Lewis the Lion had arrived in Hervey Bay the day before as he was set to visit a very special island about half an hour off the coast: Fraser Island.
He’d been told by his friends to visit this island but he didn’t really know why so it came as a nice surprise when he discovered that it’s a sand island. (It was formerly known as the Great Sandy Island).
In fact, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world (stretching 123 kilometres in length and 22 kilometres at its widest point) and Lewis the Lion was thinking that he could build an awful lot of sandcastles with that!
So, Fraser Island came as a real surprise and delight to Lewis the Lion; like nowhere he’d ever been before in the world. It truly is one of the world’s natural beauties and is even recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, as he sat on the ferry across to the island, he noticed that there were lots of dingo cuddly toys in the souvenir shop and wondered why? Maybe he’d get to find out once he got there?
As the ferry pulled into the island, Lewis could see mangrove trees lining the shores which reminded him of the Galápagos Islands. He certainly wasn’t expecting to see so much greenery on an island made of sand. But a lot of greenery there was and a little later on that day Lewis the Lion discovered that amazingly there was even a sub-tropical rainforest!
But for now as he and Helen boarded the coach, their guide, Warren, told them to buckle up tight as they were about to get a back massage. Lewis the Lion didn’t know what he was talking about when suddenly the tank of a bus sped off, bumping and juddering along a tree-lined sand dune track. Lewis the Lion laughed his hearty laugh – they certainly were getting a back massage after all! Warren, their tour guide, really was a lot of fun and so knowledgeable about the island. He told them that he loved his job and he told Lewis the Lion that when he’s older, if he finds a job he likes, he’ll never have to work a day in his life again! Lewis the Lion liked the thought of that; of finding a job he felt truly happy in.
Their first stop (after helping a car that had got stuck in the sand!) was at an immaculate, pristine perched dune lake called Lake McKenzie.
It was simply breathtaking: like a paradise island.
Lewis dipped his paw in the water and it felt a little cold but because of the white sand beneath, the water sparkled, crystal clear in the sunlight. Helen on the other hand had almost swum across to the eucalyptus trees on the other side of the lake, before Lewis had even noticed she was gone!
From this welcome start to the island, the group then had a little wander through an incredible, tall rainforest which survived on low nutrient sands, with fresh water running through it.
It was here that Lewis the Lion made two friends, Ben and Joshua, also from England but he’ll tell you more about them later…
For now, Lewis the Lion had another little treat in store as the sturdy bus took to the beach where it practically flew along the sand, bumping over the sand dunes as it went.
Lewis couldn’t believe that vehicles were allowed to ride along this great big sweep of ocean beach like this.
For all it was a gloriously, sunny day, it didn’t look like your average beach-scape with sunbathers and swimmers. He wondered why? Warren then told the group that Fraser Island had 250km of long, sandy beaches but that it would never become like your normal beachside town because of some of the nasties lurking in the water such as jellyfish, sharks and whales, etc.
Therefore there was definitely no swimming and Lewis the Lion soon learnt that even building sandcastles could prove difficult with transparent jellyfish washing up on the sand with the tide. What a shame as he’d had his heart set on that!
However, he wasn’t too upset as after lunch, Lewis the Lion had another adventurous walk with Helen. This time they walked through a sandy wood to another fresh water lake found high up amongst the sand dunes called Lake Wabby.
Again, in the heat of the day, Helen did not waste the opportunity of swimming in the water, whilst Lewis the Lion sat back and soaked up this incredible scenery. Coming over the top of the sand dunes, he could see a eucalyptus forest with a beautiful emerald-green lake in front of it. Seeing all these eucalyptus trees made him wonder if there were any koalas living on Fraser Island because he’s discovered at the Australia Zoo that that was their plant of choice? He soon discovered that there had been koalas living there once upon a time but they were now extinct on the island, thanks to the next creature that Lewis the Lion saw as he got back to the beach: dingoes!
