June 23, 2016

Five reasons Queensland's Fraser Island is better than NSW.. for a holiday

With the mighty Maroons having just secured yet another State of Origin victory this week, it’s fair to say parochial Queenslanders have a spring in their step and a smile on their dial.  While we might be more than a little one-eyed and full of Maroon pride, we’ve discovered that when it comes to choosing an ideal holiday destination- just like our Origin team- Fraser Island beats NSW in more ways than one. Here’s our top five:

1. Fraser’s beaches are bigger... and better
If you’re seeking an iconic, authentic beach experience in Australia you could visit 10-Mile Beach in northern NSW or you can four-wheel drive along the beach highway at 75-Mile Beach on Fraser Island...

 In addition to being a registered highway open for four-wheel drives, 75-Mile Beach also doubles as an airstrip for scenic flights and- if that’s not enough- it is also home to the Pinnacles and Coloured Sands and the famous Maheno shipwreck. When it comes to beaches the score is Fraser Island 1- NSW-0. 
75-Mile Beach Fraser Island 

Fraser Island's Lake Boomanjin
 2. Fraser Island has the world’s largest perched lake … and it bleeds Maroon

There’s no doubt Fraser Island is famous for its crystal clear lakes that reflect the blue sunny skies all year round. But if you want to discover the hidden gems that lie in the heart of Fraser Island-look no further than Lake Boomanjin. 

Located 18 kilometres south of Central Station, covering 200 hectares, it is the biggest perched lake in the world. 

And yes, even on a beautiful sunny day, it shows its true colours of deep orange, gold and maroon. 

To re-cap for those watching at home, Fraser Island has bigger beaches, and now the world’s biggest perched lake. We’re going to call that Fraser Island 2- NSW 0. 

3. Don’t take our word for it, ask the Humpback Whales
There are two populations of Humpback Whales in the world, one that reside in the northern hemisphere and roughly 20,000 in the southern hemisphere. Each year the southern Humpback Whales make a pilgrimage from their home in Antarctica north along Australia’s east coast to the warmer waters of the Great Barrier Reef. 

The Fraser Coast is the only pit-stop for Humpback Whales in Australia
During their time on the reef the whales give birth and feed their young before returning on their southern migration. But on their journey back home, around August each year, something truly remarkable happens. They take an exit off the aquatic express and pull over for a breather in the calm protected waters between Fraser Island and Hervey Bay.

Whales showing off for eager whale watchers near Fraser Island 
With the world’s largest sand island to protect them from the currents of the open ocean, the whales can kick back and relax, feed their young and enjoy a bit of people watching.

It’s the only place in Australia that they do this- and one of only two places in the world this happens.

Once they’re ready to continue their journey around October they head back out to sea- past the coast of New South Wales and Victoria - to settle in to cooler waters of the Antarctic during the summer.

Whales are incredibly intelligent and beautiful animals, and seeing them up close is an experience like nothing else. 

They know Fraser Island is the best place to relax and play on holiday and- we might be a bit biased- but we think they’re on to something. So that’s Fraser Island 3- NSW 0 at the half-time break. 

4. Sometimes size does matter... 
Plenty of football coaches will tell you that strength, endurance and teamwork are the key elements to a winning formula, and that’s true. But when you’re planning a holiday on a tropical island, let’s face it- size matters. 
Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world
With an area of more than 181, 000 hectares, Fraser Island stretches over 123 kilometres in length and 22 kilometres at its widest point making it the largest sand island in the world. 

Sometimes in life, bigger is better, and we’re not going to suggest that Fraser Island has a better Opera House than NSW, but when it comes to four-wheel driving, fishing, canoeing, exploring, swimming, paddling and hiking- there’s no better place to do it. 

We figure, if you’re the biggest in the world Fraser deserves to get at least one extra point, so that’s Fraser Island 4- NSW 0. 

5. We stand taller... or at least the trees do 
Fraser Island is one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world, it’s one of the many reasons the island was inscribed on the World Heritage list by UNESCO in 1992. Fraser Island is home to more than 300 species of birds along with species of fish, squid, turtles, dolphins, dugong, wallabies, echidnas and- of course- the iconic Fraser Island dingo.

Fraser Island is the only place in the world where rainforest grows
from sand at a height of 200 metres
But it’s not only the island’s incredible array of fauna that make Fraser such an incredible holiday destination.  This natural wonder also happens to be the only place in the world where rainforests can be found growing out of sand at heights of over 200 metres.

