Friday, July 24, 2015

COOL DINGO: Confessions Of A Fraser-phile

GUEST BLOG: Anna Kantilaftas is a self-confessed Fraser-phile. She first visited Fraser Island as part of an all gal media group on island to learn the basics of four-wheel-driving.  She returned to recharge during a relaxing Yoga retreat holiday at Kingfisher Bay Resort.  This was quickly followed by a trip north with our Cool Dingo Tour to discover The Champagne Pools, Indian Head and some of our eastern beach attractions. She's not your average backpacker, but here's her story...


Cruising down Eli Creek (that's Anna in the black). Image: Reichlyn Aguilar (closest to the camera)
I’ve done plenty of brave things in my time. I’ve jet skied across the Great Sandy Strait (between Fraser Island and Hervey Bay), gone swimming with Whale Sharks in Western Australia, and abseiled down cliff faces in Victoria. So, when I booked myself on to one day of a three-day Cool Dingo Tour to see some of the beautiful K’gari (Fraser Island), I thought I was just sticking to the theme.

The term ‘backpackers’ has long been one that frightened me. It’s up there with spiders, Great White Sharks and clowns. But, as is usually the case when fear-facing, my expectations were wildly exceeded. I even learnt a thing or two along the way.

With Jarred our tour guide at the helm, the engine roared and before I knew it, the blue Cool Dingo bus was bouncing through K’gari’s offroad tracks smoother than any 4WD I’ve had the pleasure of driving.

Bubbles of fun at The Champagne Pools
Lesson one: You’d be surprised at just how much ground you can cover in a bus. We managed to visit the Maheno Shipwreck, The Pinnacles, Champagne Pools, Indian Head and Eli Creek… and a couple of extra little secrets that only a tour-guide could know. It’s a great, stress-free way to see the island. Plus, if you get bogged, you’re not the one having to dig out the tyres… in the middle of a rainstorm… with a busload of people watching!

Talk about a bonus.

To my surprise, the bus was quieter than a sunrise at Kingfisher Bay. There were no crazy drinking games, no obnoxious yelling, and no stopping for road-side post-bender-emits. The night before had been a late (or early?) one for my fellow travellers, or Cool Dingoes as I called them.

Lesson number two: Young, international travellers know how to party their way through the night and sleep on an off-road bus during the day. If the ability to speak three different languages didn’t impress me, this certainly did. To be honest, the lack of animation threw me a little. I’m not sure if I was disappointed or relieved. Does it still count as brave if they were lovely and placid?

At least it gave me plenty of time to listen in on the conversations happening through the bus.

Those Fraser Island worms are man-eaters. Watch out!
Lesson three: First time visitors to Australia are afraid of everything, because ‘Straya! This makes for a whole lot of fun for us locals.

The beaches surrounding a lot of Fraser Island aren’t meant for swimming and the Cool Dingoes had been warned of the risks: rips, jellyfish and sharks. So when they saw a woman dip her toes into the cool blue waters, they (hilariously) feared for her life. Of course, they had to check my theory once I explained it was still just ocean – not acid water – and toe-dipping probably wasn’t going to kill anyone.

Shoes went flying and feet were in the water faster than you could say “Bluebottle Jellyfish”. Until I pointed one out, that is. Then it was like watching it all in rewind. Maybe they were being sensible, or maybe it was because I told them the jellyfish were deadly; we will never know for sure. (Note: Bluebottle Jellyfish don’t kill, they just sting for a bit).

Take two of the games happened at the beautiful Eli Creek, one of my favourite spots on the island. As any good traveller would, I reassured them they were perfectly safe and answered all their “will this kill me?” questions. I did, however, warned the Cool Dingoes of the piranhas hanging out around the bend. Cue screams.

Lesson four: Travellers will believe anything you tell them. I did tell them the truth, eventually. (Note: There are no piranhas in the waters on Fraser Island. Just shiny little fish that don’t like eat humans… most of the time).

You'll find lots of laughs and plenty of new friends on Fraser.
And so we come to the final lesson. The best thing about travelling on a Cool Dingo tour is meeting people from all over the world and seeing this beautiful part of the country through their eyes. We tend to take Australia’s wonders for granted, so to experience K’gari (which is a special kind of amazing) with a fresh perspective makes it even more extraordinary… plus, we get to have a bit of fun along the way.

