9 September 2002
On our second morning on Fraser Island, we had an enormous breakfast and then departed with the tour group once again, this time to Lake Wabby. This involved a short drive up the beach followed by a walk of about 2 km over a sand blow to a small freshwater lake nestled amongst steep dunes. According to the tour information, the lake reached a depth of 15m, but it was impossible to see down into it. There were catfish aplenty, and on our way out we spotted a freshwater turtle about the size of a large dinner plate.
We were warned that several people had broken their necks while engaged in horseplay on the steep dunes next to the lake, and that one casualty had occurred quite recently. This did not deter several groups of young people however. I saw a young man launch himself forward down a steep slope on a boogie-board, but the board got stuck fast in the sand half way down the slope, and as his face hit the dune, his legs went over the back of his head. It looked ugly but, undeterred, he got up and tried again.
It was also vaguely horrifying to survey the florid cases of sunburn that were developing on the creamy-white complexions around us.
After our swim in Lake Wabby we walked back to 75 Mile Beach. This was an easy shady stroll through Banksia-studded forest that had recently been burned in a bushfire.
We had lunch back at Eurong Resort and then took the rest of that afternoon off to play, as well as the whole of the next morning. The kids spent most of the afternoon in the pool. I divided myself between the poolside shade and the shade of the veranda. I wrote a 12-page letter to my nephew, Joshua, to make up for being a slack correspondent. Susie spent most of the time reading and sunning herself by the pool.
That evening, we ate another pleasant-enough meal in the restaurant at the resort. Ruby took special pleasure in getting dressed up nicely, wearing a little makeup, ordering an orange juice at the bar, and then making use of an attractive lounge area between reception and the dining room. After dinner I kept writing, whilst the others soaked up some radiation and false consciousness from the TV.
The following morning, Susie and I rose at 5.50 a.m. to watch the sunrise. We walked down to the beach in the hope of spotting some the dingos for which Fraser Island is famous. We found only tracks, however. The dawn was lovely, and in addition to dingo tracks we found the tracks of a tiny marsupial in the sand.
After our morning walk we went back to the apartment, roused the kids, and had a huge breakfast. Then we mooched around all morning until 11.00 a.m. when we had to get out of the apartment. We stowed our luggage and parked next to the pool for an hour or so.
Our bus turned up at about 1.15 p.m. and we piled our luggage on, and headed west across the island to Lake Mackenzie. We had a new tour guide by this stage. He was more stroppy than the first guide, Patrick, and whined about political correctness in between slabs of commentary that duplicated what Patrick had told us. I was amused to hear a moral tale that we had first heard from a ranger in Carnarvon Gorge. The story tells of a woman who whilst eating a sandwich was speared through the cheek by the beak of a marauding kookaburra. The moral of the story is not to feed the native animals lest they become aggressive and daring in their attempts to obtain food from humans. When we heard the story the first time, the setting was Carnarvon.
Lake Mackenzie was perhaps the most beautiful spot we visited on Fraser island. The water was so clear you could see the bottom at quite a depth, despite the fact that it was lined with leaf mould, and was many metres down. I was determined to dive to the bottom to retrieve a toggle for a snorkel. It took several attempts because the depth was at the limit of what I could manage without flippers. About the third attempt I picked the toggle up off the bottom, but when I went to launch myself towards the surface, my feet only sank into the deep soft mud, so I was pretty breathless by the time I got to the surface, which, from the bottom of the lake below, seemed like the top of a two-storey building.
Lake Mackenzie is what I think is called a dune perch lake: it was formed by the humus lining the bottom of the lake and the weight of the water compressing it into the sand to form a watertight lining. Lake Wabby on the other hand, is a barrage lake, which is formed when a sand blow blocks off a stream. A window lake is when the island’s water table simply rises up from the sand. We didn’t see any lakes of this kind.
Once Ruby had been enticed into the water, we went hunting for lost jewellery at the bottom. This was a favourite and occasionally rewarding pastime we perfected in the Northern Territory. We didn’t find any diamond-studded necklaces, but I did find a freshwater turtle which I tried to catch. I got a hold of its shell from behind, but because it was a fair way down, I didn’t have enough air left to swim to the surface without using my arms. I went back to where Susie was sitting to give her a go at the goggles, but to my dismay I discovered that an hour had passed and it was time to go.
We scurried back to the bus and completed our journey to the western side of the island, where we boarded a ferry and made the short trip across the great sandy straits. The sky was beautiful in the late afternoon light, and it was windy. We were the very last group to be dropped off.
When we arrived back at the caravan park in Hervey Bay, we set up the tent in a different spot as someone else had pitched a tent on our old spot. We then went across the road for a pizza dinner.
It was windy that night so we retreated into the tent.