Walking through the pristine rainforests in the heart of Fraser Island you’ll find silent, crystal clear lakes that weave their way through the sand, pre-historic ferns and trees you can’t find anywhere else on earth. 

It’s one of the island’s most unique features and the fifth and final tackle in this match-up. On every measure it's easy to see that when it comes to island holiday destinations-  there really is no contest against our mates south of the border. Fraser Island takes the win, with the final score line Fraser Island 5- NSW 0. 

Post-match highlights and expert insights:
Kingfisher Bay Resort is the perfect place for a holiday on Fraser Island
The Fraser Island’s highlight reel truly is a thing of beauty, not unlike the highlights package from the most recent State of Origin series. With incredible natural beauty, iconic wildlife and unique experiences to enjoy, Fraser Island is one of Australia’s must-visit island destinations.

When it comes to exploring this natural wonder there’s no better place to stay during your visit than Kingfisher Bay Resort. With sensational dining options, a brand new Day Spa, and a fantastic Junior Eco-Ranger Program, Kingfisher Bay Resort is the ideal location to relax, unwind and enjoy the natural surroundings.

Our experienced and knowledgeable team of rangers and guides offer daily tours, bush walks, activities and more to ensure you can experience the very best of Fraser Island. And while we’ve had some fun with this blog, we promise, we will always offer a warm and sincere welcome to visitors from New South Wales. 

May 13, 2016

Top 5 reasons visitors choose to go whale watching on the Fraser Coast

For almost 30 years, visitors from all over the world have flocked to Queensland's Fraser Coast to experience one of the most unique wildlife encounters on earth.

Whales bring their calves to play in Hervey Bay 
While there are a growing number of whale watch tours that can offer glimpses of whales as they swim along Australia's east coast on their way back to Antarctica, the Fraser Coast continues to be the only place where visitors are guaranteed front-row seats to one of nature's greatest shows. 
If you haven't been whale watching before, or you're trying to work out where to get the best whale watch experience, here's a list of the 
Top 5 Reasons why you should book your encounter on the Fraser Coast.:

1. There are only two places in the world where whales play- and Fraser is one of them..  Having completed their northern migration to calf in the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef and started their return journey home, the protected waters on the western side of Fraser Island and the Great Sandy Strait provide the perfect spot for pods of whales to kick back and relax and- as with all trips to Fraser- there's plenty of fun for everyone. Mother whales teach their calves important skills they will need in cooler deeper waters, while curious, juvenile whales like to explore and do a bit of "people watching", while some of the grown ups in the pod kick back, while others are there to party, throw themselves around and have a good time. 

2. It's one of the few places in the world you are GUARANTEED to see whales 
There are different versions of this "guarantee" being offered to tourists right along the Queensland coast at various times of the year. As with many things in life, the devil can be in the detail. Under Queensland law, vessels are prohibited from approaching a whale and- in some instances- are not allowed within 300 metres of the mammals. 
Of course, while we humans have to comply with the laws, the rules don't apply to whales, who may wish to approach a boat and do some "people watching".  This happens more often than not in the protected waters, where Fraser Island acts as a buffer from the surf, swell and winds of the open ocean. 

3. You can swim with whales off Fraser Island 
That's right. If you're keen to get right up close to these gorgeous giants of the ocean- and they feel the same way- you can book a spot with Hervey Bay Whale Watch to swim with the humpbacks off Fraser Island. This is a truly incredible wildlife encounter, offered by pioneers of the whale watch industry with close to 30 years experience. Visitors who want to swim with the whales should definitely book in advance as spots do fill up FAST. 

4. Calm seas make for better experiences
If you haven't been out on the open water in anything smaller than a cruise liner, or your sea legs aren't in the best shape when it comes to venturing out onto the sea- Fraser Island provides the perfect place to be able to enjoy some time out on the water with the whales. With the island acting as a buffer, the waters of Hervey Bay are often incredibly calm and inviting. Not only does this enhance your experience, it increases your chance of an up close encounter with a whale too. 

5.You can have more cash to splash with an early bird booking
One of the other reasons Fraser is such a popular whale watching destination, is the opportunity to combine a breath-taking whale watch encounter with the chance to explore World Heritage-listed Fraser Island. 
To make this adventure nice and easy, the award-winning Kingfisher Bay Resort has created the ultimate package offering visitors 2 nights hotel accommodation, daily breakfast, transfers , a whale watch tour in Hervey Bay, a full day four-wheel drive tour of Fraser Island AND a third night FREE. 
It's easily the best option for visitors who want the best of both worlds when it comes to experiencing Fraser Island and meeting Australia's famous humpback whales. 
Early bird specials are also available, meaning you can keep even more cash in your pocket to splash on your holiday. 