Meanwhile, I’m going home to tick that fear right off my list. Would I book myself onto a Cool Dingo tour again? You betcha. Well, that is until I’m over the age threshold and I can’t convince anyone otherwise.

Meet you at the Dingo Bar.

Five COOL reasons to book yourself into a Cool Dingo Tour on your next trip to Fraser Island.
  • Backpackers just want to have fun. They know how to let their hair down and they’ll force you to do the same. 
  • The tour guides know their stuff. I’ve been to the island a couple of times and I still learnt a bunch of facts and secrets I never knew before. 
  • You get to see some of K’Gari’s hidden surprises. When time permits, the guides will happily show you their favourites. Without them, you might miss out on some pretty cool sights – like the skeleton of a whale. 
  • The island is only open to four-wheel drives, so if you don’t have access to one, the tours are a safe, easy, and affordable option. Plus super-efficient and quick – they always have right of way. 
  • You get to really experience Fraser Island as an Australian and as a visitor, and make some new friends while doing so.  
We're guessing Anna's already planning her next trip back.  This story was written for Life on Fraser and Cool Dingo Tours. When Anna's not testing the mettle of her four-wheel-drive on Fraser's sandy highways, you'll find her behind a desk editing the brand-new Whichcar.com website - CHECK IT OUT!, writing for 4x4 Australia and Instagramming like a boss.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Sparkling Champagne, Fantastic Driving And The Annual Tailor Weigh-in

FRASER ISLAND: The Champagne Pools looked amazing over the weekend and there were plenty of people there to enjoy them and to take advantage of the excellent driving conditions on the inland tracks.  We are also starting to see lots of humpback whales off shore - splashing and jumping around in calmer looking seas this week.

Air Fraser spots some migrating Humpbacks off Fraser's east coast.  Pic by Troy Geltch
I have been up north in the past few days with lots of fisherman and people having a go at pulling some beach worms between Happy Valley and north of Dundaburra. Pulling worms is a real art form and fish just love them as bait. Don't despair if you can't pull a worm to save yourself as we sell them in our General Store.

We're also seeing plenty of beach worms being pulled out the front of Eurong on the afternoon low tides and we are expecting some good afternoon fishing when the tide is on the turn and with no wind at all.

Locals are starting the hit the beach fishing with some good reports of bream and whiting, but the tailor are being very quiet at the moment. Eurong guests have also been wetting a line or two out the front of the resort in the afternoon, which is always great to see.

For those amateur fishers who head to Fraser around this time every year, don't forget about the Annual Tailor Season Weigh-In, which the resort is a proud sponsor. Fresh tailor can be weighed daily at the Fraser Island Retreat at Happy Valley. Entry is $5, there are great prizes to be won and funds raised at the event go towards supporting the operating costs of the Care Flight Rescue helicopter - a super worthy cause.

And with more people on the beaches for the holidays, comes this friendly warning from the local Fraser Coast Chronicle paper.

Here at Eurong Beach, we say enjoy your holiday, stay safe on the tracks and we'll keep fishing to bring ya island updates as they happen.

Cheers, Wilko (and Zoe).

John 'Wilko' Wilkins is the Resort Manager at Eurong Beach Resort and a mad keen fisherman.
Latest Fraser Island Update.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Here's What's Currently Biting On Fraser (with Zoe)

FRASER ISLAND: Wind is most definitely not a fisherman's friend and the large swell has made it a bit difficult to get the lines to stay out over the last few days. Schools of mullet have been spotted north around Waddy Point, which means the tailor aren't too far away - as the boys from RBAC found out recently.

Not to be deterred, a quick trip over smooth tracks to the sheltered western side has meant that reputations stay intact and that fish can still be served up for dinner. For those that love their flathead, there have been some beauties caught (and spotted) around Ungowa.

A big thanks too to Andreas Peuler who wrote in (via Facebook) to tell us he'd cleared some fallen trees from the track in to Ungowa late last month. There'll be some pretty happy fisherfolk on Fraser at the moment because of your good deed.

Andreas hard at work on the track to Ungowa.

The good news is the sun is shining and conditions are looking better for the back half of the week as we await the NW wind turn- around that'll see tailor on the bite. There's also been plenty of folks heading across from Dilli to Birrabeen on the southern lakes circuit drive, which is in great condition.