Dingoes are Fraser Island’s largest wild animal and although they look like a domestic dog, they are more closely related to the Asian wolf. There are estimated to be about 150-200 dingos on the island. During the time that Lewis the Lion was visiting Fraser Island (Spring) was the whelping season: when the young dingoes leave the den with their mother to learn survival skills. There was masses of information for the public telling them to keep children safe and not to feed the dingoes.
There was even a dingo-proof barrier so the dingoes couldn’t get into Lewis the Lion’s resort.
So, when Lewis the Lion saw his first young dingo pup,
he was only glad that he was back on the bus looking at it through the window
but that wasn’t quite the story at the next morning…
Helen, Lewis the Lion and their friend Blanka had got up early to take some photos of the sunrise on the beach.
Luckily for Lewis, he was hidden in Helen’s pocket because as she was on her knees taking a photo of the beautiful red sunrise through a puddle of water on the beach, a pack of eight dingoes has sneaked up silently behind her and her friend!
They must have thought Helen looked like an easy target when she was crouched down small but then she and her friend stood up tall, faced the pack of dingoes and stuck close together, as they had been told to do. There were some other people who were also taking photos on the beach who quickly gathered close by. The mother dingo with her pups seeing that this was no longer a feeding opportunity, then just wandered on disinterested further along the sandy beach. What a close call and lucky escape! It definitely was a scary start to the morning at any rate.
However, Lewis the Lion then learnt that dingoes aren’t the only animal to be afraid of on Fraser Island, albeit the largest, native mammal. He discovered that some of the world’s deadliest snakes live here, such as the Eastern Brown and one of the world’s top three deadliest sea-snakes. Also, poisonous spiders can also be found there such as the funnel web, the trap door and the red back spider. In all, there are another 47 species of mammals (including a type of wallaby and possum), 79 species of reptile (including 19 kinds of snake,13 of which are front-fanged) and over 350 species of birds. Fraser Island really seemed like a wildlife paradise. Lewis the Lion was even lucky enough to see migrating humpback whales just off the shoreline later that day. Another magical moment! Strangely though, their underbelly seemed to be white which was different to the ones he had seen in California.
Lewis the Lion’s second day of discovery on Fraser Island proved again to be quite magical, as he drove along the idyllic 75 mile beach ocean highway. As they were driving along, they were then given the option of going up on a joy flight to give them a bird’s eye view of the island.
Helen decided against it but luckily for Lewis the Lion, his new friends, Ben and Joshua took him up with them instead!
What a lucky lion indeed as after taking off from the beach airstrip in the Air Fraser, he could see how the stretches of golden beaches stretched on for miles,
whilst the internal part of the island gave way to a lush canopy of green with the odd blue lake shimmering below.
Lewis the Lion truly felt sky-high and couldn’t wait to tell Helen all about this extra little adventure.
He thanked Ben and Joshua for taking him with them: what a treat. That certainly made up for his lack of sandcastle building!
There just seemed to be one brilliant thing after another that day for Lewis the Lion as next he saw the amazing Coloured Sands of the Pinnacles with their yellow and red hues,
a spectacular shipwreck on the beach which had been there since 1935,
a lookout point called Indian Head (where you could see the Indian Heads in the rocks!) and then onto the Champagne Pools.
Lewis the Lion could have quite easily have stayed here all day basking in the sunshine and enjoying the view. These pools are naturally formed by the rocks and when the sea water rushes into them, they fizz up, just like a bottle of champagne!
Just when Lewis the Lion thought that this perfect day couldn’t get any better, it did as he headed on to Eli Creek.
This is a fast-flowing, fresh water creek and he laughed as the speed of it surprised Helen as she got swept along with the current! What a funny ending to his delightful day.
Lewis the Lion felt a bit sad to be waving goodbye to another one of nature’s gems as the ferry pulled away later that evening,
but oh, what a wonderful adventure he had had!
Lewis the Lion later found out that Fraser Island was first sighted by Captain James Cook in 1770 while travelling up the east coast of Australia. He named the island the ‘Great Sandy Peninsula’ mistakenly believing that it was connected to the mainland.
What else can you find out about Captain James Cook’s epic voyage?