Lights, camera and plenty of action on Fraser!

We have had an action-packed month here on Fraser, hosting school groups from across Queensland, and interstate. Students from Xavier Anglican College in Ballina had a brush with breakfast TV stardom recently- meeting Steve Jacobs from the Today Show during their visit to Fraser Island.
Steve Jackobs & students from Xavier Anglican College (Ballina).

In addition to meeting and greeting TV weathermen, students have been learning all about the history of Fraser Island, how it was formed and the cultural history of the island’s traditional owners- the Butchella people.

Grass Tree ( Xanthorrhea fulva )
The native flowers such as this Grass Tree ( Xanthorrhea fulva ), are in full bloom and attracting large numbers of native bee species- it’s great to see mother nature in action everywhere you look.

Our famous Fraser Island dingoes are also in their whelping season. This is a particularly important time for pups to learn natural hunting and survival skills. As cute as they might look, it is critical to the welfare of the pups that interaction with people is avoided. A young dingo may not develop natural hunting skills if it is fed or learns to steal food from people. 

While our dingo fence surrounding the resort generally does a great job of keeping dingoes off site- we do urge all guests to be mindful of dingoes and their pups while travelling around the island.  Further information about dingo whelping season is available from Queensland National Parks department. 

We are getting geared up for another fantastic school holiday time on Fraser Island with our Junior Eco Ranger program running right through the summer holidays- with beach Olympics, campfires, fishing frenzies, night walks and much more- there is going to be plenty of fun for all ages on Fraser Island this summer. 

School Holidays on Fraser Island with Ranger Ann

The school holidays are in full swing and we’ve had a great time this week teaching the kids all about our beautiful environment and introducing them to some of the critters that live here on Fraser Island. 

Our Junior Eco Rangers have been competing in Beach Olympics, going on Treasure Hunts and Scavenger Challenges and wetting a line in our Fishing Frenzy. The adventure doesn’t stop after dark either- our Junior Eco Rangers have had a great time taking Night Walks, roasting marshmallows on a campfire and learning about marine life by night. 

Big kids and teens on the island haven’t missed out on all the fun with our canoe trips, stand up paddle boards and Segway beach tours proving very popular. If you’re heading to Fraser this week make sure you get in early and book your activities with our reception team as these babies are going fast! 

Last but not least some of the biggest kids of all- our baby Humpback whales- and their mums and dads have been enjoying themselves just off the coast of Fraser this week too. Our Whale Watching Tours have been a favourite with our guests again this year and the whales didn’t disappoint. They will start to head south again in a few weeks’ time so if you haven’t been out to see them before, get in quick! 

Dingoes Under The Spotlight, Toad Busters, And Mother Nature At Her Finest

Winter is in full fling in Australia, but someone forgot to tell Mother Nature. On Fraser Island we’ve been enjoying balmy weather during the day and some crisp, starry nights.  The fruit of the Midjim Berries (Austromyrtus dulcis) have disappeared, but Wide Bay Boronias (Boronia Rivularis) are in bloom and Hervey Bay’s holidaying humpbacks (Megaptera novaeangliae) are breaching off the east and west coasts of Fraser. We’ve even seen them off the end of Kingfisher Bay Resort’s jetty.

The uber-talented Sean Scott captured this stunning image in the skies above Lake McKenzie.
Winter is also a time that dingoes (Canis Lupis Dingo) give birth and protect their young and their territory. We’ll have to wait for September and the start of spring to see pups leaving their den and starting to explore their World Heritage-listed backyard… and although the pups are adorable, please remember to be Dingo Safe on island.

Dingo and son at Fraser Island's Eli Creek.
This month, our island team has welcomed the news that University of Sunshine Coast academics have won two grants to research dingoes and dingo behaviour on island. The University is also involved in a third grant project with the folks at the University of Queensland.

What does this mean?  The more we understand about these animals, the better we can manage them.  One team lead by USC’s Dr Clare Archer-Lean will evaluate the interaction between people and dingoes on the world’s largest sand island with a view to improving current safety messages for visitors.

USC’s Ecological Genetic and Modelling Expert, Dr Gabriel Conroy, will run a pilot project to estimate the number of dingoes on Fraser and monitor population trends.  Rounding out the three, Associate Professor, Jennifer Carter, will collaborate on a University of Queensland research project specifically looking at non-invasive ways of monitoring dingo diet and health.

Look, but don't touch. Pic Air Fraser Is.
DID YOU KNOW that Fraser Island’s dingoes appear lean because they are very active? These crazy critters can travel up to 40km each day on island.  The good news is that Fraser Island’s dingo population is healthy and studies have shown that adult dingoes on island have a higher-than-average body weight that their pure counterparts on mainland Australia.

In our commitment to bring you Fraser Island ‘warts and all’… we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that last month marked 80 years since Entomologist Reginald Mungomery unwittingly unleashed one the of the greatest environmental disasters on Australia.  Back in 1935, Mungomery introduced Cane Toads (Rhinella marina) to control Cane Beetles (Dermolepida albohirtum) and other grubs that were damaging cane crops.

RANGER FACT!  Since the thirties, the toad population in Australia has exploded in leaps and bounds – if you’ll pardon the pun – with an average clutch containing more than 30,000 eggs.

