Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Four Top Tips For A Tip Top Easter On Fraser Island

Hervey Bay’s Dave Darmody runs the Australian Offroad Academy and tackling Fraser Island’s sandy tracks or teaching others how to do it properly and safely is something he does very regularly.

This Easter, he’s back and he’s armed with plenty of tips for having a top Easter on Fraser Island (with pics by Eurong Beach's very own Zoe R).

A Great Sandy Happy Easter from all on Fraser Island.  Photo Origin: Unknown.

 So whether you’re staying on the sunset side of Fraser (at Kingfisher Bay Resort); tackling the surf side with a stay at Eurong Beach Resort or just heading across with Fraser Island Barges for a camping adventure with the family, you won’t want to miss these top tips from a Fraser Coast local.

1. It’s Easter, So Let’s Keep Good Friday, Well, Good!
Stunning 75 Mile Beach by Zoe R
Early afternoon low tides make for lazy mornings and afternoons of trouble-free, wide-open beaches… but the big high tide at around 7am on Friday might make for some frayed tempers and heated engines.

If you are heading up Fraser's famous 75-Mile Beach, you may just want to chill out and wait until low tide (you really should, it's better for you, your car and the island). Those coming across from Wanggoolba Creek or Kingfisher Bay will have a different set of challenges – fun challenges - if the weatherman is wrong and we don't get a little rain this week.

Download the latest Fraser Island Condition Report.

2. Head Off Piste
Lake Allom's famous turtles
Try the Southern Lakes Drive - it has some 'challenging' sections and takes you through 20+ kilometres of gorgeous and diverse ecosystems. On this route, you’ll get to enjoy Lake Birrabeen (our favourite) and Lake Boomanjin... they're as equally lovely as beautiful Lake McKenzie.

Further north of Eurong Beach there are a couple of lesser known lakes that are well worth a visit. Lake Garawongera, out behind Happy Valley, is a gem and the road from it to Poyungan Valley is worth a drive for the more adventurous. Likewise, finding your way to Lake Allom (and its famous Fraser Island Short-necked Turtles - pictured above) is a rewarding experience.

3.  Keep Cool And Keep Your Cool.
You can cool off in the Champagne Pools or Eli Creek... but when it comes to driving keep your cool!  We know that everyone should slow down on the highway when it’s busy… well the same applies for the beach!  It would also be great if drivers indicated their intentions and fishermen didn't park on the hard sand when there isn't much to be had.

But you know what? Some just don't, or won't. 

There is no driving environment more dynamic than the beach… so slow down, be aware, take a deep breath and drive to care for your precious cargo... despite what others are doing…. After all, you’re on holidays in one of the most beautiful spots in Queensland

4. Where Are Your Kids?
Leave only footprints. Photo: Zoe R
We love our Dingoes, but we hate it every time they make the news for the wrong reasons. Keep your food locked away; your kids close and check out QPWS' Dingo Safety tips for when you’re out and about in the Great Sandy National Park.

Kingfisher Bay's latest Ranger blog also talks about what behaviour to expect from Fraser's most famous locals in Autumn....


Dave reckons the Eurong Beach Resort Bakery’s Chocolate Croissants are in a class of their own… but at this time of year, you might want to add our freshly-baked hot crossed buns to your shopping list – it’s the best Easter treat you’ll get for 75 long miles.

Whatever you're up to this Easter, stay safe and stay happy.

This blog has been reproduced with the author’s permission. Click here to read the original story OR find out more about Dave’s training courses on Fraser Island.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Four Things That'll Keep Your Fraser Four-Wheel-Driving Safe And FUN

Based on Queensland's Fabulous Fraser Coast - and now operating throughout Australia - Dave Darmody and his team Australian Offroad Academy are on hand to teach the uninitiated practical four-wheel-driving skills... and the training course is right in our backyard at Kingfisher Bay Resort

Dave's no stranger to the tracks and beach highway on Fraser Island and has offered up the following tips.

If you drive in such a way to look after your passengers, you are looking after your car, and you are looking after the terrain/environment as well.  According to Dave, big run ups, splashes and spinning tyres may look impressive on social media, but they are unnecessary, unsustainable and dangerous.


On Fraser Island, you're at the mercy of the elements, so look at a tide chart before you go and remember that strong winds can affect tides. Plan ahead and don't rush the beach.

Clearance: Either you have it, or you don't!
As Dave says - you either have it or you don't and there are legal modifications that can be made to your vehicle to increase this.  Having appropriate clearance under the vehicle makes for less stressful motoring and allows you to choose the best line through the inland tracks without fear of becoming ‘grounded’.

The best advise here is "go as low as you need to go... but no further".

Fraser Island is an every changing sandscape and so to you need to be flexible with the psi you run in your tyres.  The folks at Australian Offroad Academy say there is no ‘best pressure’ there is only the pressure that allows you to traverse the terrain (in this case sand) with the minimum loss of traction (spinning wheels) on any given day.
A little planning can make all the difference.


