We left Tony and Jenny's and drove in to the City to pick up our hire car. We had booked the smallest one going as it was the cheapest, a Hyundai Getz. We had a bit of luck and they had none left when we arrived so we managed to get a Mitsubishi Lancer we were really pleased to have more room, god knows how we would have fitted everything in to the smaller car. We drove North on the Bruce Highway and the traffic was really good, so we arrived about 1.30pm. We knew that Scott and Kelly were going to meet us at some point and as we entered the Town of Hervey Bay we spotted their van so we frantically waved and beeped the horn until they saw us. We all headed to the beach area and straight for some lunch a beer and lasagne. Wayne and I had booked in to a hostel so we went to find it, they also had van sites so we all stayed in the same place, Fraser Coast backpackers. Then we went to get some drinks and sat in our little cabin and drank the lot. By this time the people sharing the cabin came back from their Fraser Island trip, so we headed out for some supper, about 4 starters between us and a bottle of wine. We were all well oiled so went back and said goodnight and goodbye until we next see each other which will be at home.
Wayne and I were up and out for 7.15 in the morning, we were being picked up for a whale watching trip, something that we had wanted to do since we had been away. The shuttle picked us up and transported us to marina, where we had to wait to board the boat which seemed very good. We set off and were given coffee and pastries as we made our way out into the bay and past the Western coast of Fraser Island. It was the very start of the Whale season in Hervey Bay. The bay is regular stop over for Whales and their calves on their migratory path along the East Coast of Australia because it is a safe stop over. Many whales at this time of the year can come in to the bay for weeks on end and on some days up to 50 whales can be seen in the bay. It was a slightly overcast day but the sand of Fraser Island sparkled it was so white, there were also a lot of boats out in the harbour, it must be a year round destination. We were all on the look out for the whales and it was not long before the captain shouted that he had seen one up ahead and everyone rushed forward. One of the crew came out with a microphone to commentate for us and share her expert knowledge she had been working on whale watching boats for about 10 years. It was not long before we were up alongside the whale and we learnt that it was a juvenile about 2/3 years old, it was quite shy and stayed clear of the boat for a long while. We waited patiently and it became slightly more inquisitive, the guide seemed to think that we had caught the whale in a rest period, when they lay under the surface and don't do a lot. A few more boats arrived to have a look and the whale started to show it's tail and wave with his flippers, really amazing to get so close and he got lots of appreciation, ohhs and ahhs. There were reports that a mother and calf had also been spotted and as we wanted to see as many as we could the boat sped out into the bay. Wayne and I sat outside at the front and in the distance sure enough we could make some spouting water. We slowed down and there was a guy sat in a little tin fishing boat just watching the spectacle. The commentary continued it appeared that the mother was feeding the calf and she stayed below the water for a fair amount of time although the calf was unable to stay submerged for so long and had to keep coming up for air. The escort (male) just hung around). The Calf only a couple of days old did manage to get quite playful and started to splash about we were then lucky to witness it breach a couple of times, it's whole body coming out of the water. After this there was nothing more going on and our trip was over, we were slightly unlucky not to see the mother showing the calf some tricks! But we had, had a good trip. Tha afternoon we walked along the Hervey Bay beach and waterfront, it was not all that special but it was nice to be outdoors. We had a room in a shared cabin at a hostel but were luck enough for it to be empty which gave us a bit more freedom over cooking.
The following day we were up early for another trip, this time to Fraser Island, a world heritage listed area and the biggest Sand Island in the world. As our time was short and it was really expensive to hire a 4x4 (the only way to drive on the island) to get to the island our only option was to get on a guided tour. We went with the Fraser Explorer Tours and had a big 4x4 bus. We were picked up from the backpackers and taken to the marina again, where we boarded the boat to take us to Fraser Island. Once there we were loaded on to the bus and set off over the island, very narrow roads and very hilly due to it being massive sand dunes. We stopped at Wanggoolba Creek, it had also been a logging station and there were some relics it was known as Central Station. We were hurried along the creek which was a nice walk along Kauri trees and the water was crystal clear. We were then back on the bus to Eurong Beach Resort where we had lunch in the one of the resorts on the island it was a buffet of cold meats and salads. As we had a few minutes before we had to get back aboard Wayne and I made our way on to 75 mile beach which was just magnificent lovely wide beach and white sand. It was not long before we were usher back aboard and set off on the bus down 75 mile beach. We stopped at Eli Creek a clear stream that flows swiftly through the dunes out to sea. It was a bit overcast but the brochures had shown people swimming their way down to the creek so we walked up along the boardwalk and jumped in, it was cold but really refreshing. The next quick stop was at the Maheno shipwreck which was driven ashore in a cyclone of 1935, it was really rusty, as you can imagine but was a good photo opportunity.
We then carried on down to the beach to the pinnacles and their coloured sands. We then made our way back the way we had come and saw lots of 4x4 vehicles camed up at the back of the beach some of them ready to go fishing. We made out way to our last stop of the day Lake Mackenzie a 'perched' lake, which means it contains only rainwater, no groundwater, is not fed by streams and does not flow to the ocean. The sand and organic matter at the base of the lake form an impervious layer, preventing rainwater from draining away. The sand here is pure, white silica and is not only beautiful to look at but feels beautifully soft to walk on. The sand acts as a filter, giving the water its clarity and helping to make the water so pure it can support very little life. We were disappointed as it was overcast not to get the full effect of the white sand and the blue water but it was still a lovely place. Then we were back again on the bus to the Ferry. The tour was good although we are not used to being so regimented but due to our lack of time it was the only way we could get to Fraser Island at all and we are glad we did although we would have preferred to explore it in our own 4x4 at our own leisure.
After Hervey Bay we had to make our way back but had another night before we needed to return to Brisbane so we decided to go back to the Sunshine Coast as we had only been there for a few hours. We stopped at Noosa Junction to take some books to the 2nd hand bookshop and had one of the nicest lunches, I had a tuna melt and Wayne a BLT, but it was served on great bread and both had a twist it was lovely. We then went down to Coolum but could not find anywhere suitable to stay which was disappointing as it was a beautiful place. So on we headed on to Maroochydore a major town at the bottom of the sunshine coast, we found a lovely little cabin on one of the campsites. It was really windy and overcast but we took a walk along the beach which was nice, there were a few people taking walks and some mad people out in the water kite surfing. We stopped at the surf club for a drink and sat in the window with a perfect view over the beach and ocean it was a great spot for an hour or so. As we only had a couple of hours we could not do too much but we would recommend the sunshine coast.
Back to Brisbane we drove to se Tony and Jenny before we went in the morning, we took with us a bottle of whiskey and a big bunch of flowers. Jenny made us some rolls and then gave us her key so we could go back and sort all of our stuff out and of course stay the night, we were not expecting it but they would not let us refuse, so off we went and cooked a big stew for dinner while packing our bags and hoping they would not be overweight!
We dropped the car at the airport the following morning and made our way to the check in desk and our flight to New Zealand. It felt very strange leaving Australia after we had spent nearly 9 months there but it was good to be going somewhere very new and cold!