According to the folks at the Fraser Island Defenders Organisation, Cane Toads arrived on Fraser Island on flood debris washed down the Mary River several decades ago. Their appearance coincided with a dramatic reduction in snake numbers, particularly Death Adders (Acanthophis antarcticus).

Check out how toad-busting scientists are waging the war on these villainous pests.

Cane Toads can snatch small vertebrates. Photo: NT News
Four Fast Facts 
(Plus 76 more if you follow this link...)

Prior to 1935, Australia was devoid of toads. Mungomery sourced 102 cane toads – an equal split of males and females - from Hawaii.  It took one week for the toads to start laying eggs, and another three days for the eggs to start hatching. Within weeks they had thousands.

The toads were initially released throughout Tourism North Queensland and it took just 10 years for them to reach Brisbane. The sad fact of the matter is that nobody realised that cane toads couldn't jump very high and couldn't reach the beetles they was supposed to eat - so the invasion has been for nothing.

Toads compete with native species for sheltering sites and food resources, and while feed primarily off insects, will also snatch small vertebrates.   Female cane toads grow to about 12cm in length, with males smaller in size. However, they are among the biggest frog species in the world.

Toad toxin contains both adrenaline and cardotoxic steroids, which means it gets your heart racing in order to deliver its poison shock faster. Key takeaway message - don't lick a cane toad.
(Source: 27/06/15).

Spotted and shared by @noelr70 on Instagram
And in closing, regular Jetty Hut visitors witnessed the cycle of nature in full swing as a young Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) unwittingly took its life into its own paws when it went for a stroll on Sunset Beach.

It seems the unsuspecting Echidna – whose only natural predators on Fraser are Goannas, Snakes and Dingoes – may have skirted too close to a large Python in its winter curl in the sun.  Whilst onlookers were rooting for the Echidna, who seemed to escape unscathed at the time, neither animal has been seen since.

That’s nature folks.  On Fraser Island, we’re looking forward to sunny September and all the wonderful wildlife that spring brings. This is Ranger J signing off for the last time as I hand the reins over to Ranger Annie.

Fraser's All Finned And Feathered

Whale Watching off Fraser Island has just entered its 29th season in our region and, at this time of year, visitors are in the box seat to see one of the largest animals embarking on one of the longest migrations.

Hervey Bay Humpbacks indulge in a little people watching and put on quite a show while they do it. Pic Richard Campion
Sixty Minutes’ Charles Wooley once described the rise of Humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae) population numbers as one of Mother Nature’s greatest comebacks.  Here is an animal that was hunted to the brink of extinction for products such as whale oil, bones and blubber.  This year, those in the know report that more than 20,000 are expected to make the annual migration along the east coast of Australia with around 8,000 of those taking time out of their migration schedule to socialise and wallow in the calm waters on the lee side of Fraser.

RANGER FACT In the late 18th century, whale bones were popular in whips, umbrellas and corsets, whilst blubber was melted down and used in candles and as a base for perfumes and soaps.

Whales were hunted to the brink of extinction.  Photo courtesy of:
According to NSW Wildlife Officer, Geoff Ross - in his recent interview with ABC – better conservation practices have helped Humpback numbers bounce back from overharvesting.  However, with the increase in numbers comes an increased risk of potential boat strikes, strandings and net entanglements.

Here in Hervey Bay, boat skippers are obliged by law not to approach within 100m of the Humpbacks (or 300m if there are three or more vessels present). They also can’t approach a whale head on nor can they herd or chase them or separate mothers and calves.  For those visiting region, they can

Now that's a bit cheeky. Pic: Cody Doucette, Matador Network
It’s not just all about the whales though as Fraser Island is the Tailor (Pomatomus Saltatrix) capital of Australia.  These feisty sport fish are already beginning to school up in the deeper water of the Great Sandy Strait with 45cm fish sighted by locals recently.

You can catch Tailor all year round on Fraser but August is prime time – as that’s when mature fish school near the food supplies to spawn - but there is always plenty of action right up until October.  The Ranger team always encourage our visiting fisher folk to take what they need and then catch and release what they don’t – this helps maintain marine park resources.

DID YOU KNOW that Tailor can grow up to 10kg, but are usually between 1 and 2kg? They’re easily identified by their elongated bodies – the lower half is silver and the top is dark green.

Last month, we spoke at some length about Migratory Bird Day and the importance of Fraser Island as a key wetland of international importance for migrating birds.  It was with some interest that we read an article in The Courier Mail recently that pointed out several species that have yet to make their migration to Siberia for the annual breeding season – including terns (Sterna hirundo) and godwits (Limosa).

Crested Tern (Thalasseus bergii) on 75-Mile Beach
Scientists have yet to decipher how birds navigate, so the current theories for this lack of movement suggest the birds haven’t been able to fatten up enough (possibly because of low pilchard numbers) or that they’ve been disturbed by vehicles.

Both Federal and State environment ministers have yet to respond or commit to a proposal to close 18km of the island’s ocean beach at the southern tip for migrating shorebirds. WATCH THIS SPACE, we’ll keep you updated.

And, until next time, stay warm tree huggers… and if it’s not warm where you live, well, we’re still swimming on Fraser Island so come and visit us.  Cheers, Ranger J.