You get torque right by getting your gears right.  There is nothing wrong with using Low Range on the inland tracks and there is nothing wrong with using Low Range on the beach when the going gets tough.

This content has been reproduced with the permission of the owner. To read Dave's original blog post, visit the Australian Offroad Academy website.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fraser Island: Queensland's Best Kept Secret

For the past 45 years, Rob Annesley has been involved in the creative arts. He grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA and was tertiary educated at the NSW Conservatorium of Music. A classically trained musician Rob spent many years playing music professionally in Australia. 

For the past 5 years, his creativity has taken him on a very personal journey, working behind the camera to create strong visual imagery that can best be described as “life in motion”. Rob says… " if it moves, I want to shoot it, and if it doesn’t, then I'll move while photographing it.” He has won awards at prominent Australian photographic competitions, and exhibited at the Australian Centre for Photography emerging artists exhibitions.  This month, we'd like to share Rob's journey on Fraser Island as originally published on his blog...

The main pool at Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island
I had always had the preconceived idea that Fraser Island was the exclusive domain of the seriously intrepid explorer and a campers paradise. I had assumed that you needed to have all the canvas type gear, know how to tie knots, dig a dunny and have a strong desire to spend quality time under the stars, come rain, hail or shine.

I am chagrined that as a practicing Queenslander I wasn’t better informed about the different styles of accommodations available on the island, ranging from bungalows set high up in the tree line to a 4-star eco lodge on this extremely large and diverse heritage listed island located off the coast of Hervey Bay.

Welcome Swallows abound in the resort's grounds
Not being much of an under-canvas kind of guy, it was a very pleasant surprise to find that Fraser Island had a multi star eco-lodge that caters to the more pampered traveller who nonetheless still wishes to enjoy the wilderness but in a more comfortable “roof over head” manner.

The Kingfisher Bay Resort has many activities to engage kids and adults alike, and two activities that I enjoyed were the “introduction and tasting of bush tucker” and their early morning ranger guided bird walking tour.

Kingfisher Bay Resort is ideally located on the lee (western) side of the island, and has daily ferry (car and passenger) services. A smooth 50 min voyage complete with coffee and snack availability, sees you disembarking on the 300m long pier, which doubles as an excellent set up fishing location complete with rod holders, seating and overhead lighting for those wonderful night fishing expeditions.

Fraser Island is a mecca for four-wheel-drivers 
Once disembarked you are on the bitumen road which leads to the Kingfisher Bay Resort precinct. Enjoy this 1.5km of sealed road as it’s the only firm ground that you’ll feel under your wheels as the rest of the island “roads” are a mixture of soft sand ( hinterland) and firm sand ( beach) depending on the tide.

Anywhere other than the resort is 4WD driveable only. The initiation to the driving conditions is immediate. Upon leaving the resort you proceed up the sealed road through the wildlife fence and across the electrified dingo prevention grid. You are immediately faced with a 400m 45 degree steep downhill grade of grey sand with bumps and ruts that would have your chiropractor smiling for a month. It became apparent very quickly why the island speed limit is 30 kph and why the 18km trip across to the beach takes the best part of an hour.

Beach pilots take off right from the beach highway
The scenery on the cross island journey is varied as you travel through the usual Aussie scrub, into rainforest and finally seaside hardy plant growth. Once you break through and are within sight of the ocean, a real sense of accomplishment washes over you because you have arrived at one of the most exciting roads you’ll ever have the pleasure to drive on. It’s the beach, yet its known as 75 Mile Road, an officially registered state road complete with addresses and street numbers.

It isn’t like any other road, because it is bounded on one side by sand dunes, and on the other the Pacific Ocean. The beach is also a registered airport. Yes, this Qld state road also has a pair of single prop 6 seater aircraft that will whisk you and your party up over the island hinterland to see sandblows, hidden lakes and wilderness usually inaccessible to the visitor. The aircraft also swing out over the ocean for an exciting whale, dolphin and shark watch. Its an exciting 20 minute adrenaline rush, and gives a wonderful understanding of the enormity and magnitude of this incredible island.

One of the island locals checking conditions on the highway
The road isn’t always passable due to its reliance on the prevailing tides as to whether there is enough dry sand to traverse. It is incumbent on the traveller to be aware of the tidal situation in relation to their travel plans. This is relatively easy to accomplish as the local shops on both sides of the island have that information at hand, and are very happy to provide information as to the daily tidal situations. There is so much to see and do on the ocean side of the island. Coloured Sands, Maheno Wreck, Eli Creek, Champagne Pools, and numerous sandblows and lake hikes. If you’re interested in a spot of beach fishing there is over 125 km’s miles of quiet sand from which to choose and definitely no elbowing necessary. You’ll also probably be kept company by a lone dingo looking for a scrap of fish or old bait. Resist the temptation to feed them.

