Cairns, Wednesday 10/09/14

I went to Hervey Bay to go whale-watching for humpbacks.

Almost as soon as we left the bay in our catamaran, we started to see the spout of water from whales in the distance. It takes some time to catch up with them, but we were closing in on two when we lost sight of them for a while. After about five or ten minutes, the boat began to rock gently and there was a whale underneath. I was standing on a small platform over the right-hand hull and it actually swam under my feet. It hung around by our side for a short while, blowing water that did not smell, (another myth dispelled), and then disappeared once more.

The rest of the day was spent chasing whales. The most spectacular was a pod of three, flipper and tail flapping against the water. First we saw the splashing.

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Then as we approached, I could see they were on their backs, sometimes raising both flippers and crashing them down against the surface of the water to make a loud noise.

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Then there was “lobtailing”.

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We even saw them breach on three occasions, so once again, my luck was in.

As these whales were so active, we did not try to get too close. At the end of the day, when we had seen several more whales, we approached a pod of three or four, who came over to take a look at us. This was a parting gift.

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In contrast, the next day I went to Fraser Island, the largest sand island on earth, along with Katrina, a German woman I met in the hostel.

It was a short trip across the bay to the island.

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The blue planet.

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A slightly different blue – same planet.

It is remarkable that there is such a diversity of vegetation here, all built on sand. This is thanks to the mycorrhizal
fungus which provides nutrients and the particular way in which sand dunes are formed. We saw eucalyptus woodland, rainforest, mangroves, coastal heaths and inland lakes and creeks.

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Rainforest

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The sandy Eli Creek.

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Lake Mackenzie, which was formed by rainwater, but is somewhat acidic.

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Seventy-five mile beach, used as a main highway to get round the island.

I also saw my first, (and to date my only), dingo.

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From Hervey Bay to Magnetic Island by train and ferry.

I wandered around most of the island, seeing wallabies, cockatoos and lorikeets, and even a glimpse of a possum. The highlight of my time there was horse-riding, which included bare-back riding in the sea. It is relaxing and calming, as you can leave all the work to the horse.

I’m continuing to explore Australia, while trying to find another organic farm to help out with. I want to make the most of my time here, but the tours are expensive and it would be good to stay a bit longer in one place.
Have to go and pack my bag once more, as tomorrow I’m going to Cape Tribulation, which sounds drastic but is actually where I’m hoping I’ll meet up with some more of the wildlife. Perhaps I’ll see a Cassowary.

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