Tweet Manookatoo Adventures: Fabulous Fraser Island

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Fabulous Fraser Island

Teebar Creek
The Captain has crossed a few ocean bars in the last little while - Yamba being the most challenging to date. Most bars have rock walls poking out well into the ocean to guide boats in; the Wide Bay Bar, into the Great Sandy Straits behind Fraser Island, is quite a different experience. Contacting the local Volunteer Marine Rescue well before we arrived on Friday afternoon, they gave him three map coordinates to follow, ensuring we wouldn't stray onto the shifting entrance sands. The Captain duly marked the coordinates on the Raymarine Navigation and we were set! The weather was also perfect - no wind, no swell, so within half an hour we were inside Wide Bay. We cruised down past Inskip Point, where 4WDs wait for the ferry to take them to Fraser Island, and turned to port, into the Tin Can channel, dropping anchor in Teebar Creek for a peaceful night amongst the mangroves.

Sunset at Garry's Anchorage
On Saturday morning the Captain was awake early, pulling up the anchor for a cruise around into Tin Can Bay. We tied up at the fuel wharf to re-fuel the dinghy, then took a walk up to the local shopping centre for a few necessities. Returning to Manookatoo we cruised further downstream, turning off the engine once we reached the main channel, drifiting along while we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast. Starting the engine again, we cruised north, past the many 4WDs waiting to cross the Wide Bay entrance for a weekend on Fraser Island, making our way along the Great Sandy Straits and into Garry's Anchorage, a popular place for many cruising boats, with easy access to shore. We enjoyed a walk along the southern track after lunch, meeting fellow cruisers and swapping boating yarns, before returning to Manookatoo for a lazy afternoon and a lovely dinner. With very few people around it is a lovely peaceful place for a night.

Another early morning on Sunday was to ensure that we could exit the northern entrance to the channel while the tide was still high. The Great Sandy Straits are, as the name suggests, full of sandbanks, which catch out those who don't utilise tides to their advantage. We saw several boats stranded and waiting for the tide to rise - and we didn't want to join them! We cruised along beside Fraser Island for several nautical miles, anchoring at Ungowa for breakfast, then taking the dinghy ashore to explore this old sand mining area. There are abandoned jetties, shipping channels and old rusting wrecks littering the area but, in a sign that mother nature restores what man destroys, the mangroves are gradually reclaiming the area.
Continuing north, we crossed the straits and headed into River Heads, where the Mary and Susan Rivers run into the Great Sandy Straits. We dropped the anchor inside the Susan River and lazed the afternoon away, amazed to see a whale cruise by, heading upstream, then turning once the river shallowed to return to deeper water.
With early morning high tides, we were bound to be up early again on Monday, heading back into the Great Sandy Straits and across to Kingfisher Bay, where the barge brings cars and passengers from the mainland to Fraser Island. We came ashore in the dinghy just near the Kingfisher Bay resort. enjoying a walk to the lookout and back to the jetty before lunch at the Sand Bar. Debating whether to partake of another drink, we noticed how much the tide had fallen and, not wishing to drag the dinghy too far to the water, we hastily departed back to Manookatoo! That afternoon we were joined on board for sundowners by two other Clipper owners - Mike and Jan from "Funky Time" and Ray and Trish from "Serenity". We swapped boating stories and all agreed that the Clippers we own are lovely boats for enjoying all manner of cruising!
Three Clipper crews
On Tuesday morning we pulled up the anchor and continued north-west, past Big Woody Island and around into Urangan on Hervey Bay, tying up at the Boat Club Marina. Shopping and washing were the order of the morning, including buying prawns from the local co-op. After lunch we took a walk along the foreshore, marvelling at the huge sandbars revealed on a low tide. We walked along the 880m pier, which served previously loading first coal, then sugar and finally fuel before being abandoned and almost demolished - a local campaign saved the remainder of what had once extended 1.2km into deeper water. We returned to Manookatoo for showers before a drink at the Boat Club, enjoying dinner aboard and an early night.
Urangan Pier
With a longer cruising day on Wednesday we dropped our lines before 6am, heading up the long channel between Urangan and Woody Island and out into Hervey Bay, passing the Fairway Bouy just after 8am and turning north-west again. We have enjoyed our time inside the Great Sandy Straits and will certainly return to explore more on our way back, but for now we have to be in Gladstone in less than a week, so it is time to move on.

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