FRASER ISLAND 2009
Fraser Island - July 2009
Early on in the year, a boys fishing trip was decided. Bra had someone in the know who owned a blokes heaven at Orchid Beach (close to the best fishing spots), called 'Footsteps on Fraser'. What a bloody great place. But more about that after. The anticipation for this trip was extreme to say the least - we're talking 4x4s, sand driving, the ability to go where we want, when we want, and a bunch of awesome blokes, just being blokes!
Leading up to the trip money had to be spent. Simply to make it enjoyable. Alvey reels, 10-12ft rods, waders, gang hooks, more tackle, spare line, pillies, head lights, more tackle (just in case), grog, more gang hooks, more tackle (just in case) and more grog. Yes, I know I doubled a couple of those - they were 'needed' - just in case! Packing and preparing was key - no need for shoes, button up shirts or any of that fancy gear. Flannos, old footy shorts and pluggers were the order.
There were seven of us on the trip. Fatty and Bra in the 'White Rhino', Mick and Gamble in the 'Hilux', and Dave, Max and me in the 'Fire-Truck' (which originally belonged to Max, who sold it to Dave, who sold it to me!).
We had 'Footsteps on Fraser' booked from a Saturday to Saturday. On the Friday before, Fatty and Bra came to Hervey Bay, loaded, and stopped in at BCF for pillies and more tackle (just in case). Last preparations were made and an early night called, for an early rise. Barely getting any shut eye, I was too buzzed to wait any longer. About 4-5am, I was singing around the place, 'Wake up call' and keen to get this show on the road. A quick brekkie, coffee and double check of our tie downs and we were on our way.
We arrived at River Heads early enough, where Dave and Maxi were waiting. They loaded their belongings on, said a quick "G'day to everyone" and it was time to board the barge. We were about middle of the barge - with the White Rhino and Fire Truck side-by-side. It was a smooth trip over - in-fact the weather was spot on. This was awesome!
Tyre pressures were dropped, 4x4 engaged and it was time to unload. We were off before White Rhino, and started our trek across the inland track. Windows down, the old diesel chugging and Status Quo cranking - to Dave's disgust! We pulled in quickly at Central Station to check out Wangoolba Creek - which is extremely clear. And to see the rainforest which had formed - pretty amazing considering it was a logging area. But it was only a quick stop before making tracks for Eurong to the surf side. We got there without a hitch and as we took the cut-in to the open beach it was breathtaking - absolutely unreal. Perfect waves, perfect tide - not too many other vehicles - bloody awesome!
White Rhino and Fire Truck alternated the lead as the beach was in fantastic condition. We had to take a couple of the bypass tracks at Poyungan Rocks and Happy Valley, but they proved to be a bit of fun. We stopped at Eli Creek for a look and a wade from the common entry point to the mouth - pretty bloody cold (be great in a tube in summer). Then came Indian Head - I'd read and seen footage of many cars getting stuck. Max gave the call, low range-3rd. We started the entry, but as we did a Landcruiser (NSW plates) got himself stuck. We did a u-turn and Max said, "Go it. Show that cockroach, he's a bloody cockroach!" and the old Nissan (Datsun) cruised through the cut-in and bounced through the centre track and out the other side. You beauty! White Rhino had no problems either, straight through.
The beach from Indian Head to Waddy Point is amazing and the image of the rolling surf between these headlands on this day was unforgettable. The Waddy Point cut-in was more formidable than Indian Head. There was a reasonable step-up. We watched a 4x4 towing a 5m boat pop-up, and pop-up it did. I gave it some momentum, probably a bit too much momentum - as our heads probably touched the roof! But we were through, we passed the Champagne Pools carpark and headed down the other side for Orchid Beach. We had to follow an inland track of soft sand to Orchid Beach. Once we got to the residential area, Bra lead the way through and found 'Footsteps on Fraser' pretty easily.
We met the owner, who briefed us on what to use, what not to use, etc. Very reasonable guy and he has supplied a very nice place to spend a week. We began unloading our gear. I tried to avoid snorers - Dave warned that Max was a snorer, so I took the other room! After beds were dibbed, the eskies were lined up to the entrance to the pool room - lots of eskies. Gotta stay hydrated hey! It wasn't long and we were mostly unloaded and keen to have our first fish.