April 13, 2016

Fraser Island's "secret" place in Australian history

Fraser Island is most famous for its incredible natural beauty, abundant wildlife, pristine rainforests, freshwater lakes and endless beaches. But for many years during World War II, the white sandy beaches and iconic beauty spots such as Lake McKenzie served not as idyllic destinations for holidaymakers, but as a training ground for some of Australia's earliest special commando troops. 

The Australian Government chose Fraser Island as the site for its secret Commando School for its seclusion and because the island's difficult and varied terrain lent itself to both jungle and amphibious training.

A total of 909 men camped at the Fraser Commando School at North White Cliffs and underwent training for what turned out to be some of the most successful raids of the war. Z was a special unit known only to the Prime Minister and High Command.

Z Unit was formed in 1942, in response to the rapid Japanese invasion of the Pacific area, to organise agents and missions into enemy occupied areas in the South West Pacific. The Z Unit was given the cover name of Services Reconnaissance Department (SRD) a nondescript name for a very active group of agents.

More than 260 operations behind enemy lines were undertaken. Some are still on the secret list.

Training at the camp was intense and local leave for the troops was not allowed. They trained daily, from early morning to late evening. The main emphasis was on physical fitness and the day started with an early morning eight kilometre run in full equipment to Lake McKenzie and back and included a swim across the lake fully clothed, all under the stopwatch.

The men were taught how to survive in the jungle, unarmed combat and methods of silent killing.  The learned how to operate all weapons, including the silent “Welrod” pistol, a sub machine gun with silencer, and the killing knife. They became expert in using small party tactics, plastic explosives, timing devices and booby trap pressure switches.

The most famous mission carried out by members of the Z Unit was the raid on Singapore Harbour in 1943 when fourteen men sailed from Western Australia in the Krait, a small, captured Japanese fishing vessel, to successfully destroy 40 000 tons of enemy shipping.
Crew of the Krait

It was the longest and one of the most extraordinary sea raids in the history of war. The Krait travelled nearly 5000 miles and spent 47 days away from Australia, 33 of those in Japanese controlled waters. Every man who took part was decorated or mentioned in dispatches. The operation was code-named ‘Jaywick’ and the Krait returned to Australia without loss of life. 

Today, visitors to Kingfisher Bay Resort can still hike along the Western Beach and through the rugged scrub and find the remnants of the special commando camp. 

March 16, 2016

Bandicoots and bush tucker treats: Easter time on Fraser Island

As the summer slowly fades into autumn the air becomes a little crisper; the sun sets over the ocean a littler earlier and rises a little later. The days are warm and the skies are often clear and the birds whistle in the wallum. If you’re a nature lover there’s no better time to visit Fraser Island.

Midyim berries (Austromyrtus Dulcis) are a tasty bush tucker treat
Right now our Midyim berries (Austromyrtus Dulcis) otherwise known as Midgen berries or Sand Berries are in full bloom. These tiny white berries are edible and contain an incredible 136 calories each! They have a sweet, tangy flavour and light texture and can be delicious little bush tucker treats so keep an eye out for them around the island.

Most wallum wildflowers are at their most spectacular during late winter and spring, but some flowers bloom all year round such as our Wide Bay Boronias ( Boronia rivularis ).  These native shrubs are a near threatened species of plant which grow along coastal areas of south-east Queensland in wet, sandy soils. Their beautiful pink diamond flowers give off a distinctive Aniseed scent that serves as both an attractant and a defence for the plant.

Wide Bay Boronias (Boronia Rivularis) bloom all year round on Fraser Island

Our chefs at Seabelle are also rejoicing at the new season produce they have on offer to incorporate into their menu such as our native ginger. While this plant does produce a flower and berries which have a distinctive taste, our chefs use the root of the plant to infuse their sensational dishes with a bush tucker flavour.

While the Easter bunny may not be “native” to Fraser Island, we have discovered some new holes around Kingfisher Bay Resort that suggest bandicoots and echidnas have been busy digging through the night. 

It’s exciting to think these nocturnal friends are scampering around at night- hopefully some Junior Eco Rangers might be lucky enough to spy one on our school holiday night walks. 
You can spot the holes as you walk around the resort- most commonly at the base of vegetation. Bandicoots and echidnas use their noses to dig holes while they forage for food. 
If you’re around the resort after dark,  keep your eyes peeled for our furry friends.