Winter In Our Wild Fraser Island Paradise

The first day of winter officially kicked in on 1 June with Tasmanian’s scraping the ice from their windscreens, Victorians rugging up and Humpbacks (Megatera novaengliae) cavorting off the east coast (and in the Great Sandy Strait as of June 9).

Closer to Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Islanders are experiencing El Nińio-like conditions - for the first month of winter, the Fraser Coast is expecting mild weather with a maximum average temperature of 24 degrees - and spent the change of season swimming in the warm waters of our perched dune lakes.

As you can see below, we absolutely love winter in our sub-tropical paradise!
Here's how we're wintering at gorgeous Lake Birrabeen - part of the island's Southern Lakes Circuit.  
The resort's Ranger team also love answering your questions about the island’s ecology and history as well as its flora and fauna. I wanted to share a question asked recently by one of our visiting media and some interesting observations from ‘people in the know’.

What are the biggest threats to Fraser Island and its fragile eco systems? We have to say that climate change is the biggest long-term threat. According to Fraser Island Defenders Association project officer, John Sinclair, Fraser Island is as far north as species such as blackbutt and scribbly gums grow. Mr Sinclair says if the climate gets hotter, you can expect them to move south and the great forests to eventually disappear from the island.

Fraser Island's glorious eastern coastline.
Not surprisingly, the world’s biggest sand island is shaped by strong onshore winds, weather and ocean currents which sweep sand north from the continental shelf in NSW – by its very nature, is in a constant start of change.  It is a no-brainer then that future rises in sea levels will have a significant impact on our easily erodible shoreline.

DID YOU KNOW that Fraser Island is currently expanding?  Incredibly, locals on the island’s eastern beach have recently reported, that over the past 50 years, the island has actually increased outwards by up to 50 metres in some places like around Eurong, where our sister resort is located.  

University of Queensland Professor, James Shulmeister, is leading a team of researchers to find out exactly how much the island has grown over the past 50 years or so.  Professor Shulmeister told the local Fraser Coast Chronicle newspaper that it was reasonable to expect some growth during El Nińio events, as the cooler ocean temperatures keep tropical storms at bay and allow for sand deposits to grow in the short term.

Professor Shulmeister agrees that the bigger climate change picture will see the island becoming leaner.  His research team is currently studying the dunes at Rainbow Beach (off the southern end of Fraser) and will work their way over to Fraser Island in the next few months where they’ll be studying the still-visible traces of old beaches (showing 125,000 year-old high sea levels).  WATCH THIS SPACE!

Whilst we’ve been chatting about bigger picture impacts, the question remains, what can we do in the short term?   As one of the major tourism operators on island, we believe that in the short term human impact needs to be suitably managed – not just visitor numbers, but by behaviours.  It seems common sense, but these are our top THREE worst visitor behaviours in the national park…

Volunteers during the annual island clean up
1. Dumping rubbish: Flotsam and jetsam washing ashore are inevitable on any coastline, but it is the non-perishable rubbish that campers and visitors careless throw into our World Heritage-listed bushland that is most heartbreaking.  A big thumbs up to the Four Wheel Drive Queensland club members who recently conducted a grand-scale clean up – an annual event - to cart away the rubbish that accumulates on island.  Over three days, the group collected plastic, netting, bottles and beer cans, and incredibly, thousands of toothbrushes discarded by careless campers.

Please don't feed Fraser's wild animals

2. Interacting with and feeding wildlife:
  Don't do it. It really doesn’t get any simpler than that!  According to Queensland Parks and Wildlife "the good natural food that dingoes find on Fraser Island and the energy they use to patrol their territories, hunt, mate and generally live from day to day, means they are naturally lean.  They tell all visitors not to be tricked into feeding a dingo because you think it looks hungry. Some leaner dingoes may be juveniles just starting out on their own or, if older, may be subordinate animals in the pack hierarchy." You are not doing them - or fellow visitors in the national park - any favours by feeding them.

3 Stay on Track: From a guest perspective, our company’s commitment is to provide a unique and memorable ecotourism experience.  Our resort Ranger team and tour guides (for Fraser Explorer Tours and Cool Dingo Tours) are passionate about the island and go to great lengths to tell visitors to stay on the designated pathways and tracks (there’s plenty of interpretive signage on the island to give you more information).  Not only do you minimise your risk of injury, but you preserve natural settings, do less damage to the fragile eco-systems and won’t contribute to erosion problems.

There’s plenty of Fraser Island to love and by modifying our behaviour, we’ll ensure it’s kept pristine for future generations.  Until next time, tree-huggers, this is Ranger J signing off.

May's Migrants Make All Kinds Of Tracks To Our Island

Now here’s something to tweet about!   Our winter migrants are on their way and our resident Ranger Twitchers and Whale Watchers are ready to welcome them with open arms to Fraser island’s sandy shores.  
Putting the WOW into whale watching. Whale Watching officially starts from1 August.
Hervey Bay's famous Humpback whales (Megatera novaengliae) are on the move - slightly earlier than usual – with just over two months until we start our official whale watching season from Kingfisher Bay Resort.  Meanwhile, if you’re headed our way over the next few months, you’re likely to see surface behaviours - like breaching and tail slapping - beyond the shorebreak on 75-Mile Beach. 