We headed for Waddy Point with high expectations of tailor after tailor. The rocks were well exposed, making for a good fishing platform. The tide was coming in - hopefully washing some fish in with it. Cast after cast, getting used to our new alvey/surf rod combos, we casted. Not much was happening. I headed for a little headland a bit further away. As the sets got a bit bigger, and as the sun began setting, BANG, first hook-up. It felt great to feel the alvey in action. The hit was awesome, with a good little run - then I had to start negotiating the rocks. I managed to get it up and it was a legal tailor. A couple of bream were also caught and added to tonights dinner table.
Mick and Gamble arrived later on, about 7ish or so, just as the drinks were starting to go down. They drove up from Inskip and followed Seventy-Five Mile beach the whole way up. Apparently, Eli Creek crossing was quite deep when they crossed, and in the dark. We were all responsible for one dinner each, to fill everyone. First off the ranks was the lasagne that Shell cooked. It went down a treat and filled the hole after a big first day.
I think most of us got a decent sleep - Max definitely did! Not sure about those close by! We set off for Indian Head - to check the lookout, out, and to find a spot to fish. The lookout was pretty amazing - again the weather was on our side. A couple of tourist buses joined us. We had our looks and headed down for a fish.
Out came the waders, the bait belts and we scoured for a gutter or sandbank to try. We tried close to Indian Head on the norther side. Some tried off the rocks (Bra and me), and managed a couple of bream. Some tried along a sand bar, catching a couple of dart. But on the whole it was quite quiet.
Dave and I tried the rocks just south of Waddy Point. I think it was here that Dave found a bird's nest from hell. Made me laugh! There were some promising looking washouts, and ledges that looked very fishy - but alas, no great hook-ups.
In the afternoon, we tried Waddy Point rocks again. Dave had a decent battle - but it was a dirty stingray. Gamble and Mick found some old dry wood around, and on dusk started a small fire to keep themselves warm. Us others kept on fishing - but it was very quiet. Dinner was Dave's curried sausages which again filled the holes from another big day. A few games of pool, a few drinks, and big ned the fire pit was a good atmosphere.
We were keen for an early start and try our luck at grabbing some beach worms. I had to grab a couple of things from inside. Max thought he'd kick Fire Truck over to warm her up. He didn't realise there is a certain knack to it these days - and if you don't get the knack it shuts down for a looonng time. Anyhow, he tried too many times to kick it over and the stubborn old girl said "Nup!" So the Hilux had a full carload - Gamble, Dave, Maxi, Mick and me.
We headed for Ngala Rocks (north of Orchid Beach). The bypass to the Cape was closed due to the road caving in, so we pulled up here. Chucked some old pillies and fish frames in some netting and started dragging it along the white wash from the waves. Almost instantly the worms were popping up for a look/feel. It took a lot of patience. We were getting a hold on them, but they were pulling down and we were losing our grip. Eventually, I realised I had to let them arch their head a little, grab them below the head, from behind and then slide them up. Bingo! First beach worm - you ripper. Between us we got enough to keep all of baited up.
We tried a quick fish here - but forgot bait. So we through the slugs out, hoping for a tailor. The slugs cast a damn long way - felt good. But there was reef just around that area. That reef laid claim to that nice shiny 40g slug. So I put my rod back and climbed some dunes. The weather was spot on again, gentle SW winds, making the ocean very calm. The views from the dune were pretty amazing.
White Rhino went the other way from camp, towards Waddy Point. We decided to go and track them down and see how they were doing. It turned out, they hadn't had any fishing luck either. We tried our luck with the worms for some whiting in a nice gutter. We got a couple of dart and bream - freshly cooked they went down well.
There were a couple of options to come from the beach to the residential areas - one was was boarded and for traffic coming from the beach, the other was steeper, and for traffic going down to the beach. Mick wanted to test the Hilux, and go the opposite way - up the steeper climb. It took him a couple of goes, but the mighty Lux broke through the other side!
Gamble's dinner was next on the menu. Pies and chips. The weather was cold and this hearty meal filled us up and warmed our bellies. A few more beers and rums were had around the pool room. Maxi and Mick tried to fix Mick's alvey - but I think they came to the conclusion that it was rooted!
