Saturday, August 30, 2014

Thar She Blows!

The second day of our get away we went whale watching. We were in Hervy Bay, which is an area where the whales migrate to to have their babies. We started out on a sailboat, which would be cool (but all day excursion) Because when we saw whales we would be close to the water and be up close and personal. But about an hour and a half into our journey to where the whales were that day the steering on the boat broke and we had to turn around, they offered us a voucher to come back but we weren't sure we would make it back, so after a lunch on shore we decided to seize the day and got on a faster, larger boat for an afternoon tour. It took about an hour to get to where some whale pods were and for the next two hours we were delighted to see whales swimming around and underneath the boat. They would roll on their backs, wave a fin at all the funny looking creatures on the boat who would all wave back at them. A few came in for a closer peek at us. If we had ten foot arms we could have touched them. The whales we saw were humpback whales. They put a microphone in the water and we heard the whale song. We saw them swirling, rolling, spouting, waving and of course the famous whale tails. We did see two breaching or coming out of the water. Whales can reach between 40 to 50 feet long and can weigh up to 48 tons. They are grey or black in color with white markings which are different for every whale allowing researchers to identify them individually. 
It was a great day, even with the broken sail boat. We are so glad we were able to go. We enjoyed being with the Rancies, seeing the whales up close and being on the beautiful, clear waters of Australia.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Frasier Island

We were able to take a couple of days off and travel north to the Hervey Bay Area with our friends Rob and Rae Rancie. We spent one day on Fraiser Island and one day whale watching (more about that later)
Fraiser Island is the largest sand island in the world. It is also a world heritage site. We were picked up at our hotel in Hervey Bay and taken to the ferry. After about an hour ferry ride we were on Fraiser Island. We had purchased a tour. Only four wheel drive vehicles are allowed on the island. Most of the "roads" are sand tracks with trees on both sides. Bumpy, hilly roads. We were in a four wheel drive bus and we were so grateful that a few days prior there had been a huge rainstorm so the tracks were smoother than usual, but it was still a real roller coaster ride!
We first went across the island, which is about 22 kilometers wide and 125 kilometers long, to the eastern shore where we drove along the beach for about 12 kilometers. It was beautiful! 
We drove to a ship wreck, the Maheno. The ship was a cruise ship in 1905, during World War One it was put into service as a hospital ship, then it was back to a cruise ship. It was being towed after having been sold to china, but a cyclone came up, the tow line broke and the storm pushed it to shore on Frasier Island and they couldn't move it. It is slowly being covered by sand and eroding. Someday it will be totally covered. 
There are Dingos all over the island, these are wild dogs. They were brought to australia by Asian seafarers about 4000 years ago. There are warning signs all over the island warning people about them. They are a sub species of the grey wolf and can be dangerous and aggressive. Parents are especially warned about keeping small children close to them. We did see some on the beach.
We also purchased a short, small airplane ride that flew over the island. It took off and landed back onto the beach. This island is only one of two places in the world where private aircraft can take off and land on the beach. We next went to Eli's Creek, a beautiful, clear creek people could wade or float in. After lunch we took a 1.8 kilometer hike on a trail through the rain forrest. We ended the tour at McKenzie lake. Where one of us, bet you can't guess which one, waded in the water. Back on the bus for a roller coaster ride back to the ferry. Once back in Hervey Bay we ended the day with fish and chips and a ice cream cone! Beautiful day!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Beautiful Stradbroke Island

Stradie as Stradbroke island is called by the locals is a beautiful sand island. Our friends Rob and Rae Rancie asked us to go over for the day. We took a large ferry, Rob drove their car on, then we went up on top of the ferry to enjoy the sunshine and the journey over. It was a smooth crossing that took almost an hour. Stradbroke is now home to the Nooncuccal, Nughee and Goenpul Aboriginal people who call it Minjerribah. The first European recorded sighting was in 1770 when James Cook named point look out. Today a lot of people vacation there, it is not a huge island nor fancy but it is popular for fishing, surfing, swimming, scuba diving and whale watching (this time of year). The day we were there we saw people doing all of the above except scuba diving. We even saw a surfing class. As a bonus we saw a kangaroo eating his lunch (grass) on the side of the road. We also enjoyed our lunch at a seaside restaurant while we watched the really large waves come in. We saw whales spouting, but none that came out of the water. In a few weeks we are going to another spot where they are migrating to to give birth. Beautiful scenery, beautiful beaches, beautiful day!