Here at the resort, we Rangers think Fraser Island’s sea and shorebirds are a fabulous feature of any island stay – they occupy a range of habitats in and around our creeks, estuaries and island foreshores - and all just a stone’s throw from Kingfisher Bay. If you're a bird nut, like us, feel free to join us on our regular Ranger-guided early morning bird walks - you'll find all the details in our What's On Guide.

Far Eastern Curlew  (Numenius madagascariensis)
This month we're talking birds because May 10 marked World Migratory Bird Day so it’s a great time to chat about our wonderful bird life on island.  The theme for this year’s World Migratory Bird Day was all about energy and how to make it bird-friendly. Habitat loss, electrocution and collisions with infrastructure are just some of the man-made problems that threaten migratory bird species.

You may not be aware, but Fraser Island acts as a transition zone between tropical and sub-tropical areas.  In fact, the Great Sandy Strait—from Dayman Point – Sandy Point (near Hervey Bay) to Tin Can Bay in the south—is a RAMSAR wetland of international importance. It has been declared a shorebird designated area within the marine park to protect resting migratory shorebirds.

DID YOU KNOW that long distance migratory birds must gain significant weight – for their annual migration?  All sea and shorebirds must rest and feed to replenish their energy levels.  Please given them a wide berth if you see them whilst you’re out and about on island.

Spotted! A Wallum Rocket Frog on Fraser Island.
The resort grounds are also home to specially adapted frogs – like the Wallum Rocket Frog (Litoria freycineti) that reside in the wallum heath at the front of the resort’s hotel wings and Centre Complex and are able to tolerate the mildly acidic waters.  For those that can’t identify their “ribbits” from their “croaks” in the cloak of darkness, we’ve got a great solution for you.

In recent ‘ribbiting’ news for nature lovers, James Cook University scientists have developed a frog-spotting smart phone app that can identify a frog by its individual call.  The eGuide app also gives the user descriptions of the amphibians, location maps and photographs.  And best of all, nearly all 238 of Australia’s known frog species are included!  Happy spotting!  

Well, it’s been an action-packed May with wildlife galore and the promise of more migrating holidaymakers over the coming months. Please remember to give our migratory birds their resting space and enjoy your time on the world’s biggest sand island.  Catch you next time, tree huggers.

Autumn’s Endless Summer In Paradise

It's barely Autumn and Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) have already been spotted off the New South Wales coastline as they migrate north to the warmer Whitsunday waters and by our eagle-eyed Air Fraser Island pilots on the eastern side of the island – heralding that winter (and the start of our Humpback Whale Watching season on 1 August) is not far away.

They're big, they're blue and they're on the move... Humpbacks have been spotted by our Air Island Fraser pilots
Climate change debate has the ability to polarise, but according to a recent report in The Courier Mail, Queensland seasons are all out of whack with figures showing summer is starting earlier, lasting longer and stretching into autumn.

By-in-large, our temperatures have been above average in the last month and, according to the paper’s Environment Reporter, Brian Williams, Scientists have reported that the late onset of winter – followed by an early start to spring – is becoming the norm.

DID YOU KNOW: The resort runs a Conservation Credit Scheme to help reduce our carbon emissions? Guests, who choose NOT to have their room linen changed, will earn credits that can reduce the costs of their tours or spa treatments.  Conference, Meetings and Incentive Guests are automatically part of our Carbon Neutral Conference program, which also aims to reduce their footprint on our environment.

Forget being blue, try being green on Fraser Island
Whilst endless summers are the stuff that holiday-makers dream of, have you ever wondered what can you do to help reduce the effects of climate change?  Here on island, we are always looking for ways to reduce impact and, as technology changes, we are looking at cost effective ways we can change.

1. GREEN YOUR DRIVE: On Fraser, we encourage guests to join our eco-accredited group tours, which use fuel efficient vehicles to reduce fuel consumption and emissions – it’s one of the reasons we were awarded ‘Green Leader’ status by EcoTourism Australia. Or, if you’re self-driving, consider 4WD pooling with your mates.

Kingfisher was one of the first resort’s to install energy efficient room card technology, so that non-essential power could be shut off when guests weren’t in room – it’s an easy way you can help. The resort’s architectural design allows for minimal power requirements. In summer, windows and vents are kept open to generate the induction of cool air from the lower level and expel warmer air through loft vents. In winter, windows and vents are closed to create a glasshouse effect, trapping warm air inside the building.

3. BE AWARE OF YOUR IMPACT: When the resort was built, impact on the dunal system was minimised as resort buildings were floated on piles sunk up to 16 metres. You can help reduce impact by throwing your waste in the bin/dumps provided and by walking on paths and driving on existing tracks.

Miles of piles... here's how the architects ensured Kingfisher Bay sits lightly on the land...
4. WASTE NOT, WANT NOT: The resort minimises waste production through reducing resource use, environmentally responsible purchasing, recycling, reusing materials and, for example, placing refillable soap and shampoo dispensers in resort bathrooms thus eliminating packaging. Paper, glass, aluminium, tin and plastics are recycled.

As tree huggers, we’re eternally grateful to the fabulous Four Wheel Drive Clubs of Queensland who come every year to help us clean up the mess that litter bugs leave behind or that gets washed in from the ocean.