There are more than 100 fresh water dune lakes on Fraser
The inside of the island features many aptly named “beauty spots”. Several of these are Lake McKenzie and Central Station. The latter is the original home of the islands commercial hub, prior to its heritage listing in 1991. The island was a major logging centre as its Satinay trees were in high demand as sailing ship masts due to the fact that this timber did not suffer from borers. This area is rainforest and is quite spectacular with crystal clear creeks and rainforest walks of unimaginable beauty. Lake McKenzie is an aquamarine crystal clear lake which is usually millpond smooth and gives beautiful reflection photography. Surrounding the lake is the finest pure white sand, and bordering the lake are white paperbarks and reedy wetlands. It is a wonderful spot for a dip on a hot day.

Peak hour on the island's western beach
Apart from the islands many natural attributes the Kingfisher Bay Resort is a major part of the natural island experience. The resort has developed an exceptional synergistic relationship with its surroundings, particularly building its eco-resort accommodations so as to ensure that the whole wildlife experience is within view and immediately at hand for the enjoyment of its guests.

The resort features surrounding wetlands, known as The Wallum, which can be enjoyed from the back balconies of most of its units. It features dozens of bird species which can be seen each morning and afternoon. Hiking tracks are easily accessible and well marked.

No two Fraser Island sunsets are ever quite the same
The resort is also exceptionally well positioned to show off the evenings sunsets, creating spectacular imagery from the beach and pier most nights. I guess that’s why the resorts Pier Bar is a popular place to enjoy a cocktail and a tasting plate for those who wish to enjoy the evenings’ grand colourful views in style. Be sure to get there early, as the tables and chairs fill quickly, and then its standing room only.

I’m so glad I finally went to Fraser Island. There is so much to explore and I cant wait to go back to enjoy the complete Fraser Island experience again.

This blog was originally published on 15 January and is reproduced here with the permission of the author.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Five Fraser Island Must-Dos

AUGUST 2014: Liz and Tim from the lifestyle blog, This Magnificent Life, decided to swap their glamorous city life for a few days out in paradise.  This is their story...

Kingfisher Bay Resort on World Heritage listed Fraser Island successfully snuggles into the spectacular and unique landscape. The resort not only provides the best stop to rest your weary head each night after an action-packed day exploring the island, it is also the jump off point for some amazing experiences and tours.

Think of it as a very big natural theme park.
A Humpback comes for a closer look!
This time of year Fraser is a major pit stop on the Humpback Super Highway; here off the island’s north west coast, in the Hervey Bay Marine Park is where these inquisitive giants come to rest and play with their calves on their annual migration.

The Quick Catt II departs the resort (western side of Fraser Island) daily until October 31 for tours you will never forget.

Sometimes the whales show off up so close to the boat you start to wonder who’s observing who.  They roll over, fin slap and if you’re really lucky you might witness the spectacle of a full breach.

Now you can also swim with these majestic creatures as an upgrade to the ½ day whale watching experience. The lucky few who have already taken the swim say they were amazed at how inquisitive and playful these gentle giants were. ‘Whale Watching 2.0′ new swimming experience takes place under very controlled conditions and there must be calm waters, good visibility and inquisitive whales must be surface active with no breaching or tail slapping. (This experience can only be booked on the day).

Next stop: Eli Creek on Fraser's eastern beach
Kingfisher Bay Resort is also the starting point for the full-day Beauty Spots 4WD Tour by Fraser Explorer Tours. Knowledgeable guides take you on rough, sandy tracks on air-conditioned 4WD buses across the island to see some of Fraser’s most beautiful natural attractions.

Seventy-Five Mile beach is a breathtaking stretch of ultra-white sand on the eastern side of the island with aquamarine water and big skies. The beach is where the invisible waters of Eli Creek meet the Pacific.

The tour stops long enough for a leisurely swim in waters so impossibly clear you can only detect them by the sound of the gentle current.

The rusting hulk of The SS Maheno shipwreck makes for great pictures against the bluest of skies, turquoise ocean and blindingly white sand. Other stops include the Stonetool Sand Blow and Central Station – the site of the earliest tree felling community. Lake McKenzie is a 1200 metre long rainwater fed lake with water so pure it sustains very few species. The sand is nearly pure silica and so white it highlights the clear waters.Pile Valley’s forests of enormous Satinay trees are home to an abundant wildlife and the 30-minute walk is suitable for most fitness levels.

Welcome to Fraser Island's international airport
Seventy Five Mile beach also doubles as an airstrip for spectacular scenic flights by Air Fraser Island.  This is 15 minutes of sheer exhilaration as you fly over formidable rainforest, pristine rainwater fed lakes with the bonus of a thrilling beach take-off and landing.