You'll find Zoe R working in the Front Office at Eurong Beach Resort. We don't mind telling you that, when it comes to fishing, she gives visiting fisherfolk a run for their money.

Latest Fraser Island Update.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Fraser Islanders Rally Behind Nepalese Orphans

On 25 April, Australians woke to the news that almost 9,000 Nepalese had been killed and tens of thousands more injured in a earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter Scale -  the worst natural disaster to strike Nepal since the Nepal–Bihar earthquake in 1934.  Hundreds of thousands of people were made homeless with entire villages flattened.

The devastating news touched the hearts of people on the Fraser Coast who have a special connection to Nepal through the Forget Me Not Children's Charity, started by local Lars Olsen.

The news broadcasts also made quite an impact on Fraser Island and resort staff decided to raffle an iPad to help raise vital funds for the Nepal Earthquake Rescue Fund.  Staff even gave up their 'Dingo Dollars' (resort cash) to buy canned goods and non-perishables to send over.

Tickets in the relief raffle were sold in all areas of our business including Eurong Beach Resort, Brisbane Office, Hervey Bay based departments, Fraser Island Barges, Kingfisher Bay Resort and Fraser Explorer Tours.

According to Group General Manager, David Hay, who championed the cause - the support from all the team was overwhelming and the group matched staff's fundraising dollar for dollar.

"We are very proud to have been able to help the people of Nepal in this small way, who have been devastated by this disaster," Mr Hay said.  "Our Human Resources Manager, Natalie Griffiths, deserves a special mention as she sold over seven hundred tickets, which was an outstanding effort."

Kingfisher Bay and our staff on Fraser Island have had a long association with Lars and the F-M-N home. Over the years we've hosted balls and fundraisers and past staffers have sat on the board and visited Nepal. We've also donated prizes to help boost fundraising and our David Hay's wife, Michelle, is a current board member.

A cheque was presented to the Vice President of Forget Me Not Australia, Peter McKay (pictured above right), in a modest ceremony on Fraser Island today.

Related story: Resort Receptionist's double life.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Fraser Fishing With Wilko

FRASER ISLAND: Last weekend wasn't particularly flash for those brave souls fishing the eastern beach. We had a couple of mentions of good sized stubnose dart (oyster eaters to some) being caught in deep gutters on the incoming tides south of Eurong Beach Resort.

Locals venturing over to the western side have mentioned some good sized fish - suspected large trevally - that "got away" on the mid tide in.

Pic Cody Doucette, The Matador Network.

There's also mention of tailor being caught off the eastern beach... and as soon the north westerly wind return, we will see them in large schools just off the beach. Good luck to all that are wetting their lines this week.

For those heading over from Wanggoolba, some solid rainfall has hardened the tracks nicely, making for easy access for all 4WDs around the island.

John 'Wilko' Wilkins is the Resort Manager at Eurong Beach Resort and a mad keen fisherman.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tailor, Pippies, Good Beaches and More!

FRASER ISLAND: Local fisherman have reported light north-easterly winds and some great fishing on Fraser. Tailor have been caught off the beach this past week. South of Eurong Beach Resort, we've also had reports of good sized dart being caught in a deep gutter (it's around the 40km point as you head north from Hook Point).

However you're 'doing Fraser', we hope you enjoy it!  Photo: Cody Doucette, The Matador Network.
For regular visitors, we're pleased to report that the pippies are back around the front of the resort.  North of the Fraser Island Police Station, good sized sand whiting and flathead are being landed on the incoming tides. North of Poyungan Rocks, they've been catching dart, whiting and the old tailor during the past week.  There's been some good sized male mud Crabs being caught around the Wanggoolba Creek area.

On the tracks, beach driving conditions, either side of high tide, are good but please exercise caution - there are plenty of wash outs, traffic signs to obey and people to watch out for (who can't hear you approach due to the wind/surf noise on the beach).

We have had some decent rain fall a couple of weeks back which makes for great driving around the inland tracks. The track from Dilli Village to Central is particularly good at the moment.

However you're doing Fraser, Enjoy!

John 'Wilko' Wilkins is the Resort Manager at Eurong Beach Resort and a mad keen fisherman.
Latest Fraser Island Update.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hallelujah! The Humpbacks Are Here!