An onsite worm farm turns the resort's sewerage sludge, waste paper and kitchen preparation scraps into compost for a herb garden, which supplies the resort's kitchen. Waste minimisation programs, green purchasing and green product programs round out our environmental program.
Want to know more? Join one of our Ranger-guided eco walks, talks or paddles and learn a bit more about our fragile island backyard. There’s even a Junior Eco Rangers program with some fun educational stuff for the kids.  That’s it from us, tree-huggers.

April's Anzac Day Commemorations On Fraser Island

Today marks a special time in Australian history and we're publishing an extra special blog to commemorate our fallen soliders for Anzac Day.
Starry, starry night. The Milky Way above Kingfisher Bay.

April/May is a spectacular time of year on Fraser Island and the clear night skies make for some fantastic star-gazing – which our international visitors and our city dwellers never fail to appreciate.

These days there are plenty of smart phone apps available like Star Map or Star Gaze, which will help you find your way around the night sky, or ask our Rangers to point out the Southern Cross or Milky way as we head out on our guided night walks.

Fraser Island was the secret training ground for special commando troops during World War II as they trained for operations behind enemy lines?  It's absolutely true!

On island, these transitional months of March through May sees an influx of bird and marine life and subtle changes in our fauna. It's also fabulous for walkers and hikers who travel from all parts of the globe to try their hand at our Fraser Island Great Walk trails in the national park.

For those that prefer shorter walks, there is plenty of medium/easy level, self-guided walks in and around the resort grounds – including a historical walk to the remains of the old Z-Special Commando School, which is particularly poignant as we head towards the Anzac centenary later this month.

Today, Saturday, 25 April 2015 – ANZAC Day - will mark one hundred years of remembrance for the Australian and New Zealand soldiers that served and died in WW1.  This year, our famous SS Maheno shipwreck will play a pivotal role in the ANZAC Day centenary commemorations on island on Anzac Day.

The SS Maheno will take centre stage on 75-Mile Beach this Anzac Day
Originally built as a luxury cruise liner operating on the trans-Tasman run between Australia and New Zealand. As World War I broke out, the liner was converted to a hospital ship and, some four months after the Gallipoli campaign started, was anchored offshore and served as a floating hospital for thousands of Australian and several hundred New Zealand soldiers.

When ANZACS were transferred to the French western front, the Maheno was there to transport soldiers from particularly bloody battles in Fromelles and Somme. 

With ANZAC centenary celebration planning underway, the folks at Rotary have stepped in to fund the passage of seven school children, their families and teachers, from the tiny New Zealand town of Maheno, who will bring the original ship's bell across the Tasman. A replica will ring during a special ANZAC ceremony on April 25 and another will be given to the Maritime Museum in Brisbane.

Lest we forget.

Graffiti On Gums, Dingo Dating And A Cockatoo Or Two!

FRASER ISLAND: March... it’s that time of year again when Dingo romance fills the air and the annual mating season begins on the world’s largest sand island.  During Autumn, visitors to the island can expect to see Dingoes (Canis dingo) showing dominance, scent marking and protecting their territory on island.  And, as we head towards the Easter holiday peak, we advise would-be visitors to take the time to familiarise themselves with Queensland Parks’ Dingo Safety Tips ahead of their visit to the Great Sandy National Park.

Fraser Dingo  Photo: Paul Forrester
DID YOU KNOW Fraser Island’s Dingo population have significant conservation value because they have rarely bred with domestic or feral dogs?  

Our beautiful Fraser Island Dingoes are very different to domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) in that they only come into season once a year (during Autumn) compared to the domestic dogs ability to come into season at least twice a year.  

Consequently, the population fluctuates throughout the year and numbers peak with dingo pup births from June to August.  The latest Dingo census data suggests the island is home to 25-30 packs – each containing between 3 and 12 animals… although we have to stress that it is possible to visit Fraser and not catch a glimpse of these elusive animals.

OUR TOP TIPS: Both Kingfisher Bay Resort (to the west) and Eurong Beach Resort (on the surf side) are surrounded by Dingo fences.  Please remember to keep gates shut if you’re exiting out onto the beach or into the National Park.  And remember, feeding dingoes disturbs their natural ecological balance - there are hefty fines for those that ignore the rules.

Dingoes on 75-Mile Beach  Photo: Troy Geltch
RANGER FACT: Dingoes have an interesting dominance hierarchy where an alpha male and female take their place at the top of an established pack. This dominant pair is generally the only successful breeders, leaving the subordinate members to assist in rearing the young.  Following mating, a relatively short gestation period of around nine weeks (similar to domestic cats and dogs) takes place, eventuating in the birth of around 4-6 pups.

From one Australian icon to another… a glorious flock of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos (Cacatua galerita - see left) has been enjoying (maybe a little too much) the many species of Eucalypts on island. 

A Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo At Kingfisher Bay 
Close to the resort, you can expect to see the Scribbly Gum (Eucalyptus racemosa - see below), which is easily identifiable by the graffiti-like scribbles from the Scribbly Gum moth larvae tunnelling their way through the bark to feed on the gum underneath; our distinctive Paperbarks (Melalucia alternifolia), which contains the magical anti-bacterial properties of Tea-tree oil found within its leaves; and the simply beautiful Smooth-barked Apple (Angophora costata), which lights up the Eucalpyt forest with its rusty-stained bark and iridescent green leaves.
Scribbly Gum  Pic: GoingFeralOneDayAtATime.Com

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos have been messily feasting on the seeds from our Eucalypt species above as well as berries and nuts from other trees around our front yard  Cockatoos are an Aussie icon, grow to around 48-55 centimetres and can weigh up to a kilo. 

You’ll easily identify these ones by their bright yellow crest and a raucous squawk (follow this link to Birds in Backyards and scroll down to the right hand side) as they fly around the grounds - they are very hard to miss.  Due to their size and rambunctious nature they often make quite the mess whilst they bite off branches and leaves - not because they’re hungry, but to keep their bills from growing too large.

All in all it’s been a great few weeks on island and we’ve had fantastic weather to boot. The team here are looking forward to seeing what April brings and, if you’re headed our way, here’s a sneak preview of what to expect on Anzac Day.

Soldier Crabs And Natural Toad Busters: We’re Shaping Up For An Action-Packed Autumn

Today (March 3) is World Wildlife Day, so we're publishing this blog a little earlier that usual to honour all our weird and wonderful wildlife in our backyard...

Lake McKenzie one day after TC Marcia crossed the Queensland coast at Yeppoon  Pic: Ranger Gaz
Autumn has arrived Tree huggers and Fraser Island has come alive as the southerly breezes roll in and the wet season departs.  We’re pleased to report that last month’s Tropical Cyclone Marcia – which hit the headlines worldwide and crossed the Queensland coast at Yeppoon, some 435 kilometres (or a 5 hour drive) to the north of Hervey Bay - scooted around us and did not leave a noticeable footprint on our shores.

In and around the resort this month, our staff and guests continue to be inspired by some of our smallest critters which we have discovered on our daily walks/talks out and about on the island – so we hope you enjoy the read.

Guests on our guided walks are always blown away by the sheer quantity of blue-tinged Soldier Crabs (Mictyris longicarpus) that habitually appear in immense numbers in the inter-tidal zone along the foreshore of the western beach.  These crabs are so named because the males patrol the beach at low tide in large armies walking forwards - not sideways like other species of crabs including the Ghost Crabs (Ocypode cordimana), Sand Bubbler Crabs (Scopimera inflata) and Orange-clawed Fiddler Crabs (Uca vomeris), which are also found right here on Fraser Island.

A lone Solider Crab on the western beach of Fraser
DID YOU KNOW Soldier Crabs feed on detritus (organic matter produced by the decomposition of organisms) and microorganisms in the sand? They do this by travelling across the beach at low tide and by using their claws bring sand up to their mouth – a process which leaves round pellets on the beach behind them.

When the feeding’s done; the tide rises; or if spooked, the crabs bury themselves in a corkscrew fashion under the sand in essentially a sand cocoon with enough room for air and a sand cap on top for added protection against predators such as migratory wader birds and rays.

A stone’s throw from the beach, and we have been under attack in our Wallum heath by the villainous feral Cane Toad (Rhinella marina) – a species that is native to Central and South America and was introduced into Australia to control the native grey-backed cane beetle which were destroying sugar crops.  Since their release, feral toads have bred rapidly and have fast become pests in their own right.
Cane Toad  Pic:

FERAL FACT: According to Wikipedia, the long-term effects of toads on the Australian environment are difficult to determine, however effects include the depletion of native species that die eating cane toads; the poisoning of pets and humans; depletion of native fauna preyed on by cane toads; and reduced prey populations for native insectivores, such as skinks.

In news that has the scientific community on their toady toes, a group of scientists from the University of Sydney have been trialling a new eradication program at Waddy Point on Fraser Island - using the cane toads’ venom against their spawn aims to stop the breeding cycle. Cane Toad tadpoles are attracted by the venom and are caught in traps – researchers caught up to 10,000 a day - whilst native tadpoles are repelled by the venom and hop the other way.

The scientists say results have been excellent and that this novel approach could hold the key to completely eradicating this pest in our island backyard.  Until this happens, we have our very own superhero to help thwart this dastardly foe - the one and only Keelback or Freshwater Snake (Tropidonophis mairii).  This very mild-mannered, non-venomous snake is a part of the Colubridae family of ‘rear fanged’ snakes which includes a couple of other island residents - the Brown Tree Snake or ‘Night Tiger’ (Boiga irregularis), and the Common or Green Tree Snake (Dendrelaphis punctulata).
Keelbacks eat toads and frogs. Pic:

Rarely seen around the resort, you’ll find Keelbacks in well-watered habitats near creeks or in low lying areas on Fraser Island as well as along the eastern and northern coasts of Queensland.

What we love is that this species has become a true unsung hero of Fraser Island - and Queensland for that matter - as they are one of the only native snake species to have a tolerance to the bufotoxin, which Cane Toads produce from glands along their backs and behind their eyes.  This, of course, has allowed them to successfully prey upon our island feral Cane Toads and help control population numbers.

As you can see, it’s been an action-packed last month and, if you’re an environmental nerd like us, or just have a natural curiosity for nature – then we definitely have something here on Fraser Island to pique your interest.  Until next time fellow eco-enthusiasts, this is Ranger Aaron signing off from Kingfisher Bay Resort.