(The beach airstrip is one of only two certified in the world). You can take the joy flight as an optional extra during the Beauty spots Tour.

Discover the flavours of Fraser with a Ranger and Chef
This 45-minute exploration of bush tucker is for foodies and non-foodies alike.

One of the island’s rangers and one of the resort’s chefs guide you through a fascinating exploration of native foods.  On the deck of Kingfisher Bay Resorts Bush-tucker inspired Seabelle Restaurant you taste and learn about Bunya nuts, bush tomato, macadamias,
rosellas, lillypilly, quandongs, wild limes and more.  Meanwhile chef cooks up marinated and barbecued crocodile, kangaroo and emu.

The perfect way to end your Fraser Island day
Every afternoon at the Jetty Hut you can enjoy a spectacular sunset overlooking the Sandy Strait with a tipple of choice and a cheese, antipasto or prawn platter. This is the perfect opportunity to sit with your significant other and simply take in the uninterrupted panorama of the calm waters. Like all activities on Fraser Island the photo opps are endless.

Of course, there is so much more to do at Kingfisher Bay Resort and on Fraser Island including guided canoe paddles, free ranger guided walks, Champagne Pool day tour and Segway sessions.

Every day the resort offers an endless variety of ways to explore and understand this irreplaceable island.  All you have to do is make the most of it.

This Magnificent Life travelled as guests of The Kingfisher Bay Resort Group; travelled with Fraser Island Barges and aboard a Beauty Spots Tour and half-day whale watching cruise from their base at Kingfisher Bay Resort.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fraser Island - This Is Living!

MARCH 2014: We've been a little bit quiet in posting on this blog and we apologise... but we are always on the search for great content to share.  We recently came across a post on our Fraser Island Barges Facebook page from Hervey Bay local, Scotto, and want to share with you.

Scott (or Scotto as he is known in fishing forums) has been a Hervey Bay local since 2006, but has been fishing (some say obsessed) since he was eight years old. Originally from the Illawarra, just south of Sydney NSW Australia, Scott grew up fishing for anything with fins and spent his teenage years land-based game fishing from just about every ledge along the NSW coast from Coffs Harbour in the North to Green Cape in the South. He picked up my first fly rod in 1989 - a #9wht outfit - which he used to catch Tailor, Salmon, Frigates, Luderick and Bream whilst waiting for a run on the big gear. Here, Scott tells of his family adventure to World Heritage-listed Fraser Island...

Rainforest grows completely in sand on Fraser Island
One of the main decision making factors for our move to Hervey Bay originally was the fabulous fishing variety the region has to offer. This has a lot to do with geographic location and the unique mix of warm and cool water species to be found side-by-side.

Then there is Fraser Island, World Heritage-listed; it ranks up there with Uluru, Kakadu and the Great Barrier Reef. Stretching over 123 kilometres in length and 22 kilometres at its widest point.With an area of 184,000 hectares it is the largest sand island in the world. It truly is a fishing, camping and four wheel driving Mecca that everyone should spend some time on at least once in your life time!

Prior to moving to Hervey Bay we spent a number of our annual family holidays at Kingfisher Bay Resort on the Western side of the Island in January each year. Kingfisher is a fantastic place to stay in, with plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy and the fishing from the main barge jetty can be great. Kingfisher Bay provides a central base to explore the island from and all the creature comforts of an award winning resort.

Now that we are Hervey Bay “locals” we have had some great holidays camping on the island and will cover how you can to this in this article!

The first decision to address is where to camp or base yourself.  My family has never been keen on sharing their space with dingos, so that ruled out the front beach camping zones. Queensland Parks and Wildlife manages a number of formal campgrounds, where camping permits are required and you need to book and pay camping fees. These formalised camp sites feature water taps or tap stations, and toilets. Most have gas barbecues, deep sinks for washing dishes and information displays. All campgrounds have a 9pm noise curfew and generators are not permitted.

We elected to base ourselves at the Waddy Point - top camp ground, which is fully fenced, has plenty of shady camp sites and a good toilet block with coin operated showers. Waddy Point is also sheltered from the prevailing south east trade winds and conveniently located near to a few of our favourite areas, The Champagne Pools and Indian Head. You can book direct online  or by phone on 13 74 68 (24 hours). It is wise to secure a camp site as far in advance as possible with limited sites booking out a year in advance during peak holiday periods. All vehicles must have a current Fraser Island vehicle access permit, purchased before entering the island and fixed to the lower left side of the windscreen, which can be booked online as well.

The Kingfisher Bay Resort barge takes 50 minutes
Now that you have your camp site booked and vehicle permit sorted you just need to arrange the car ferry. You have a number of ferry/barge options available depending on where you are departing from. You can depart Hervey Bay via River Heads to both Kingfisher Bay and Wanggoolba Creek or Inskip Point if coming up from Rainbow Beach. Barge

We generally get the earliest barge to Kingfisher Bay Resort from River Heads which gives you an excuse to have brekkie at the resort!  The trip across generally takes around fifty minutes which allows you time to slip in a little extra shut eye after an early start if needed.

