PenUltimate Destinations

Fraser’s at Cathedral Beach

13-15 December, 2011

Our pack up this morning wasn’t too bad. The flies and other ‘biting things’ were still around (almost everyone had been eaten alive over the past few days), but we managed a fairly early, albeit hot and sweaty, pack up.

Everything was still very wet, but that wasn’t too much of a concern given that we would be opening up again in only a few hours time. The drive out though the rainforest and back to Eurong was very enjoyable again – the mix of terrain was still amazing.

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We stopped at Eurong for morning tea and to relax for a while before heading further. The kids were given a free ice block from the people in the bakery which they thought was pretty special.

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Back in the car, we headed north towards Cathedral Beach, not being sure how long it would take us, or how the crossing of Eli Creek would go as we were close to high tide. As it turned out, we crossed easily, before stopping at the Maheno wreck for lunch. The Maheno was a passenger and hospital ship prior to 1935 when it was sold for scrap. It was under tow to Japan when a cyclone snapped the tow cables and it washed ashore on Fraser. Attempts to re-float it were unsuccessful and it remains where it was washed ashore. It is amazing to see the effects of the salt water over those years, and takes a little imagination to picture what once was.

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After lunch we continued north, and before long we were heading up the soft sand into Cathedral beach. They gave us some advice about Dingoes on the way in – “keep food secured – you WILL see some dingoes while you’re here”. I think Rach was slightly apprehensive – yet a little excited about the prospect of seeing a dingo.

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We upgraded to a power site given the state of our battery and drove into the park. The site was surrounded by short bollards, with a couple of openings which made it quite difficult to position the trailer exactly where we wanted it. After much scratching around we got it in place and enjoyed being able to take our time setting up. Ella was sleeping in the car, which made it even easier!

We cooked our dinner in the nice camp kitchen, before relaxing back, having a few drinks, turning off all the lights, and watching a spectacular thunderstorm around us. We shut up the kitchen and tailgate completely at night before going to bed early.

The next day (Wednesday) we made the trek up to the northern end of Fraser Island to see Champagne Pools. We went on the back of the high tide, not really knowing whether we would have to stop along the way at water crossings, but hoped to beat most of the crowds.

Not far out of Cathedral we stopped at a little water hole for the kids to have a swim and paddle in. They had an awesome time and were reluctant to leave. They were a little happier when we told them that we were going in search of somewhere even better to swim.

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It was pretty tough going through the soft sand up at the top of the beach near the dunes for most of it, and we even needed to engage low range around the back of Indian Head. When we arrived at Champagne Pools, there were about 8 cars in the carpark. We had a quick bite to eat for lunch, then walked the 800m down into the pools.

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This is an absolutely gorgeous spot – and definitely the highlight of Fraser for me. The water cascades with the waves over into the rock pools. This creates thousands of little bubbles which give the ‘champagne’ effect.

I took Lucas in first, who was a little apprehensive at first, but before long was demanding “more waves, more waves!!” and trying to push me away so he could swim by himself. Ella came in next and was beside herself in fits of laughter, having an absolute blast. After alternating each of them a few times, we found a shallow pool where we could all just chill and play in the water.

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One of the great things about the trip has been to see Ella’s water confidence grow. She is getting to be a really good little swimmer, and spending so much time in different types of water has given her a real boost in confidence.

The trip back down the beach in the afternoon was much faster on the hard sand of the lower tide. It is a little strange driving at 80km/h on the beach however!

Dinner was again in the camp kitchen, before we closed up shop and headed to bed. No thunderstorm tonight, but it started to rain later and it continued to rain quite heavily overnight.

And continue into the morning. At about 7 or 8 it just bucketed down for about 30 minutes. This was probably the heaviest rain (for the longest duration) we’ve experienced in the camper. A little bit of water came in around the stitching in a couple of places, but yet again we came out amazed at how well our Trackabout could deal with the elements.

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We decided to have a pretty quiet day once the rain finally cleared. We’d been given the tip that Lake Allom was pretty nice, and that we might see some little turtles there, so we headed up that way. The road up there was the roughest we’d encountered so far, but the trip there was worth it.

The walk to the lake was short and there are steps that lead down into the water. We went down the steps and sat at the bottom to be greeted by probably 10 turtle heads poking up out of the water. The kids got a real buzz out of this and had a great time spotting each new turtle.

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We came back and stopped at the Maheno again for lunch, before heading to Eli Creek for a bit more of a look around. No swimming today though.

We headed back to enjoy a quiet night for our last one on Fraser – packing up as much as we could to give us a quick pack away in the morning. In fact we were so organised, that we were packed and on the road by just after 7:30am! A record for us – by a long way!

The sand was pretty hard as the tide was still relatively low (albeit incoming) and we made good time to Eurong to pick up some bread. We asked their advice about getting around Hook Point, but they advised that the tide would be too high by the time we got there, and we should take the inland road. This was a bit disappointing, as we had to take the inland road both ways, but couldn’t be avoided.

After a week driving on the sand perhaps I was becoming a little complacent, but the trip south from Eurong was almost pretty embarrassing! We were traveling at about 70km/h (the limit on the beach is 80) when I spotted a fairly deep washout maybe 50m in front of us. As we threw out the anchors the car started to lurch sideways a little. My attention levels how at 11, we had a couple of choices: 1) stand hard on the brakes and try to stop before the washout, risking rolling the car if the tyres dug sideways into the sand… 2) get off the brakes to straighten up, and then get back on them, hoping we could stop before the washout… or 3) get off the brakes enough to keep control of the car, but try and steer up the beach away from the washout – hoping we could turn enough in time.

Option 3 was the decision made in a split second, and it turned out to be the right one, as we were able to complete one big arc away from the washout, with about 5m to spare. As we continued down the beach with slightly elevated heart rate, we heard a couple of tour bus operators comment on how dangerous it was and how easy it would be to launch into it… little did they know!

The rest of the trip off the island was uneventful, and before we knew it we were back on the mainland – our Fraser adventure at an end.

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We had a sensational time, and look forward to perhaps bringing the kids back when they are older and can appreciate it more – perhaps in 10 or so years time?

Interestingly we filled up the Prado with fuel at Rainbow Beach after the whole week on Fraser. We used 32l/100km – almost exactly double our regular usage. We were thankful for the 159 litre capacity as we didn’t need to buy fuel on Fraser (at inflated prices).

Those last 3 nights now take us to 56 nights in our camper since we bought it. Really starting to get up there now!

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One thought on “Fraser’s at Cathedral Beach

  1. Cath Rose

    Hey dave, rach, ella& lucas loved champagne pools too! Trip sound fun, continue to enjoy the adventure! Enjoy celebrating 2012!
    Cath

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