Whale watching, four-wheel-driving on beach tracks and walks in the rainforest make Queensland’s Fraser Island a must-visit destination.
A thick fog silently enfolds the Hervey Bay Whale Watch Quick Cat II bringing visibility to almost zero. As the motors churn into action, skipper Brian Perry assures all on board that this is a good sign.
His deep voice, resonating rough and raspy over the loud speakers, announces: “She’s predicted to be fine and sunny up in Platypus Bay folks – perfect conditions for whale watching.” However, many people look worried as the catamaran kicks up a gear and cuts a steady path through the murkiness.
Platypus Bay is on the north-western side of World Heritage-listed Fraser Island off the southern coast of Queensland. Its calm, deep, warm waters are a favourite resting site for humpback whales on their annual migration. Numbers are increasing at the rate of 8–11 percent per year and today it is thought up to 5000 of these giants of the deep that pass along the east coast of Australia will venture into Platypus Bay.
Brian is right on all accounts. The fog lifts revealing a cloudless blue sky and there are the whales. Pods of no less than three at a time ‘wave’ back to cheering passengers, slap at the water and pass from one side of the boat to the other, occasionally raising their scarred and barnacle-encrusted heads. Outstretched arms almost touch them and camera shutters rapidly click as the whales gracefully glide back into the water.
The humpbacks have become a major attraction for those who visit Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world. Over the past 700,000 years, tides and wind have caused the continuous shifting sand to stretch the island to more than 123 kilometres in length.
Kingfisher Bay Resort ranger guide Chris Muller couldn’t ask for a better ‘office’. Chris says when he first arrived on the island to work eight years ago, he’d never driven a four-wheel-drive or even a manual vehicle for that matter – that soon changed. Now he takes personalised tours around the island where you can plan the itinerary, change it at your whim and leave the sand out of your vehicle by using one of the resort’s 4WDs.