Once on the island, we like to stop off at the resort cafe for a bite to eat and& coffee before deflating our tyres for the drive ahead. I have found that deflating your tyres straight down to 18-20psi works best for us. It is amazing how many 4X4 vehicles you will see struggling along or bogged with fully inflated tyres. Just ensure you avoid sharp turns and sudden braking, as tyres can roll off their rims at low pressure. We always carry an accurate type pressure gauge and compressor. Tide times play an important role when travelling on the eastern beach with the best time for travel being a few hours either side of low tide - avoid driving two hours either side of high tide. There are also bypass tracks at Poyungan and Yidney Rocks.

Normal road rules apply with all inland roads, vehicle tracks and beaches being designated roads. Speed limits also apply at 35kms on all inland roads and 80kms on the eastern beach with 40km zones around the main resort entrances .Police do patrol all areas of Fraser Island with speed checks and breathe testing being conducted at any time of day.  There are also stretches of the eastern beach which are used as aircraft landing/take-off strips. Take note of the signs in designated areas and watch for aircraft.

When driving on the eastern beach keep an eye out for the numerous gutters that have been created by the numerous freshwater creeks flowing into the sea. Some will have quite deep banks which could lead to you over turning your vehicle if hit one at speed. Eli creek is often one of the deeper ones.

Remember to keep your momentum up in soft sand
On 'good beach days' the sand is hard-packed and makes for excellent driving conditions. On bad days, the tides may not have been high enough to wash way the ruts from the previous day's traffic - resulting in build-up of sand banks.  When driving in deep banks of dry sand, keep the car in a low gear; do not change gears; keep the revs high and do not lose momentum. Where possible, follow someone else's tracks - choose a set of tracks and stay on them. Do not stop the vehicle in soft sand or in creek beds. We always carry a shovel, snatch straps and shackles  just in case!

Cornwells Break Road leads across from Kingfisher Bay to the eastern beach and we generally detour across for a quick swim at Lake McKenzie. Lake McKenzie really is the blue jewel in Fraser’s assets and is a must to visit on every trip. It is a 'perched' lake, which means it contains only rainwater - no groundwater - and is not fed by streams and does not flow to the ocean. The sand and organic matter at the base of the lake forms an impervious layer preventing rainwater from draining away. The sand here is pure white silica and feels great under your feet.

From here, you can head across to Central Station. Central Station was once the centre of the forestry industry when logging was allowed prior to 1991. Many walks leave from Central Station. We had a quick stroll through the rainforest along Wanggoolba Creek down to the boardwalk where Eleasha and Jess had their picture taken alongside a huge Strangler Fig.  We have previously made the big hike up to Basin Lake and admired the impressive Satinay trees in Pile Valley.

75-Miles of great fishing gutters!
Next stop is generally Eurong Beach Resort where you access the eastern beach before heading north. It really is a great experience driving along the eastern beach – which feels like it is never going to end. We always enjoy a quick dip in Eli Creek along the way to Waddy Point, which always revives you.  I am not sure why, but the water always feels like its source is at the South Pole – it's freezing! You can feed the resident Jungle Perch population a few March Flies as well.

By the time I reach the camping ground at Waddy Point, I’m generally itching for a fish - driving past endless fishy looking gutters for two hours will do that too you ! We always look for a shady spot with in strolling distance from the main toilets and shower block. Nothing beats sitting around a BBQ and enjoying a few drinks after a big day.

Once settled you need to set off on a bait collecting mission. Starting with Pipis, we generally head south of Indian Head an hour before low tide. In the past, our best results have come from looking for clusters that had shown themselves in the sand like little domes in the main traffic area. Apparently the vibrations of the tyres cause the Pipis to work up through the hard sand so at low tide, on beaches with car traffic, this is the easiest. Note that sometimes they can appear as little depressions or holes rather than bumps – then it is just a matter of digging them out.

These a definite art to beach worming!
Beach Worms are your next bait target and due to my lack of practice I look for areas with plenty to get the fingers back in tune! I have done well previously north of Orchid Beach around Orange Creek, but any sections of beach with long wet flat areas are worth a try. I like to use an old stocking with some pilchards and used Pipi flesh as the main baits. Now, catching Beach Worms does take practice – not to mention patience – and the key really is getting the worm to bite the bait while you have your fingers depressed around its head. I was always taught to use my finders so you can 'feel' the worm and you will wind up with less heads than when using pliers. The worm will arch its head when it bites the bait and I like to wait until it goes for a second bite, feeling more confident you clamp down with your thumb and index finger as it reaches the top of its arch. Beach worming is good fun and the family will have a ball!