February 26, 2016

10 reasons to spend a weekend on Fraser Island

As the clock creeps towards knock off time on a Friday afternoon, your thoughts starts to float towards the weekend. That glorious 48 hours to fill with anything you want to do. You can go anywhere and do anything- catch up with friends, try a new restaurant or see a movie... but a lot ofthe time our weekends get filled with things we should do (like cleaning or washing or ironing) instead of what we could do. So,if you need a few reasons you should spend a weekend on Fraser Island here's a few to get you started... 

1. Fine dining

If your weekend 'to do' list usually includes dining at a new restaurant, experiencing new taste sensations or visiting the local farmers' market to discover local produce- you can do all that and more at the award-winning Seabelle Restaurant at Kingfisher Bay Resort. 

The chefs at Seabelle deliver sophisticated cuisine with a bush tucker twist and have crafted a sensational menu that features Hervey Bay scallops, kangaroo and even crocodile.  They also use native ingredients, some of which grow on the island, to season and add a Fraser flavour to traditional dishes such as salt with pepperberry calamari and lemon myrtle tart. 

2. Chefs offer up tasty tips 
Chefs also regularly team up with the resort's rangers for Bush Tucker Talk and Taste presentations. These sessions allow guests to sample the unique flavours of native Australian bush tucker while rangers explain their ecological origins and historical uses and chefs demonstrate how the flavours are used in the Seabelle kitchen. 

3. Fishing 
 There aren't too many fishing spots in the world that can cater to almost all conditions, but Fraser Island comes pretty close. 
The protected waters on the western side of Fraser Island are a great place to throw in a line off the jetty and catch the odd bream while the eastern side lures keen anglers in from far and wide with some of the best beach fishing conditions in the world. 

4. Crystal clear lakes
It's fair to say that in Queensland we are spoilt with some of the best weather AND the best beaches
Before we wave goodbye to another glorious summer, there's still plenty of time to soak up some sun, take a walk along the gorgeous white sand beaches and take a dip in the crystal clear water of the freshwater lakes on Fraser Island- there really is nowhere like it in the world. 

5. Exploring 4WD style
If your idea of a great weekend involves getting outdoors, taking a break from the daily grind and trying your hand at something new- Fraser Island is your ideal weekend getaway destination. If you have a four-wheel-drive, a decent map and a sense of adventure there are more than 1500 kilometres of off-road tracks all over the island and plenty of incredible spots to explore. If you don't own a 4WD you don't have to miss out, you can book a guided island tour or hire one for the weekend

6. 75 Miles of Beach
Easily Queensland’s best “highway” Fraser Island’s Seventy-Five Mile Beach is gaining a well-earned reputation as a must-visit destination with plenty of attractions to stop and enjoy along the way. Home to the iconic Maheno Shipwreck and the incredible Pinnacles Coloured Sands, the beach is also one of Australia’s few beach airstrips.

7. Pristine rainforest
The rainforests on Fraser Island are unlike any you will see anywhere else in the world- it is one of the only places on the planet where trees grow out of sand at an elevation of 200 metres.Two of Fraser Island's unique features are its biodiversity and its ability to sustain an incredible array of vegetation in sand.This is one of the reasons Fraser Island was recognised by UNESCO alongside the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru as one of Queensland's five World Heritage-listed areas. 

8. Incredible sunsets 
We all want time to move just a little slower on the weekends and when you're sitting on the Jetty or on the beach at Kingfisher Bay Resort with a cold drink in your hand and the sun starts to set you can almost feel time slow down a gear- it's one of the few places on Australia's East coast where you can sit and watch the sunset over the ocean. 
Relaxing with a few mates, or taking in the view with that special someone, is the perfect way to finish the day on Fraser Island. 

9. Nightlife  
When the sun goes down the show is only just beginning- it might sound like a cliche but there really is something magical about gazing at the night sky and seeing millions of stars. If you're bringing the kids for the weekend, the Kingfisher Bay Resort's Junior Eco Rangers program includes an awesome range of night activities including stargazing, night walks and campfire stories.  

10. Wildlife
Fraser Island is home to thousands of species of animals and marine life including turtles, dugong, possums and - of course- the iconic Fraser Island dingo. Each year an estimated 10,000 whales also take time out of their migration along Australia's Eastern coastline to wallow in the warm, protected waters off Fraser Island. These giants of the ocean arrive in August each year providing the ultimate in Australian wildlife encounters.