I was a bit more keen to get an early start than the others, so with the tide about right, I headed for Wathumba Creek - to try for some bread and butter fish, and to check out somewhere new. The track there was cool - bushy with nice sandy tracks. It took about half an hour and as I came to the entrance it was amazing. This side of the island was protected from the 30 knot SE winds that had come up - it was crisp, clear and flat. It had a bit of an eerie feel to it, that dingoes were around. I tried some soft plastics here, hoping to nab a flatty or some bream.
The others rocked up not long after. We all had rods in the water - but again, the fish weren't interested. Bra and I found a school of trevally, right off a little ledge. There were probably 30-40 of them, about 30-40cm each. We tried all sorts of tricks with our plastics. It took forever, and Bra landed one. The call was made to head back, and try for some whiting in gutters. We also had a look at Ocean Lake while we were nearby.
That night we had a feed of fish, and we were set for a bit bigger night. The beers and spirits were going down smoothly, and the night's shenanigans took fold. It started with a friendly dart comp and escalated. It's at about this point where - what happened on Fraser, stays on Fraser!
We woke in good spirits, maybe one or two a bit worse for wear. We headed for the Champagne Pools area. We did the touristy look at the pools - the tide was a little high, but we still grabbed a group photo and then headed back to the cars. Near Waddy Point we managed to find a small track that led to some good looking rocks. By now the winds had picked up. The direction of the winds had swung from SW yesterday, to SE today - something like 20 knots. This spot wasn't protected from the winds, but it looked the goods.
We got out our gear and spread ourselves out. Bra was first on. It was a very reasonable sized breambo - you beauty. A few of us got a couple more bream and dart. The seagulls were following all our pillies as we casted them. Unfortunately for one, it got hooked on the wing. I wound it in - Bra removed the hook, and released it - a keen eagle didn't miss out, following it out to sea. Then Maxi was on - he was at the mouth of the rocks (which had a gutter forming). It was a great size tailor - biggest of the trip so far. He was fishing with a small boat road with a spin handle. He got another - a bit bigger this time. Max was the hero for the day. We were glad we'd found a spot that had some fish around it.
This night was our biggest, it started with Bra's soup and ended with us betting houses, dogs, and whatever else we thought valuable with sauce bottles, sugar sachets and other condiments. It was an epic poker game that saw us in bed after 1 or 2am. Good times!
We said our goodbyes to Gamble and Mick as they headed back to Redcliffe. It was also the last day/night for Fatty and Bra. We headed back for the little track we found yesterday. Today was windy, rainy, oh did I mention the wind? It was blowing about 35-40 knots, straight into us, with squals of heavy rain. Glad I purchased that heavy duty rain coat now! There we were, on those rocks again. Living! A few more bream, a couple more tailor and a few dart. Not the session we were hoping for, but a couple more fish for the BBQ.
It was a bit quieter at night. The weather was pretty horrible, and we called an early night.
Fatty and Bra packed their things and made tracks. It was another rainy, windy day. They headed off early to make the tides they needed. We had a bit of a quiet day - started packing and cleaning the house, ready for our departure the following day. That arvo, we took the last of the pillies and headed for one last session off Waddy Point. It wasn't looking too promising at first, then as the sun began to lower, bang, bang, bang - we were all on. The pillies ran out fast, and we were down to the last slug. Taking turns to cast and hook-up. We got a decent feed of tailor. Too much for the three of us, so Dave brought out his new 12v cryovac and sealed a few good feeds each. This was the session we were hoping for. You bloody ripper!
It was our turn to say goodbye to this unreal place. We did a final tidy up and were on our way. The wind was starting to settle a bit, probably 10-15 knots SE, and at least the sun was out. We took some inland tracks to see some of Fraser's highlights on the way to the barge. We stopped by Wabby Lake, Mackenzie - which looked quite nice and Kingfisher Resort - where we did a lookout walk.
We arrived at Wangoolba Creek early so had a quick game of cricket. Once boarded on the barge, we aired the tyres, engaged 2 wheel drive and were back on our way to Hervey Bay. I dropped Dave and Max off and headed home. It was great to see Shell and Loz - I really did miss them from day 5 onwards.
A really fantastic trip - one I hope we can replicate something similar one day down the track.