Fraser Island produces some great fishing for a variety of species depending on time of year. Although you can generally expect to find Bream, Tarwine, Whiting and Flathead year round with the best of the Tailor fishing occurring from June to December when massive schools of Tailor migrate to spawn between the island's only rock headlands - Indian Head and Waddy Point.

Scotty with a Pipi-caugt Sweetlip
Although fishing on and between these headlands is closed for all of August and September - to leave spawning fish undisturbed and to protect this unique resource - all other beaches are open to fishing and crowded with schools of fish. The largest Tailor, up to 5kg, can be encountered later in the season. You will also encounter the elusive Mulloway or Jewfish during the winter months when fishing around the tailor schools. Some even chase large Spanish Mackerel, Trevally and Tuna off Indian Head throughout summer.

Generally a basic running sinker rig is ideal when chasing Bream,Whiting and Flathead with approx half metre leader between swivel and hook. I like to use a standard ball sinker when there isn’t too much run or current as you will cover more ground. I prefer a paternoster rig with star sinker at bottom and a set of ganged hooks on a dropper when chasing tailor. Break-away or grapple sinkers will help when fishing in a rip or heavy current.

It's important to be able to read the beach to find the gutters. Weather and tides combine to alter the beach producing low tide and high tide gutters where you will find fish. These surf gutters form between the beach and outer sand banks and you will find gutters open at one or both ends. I find short, narrower gutters that have openings or rips at both the north and south ends generally provide better results. Dawn and dusk are generally the best beach fishing times, but if the conditions and the gutters are right, anytime is a good fishing time. The best gutters are generally found north from The SS Maheno ship wreck to Indian Head and Waddy Point.

If you experience a big south-easterly blow while on the island you can head across to Wathumba Creek on the western side from Orchid Beach. I have had some great fishing in Wathumba Creek from both the bank and kayak. You can also launch small tinnies in the creek and chase pelagics just off shore.

Lake McKenzie is perched high in Fraser's famous dunes
Fraser Island truly is a magical place with so much to see and explore and I have really only covered the top section in this piece. There can be amazing fishing right at the top around The Sandy Cape. Not to mention main passage down at Inskip point where Tuna from the beach are possible. Then there’s the Coffee Rock ledges on the inside at Ungowa – so much to explore – so little time!!!

Blog content and images were reproduced with the author's permission and minor edits may have been made. This story was originally posted on Shimanofish.com.au in December 2013.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cooking Up Some Fraser Fun With That Lovable Larrikin, Al McLeod

JULY 2013: He's a talented Chef; he's a much-loved TV Presenter; he's a columnist for Brisbane News; he's a proud 'new Australian' and he's a real larrikin.  We invited the wonderful Alastair McLeod to blog about his time with us on the world's largest sand island... but to make things interesting, he brought his beautiful mother, radio presenter Candy Devine, brother, partner and our mate, Betto, along for the ride...

Size doesn't matter on Fraser Island
I was imaging what I wanted a stay to look like on Fraser Island it would look like Eurong Beach Resort. On a recent trip - my first - to Fraser, I found myself adjusted to the pace of island life the moment I got to Eurong. Checked in by a wonderful young lady from Dublin who told me her also Irish partner was one of the chefs, I knew we were in good hands. If the truth be known, with so much to see and explore on the island, you may not spend much time at the resort other than a pre-dinner tipple and breakfast and dinner if you choose not to self-cater. However, if you want to laze around the resort there is plenty to distract. There are two pools, great BBQ areas, tennis courts and a restaurant that does magnificently robust meals after a long day on the tracks – it must be that Irish chef!

What I found so very special was Eurong’s location. The clue is in the name as the resort is quite literally on the beach which transforms as the light and tides change throughout day and into evening.

One morning at dawn we went down to the water and drew out a volleyball court in the sand with our toes. We had an imaginary net on the imaginary highway that is the 75 Mile Beach and had the place to ourselves. You could look in either direction to the curvature of the earth and it was just us. After we huffed and puffed for a wee while, we did attract a bit of attention. With the sun still low in the sky a few curious dingos peeked out of the scrub and watched us toss our ball over our imagined net. It was fascinating to see these animals in their natural setting. Seemingly unimpressed with our ball skills, the mum and her pups skulked back into the scrub.

About twenty minutes north of Eurong is the famous Eli Creek that attracts many visitors. Follow the wooden walkway a short way and plunge up to your chest into the creek. After rainfall it becomes a fast-moving, crystal-clear waterway that carries you downstream from whence you came. It is a place of extraordinary pristine beauty the likes of which I have not seen anywhere on earth.  

Reeling them in... Al and the camera-shy Betto do their thing
Back at Eurong for a beer, we get a lesson into unloading the car of the kilos of sand it had taken on board from our travails. There’s quite a trick to it but with the guidance of the Island’s fishing guru, Andrew 'Betto' Betteridge, the car looked brand new. It should have done, the car in fact was only one day old and had spent more of its life on sand than it had on bitumen.

