pressures from the current 19psi to 16psi if they were worried, but that their unladen Jeep would probably not have any trouble with the track as long as they kept the engine in its torque band.
While the Jeep was airing down further a group had started to come through from the other side. They came through one by one until they only had one left, and he was having trouble at the other side, so he had a rest while we started to send vehicles through from this side.
The Jeep drove through without a worry, then we let a petrol 100 series Landcruiser that was waiting behind us. He had said he was a Fraser Island regular and knew the track well. He got through without issue too. A 60 series attempted the track but only got 15 metres, as it appeared the front hubs were not locking and it was not engaging 4WD properly. His confidence was shot and he opted to turn around and go back.
Then it was our turn. I had previously lined the Landcruiser and trailer up with the entrance to the track so we could get a clean and straight run off. The tyres were dropped to 14psi front, 16psi back, 14psi in the trailer, and we selected 3rd gear low range, which is potentially closer to the factory 2nd gear low range with our Marks adapter gears. We kept the revs high and the momentum going and got through without issue, but with much excitement. The 4.2TD engine was revving nicely past 4,000rpm and sounded phenomenal as I pedalled the throttle to keep the balance between wheel spin and momentum. There were a number of corners along the track and I had to be aware of the track of the trailer as we made the sharper corners. The bypass track was quite long, and was a really great drive. It took me back to days of motocross and days in the race car when the track was wet when throttle control was so important. It was fantastic fun, and will be an even bigger challenge on the way back!
Once through and back down on the beach we aired back up to 20psi and from there the passage over North Ngkala Rocks was extremely easy. The run up to Sandy Cape was thick with anticipation as we watched the Island scenery change, wondering what was over the dunes and what we would be greeted with at the tip.
As we rounded the tip and headed west the ocean was a brilliant azure blue so we stopped to take a few photos. A number of cars were there fishing and taking photos, so we didn’t hang around long and headed further around the corner to our camp ground at Carree.
We cruised past the entrance to the camp sites and picked one at the most south western point of the camp ground. I got out and walked in to have a look, but it was rough with sticks and dune grass. We turned around and headed back north east to the next spot. I walked in and it looked fantastic, right at the front of the dune, high enough away from the tide lines, but still right on the beach, and it was lovely and soft and sandy with only a few sticks to poke the feet.
By this stage it was about 1pm and our fishing book suggested that “minor bite” time was around this time, so I got the fishing rods out and put together a few rigs. We only had a few pipis left, so I put one on the hook and walked down to the water. I had no luck with the pipi so I swapped to a lure and wandered up the beach casting out and reeling the lure back in. There was no luck to be had with the lure either! I could see birds out on the water diving for fish, but they were too far out to cast a line to. El was laying on the beach reading a book on her Kindle while I was fishing. When I came back she suggested it was time for some lunch so we stopped and had tomato and cheese on corn cakes.
After lunch we relaxed and read for a while. Around 4.30pm Elly spotted a turtle out on the water. She had specifically mentioned wanting to see a turtle on Fraser, and that she would be disappointed if she didn’t get to see one - so I was very happy for her that she got to see it.
While we were down on the beach watching the turtle swim around in the water Elly noticed some dolphins swimming a bit further north. There were 2 of them, rolling gently in and out of the water. As they swam around a swarm of birds followed them, diving into the water around the dolphins.
As our excitement grew watching the dolphins, we noticed fish jumping out of the water too. Some of them were over 40cm long. I walked briskly back to camp to get the rod. It still had the lure on it from before, so I cast it out in the hope that the lure was similar to the type of fish these jumping fish would eat. Again, no luck with the fishing.
But that didn’t matter, as by this time the sun had started to set. We came to Sandy Cape specifically to see a western “sunset over the water”, and we were not disappointed. The colours of the sun, the clouds, and the sky were just breathtaking. I asked Elly if we should get some photos of it, but we agreed it was better to just enjoy the experience. I did manage to snap a few photos on the phone quickly, but otherwise we were happy to stand there watching the sunset while the turtle swam, the dolphins played, and the fish jumped out of the water laughing at me!
I would have to say that our first day at Sandy Cape was one of the most satisfying and enjoyable days of my life. It has cemented our decision and reasons for embarking on this trip, and it was a real honour to experience nature at its finest.
Not many people can claim a driveway with a view like this!
Sunday 5th May 2013: Yuck
A troopie with 2 people (smokers cough) came in around lunch time and parked right next to us. After the surreal welcome from the night before, we were pretty disappointed. There were a huge number of vacant spots along the beach, and they camped less than 20m away.