February: Love Is In The Wallum And All Around Us On Fraser Island

The heart-shaped Lake Mckenzie. Pic: Caters News Agency
Fraser Island is a haven for nature lovers and, with February 14 just around the corner, it seems our amorous Short-beaked Echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus) are taking full advantage of Cupid’s bow with lovelorn males seeking out female company in the wallum scrub.  On the Great Sandy Strait, an algae bloom hotspot has become a fish feeding magnet which the Hervey Bay fishing industry - and lovers of fresh seafood - is enjoying.

Volunteers are helping our Loggerheads survive on Fraser
And, on the northern most tip of Fraser, our endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta) nests are being purged and the eggs/hatchlings are being lovingly cared for by the volunteers - under the direction of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Rangers.  All in all, Valentine’s month is a lover-ly time to be on Fraser.

DID YOU KNOW that the Loggerhead Turtle eggs need to be transported in their original north-south alignment if they are shifted more than one hour after they have been laid?  If this doesn’t happen, the egg contents detach from the shell and become infertile.  Volunteers mark the eggs with the depth they were found, the number of eggs in the nest and the alignment (this magnetic field allows the turtle to return to its birthplace to mate and lay its own eggs).

Halfband Snake Eel. Pic: Australian Museum
In our front yard, Kingfisher Bay Resort guests and staff often glimpse tiny eel-like creatures (about 30cm long with a cream body and brownish and yellow blotches) swimming along the surface of the water at the end of the jetty and come and ask us what they are.

The best answers we’ve heard are baby sea snakes or miniature Moray Eels (Muraenidae are a family of Cosmopolitan eels), but we’re busting those myths right here today and can in fact confirm that these elusive creatures are actually known as Halfband Snake Eels (Malvoliophis pinguis - pictured left) and are one of several species of eels in the family Ophichthidae.

We’ve been able to identify them by the tiny brown spots around the head and their sharp little teeth – which sounds nasty, but they're harmless to humans. The Halfband Snake Eel is endemic to Australia, populating shallow waters from central QLD to southern NSW.  They can be found hunting along the sea floor and can actually slither right under the sand during their search for food.

A splash of pink from this skink. Pic: Normf, Redbubble
On our more formal Ranger-guided walks over the past month, we were delighted to spot two Pink-tongued Skinks (Cyclodomorphus gerrardii) slithering through the grass near the Sunset Beach.  These skinks are similar in appearance to their more widely known cousins, the Blue-tongued Lizards (Tiliqua scincoides) – though the length of the tail is a dead giveaway.

Pink-tongued skinks have a very long tail - in fact, in the dark, we mistook the skinks for snakes at first - and they can grow up to around 30-40cm in length. As their name suggests, their mouth is pink (see pic above) and, when threatened, they open their mouth, inflate their bodies and make hissing noises to warn off their attacker. The majority of their diet consists of slugs and snails and, unlike some large skinks; they can climb to retrieve their food.

The skinks share the island with one of the strangest animals we have on Fraser Island -  our Short-beaked Echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus) - which belong to a group of mammals known as monotremes (a group including the Echidna and Platypus). As we alluded to in our intro, Echidnas are out in force this time of year and can sometimes be seen on the Ranger-guided night walks shuffling around in the undergrowth looking for insects (mainly ants and termites).

Spotted! A Short-beaked Echidna on one of our guided walks
RANGER FACT: Monotremes are quite different from other mammals because they have the ability to lay eggs.  Echidnas lay a single leathery egg and carry this around in their pouch for about 10 days until the baby Echidna (known as a Puggle) emerges. 

The Puggle breaks out of the egg using an egg tooth and then continues to grow in the mother’s pouch for around three months.  

During this time, the Puggle is fed milk from the mother, but it is secreted by pores in the skin rather than a nipple.  Young Puggles develop a soft layer of hair and spines and, once they leave the pouch, remain protected in a burrow - sometimes up to a year - until ready to fend for themselves. 

At Kingfisher Bay, our team are committed to spreading our environmental message - for example, on our jetty,  we use Tangler bins for fisherfolk to dispose of their old lines instead of them blowing into the ocean.  This month we urge everyone to watch what you throw out and where - biodegradable bags may break down in soil, but they cause havoc in our oceans for animals like our Loggerhead Turtles. There’s an awesome campaign called Take 3, which is encouraging Aussies to take three pieces of rubbish with them when they leave a beach or waterway, and we’re certainly encouraging that here on island.

Every little bit counts! Catch you next time, Tree Huggers.

It's Turtlely Awesome Visiting Fraser Island In Summer

QUEENSLAND: Whilst Mon Repos, near Bundaberg, supports the largest concentration of nesting marine turtle on the Eastern Australian mainland, the annual turtle season is also a wonderful time to visit Fraser Island, Hervey Bay and the surrounding coastal areas.

We’re certainly happy to be seeing a lot of sea turtles - Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) and the endangered Loggerhead Turtles (Caretta caretta) - near the resort as they head off to lay their eggs on the northern end of Fraser (at the Sandy Cape turtle rookery) and at various spots along 75-Mile Beach on the island’s eastern side.