Now let me tell you about this fellow Andrew. He is a one of a kind and worth seeking out on your trip to Fraser. He has spent years working on his beloved island. He took us one morning to a few of his favourite fishing spots. As we headed up the beach, it was with fascination we watched him slow down, jump from his ute, dash to an innocuous spot of sand, dig for a moment and reveal a pipi. Try as I might I couldn’t see what he could see.

"He was like an aquatic Crocodile Dundee."

Andrew shares his sweet spot with the Irish crew
With our bait firmly lodged on our hooks we tossed our lines in gullies around the wreckage of The SS Maheno. Andrew could have cast his bait onto a sixpence which looked much easier to do than it was in reality. Yet, for all our efforts I was the only one to catch a fish. A teeny Fraser Coast Whiting that was promptly returned to the ocean. Later that night Andrew brought a few kilos of Moreton Bay Bugs and prawns while we drank and talked about the ones that got away.

I have never been on a 4WD/fishing style of holiday but I am an irrevocable convert. 75 Mile Beach is my kind of beach and Eurong my kind of resort: great facilities, warm friendly service, knowledgeable and passionate people who have extraordinary pride in the island they are custodians of. With a little luck of the Irish, people like Andrew and such profound natural beauty you will have an amazing island adventure in this gem of a place.

You'll find the lovely Al on Facebook or Twitter... and if you're at Eurong, pop into the XXXX Beach Bar and have a beer with Betto.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Kingfisher Bay Resort: May Fishing Wrap Up From The Jetty Hut

MAY 2013 : Last month we saw a host of quality fish including Golden Trevally, Whiting, Mackerel, Barramundi, Bream and Flathead landed by eager anglers from our jetty here at Kingfisher Bay Resort.  Many of these fish were caught using rods hired from the Jetty Hut and some were even pulled in by first-time fishers who had just learnt the basics of baiting and casting in our fishing clinics.

The Jetty Hut is a top spot to catch a sunset
As we move towards the winter months, vast schools of Winter Whiting will be moving into the Great Sandy Strait – the body of water that separates Fraser Island from Hervey Bay on the mainland. When fishing for Whiting, I recommend Prawns or Squid from the Jetty Hut (using Squid will let you catch more fish before re-baiting). The deeper water at the end of our jetty is a great spot to target these sporty fish and, if you’re lucky enough to get one on the line, you’ll have loads of fun reeling it in.

If you land a keeper why not take it to The Sand Bar (after you’ve cleaned it), where the chefs will be more than happy to cook it up for you and serve it with some hot chips!

But, we humans aren’t the only ones that find Whiting delicious. A whole host of larger fish prey on Whiting and this makes them great to use as bait. This month there was no shortage of baitfish around the Jetty and towards the end of this month, we saw plenty of large Bream and Mackerel being reeled in on live Whiting, Herring and Pike. If you’re an eager fisherman like me then you’ll know there really is no substitute for live bait and the best option is to grab a bait jig from the Jetty Hut and catch your own.

Hot tip: Please use the specially-designed TAngler bins at the end of the jetty to dispose of your old tangled fishing line, bait bags and hooks. It’s great for the environment. 

As autumn fades we will see an increase in the amount of Whiting and Tailor in and around Fraser Island so, if you’re staying with us, wake up early, grab a bit to eat and head on down to the Jetty Hut where you’ll find all you need to catch yourself a fresh fish meal.

MAY 2013: Kingfisher Bay’s TOP Fish Hunters of the Month
19.5.13 – Campbell Kahl, Hervey Bay

* 50cm Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus commerson)

Caught using live Herring 

* Location – Kingfisher Bay Resort Jetty
* Though this particular fish was undersize and was thrown back, the Spanish Mackerel can grow up to 2 1/2metres long and weigh in excess of 40kg.

* This species is generally found offshore around coastal reefs and are often targeted by recreational anglers as they put up a good fight.

Check out our Instagram page for this shot and more.

5.5.13 – ‘Captain’ Jack Woollard

* 68cm Dusky Flathead (Platycephalus fuscus)
* Caught using live Herring

* Location – Kingfisher Bay Resort Jetty
* The Dusky Flathead varies in colour from a dark greenish/brown to a pale fawn/brown with a blotchy appearance. Look for a dark blotch on the tail for easy identification (see right).

* The legal size for this species is 40cm (min) and 75cm (max).

3.5.13 – Ben Priddle

* 90cm Golden Trevally (Gnathanodon speciosus)
* Caught using live Herring
* Location – Kingfisher Bay Resort Jetty

* GTs are large predatory fish is commonly found in inshore waters around reefs and sandy substrates just like those in the Great Sandy Strait.

* Easily distinguished by its lips and unique colouration, the Golden Trevally can grow up to 120cm.
* Ben did well to land this 90cm, 10kg Golden Trevally and deserves his spot as one of our TOP fish hunters. 

