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. 

January 30, 2016

2016 is set to be the biggest yet on Fraser Island

After a busy Christmas and New Year period, we've hit the ground running in 2016 on Fraser Island. We welcomed over 100 new Junior Eco Rangers to our ranks over the school holidays and we are sending all our little rangers our best  wishes as they head back to school this week.

Just last week we welcomed this wonderful bunch from Hervey Bay Vocational Care. This group had a great time going on a scavenger hunt with Ranger Annie, visiting the Great Sandy Strait lookout, learning about the heritage of Fraser Island around the camp fire and taking in the amazing sights around the island with a bus tour of the best spots on Fraser.

While the humpback whales are famous for stopping off Fraser Island in the winter months, they aren't the only species to take a breather in the Great Sandy Strait during their migration. During the summer the mudflats off Fraser Island provide an important habitat for thousands of migratory wader birds- so if you're a keen bird watcher, nature lover or photographer the coming months are a great time to witness these special visitors on their journey.

We are also coming into our traditional "wet season" which can bring in afternoon summer showers and cool evening sea breezes. Our beautiful rainforests delight in soaking up the rain which also serves to top up the island's famous perched lakes that collect all their crystal clear water from the sky.

We are gearing up for another big year on Fraser Island with Valentine's Day just around the corner and an early visit from the Easter bunny in March. We have welcomed new rangers to join our fantastic team and we look forward to introducing you to more of our experienced tour guides, chefs and rangers and sharing their best tips on how to make the most o
f your adventure on Fraser Island.