FRASER ISLAND: Mother Nature has given us some good, late, high tides of late, which are perfect for those that want an afternoon fish and some great beach driving on the world's largest sand island.

We've had reports of bream, flathead and whiting plus the swallowtail dart are always around.

Humpback Whales have been spotted on the east coast. Image by Troy Geltch, from Air Fraser Island.

Our beach pilots have spotted the first of the humpback whales over Fraser Island and have spotted sharks chasing some huge schools of fish.

And remember, if you're stuck for bait ideas - you can't go wrong with Fraser Island beach worms. If you're not quick of hand, we've got some frozen in the General Store over at Eurong Beach.

Happy fishing folks.

John 'Wilko' Wilkins is the Resort Manager at Eurong Beach Resort and a mad keen fisherman.
Latest Fraser Island Update.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Four Top Tips For A Tip Top Easter On Fraser Island

Hervey Bay’s Dave Darmody runs the Australian Offroad Academy and tackling Fraser Island’s sandy tracks or teaching others how to do it properly and safely is something he does very regularly.

This Easter, he’s back and he’s armed with plenty of tips for having a top Easter on Fraser Island (with pics by Eurong Beach's very own Zoe R).

A Great Sandy Happy Easter from all on Fraser Island.  Photo Origin: Unknown.

 So whether you’re staying on the sunset side of Fraser (at Kingfisher Bay Resort); tackling the surf side with a stay at Eurong Beach Resort or just heading across with Fraser Island Barges for a camping adventure with the family, you won’t want to miss these top tips from a Fraser Coast local.

1. It’s Easter, So Let’s Keep Good Friday, Well, Good!
Stunning 75 Mile Beach by Zoe R
Early afternoon low tides make for lazy mornings and afternoons of trouble-free, wide-open beaches… but the big high tide at around 7am on Friday might make for some frayed tempers and heated engines.

If you are heading up Fraser's famous 75-Mile Beach, you may just want to chill out and wait until low tide (you really should, it's better for you, your car and the island). Those coming across from Wanggoolba Creek or Kingfisher Bay will have a different set of challenges – fun challenges - if the weatherman is wrong and we don't get a little rain this week.

Download the latest Fraser Island Condition Report.

2. Head Off Piste
Lake Allom's famous turtles
Try the Southern Lakes Drive - it has some 'challenging' sections and takes you through 20+ kilometres of gorgeous and diverse ecosystems. On this route, you’ll get to enjoy Lake Birrabeen (our favourite) and Lake Boomanjin... they're as equally lovely as beautiful Lake McKenzie.

Further north of Eurong Beach there are a couple of lesser known lakes that are well worth a visit. Lake Garawongera, out behind Happy Valley, is a gem and the road from it to Poyungan Valley is worth a drive for the more adventurous. Likewise, finding your way to Lake Allom (and its famous Fraser Island Short-necked Turtles - pictured above) is a rewarding experience.

3.  Keep Cool And Keep Your Cool.
You can cool off in the Champagne Pools or Eli Creek... but when it comes to driving keep your cool!  We know that everyone should slow down on the highway when it’s busy… well the same applies for the beach!  It would also be great if drivers indicated their intentions and fishermen didn't park on the hard sand when there isn't much to be had.

But you know what? Some just don't, or won't. 

There is no driving environment more dynamic than the beach… so slow down, be aware, take a deep breath and drive to care for your precious cargo... despite what others are doing…. After all, you’re on holidays in one of the most beautiful spots in Queensland

4. Where Are Your Kids?
Leave only footprints. Photo: Zoe R
We love our Dingoes, but we hate it every time they make the news for the wrong reasons. Keep your food locked away; your kids close and check out QPWS' Dingo Safety tips for when you’re out and about in the Great Sandy National Park.

Kingfisher Bay's latest Ranger blog also talks about what behaviour to expect from Fraser's most famous locals in Autumn....


SWEET EATS

Dave reckons the Eurong Beach Resort Bakery’s Chocolate Croissants are in a class of their own… but at this time of year, you might want to add our freshly-baked hot crossed buns to your shopping list – it’s the best Easter treat you’ll get for 75 long miles.

Whatever you're up to this Easter, stay safe and stay happy.

This blog has been reproduced with the author’s permission. Click here to read the original story OR find out more about Dave’s training courses on Fraser Island.

Latest Fraser Island Update.