Until next time folks, may the beer be cold and the fish biting,
Ranger Grant.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Gentle Giants Of The Deep

QUEENSLAND: Yesterday, the first humpback whales of the 2013 Queensland whale watching season were spotted swimming north past Stradbroke Island towards their breeding grounds in the warm waters of the tropical north. The lifecycle of the Southern Humpback Whale brings them into Hervey Bay's Great Sandy Strait every August to October to socialise and to give their newborns time to grow stronger in the calm, protected waters before beginning the long journey south to Antarctica.   

Getting up close to one of the most majestic and powerful creatures on this planet is like touching the fabric of life itself, as writer Jessica Jane Sammut discovered last season on a family holiday to Fraser Island.

*When we say get up close... we mean it...
 When you talk about the ‘great outdoors’ of Australia, there are so many incredible things to list – the red terrain, the incomparable beaches, the aqua marine ocean, the rainforest, the indigenous dreamtime trails; I could go on forever. But one glorious wonder sticks out more than all the rest for me. The humpback whale (Megatera novaengliae).

The most mesmerising of mammals, the humpback whale (measuring as an adult between 12 and 16 metres) is truly an object of majestic fascination for me. Typically migrating up to 25,000 kilometres each year to breed and give birth, the East Coast of Australia is lucky enough to play its role in this path, allowing those who wish to, to get a glimpse of these gentle giants in their own natural habitat. Some people travel around the world to gain such a sight.  We have it right on our doorstep. Lucky? You betcha.

So, it was with absolute glee that last year my family and I booked a holiday to Fraser Island, staying at the Kingfisher Bay Resort, knowing that they offered the only whale watching tour that I had heard of which 100 per cent guaranteed sightings of humpback whales. Excited, much!

Humpback whales are the star attraction on Hervey Bay’s event calendar as they visit like clockwork every season, taking time out of their epic migration to rest near Fraser. The calm waters of the Great Sandy Strait – on the lee of Fraser Island – provide natural protection as these surface-active whales socialise with their young before setting off on the long journey back to Antarctica.

When it comes to whales who is watching whom?
I had heard that in relaxation mode, they could put on a bit of show – tail-slapping, breaching, pectoral slapping, spy-hopping – but I have to admit, all I was really hoping for was to catch a look at even a fin, just so I knew they were close.

So on the third day into our holiday, I boarded the Quick Cat II, camera around my neck, swirling butterflies of nervous anticipation buzzing at my core. Would we see something? How much would we see? Having never gotten up close and personal with a whale before, to say I was looking forward to it would have been an understatement. And boy, I wasn’t disappointed!

Arriving in the deeper water after an hour or so, the captain of the boat confirmed that we were in an area that had been noted that morning as having whales resting, and so we waited. Engine off, eyes abound. The mood on the boat was electric as we all searched the horizon for the object of our affection that morning. And it was not long before our search was over.  For straight ahead, we saw a whale rise her tail and smash it back down into the ocean as if waving hello.

*A truly awe inspiring experience on the water
It was magnificent.

It was spine tingling.

It was breath taking.

We were here and they were just there – like something out of a movie. I knew right then I was logging a memory that I would never forget.  And so it continued – a show that would rival anything I had seen on television. Two whales rising out of the water and disappearing, two babies blasting foam through their blowholes, fins splashing, tails rising and falling, and the ultimate sight – two breaches. I was utterly spell bound. It was the most wonderful example of nature I had ever seen and I truly believe those whales were trying to communicate with us.  They knew we were there and they were happy to let us see what they could do.

On returning to the resort's etty at the end of the morning, I realised my face hurt. Hurt from smiling. I had not stopped since boarding the boat, the smiles graduating to beams of happiness as our whales came to play.

And it is still a memory which makes me smile, even as I write this. I have photos and I have video footage, but most of all, this experience is locked in my heart and head forever. And that is something I will cherish always. Like I say – the Lucky Country? It’s the best place on earth.

The Hervey Bay Humpback Whale Watch season runs annually from 1 August to 31 October and whale watch sightings are guaranteed.  Morning cruises leave daily from Kingfisher Bay Resort aboard the Quick Cat II and can be purchased from the resort or as part of an accommodation package.  If you're in awe of these gentle ocean giants and want to know more, why not follow us on our Facebook page; visit our dedicated website; or tag your photos with #kingfisherbay and #fraserisland on Instagram and share your own experiences?

About the author: Jessica Jane Sammut is an international freelance writer and editor who contributes to the likes of Australian Women’s Weekly, Marie Claire, Practical Parenting, The Sunday Mail, Yahoo!7, Cosmo Pregnancy and The Courier Mail, from her cottage in the palms.

*Photos courtesy of Hervey Bay Whale Watch - our whale watching partners.