Tuesday 7th May 2013: Visitors Bring The Rain (and the stars!)
My brother Matthew and his friend Jase came up from Sydney to have a few days on Fraser. Unfortunately, as soon as they arrived the weather turned foul. This is a shot (before the weather turned) looking back at our camp site at Sandy Cape.
And this is the shot looking out from our camp site! It doesn’t get much better than this kids!
We were fortunate that the clouds cleared and the rain stopped for long enough to sit on the beach eating dinner. This is Jase, Matthew, and Elly sitting on the beach watching the stars, right out the front of our camp ground.
Wednesday 8th May 2013: It Was The Tallest Dune In The World
We drove around the tip of the cape to the lighthouse track entrance in the hope we would catch a few fish, but alas there was nothing in the ocean! It was exceptionally windy and was raining though, so maybe the fish were all tucked up out of the weather.
Just before the lighthouse parking area was a dune. We climbed up the face and this was the view from the top. Running up the dune was no (mental) challenge (although the quads were burning once we got there) however when I got to the top and turned around I was shocked by the steepness of the slope, and even had a flush of adrenalin at the thought of descending back down it!
Thursday 9th May 2013: Bye Bye Sandy Cape
This was our last day at Carree Camp Zone at Sandy Cape, Fraser Island. We packed the camper trailer up and left it at camp while we drove to the Sandy Cape Lighthouse. It was a solid 1km+ walk from the beach, up the hill to the lighthouse.
The lighthouse grounds have volunteers working around the clock, but not to manage the lighthouse - they are in charge of the weather reports for the local area, and are required to check and report thermometer, anemometer, and general weather and swell conditions multiple times per day.
The lighthouse itself is fully automated, powered by an array of solar panels. In case of a malfunction in the lighthouse, a helicopter flies in from the mainland to service it!
I couldn’t resist exercising my artistic side, and found this geometric composition within the lighthouse structure.
When we left to walk up to the lighthouse it was overcast and drizzling. However this was the view when we got back down! The weather changes pretty quickly on Fraser! This is Matthews 40 series Landcruiser with our 80 series. I think these are 2 of the best Landcruisers ever made. Matthew has a 12H-T engine out of a 60 series in his, and it goes very well. We both run Hankook DynaPro MT tyres, and after experiences with other major mud tyres, we reckon these can’t be beaten, especially when they cost over $100 per tyre less than the competition!
After viewing the lighthouse we headed to our next destination - Woralie Creek - on the far western side of Fraser Island. It was a solid 4hr drive from Sandy Cape, but well worth it for the massive variety of terrain that we drove through along the way.
Just look at those views! All on something as “simple” as a sand island! Amazing.
We setup camp right on the beach at Woralie Beach, and once the sun set, we found that the Milky Way was looking down on us from the night sky. This is our camp setup with the Milky Way above.
Friday 10th May 2013: No Woralies Mate
Sandy Cape was spectacular. Woralie Beach / Creek was just as good. Our camp site faced directly west, and we found that the western side of the island was very protected with the weather that was surrounding the island. The waves rolled gently along the beach, there was little to no wind to speak of, and the sunsets were quite simply out of this world!
This shot is a long exposure (30 second shutter from memory). The long shutter speed allows the waves to blur into a smooth sheet of water as it rolls over the shells. Woralie Beach has a massive number of shells. Elly was in heaven looking through the shells for some unique and beautiful shells to use for craft.
Saturday 11th May 2013: Crawlin’ In The Rain
We decided that our stay on Fraser Island would finish up today. While we had another 2 weeks on our vehicle permit, we had paid up to last night for the camping permit, and we decided we were getting low on food so we made our way back through the inland tracks toward the eastern beach.
If we thought we had seen everything Fraser Island could offer, we were wrong. The drive back took us through the most amazing rainforest. The sky was blue above, but it was raining underneath the canopy of the rainforest!
Some of these trees were monsterous. Not only tall, but with massively thick trunks at the base. Very impressive!
It was so beautiful driving through this rainforest. It really cemented how amazing Fraser Island is and what a diverse range of attactions it has.
Once out of the rainforest we got back onto the beach and headed south toward Hook Point. It should have come as no surprise that Fraser Island wasn’t finished yet. In a truly kind and majestic gesture, she offered up one last special gift as we parted. A rainbow leading us off the Island.
Thank you Fraser Island - we will come back!