Monday, 29 August 2011

Shipwrecks, Sand Blows, Scribbles and Scenic Lookouts

Yes I am running a day behind with our Fraser blogs so you’ll all have to wait til tomorrow to hear about our adventures with the humpbacks.

Yesterday, our day exploring the Eastern Beach was a huge day and another that turned out perfect with the weather. Amazing clouds graced the sky; we were treated to a magnificent sunset and had a little birthday party for one of our crew.

After a stop in the Scribbly Gum Forest and another tutorial we headed onto 75 Mile Beach with perfect timing with the outgoing tide making our journey along this designated road an easy drive down to the Pinnacles and its coloured sands. We stopped to capture paper dasies and play games with reflections and at Indian Head where we hiked to the top we were rewarded with sightings of whales, turtles and colourful finches and wrens – the last two had our keen birdo photographers eagerly snapping. 

 Judith, Leah and Caitlyn photographing the Paper Dasies
Image by Danielle Lancaster
Pretty Paper Dasies
Image by Danielle Lancaster

By now the sky was really looking like it may do some ‘trippy’ things for the arvo so we headed back to the Maheno as now the light would be better to capture her sitting silently on the beach.

Did you know that between 1856 and 1935 there have been 23 recorded shipwrecks in Fraser Island waters? Even the island is named after shipwreck victim Eliza Fraser. And we all love a good shipwreck story don’t we?

 The S.S. Maheno
Image by Danielle Lancaster

The S.S. Maheno, which is undoubtedly the most famous and has become a landmark on the island came to grief beaching near The Pinnacles in 1935. Her story is not an overly glamorous one. Built in 1905, it was one of the first turbine-driven steamers. She plied a regular route between Sydney and Auckland until she was commissioned as a hospital ship in Europe during World War One.

In 1935, she and her sister ship the Oonah were sold to Japan for scrap. The rudders of the boats were removed and they were being towed to Japan. When they reached Queensland Waters, a cyclonic storm snapped the tow chain and the Maheno drifted helplessly onto Fraser Island's ocean beach.

During World War Two the wreck was used for air force target practice and the Z Force Special Unit used her to practice with limpet mines prior to the raid on Singapore Harbour. Surprisingly enough she still stands her rusting hull now signposted a no go zone. She does look terrific though when the waves come crashing through and while overcast skies deter many this can present wonderful photographic opportunities. Low tide can offer tremendous reflections especially if the sky turns on a show.

However, I was a little saddened to see some idiot had thought it a must to acknowledge their presence at the site by applying purple paint to her rusting hull. Why oh why is this so?

Why is there a need to do this?
Image by Danielle Lancaster

With the clouds now starting to roll and fluff we went to one of our favourite sand blows on the island. This desolate landscape came alive and soon we were all down low capturing isolated dwarfed trees hanging on by bare roots systems, weathered stumps and sand ripples in what many would consider an almost uninhabitable environment.

Leah and Danielle get down low.
Image by Pete

Time for sunset and Pete and I choose one of our preferred Pandanus Palms that sits on a razor like edge of sand. Thank you once again to the Gods of Fraser as the sky now turned pinks, purples and mauves. To finish off the day’s shooting, well we could not resist and did a little steel wool burning on the beach which soon had the fisherman joining us and relishing the free show. Even a dingo came to see what all the fuss was about.

Sunset on Fraser
Image by Danielle Lancaster

With darkness now around us it was time to head home. We skirted the incoming waves and guided the vehicles along the soft sand of the upper shore line and off the beach once again through Frasers Forest. But the cameras were not away long as we soon came across Echidnas out for their night stroll which afforded us another great opportunity to fine tune some flash photography.

Yes we were tired when we finally arrived at dinner but excited too for it had been a really great day and topped off with a double chocolate Forest cake for our birthday girl. I am sure we all slept very soundly after our adventurous fun-filled day.  

Did you know:
The 158-ton schooner named the Seabelle was one of the first ships to be recorded as lost off Fraser Island after leaving Rockhampton on 7th March 1857.

Rumours abounded about survivors of the Seabelle. A white woman and two white girls were reported to be living with Fraser Island aboriginals. New South Wales authorities commissioned the captain of the Coquett to investigate and he bought to Sydney two young girls who were albino. They were never returned to their parents as he had promised and they died in an institution in Sydney at an early age.

Footnote: I am still on the road so all images straight out of camera.