Australia Zoo Journal-PART 1--PART 2--PART 3--PART 4--PART 5-
-PART 6--PART 7--PART 8--PART 9--PART 10-Australia Zoo Journal - Part 6
The sun had set and our vehicle had turned onto an inland road. It was a short journey as the 4-wheeler's headlines soon illuminated an old wooden house. Dumping our belongings inside, it seemed that it must have been someone's old vacationing cottage. I was a little disappointed that we wouldn't truly be camping on Fraser, but the prospect of dinner prevented me from dwelling on it for too long.
After retrieving meat and beer from a cooler it wasn't long before the night air was filled with the smell of sizzling BBQ and the sound of beer bottles being removed of their caps. Happy to be fed and satisfied with the brew, we decided to make a trip to the beach for stargazing. Flashlights in hand, we arrived at the beach and the dark Pacific without a soul in sight. Unobscured by city lights, the famed southern skies were a shimmering carpet above, inspiring awe and wonder. The soothing ocean waves made for a perfect soundtrack and time was lost as we took in the beautiful scene.
Flashlights had long since been shut off, allowing our eyes to adjust to the dark. I could make out quite a bit in the dark, but something caught my eye. A dark blob seemed to be moving towards us. It was waist high so I quickly understood that, whatever it was, it wasn't human. I grabbed one of the flashlights, turned it on and pointed it at the approaching figure: it was large male dingo.
The dingo paid us little mind as it passed us by no more than a few meters, close enough that we made sure not to make any sudden movements. I was surprised by how bold it was, but nothing about it made me think that it meant us any harm. It was simply passing by. It is unfortunate that these animals have such an undeserved negative reputation. I feel fortunate to have been so close to a large, wild canid...something I haven't experienced before or since.
We stayed out on the beach for a few moments more until we decided to head back and get some much needed rest.
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I awoke the next morning before anyone else. The dark sky was giving way to the first rays of sunlight so I decided it was the perfect opportunity to return to the beach to watch the sunrise. I quickly threw my shoes on, grabbed my camera and wearily made my way through the cool morning air. I had arrived just in time to see the first sliver of light peak over the Pacific, under a line of fluffy purple clouds.
I watched in silence as the daytime creatures of Fraser began to stir. A mated pair of lovebirds loitered by the seaside, bathed in the golden light that was now illuminating more of the landscape. An eagle flew overhead and a morning jogger made his way alongside sunlit waves. I was so distracted by the scene unfolding in front of me that I was unaware of the tide which swelled further on shore; I eventually took notice when a particularly large wave submerged my feet and infiltrated my once waterproof shoes. It made for an unpleasant and squishy hike back for breakfast.
Shoes and socks hanging to dry, I switched to sandals and prepared a morning meal. While digging through the contents of the kitchen, I noticed a jar of Vegemite. Its tar-like appearance and the knowledge that it evoked shock and horror amongst foreigners made me curious.
My brother and I agreed to take the plunge and try it, making the mistake of not actually spreading it on anything. I went first and like many before me wondered how people could enjoy it. While I grimaced in mild offence, my brother was far more animated. He immediately spat it out and began frantically searching for water. Upon discovering that the water did not dispel the taste, he ran to the bathroom, toothbrush in hand and brushed his tongue aggressively. The sight of him in a panic, running from room to room and saying "Oh God, I can't get it out of my mouth" made for an entertaining show.
Once everyone was packed in the 4-wheeler, we drove inland to tour the island's rainforest. The tour was self-guided so we were able to move at our own pace on a winding forest past. I took my time and enjoyed a slow walk, listening to the birds, passing ferns illuminated by dappled sunlight and awe-struck by the majestically tall trees. It was not quite as wild as the Sumatran jungle, but there were some trees that were far larger than anything I have ever seen.
We found out that Fraser Island had once been home to Butchulla indigenous people, who called the island K'gari. The stunning scenery and shimmering lakes played host to a variety of ceremonies, important to their culture. At the bottom of a valley a small river meandered through the forest. The river, which is unusually cold, was used by the Butchulla for childbirth.
At the end of the journey through the forest, we again took to the road, heading to another swimming destination in Lake Mackenzie. We donned our bathing suits and found a number of people were already enjoying the scenery. The lake was spectacular in its beauty and was akin to something out of a travel brochure; it seemed too picturesque to be true. The sands were a brilliant white, the water a stunningly clear blue and the surrounding forest a vivid emerald green. The clear water allowed for me to see a great distance into the lake, fading into a deep blue as the bottom sloped into the depths.
I enjoyed swimming, but eventually decided to break off from the group and do some exploring along the edges of the lake where the water remained shallow. I found myself a small forested island where I could relax under the blue sky and watch waterfowl swim amongst the reeds. I could have spent all day there had hunger pangs not driven me to return for lunch.
With full bellies, we were going to depart once more. However, not wanting to leave Fraser littered with our garbage, we made sure to gather everything we were to discard. I had seen a lace monitor roaming about the outdoor lunch area, scaring a few other tourists and looking for scraps of food. I eventually lost sight of him...at least until I tried to pick up the bag of garbage I had been filling. The lace monitor had popped up and had one set of claws on the lip of the bag, preventing me from taking it. A comical tug-of-war ensued with me trying to make sure the reptile didn't rip the bag or make off with it. I eventually was able to remove the bag from its claws without getting bitten. Cheeky reptile.
After the latest close-encounter with Australian wildlife, it was time to leave Fraser. It was unfortunate that I couldn't spend more time there, but the disappointment was short-lived. The prospect of more adventures, including the Australia Zoo, was just on the horizon. -PART 1--PART 2--PART 3--PART 4--PART 5-
-PART 6--PART 7--PART 8--PART 9--PART 10-