Flowers, feathers and fins…I love a good bit of alliteration! Fraser Island provided all three on my recent visit, but another ‘f’ that I was hoping to see – fur – proved elusive.
Although Fraser Island is home to several resorts, most of the island is wild. Sometimes you can feel like nature will simply take over again one day. Birdlife is prolific, the sand tracks cut through towering forests, and the island is also home to Australia’s only native wild dog, the dingo. And once I had seen the “fins” – the migrating humpback whales that stop by on their way to and from Antarctica each winter – it was time to explore the rest of what Fraser Island has to offer.
At the tail-end of winter, and with wet weather during our visit, there was not a lot of wildlife to be seen. But there were plenty of birds, including some too high or too fast for my camera, such as white-bellied sea eagles and whistling kites. I woke in the morning to the eerie sound of curlews, and was lucky enough to spot plenty of herons and a few oyster-catchers. Fraser Island is home to 354 species of birds, and the best time of year for birdwatching is in May ,when an annual “Bird Week” is held. Rangers hold daily bird walks from Kingfisher Bay Resort.
We were a bit too early for the Spring wildflower season, but there were still plenty of beautiful little flowers to be found if you looked carefully.
There’s quite a bit of wildlife on Fraser, including Squirrel Gliders, Bush Rats and Bandicoots, as well as Micro-bats which are out at night. But what I really wanted to see was a dingo. Last time I was on Fraser, I remember seeing quite a few of them on the beach, but things have changed a bit, and this was the closest I got to a dingo.
Dingoes are beautiful creatures, but they should be treated with caution, distance, and respect. However dog-like it might appear, the dingo is wild indeed, evolving from the wolf around 6000-10,000 years ago and introduced to Australia by sea traders around 5000 years ago.
As Australia’s top predator, the dingo is considered important in helping to keep a natural ecological balance in the environment but increased contact with people has in many places – including Fraser Island – turned dingoes into a problem. Feeding dingoes – whether unwittingly or deliberately – makes them less fearful of people and dependent on hand-outs as their hunting-skills decline. Fraser Island has one of the purest strains of dingo, because their isolation has prevented cross-breeding with domestic or feral dogs.
Dingoes are naturally curious, and have learned to seek human contact as a potential source of food. However, this has led to aggressive behaviour and on Fraser Island dingoes have been responsible for one death and several serious attacks. It is an offence to feed or interact with dingoes anywhere on Fraser Island and Queensland National Parks & Wildlife Service rangers can impose on-the-spot fines of around $340, with a maximum penalty of $4554. These days, resorts like Kingfisher Bay and Eurong Beach are surrounded by fences to keep the dingoes out.
So while I was disappointed not to see one (from a safe distance), nature provided plenty of other beautiful wild things to see and photograph. And as we left, the sun broke out and the rain stopped. Fabulous Fraser…what more can I say?
A Glass Half Full was a guest of Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island.