An early Christmas present for @funfitwellness
With this month's blog, we’re also paying homage to the super-talented Instagrammers who flood the site with gorgeous island pics on a daily basis.  Once such contributor, @funfitwellness, was lucky enough to spot this beautiful Loggerhead at the crack of dawn on Fraser’s 75-Mile Beach on Christmas morning and shared this gorgeous shot on Instagram.  Now that’s what we call a cracker of a Christmas surprise!

What you may not know is that a female Loggerhead Turtle, like the one pictured, can lay around 125 ping pong ball-sized eggs per clutch – and this is after an exhausting journey up the beach to the sand dunes to dig out a nest above the high tide line with their back flippers.

The mother will then cover the nest up to prevent predators – like Fraser’s dingoes and goanna populations - from raiding them.  On Fraser Island, mating usually starts in late October with the majority of baby turtles emerging between February and March.

JUST A REMINDER to all visitors that four-wheel-drives are prohibited on the beach between South Ngkala Rocks and the Sandy Cape Lighthouse between 6pm and 6am from 15 November until 31 March annually as this beach is an important nesting area for our visiting marine turtles.

@darcnett -  harmless Blue Buttons on the eastern beach
Within the resort grounds, our Smooth-barked Apple trees (Angophora costata) have shed their old grey bark to reveal a fresh pink-orange coat and are in full bloom - this gorgeous display is perfect for our Instagrammers and photographers who flock to Fraser to capture awesome nature shots – like Rob Annesley who visited us last year... we’re sure you’ll agree his photos are amazing.  If you’re visiting our shores, be sure to tag your photographs with #fraserisland and #kingfisherbay (or #frasertours if you’re taking a Beauty Spots off-road island tour with us) as we’ll happily feature on our social sites - as we did recently with @darcnett's gorgeous jellyfish shot pictured right.

Around 354 different species of bird have been recorded on Fraser Island and, as Rangers, we are often asked if there are any Kingfishers around Kingfisher Bay Resort.  The answer is an emphatic yes!  In fact, we have several types of Kingfishers here including The Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae), Azure Kingfisher (Alcedo azurea), Forest Kingfisher (Todiramphus macleayii) and Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus).

@Louisehak spots a cheeky Kookaburra in the trees
Undoubtedly, the most recognisable Kingfisher is The Laughing Kookaburra - whose loud call resembles a staccato-like cackle (kook-kook-kook-ka-ka-ka).  They are the largest Kingfisher in the area and are the most frequently seen (and heard) – particularly in the trees around our Sand Bar restaurant.

Other Kingfisher species on island are much smaller and we sometimes glimpse our turquoise and white coloured Sacred Kingfishers around the mangroves and paperbark forests where they spend time catching crustaceans, reptiles, insects and sometimes even fish.

Azure Kingfishers have darker blue features with a splash of vibrant orange underneath, and are more often seen around the Wallum heathlands as they search for shrimp and other dainties. In contrast, our Forest Kingfishers have striking blue and white plumage and a large white spot on the bill and, as the name suggests, can be found in open sclerophyll forests, near mangroves or our mirror lakes.

Porter @bryce_mcnickle snaps a pic of our baby guest
As the sun dips on Fraser, probably the most commonly seen nocturnal bird we see is the Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides). Often mistaken for an owl, the Tawny Frogmouth is a species more closely related to the Nightjars and feeds mainly on insects, slugs, worms and snails. Their silver-grey mottled feathers provide excellent camouflage against the bark of trees and, when threatened, Frogmouths often extend their body out and raise their head so as to look as much like a branch as possible.

RANGER FACT: Juvenile Tawny Frogmouths are often found on the ground when they are learning to fly under the watchful eyes of their parents. Always seek the advice of an accredited wildlife carer before handling/removing.

Recently, Nick from our housekeeping team spotted a tiny Frogmouth begging for food on the roadside near our villas and let the Rangers know. It had fallen from its nest in a nearby tree and was still much too young to fly.  With no nest or parents in sight and, after consulting a wildlife carer, I fostered and nursed the baby until it could be passed on to a wildlife centre for rehabilitation – it was super hard not to become attached to that needy little ball of feathers pictured above.

@cathyfinchphotograhy's stunning Sundew on Fraser
From the beaches to the forests, there is plenty of wildlife to see on Fraser Island and one habitat - our wallum heathland – is just a stone’s throw from our resort Centre Complex and hotel wings. The wallum really is full of weird and wonderful animals and all perfectly adapted to the harsh conditions as the soils are very low in nutrients.

One plant has a particularly brutal adaptation that enables it to get the nutrients it needs to survive.  Spoon-leaf Sundews (Drosera spatulata) are insectivorous plants that trap unsuspecting insects using a sticky substance known as mucilage.

The Spoon-leaf Sundew appears pink due to the thousands of pink-tipped ‘tentacles’ protruding from the leaf.  Insects looking for a sweet treat step onto the leaves of the Sundew, only to become stuck in the mucilage and eventually die. The insect is then slowly wrapped up by the leaves near the stem and digested.

This is just another day in a world ruled by survival of the fittest!  As you can see, we’ve had a fabulous Christmas, some wonderful weather and an eventful month here on Fraser… and we look forward to seeing what February brings our way. Until next time, this is Ranger Bec signing off for the team.