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Fraser Island

(Reprint from News: April 1, 2002)

April 1, 2002

 

I continued my leisurely drive down the eastern coast the next morning and late that afternoon pulled into Rockhampton, a pleasant inland city with a population of 50,000, referred to by the locals as "Rocky."  After getting a room at the very nice Dreamtime Motel on the outskirts of town, I headed into Rocky to get some groceries.  I quickly learned, though, that since this was Easter Sunday, all the grocery stores were closed.  In fact, just about everything was closed in Rocky -- and just about everywhere else in Australia -- except motels and gas stations.  As the gas station attendant told me, things would remain closed through Tuesday morning, so I stocked up on his "scrumptious" selection of pretzels, Pepsi, and beef jerky.  It wasn't exactly gourmet food, but it was enough to tide me over for a few days.

 

The next day, I headed down the coast to the city of Hervey Bay.  The first thing you learn about Hervey Bay is that it's pronounced "Harvey," like that 1950s Jimmy Stewart movie about the invisible rabbit.  The second thing you learn about Hervey Bay is that, for better or worse -- mostly worse -- the city is a continuous strip of restaurants and motels, reminiscent of so many bland American cities.  During the past four months, I guess I'd gotten spoiled by the pleasantly compact and pedestrian-friendly layout of Australian and New Zealand cities.  Hervey Bay was an unpleasant reminder of what I could expect in a few weeks when I returned to the U.S.

 

The reason I was in Hervey Bay, though, wasn't to see Hervey Bay.  Instead, I wanted to visit Fraser Island, which is just offshore and about an hour-long ferry ride away.  I'd heard lots of good things about Fraser Island and it's a very popular vacation destination.  At 75 miles in length, Fraser is the world's largest sand island and there are no roads on it.  You absolutely have to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get around Fraser Island, but if you don't happen to have one, you can rent one for about $50 a day or go on a 4WD bus day-trip tour, which is what I did.

 

Based on every thing I'd heard about Fraser Island, I had really high hopes.  Maybe it was because it was Easter weekend and it was crowded, maybe it was because I was on a bus tour with 50 strangers... I don't know what it was, but I really wasn't that impressed with Fraser Island.  Frankly, there are lots of places in the U.S., like Cumberland Island in Georgia, that are more interesting.  Still, it's worth a visit if you're heading down the coast.

 

2-3228_Lawn_Bowling.jpg (45814 bytes)    2-3230_4WD_Truck.jpg (53411 bytes)    2-3263_Main_Street_Hervey_Bay.jpg (54900 bytes)

Above left:  Lawn bowling is big in the Land of Oz.  White attire required, of course.

Above center:  Here's a typical 4WD truck in Australia.  Note the "roo bar" on the front end and the snorkel.

Above right:  Hervey Bay is one of the few American-style, strip development-type cities that I've seen in Australia... and thankfully so.

 

2-3242_Fraser_Island_Ferry.jpg (38361 bytes)    2-3244_Lake_on_Fraser_Island.jpg (35577 bytes)    2-3251_Path_to_Beach.jpg (49376 bytes)

Above left:   It's also the jumping-off point for Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island.  I took a day-tour over to Fraser to get a taste of it.

Above center:  Freshwater lake on Fraser Island.

Above right:  Heading out to the beach on Fraser Island.

 

2-3252_Riding_in_Bus.jpg (18686 bytes)    2-3260_Stream.jpg (52282 bytes)    2-3261_Steam_on_Beach.jpg (41740 bytes)

Above left:  Cruising on the beach at 50 miles an hour.  Nope, no roundabouts here!

Above center:  You can walk upstream in this freshwater creek and then float all the way down to the beach.

Above right:  A lagoon and beach on Fraser Island.  Fraser Island is like Cumberland Island in Georgia but larger and with lots of cars, and lots of people.  I thought it was just "o.k."

 

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