5 Sept—7 September 2002
We had an excellent day of whale-watching, despite the drawbacks of a packaged tour: we spent the first 50 minutes on a bus that meandered through the suburbs collecting other tourists, until we finally alighted at an-awful private marina development and sped out to sea in a large diesel powered catamaran. We were out in the waters off Fraser Island all day. We saw lots of Humpback Whales, and followed them from one spot to another. There were several other marine craft out doing the same thing.
The whales slapped their huge pectoral fins on the surface of the water and occasionally dived, swam vertically to the surface and launched themselves out of the water to land with a huge splash.
Most amazing of all however, was when the curious giants came over to the boat to check it out. The water was crystal clear—you couldn’t have asked for better weather—and with the leviathan directly under the boat, you could appreciate just how enormous they were. You could even see their eyes looking at you!
For dinner we went out to an Indian restaurant called Curried Away (LOL), and we spent the next day mooching around Hervey Bay. First we walked down to Torquay to collect some photos we had put in to get developed the day before. Susie also bought film for the stills camera and the video camera. After poring over the photos, we walked back up to the beach to the caravan park at Scarness. Ruby and Clare hunted for crabs along the way. We then had lunch at a picnic table at the front of the caravan park.
The caravan park is quite lovely, despite being a caravan park: it has tall shady trees with flying foxes and possums living in them, and it fronts right onto the beach. The more expensive accommodation is further back on the other side of the esplanade. Where I am sitting I can hear the sound of waves surging on the shore only metres away. The picnic table is right on the sand, and it has an uninterrupted view of Hervey bay. Who needs a fancy holiday apartment?
In the afternoon I walked back down to Torquay with Clare and had my hair clipped short in a barber’s shop. Then Clare and I walked back along the beach. On the way we met a young fellow called Zac who befriended Clare and they started hunting for crabs in the little holes in the sand along the foreshore. Soon we were joined by Zac’s brother, Luke. The boys had no idea Clare was a girl, and they called her Clem, or Clint, having misheard me say ‘Clare’. So Clare went off to the play equipment in the park next to the caravan park with Zac and Luke. It is quite handy for Clare to be able to pass as a boy, as she gets more opportunities to meet other children. Around the age of 8, Australian boys tend to be very homosocial.
Susie did some more research on the Fraser Island tours, and we decided after listening to the weather report to go on Sunday and hang around in Hervey Bay for another day, since we have landed in such a pleasant camping site. Ruby did some schoolwork in the car during the afternoon, and in the evening I made a chicken casserole with rice.
The next day we did some more serious mooching around the caravan park. Susie and the kids went for a swim in the morning; Clare and Susie went to the post office and checked the email to see if there was any news from Clare’s teacher, Frank, as we had been expecting to collect some lessons in Maryborough. To our dismay, we learned that Frank had sent the packages to Maryborough in Victoria, even though we had taken care to specify Maryborough in Queensland. Our giant leap from Perth to Queensland had clearly caught the school by surprise.
In the late morning, Ruby and Clare played in the playground by the caravan park and met lots of other kids. One girl refused to believe that Clare was female after Ruby tried to “out” her. (From time to time, people ask me if I would have liked to have a son instead of two daughters, and always reply that in a way I did, at least for a couple of years.)
Ruby worked on her math in the afternoon while I had a nap. When I woke, I started getting ready for the Fraser Island tour. We selected our clothes and packed them all into my travel pack. It was a very windy day, so we kept the annex and the tent ends up as long as possible. For dinner we had a re-run of the chicken casserole, except Susie ate the remains of the veal marinated in red wine and garlic. After dinner Susan and I dismantled the annex, the fly screen and the tent ends, which had provided a useful wind break, and packed them all away. This was not an easy task due to a gale that was blowing through the place.
During the night it rained heavily and the tent made a terrible racket in the wind. I didn’t sleep well.